Monday, 13 October 2014

An Unexpected Twist

Am I the only one that finds just as you think life is about to settle down for a bit, something will happen to set the rollercoaster off again? This time, it’s not in a bad way, it’s in an amazing way!

When last I posted, I had just hit my 10.5st goal weight, but I was also hiding a little secret. I had found out 2 weeks before this that I was pregnant again. Those of you who have read my first blogs will know that I had a difficult time with my first pregnancy, in no small part due to my weight. My BMI was 30 so I was at risk of gestational diabetes, which I luckily didn’t develop, but at the end of my pregnancy I did develop pre-eclampsia (which I have since found out was classed as severe pre-eclampsia). I don’t mean to sound dramatic but I’m not exaggerating when I say that my life was at risk. If any of you are followers of the TV series Downton Abbey, you will recall the untimely demise of poor Lady Sybil whose condition developed from pre-eclampsia to full blown eclampsia and she sadly died. I was told during my hospital stay that this was common for sufferers of this condition back before modern medicine,  that women were commonly left in a room to die as there was nothing that could be done for them. I mention this not to be dramatic, but so you understand one of the incentives for my weight loss and why I was a little bit nervous when I found out I was expecting again. 

When I found out, I was 1lb off hitting my goal weight, so I thought 1 more week of dieting wouldn’t hurt just to get that last pound off. Unfortunately I developed a few days’ worth of migraines that changed my mind and when I did hit the scales I had gained weight. So in my mind, the official diet had then ended. I had an early celebration for getting this far and congratulated myself on losing as much as I had. 

As I have now had pre-eclampsia once, and it would seem I also have a family history of the condition, I was already at risk of developing it a second time. I did not want to add to this risk by putting back on all the weight I had lost, and wanted to do all I could myself to lower my risk. I began researching, first of all on the condition itself, which informed me that as a previous sufferer I was at about 15% risk of having it again, added to that was the family history which maybe put me around 25% risk. As I work as a medical secretary, I understood that in medical terms that was considered high risk, and I knew that the higher my BMI, the more risk I was adding.

Next I looked into what was considered healthy calorie intake and I hit some really muddy waters. As the current World Health Organisation guidelines state average calorie intake for women should be 2000 kcal per day, most websites were saying women should eat around 2000-2200 kcal per day, rising to approximately 2500 kcal in the last trimester. Well I already knew from my dieting that 2000 kcal is already far too many calories for me to maintain a healthy weight. I then read some forums with posts from real women who have tried themselves to eat healthy during pregnancy and what worked for them. These, as you can imagine, varied greatly as well as all women are different. 

Guidelines state that during pregnancy you only need an extra 200 kcal so I used this as a starting point. I had a target of 1400 kcal while dieting, so with the extra 200kcal that would take me to 1600kcal. During the last week of dieting I had been eating 1400-1600kcal and had developed migraines so listening to this input from my body and taking into account all the things I had read, I set the bar a little higher – 1800-2000kcal. I felt much more relaxed when I had a target to aim for as I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t restrict myself enough and really would be in trouble.

Then I looked into what was considered healthy weight gain. Again this was a bit vague as it varies from woman to woman and takes into account general health, fitness level, exercise level and all kinds of other things. I found a website that took from me my current weight, my height and how many times a week I exercised which gave me a rough idea of what would be considered healthy for me (I would love to link to this for you but for the life of me I can’t find it again!). It roughly said that for the first trimester I could healthily gain around 3lbs, rising to roughly 1lb a week from then on, which overall would be just over a stone and a half. To be generous to myself I set myself the target of 2 stone overall, including baby.
Next was the exercise. I read loads on how it was fine to carry on running up until the last 3 months of pregnancy, just not pushing yourself too hard. Then in the last 3 months you should slow right down to maybe just power walking, but still staying active. I carried on jogging but was finding it increasingly difficult. My times dropped right down and I was walking more than I was jogging. I did one final organised run on a Sunday but I was the last one to cross the finish line by a very large margin and I felt very disheartened by the end of it. I decided that I would stop the organised runs but keep running in my own time at my own pace.

Then I got really sick one weekend which may have been a bug but may have been morning sickness. The plus side of this was that was what lead to me hitting my goal weight, the downside being it brought the end of my jogging. I just stopped because I felt so rough and exhausted as it took me a few days to recover, and never picked it up again. I carried on with my Zumba but I was also finding this hard, like my body just didn’t have the strength to do it. From all I had read, it didn’t really sound right, all the advice had said I should be able to carry on as normal. I had to listen to my body though as I didn’t want to hurt it or risk the pregnancy in anyway.

Then I got wiped out again with a water infection and was put on strong antibiotics. When I went to Zumba after completing the course, I felt like a different person! I had much more energy and could push myself much harder than before. It showed me that it must have been the infection my body was fighting that was making the exercise so difficult and I could carry on if I wanted to. My Zumba instructor suggested power walking instead of jogging and I loved this idea and wanted to give it a try.

However, this is the very sad part for me and the part I’m really struggling with at the moment. Too many of my old bad habits have been creeping back in. I’m eating crisps again, I’m eating cheese and all other bad things that I shouldn’t be eating. I’m only exercising at Zumba once a week, the rest of the time I’m doing very little exercise. The part I can be proud of though, is that I am moderating the bad stuff and not binging on it as much as I used to, when I check my calorie intake most days I do come in around 2000kcal. However I am still having more bad days than I would like and I am really struggling to stop myself. Every time I have a bad day I beat myself up, telling myself that I will just get pre-eclampsia again from being unhealthy. 

I am working on it, but this diet has always been a battle and struggle and it shows no signs of changing. I have learned so many ways to be healthier and I really am trying to beat, or at least control, these demons. I have now just about hit the 12 week mark, which is why it is now becoming public, and I am 3lbs under my weight gain ‘limit’ for this stage, so I must be balancing it out somehow. I know the stressing and worrying is not helping, but that was why I explained what pre-eclampsia means earlier, to show why I am concerned. It would be so easy to just say ‘forget the diet and eat what I want’ but not only would that undo all my hard work, it could risk my life.

What I can also take some solace in is that by losing weight the healthy way by moderating my diet and exercising, I have obviously modified my metabolism enough that it is helping me out now by burning food that bit quicker. I have also noticed a big difference in the level of morning sickness I’m experiencing this time round, I am nowhere near as bad as last time and most days actually feel fine. Hopefully this will all help me later on.

So here continues the next stage of my healthier lifestyle, and quite possibly the hardest one I have had to face so far. I will keep you updated as to how I get on!

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