So for a week or two I’ve been sitting on this post, waiting until I had the time to devote to it to get it out properly. I have not completely opened myself to you all.
I am rather new to Israel; we only arrived this past summer. I have been a nutrition counselor for over 2 years. But my story really goes way back. It goes back to when I decided that this is what I wanted to devote my working time to. Or maybe even further back to when I got married and starting to make a family with my husband. Maybe even further back than that. Let’s start with my childhood.
You see, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I was not an average weight kid. I wasn’t the kid with a few extra pounds. I was the 8 or 9 year old that needed to lose 20 pounds. I was the one with the mom that was a very skinny child, growing up in post WWII Europe, where chubby kids were considered a good thing. In fact, my mother was always self-conscious about how thin she was. So she never stressed about my weight. She never worried. She fed me a healthy diet of produce, produce and minimal packaged foods. But I was an emotional eater even then, so if I got upset I would just eat A LOT.
Fast forward to teen years, I became a body-loathing teenager that struggled with body image issues and disordered eating. I also lost 50 lbs. limiting myself to about 750 calories a day. Obviously I didn’t lose weight in a healthy way. I was thinner, but I was weak and flabby. I wasn’t strong and vibrant. I barely slept and I replaced meals with cappuccinos and cigarettes.
Years later I quit smoking, started running on the elliptical for an hour a day and eat a bit better (still about 1000 cals a day, too scared still to put back on the weight to increase my calorie intake), I met my now husband. We got engaged; I was stressed and put back on 10 lb. before the wedding. I lost it after the wedding. But then became pregnant and started to eat. And eat. And eat some more. My body had been deprived of nutrients for so long that I literally ate everything I could find. It was horrible. I felt disgusting. I wanted to hide, and I usually did in a really big tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Like every night after work. It was bad.
Baby came. Only I had put on 85 pounds and baby only weight 7 lb. 1 oz. (yes, I counted every freaking ounce off of the pounds needed to lose lol). And I lost about 30 lbs. between giving birth and my first cycle. But that still left me with 50 more pounds to lose. I was happy with my baby, but depressed and a little disgusted with myself and how I had let myself go. I basically shamed myself.
It took me a year to start working out. That’s when I started regaining my confidence. I started to look at the progress in the mirror instead of the number on the scale. It took me 2 and half years to get off 35 lbs.
And I was terrified of becoming pregnant again because I couldn’t imagine gaining all that weight back. It makes me sad to think that I was scared of having another baby, but I really was. It didn’t help that it took baby #1 2 years to sleep through the night on a normal basis. I was a bit traumatized I guess.
I became pregnant again, and because I had morning sickness in the beginning and refused to eat bread I somehow lost more weight in the first trimester. I decided to make this pregnancy about good wholesome nutrition. Something I hadn’t really cared about before. But having a bun in the oven and fearing weight gain made me more thoughtful about the way I ate. In my whole 2nd pregnancy I gained a total of 19 lb. I was pretty pleased with myself. I felt confident and happy my entire pregnancy. I had tons of energy and minimal swelling. I gave birth to a 6 lb. 11 oz. baby and NONE OF THE WEIGHT WOULD BUDGE. It simply refused. I still don’t get it. My weight didn’t even drop those 6 lb. 11 oz.! It was a MYSTERY!
I started working out as soon as the doctor gave me the O.K. I started seeing a nutritionist. I stopped seeing a nutritionist because she kept reducing my calories again and I was always hungry. I decided to increase my calories and do it on my own, with a clean diet and lots of fruits and veggies. I started loosing the weight.
Then, I fell down the stairs. Baby #2 was 6 months old and I fell down the stairs landing flat on my back. I was stupid, I should have gone to the hospital and had an MRI right away to see if I had damaged my spine. But I didn’t, I popped advil and put up with the aches and unbearable pain and went back to working out and even started lifting weights. I had bruises on my back for a solid 4 months. I was being really stupid.
Months later, I’ve been home caring for baby, lifting him (he was a heavy baby- about 27 lb. by 1 year), carrying him, chasing him etc. and I am in excruciating pain. I am popping advil just to get through the day. I am standing all day, walking, working out still, cooking, chasing kids, etc. And by 2pm every day I would start hopping from one foot to the other because I have pain going down my legs, I was limping, my lower back is either killing me or numb from the advils and I am always moody.
At this time, by luck a good friend opened up a physical therapist office around the block from me. One day while crying in my kitchen because the pain was so bad, I texted her and asked her what she thought about how I was feeling. She graciously said to come in ASAP with or without a referral, in case I couldn’t get to the DR b4 hand. I did, I got and MRI and x-rays and got my referral.
I had degenerative disc disease (which I had actually known for 4 years already from a previous x-ray), a herniated disc in my lower spine, and stenosis of the nerves. I also had low muscle tone and from working out so hard and lifting weight I had caused my right leg to get lodged into my hip (hence why I was limping). She couldn’t even understand how I was functioning or moving.
It took about 3 appointments a week for 2 months to get strong enough to do more than walking. I was never allowed to bend. I couldn’t pick things up the floor, I had to be careful how I even got out of bed and put on my pants and underwear in case the disc bulged out again. I had several relapses. Luckily the last was about 1 and half years ago.
During this time of healing, I decided to I wanted to make this my mission. I wanted to help women take care of themselves. Not just lose weight or get fit, but really take care of them. See, I had lost that drive. All I saw was the extra weight and what my family needed from me. I let myself get tossed in the garbage basically. My health and well-being came last. I had let it get to the point where I couldn’t even pick up my own baby. And that was unacceptable. It should’ve never gotten that far.
Anyway, since then, I have still had ups and downs. I still struggle with emotional eating sometimes. But I always take care of myself. I work out and eat healthy. When I need a break, I take one. And I have learned to put myself first. Because without their mother, what will happen to my boys?