In case you missed it, yesterday I announced that I will be posting every day about my research and self-experimentation on the topic of weight loss after pregnancy. Today, I shall outline my ground rules.
Rule #1: There will be baby photos.
I may have interruptions for baby pictures and my bibliography. I’ve enjoyed having a record of what I’m reading, and I straight-up refuse to apologize for baby pictures.
In fact, I’ll go ahead and set the tone now with an old baby photo of my firstborn.
Baby photos aside, I think there are some traps inherent in blogging through weight loss after a pregnancy, and so I want to plan for a couple of things and keep them right in front of me (and anyone who cares to read along) the whole time.
Rule #2: Maintain a healthy mental attitude.
Ultimately, I want to get back into shape as quickly as possible because exercise makes me happy and mentally stable. Being strong, being sore, and playing hard, despite how unpleasant that may sound to some, make me feel good and give me essential energy for doing the important stuff. And I think (maybe this will be a topic for another post, once I get some solid research behind it) that it improves my cognitive function, too. Certainly, feeling energetic and taken care of are baseline requirements for me to be a good parent. I’m not trying to punish myself or achieve a particular look. I’m not trying to achieve a thigh gap. My thighs will never, ever have a gap in them, and if they do, it’s not good news; it can only be because I’ve fallen prey to some kind of muscular wasting disease. I may always have loose skin on my stomach and cellulite on my butt. That’s all really beside the point. Loose skin and strong thighs never kept anyone from climbing hard, running fast, lifting heavy, or feeling good (I feel like that would make a good t-shirt).
Rule #3: Be kind to myself.
I want to make sure I’m cutting myself a break – having a kid is not easy, and I’m not doing this because other people think I should. I won’t behave perfectly, and that’s OK. I might miss a day here and there. I might not lose weight as quickly as I would like. Half of the fun is in the learning, and sometimes that means trial and error.
Rule #4: Set expectations for audience engagement.
I would LOVE to hear your personal stories – what worked for you, what might you try for yourself, etc. I would also appreciate direction towards any good research you can provide links for, particularly if it’s relevant to the topic or sub-topic I discuss in my post.
One important thing to note, for any readers I don’t know personally (and I only single you out because no personal friend of mine would DARE): I am not looking for evaluations of my body or progress or personal opinions about what I should care about. (Caveat: if you feel I’ve done something offensive, I do encourage you to make me aware of it – I really do care about that). If you choose to comment on those things, I reserve the right to delete them; this site is not a democracy, it’s my house. To that end, I’m going to have to think long and hard about ground rules before I include any discussion of parenting topics.
Rule #5: Be clear about my intentions.
I don’t think losing weight has to be, or should be, a priority for every new mother.
Conducting this kind of research/experiment in public, however informally, warrants careful attention to how it will impact others. First, and most importantly, I do not think losing weight has to be, or should be, a priority for every new mother, or any overweight person, for that matter. I’ve stated my reasons for prioritizing it in more detail in my introductory post. There’s an opportunity here for people to judge me selfish and vain. I won’t disagree that I am putting my own self-care and health quite high on the list, even after having a newborn, and maybe you feel that makes me selfish. And I’m doing it publicly, so maybe you feel that makes me vain. I don’t believe that, but if you do, that’s fine – you don’t have to read it. There’s also an opportunity to judge others who have different priorities than I do, whether those differences arise from personal necessity or personal choice. But everyone’s circumstances are different. I know very well that there are much more important things than hitting a certain number on the scale.
Rule #6: Be true to myself.
Finally, I hope that I am able to demonstrate my values during this time. I intend to hold myself responsible for my decisions and my behavior. I intend to be kind to myself and others on the topic. And I intend to be thorough, skeptical, and honest about what I find in my research and what I am able to achieve in my experiment.
This is an n=1 experiment, and you should be cautious about comparing yourself to me – my actual weight, BMI, body fat percentage, diet approach, preferred exercise schedule, and more. A healthy weight for me is probably way off-base for many others, and I encourage you to figure out for yourself what conditions make you feel most healthy and strong. I also can guarantee that what works for me will not work for everyone. Weight loss (at least, that of the healthy, sustainable variety) involves a complex combination of unique psychological, behavioral, and physiological factors that are going to differ wildly from one person to the next. I’m not a doctor, and I cannot make any prescriptions for what you ought to do. What I can do is share any information I come across, along with how I’m interpreting it and applying it to my own life. I really hope others do find it helpful to see both the research and an example of how it might look in practice based on my own psychology, body, and circumstances, but it will be your responsibility to figure out how and if you want to work it into your own life.
Up next: Strategy – Willpower vs. Habits
Image credits: me, on whatever cell phone I had a couple of years ago.