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I Just Did It

By Valeri Webber
Benicia CA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 6, September-October 2000, p. 160

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time

I was very round when I met my husband, but he loved me as I was. Before I had children, I had used fad or starvation diets. Three babies in four years challenged my body. Between my pregnancies, I tried three major commercial weight loss programs with moderate but temporary results. My weight went up and down until I decided to give exercising a try. At first, I couldn't get through the low impact aerobic exercise video. I thought I would combust! I pressed on, reminding myself that if I could face hours of labor and then give birth, I could certainly do an hour of low-impact exercise. I told myself I didn't care if I lost weight, I just wanted to firm up and be healthy. I didn't want to diet because I was nursing a hefty six-month-old and feared strict dieting would diminish the quality and quantity of my milk. I didn't lose any weight for weeks, even though I worked out five days a week.

Then one day, about six weeks into my program, it seemed I started melting. The weight fell off. I was so inspired I started cutting fat and sugars. I didn't consider this dieting, merely paying more attention to what I was eating. I made my workouts more energetic by adding weight training, cycling, and finally jazz exercise. I felt fabulously healthy and alive. Though the process was slow, I began viewing myself as a healthy, fit person. I had never been fit in my life, but now I was strong and lean. My entire view of myself, my self-esteem, and my goals had changed. Exercise became something I "got" to do; not something I "had" to do. It was my gift to my family and myself.

I maintained my loss of over 40 pounds for several years until I struggled with infertility. Between the depression, PMS, overeating each failed month, and the fertility medications, I gained 20 pounds back. I stopped exercising as much, which added to my depression. When I finally did become pregnant, I started working out faithfully again. I really wanted to be fit throughout pregnancy for the first time. What a difference I saw in the pregnancy and birth! I felt fantastic. I even worked on my due date. I loved flaunting my big pregnant belly at jazz exercise, clad in my neon pink leotard. My baby weighed nine pounds, but I was at my pre-pregnancy weight in two weeks and by six months postpartum I was back to my pre-infertility weight, thanks again to exercise.

Breastfeeding did not slow my results; it helped me. I was concerned enough about my well being and that of my babies to eat nutritiously and resist the desire to crash diet for a quick fix that rarely works. Nursing helped my self-esteem, too. I could forgive any perceived imperfections as I marveled at the job that my body was doing nourishing my babies. A body that could sustain such perfect little beings couldn't be half-bad.

Making the choice to "just do it" changed my life! My children now have a mother who can run and play, they have an example of healthful living, and they also get nutritious meals. My husband has a wife who has stopped hiding her body (which he always loved - no matter the size). I have finally become the me I have always wanted to be, not just in body, but in spirit too. If I go a few days without exercise, my body is like a dog at the door begging to be walked. If I let it go longer, I become complacent and it gets harder to get going. Then the dread sets in, the habit wanes. So, if nothing else, I try to take the baby out for a walk. I love the fact that at age 34, I am faster, stronger and lighter than I was at age 19.

Adapted from an article in the November 1996 issue of Virginia Visions, the Leaders' Letter for LLL of Virginia.

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