If You Don’t Use It, You’ll Lose It

Obviously this is not true for fat, but it sure is for muscle!  I am a case in point.  In the months leading up to finding out I was pregnant I was so on track for health, fitness and even financial well-being.  Everything had finally just clicked for me.
I was actually getting regular (DAILY!) exercise.  Monday-Friday I walked while my son was at school, Saturday I played with the family outside:  trampoline, Frisbee, kickball, badminton, and on Sundays I went for a 2.5 mile hike with my sister (and played outside with the fam).

My food was also on track.  Gone was the persistent want for ordering out food and I finally got fully in the groove of making all my meals, all day long, every day.  I got in plenty of veggies, some fruits, lean meats and whole grains (no regular pasta and hardly anything with white flour in it), plus drinking plenty of water all day long.  The weight was coming off again.
Even better, I was actually sticking to a budget for the first time in my adult life!  I was making dents in my debts and feeling really good about it and feeling in control and hopeful for once with my finances.  Just about the only place I was dropping the ball was with strength training… I just felt like letting cardio be the focus.  But other than that, things were finally really on track for me.

Things were going fabulously and dare I say, without struggle… like I’d finally gotten to making it second nature.
Then I got pregnant.
For a little bit I just continued as usual with my healthy behavior because I felt fine (minus the trampoline because it made me nervous even my OB told me it was OK until the 2nd trimester).  But a few weeks later, that’s when the wave of morning (um, try ALL DAY) sickness hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was nauseous pretty much all day with only relief for about 30 minutes to an hour after eating at best and while I was sleeping.  The range of my nauseous feelings surprised even me (especially since my first pregnancy was apparently a breeze in comparison) and I seemed to develop motion sickness – I’m not talking about in cars or boats, I mean the physical act of moving around the house!
It was enough to get up, go to the bathroom and then sit right back down again.  I couldn’t bend over without feeling the warm saliva build in my mouth.  It was BAD.  I could only be in my kitchen for minimal time and there were days I literally couldn’t even open my fridge without wanting to hurl, so unfortunately I relied on foods that were a maximum of 2 or 3 steps to prepare and could take less than 5 minutes.  And the cruelest part was that I no longer felt hunger… nope, I’d just start feeling sicker, and what’s the last thing you want to do when you feel sick?  That’s right, you don’t want to eat, but that’s exactly what I had to force myself to do.
Suddenly just about all foods I was eating on a daily basis before becoming pregnant completely repulsed me.  Whenever I attempted to eat veggies (even simple carrot and celery sticks), I would feel sick afterwards.
My life became all about simple sugars (i.e. everything I wasn’t eating leading up to becoming pregnant) because they were the only foods that made me feel well after eating, plus in most cases, took minimal time to prepare.  The only protein I could stomach was from yogurt or cheese.  Chicken, eggs, fish and even beef grossed me out and I couldn’t prepare or even eat it if a restaurant had prepared it!

I lived on tons of fruit (every kind as opposed to just bananas, berries and apples – my former staples – I expanded to include peaches, nectarines, tangerines, grapefruit, cherries, grapes and even ate watermelon and I am usually not a fan of that), pasta, and bread, lots and lots of bread.  And no, not healthier wheat bread or Ezekiel, nope… straight up plain old white bread – French or Italian loaves.  Again, shit I hadn’t eaten in the last year and a half.
The crazy part?  I was losing weight.
I couldn’t believe how good I was feeling on these foods that would normally spike my sugars and make me feel terrible – they were suddenly the only foods that made me feel well.
Oh, and drinking plain water (or even tea) made me feel gross!  I had to have it flavored, but really all I wanted was juice – even MORE SUGAR in my life!  Oy.

On top of these terrible food/drink choices and nauseous feelings, I was also tired all the time.  I went a whole month straight with taking naps (like 2-4 hour naps) every single day (thank goodness my child was in school!)
I spent my days either on the couch watching TV, movies or playing on my laptop or sleeping in my bed.  I was a slug that couldn’t move.
Gone were the days of daily walks or playing outside.  I was no fun anymore.

Now that I’m over the hump and into my 2nd trimester and finally feeling more like myself, it’s clear to me that the weight loss I probably experienced during that time was muscle loss.
I went from being on top of my physical game to becoming a blob of fat in just a little over a month’s time.
My threshold for physical activity had dwindled down to NOTHING.  This became very apparent to me when I finally felt physically OK enough to go food shopping on my own (up until then, it was a family venture and my hubby pushed the cart around or he was kind enough to let me stay home and he went alone).  But on this day, I was by myself, pushing the heavy cart and on my feet for over 2 hours.  When I got home, I physically felt like I’d been in the sun all day and ran a marathon.  I was seriously sore and tired.  Pathetic!
It is truly amazing how quickly your muscles will just deteriorate into nothing when you don’t utilize them!
So now that my nauseousness has subsided (though I still have a sensitive gag reflex – hard to take pills or even brush my teeth, TMI: but luckily for my hubby I can still give him a bj!  Years of honed skill and technique on my behalf! hehehe), and my tiredness had decreased, I am trying to get back on track with food and with exercise so I am not this blob of fat anymore.  I miss my muscles and stamina!

I have to say it hasn’t been easy.  You know how when you get sick, you end up associating the sickness with the last thing you ate (whether it was at fault or not) and it takes a while to dare try that food again?  Well, that’s how I felt toward my kitchen and food in general.  I had to take baby steps and get very inspired (like by watching The Chew) to go in there and really prepare and cook something.
Last Sunday was the first time I’d cooked chicken in a month and a half!

I finally was able to start drinking water again too, but not out of my usual sports bottle, nope, I had to have only ice cold water (this from the person who preferred room temperature water!) and in a glass or cup with a straw.  After having issues with my water glass sweating and always leaving rings around the house on the table surfaces, I found a 24 oz BPA-free reusable cup with lid and straw that was designed to keep your beverage chilled (Cool Gear) and I LOVE IT!  It does help keep the water cool (though of course I’m still adding ice), plus it never sweats!

So I’m drinking water again, have managed to at least get salads back in my life, carrot & celery sticks don’t bother me anymore, I can cook & eat eggs again and I’ve dropped the white bread habit.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that because I couldn’t cook for over a month and my hubby just doesn’t cook that we of course went back to the old standby:  takeout/delivery, though even with that I was picky (Chinese food?  No thanks!  But bring on the subs, lots and lots of subs – probably because I rarely ate them before getting pregnant!)
So I had to start all over again dropping the ordering out habit, and man, that’s a tough one to break, especially when I’m still not back to 100% for cooking yet.
Baby steps.

Speaking of steps, I started taking a nightly walk with my son around my neighborhood (at night because I hate being out in the Southern sun – would rather skip the need for lotion).  Here’s where another comparison made it obvious I was not even close to my former shape.  It took me 23 minutes to do a simple (and the shorter) lap around the neighborhood.  Usually that would take me a maximum of 15 minutes!  Really pathetic especially since I felt like I was moving at a fast pace!  But this is where I must start again… build my strength back up.
The next night we took the long way around and it took 26 minutes… slightly better.
Yesterday we skipped the walk, but that’s because I needed to go grocery shopping, after which I was physically caput (apparently grocery shopping still equates to exercise for me).
My right leg was already aching from just that (since adulthood, my right leg painfully aches from time to time, usually if I’ve had too much or too little exercise… I’m always striving for the happy medium of just enough exercise).
And since I’m banned from the good pain killers (love my Advil and seriously miss it), I can only have acetaminophen which sucks ass in comparison and usually gives me little or short-lived relief, so I don’t push it physically if my leg is already aching.

So I’m slowly getting back to “me”, though clearly my body is no longer my own.  My little bambino is now the approximate size of an avocado this week.  My abdomen has definitely expanded, though for the most part I can still wear most of my pants and shirts.
I was starting to get nervous as the pounds started packing back on over the last couple weeks.  Sure, I’m pregnant and this is an acceptable time to be gaining weight, but I’m a big girl to start and managed to maintain my conception weight for basically my entire pregnancy last time and was hoping for a repeat.  Since starting to eat better and get back to exercise, I have at least maintained my current weight instead of continuing to gain.
Even still, though from my recent lowest recorded weight I’m up 6 lbs, I’m still down 7 lbs from my conception weight… so it’s all good.

So here’s the lesson people:

Your Muscles:  Use ‘em or lose ‘em!
You’ve been warned.

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About gwenacious

Always a person in progress. On a mission of self-improvement and exploring my artistic side.
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One Response to If You Don’t Use It, You’ll Lose It

  1. Oh, congratulations!

    Good luck building your strength back up.

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