This weekend at the farmers market, as I lugged around a bagful of veggies on one arm and a squirmy infant on the other, I was approached by who I thought was a stranger. As it turns out, he’s the brother of one of my classmates. He told me how much both his sister and his partner like Green Plate Dinners and encouraged me to keep writing.
It lit up my world.
The reason I originally started GPD was to do something with my passion for writing. If I could connect with others with similar interests, or even inspire others, great! But the point was to have a creative outlet. Over time, I really started loving the process of writing blogs, reading posts from peers, and finding camaraderie in the blog world. It’s been tough not having the time to write lately, but I always want to be sure to put Isaac first. Nonetheless, I’m also starting to learn the importance of adding myself back onto my priority list, which is today’s Motivational Monday topic.
It was far too easy to lose myself in the process of becoming a new Mom.
The newborn phase wasn’t easy for me. My healing process happened quickly and effortlessly, but I struggled with breastfeeding issues and suffered from intense post-partum depression [which I still don’t feel 100% from]. I always thought I would be an intuitively great mother. I placed extremely high expectations on myself. I thought that having a baby automatically meant that I would not only be able to feed him, but that it would come easily.
And I was completely confused when it didn’t.
I figured something was wrong with me. I took it incredibly personally. I tried everything that was recommended, which included pumping every hour [leaving me with no sleep], eating nothing but marrow-filled, fatty soups and drinking whole milk [which I had NEVER done before], and finally taking medication. I put my wants and needs aside so that I could provide for my son. I didn’t shower or sleep for days [when I did lay down, my head wouldn’t stop spinning]. I would do anything and everything necessary to ensure Isaac’s health and happiness. Including neglect my own needs.
I put on a happy face for the world, but through it all, I sobbed uncontrollably on almost a daily basis because I hated myself so much. I felt incredibly alone and thought things like What kind of mother can’t feed her own child? and My son would be better off without me around. The sadness was literally painful, and I can remember falling to the ground a few times because my body just couldn’t hold up to the exhaustion or handle the visceral emotion running through it.
I’ve dealt with depression throughout my life, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with trusting my body’s abilities [it’s been one of the biggest factors in my weight loss journey and healing process]. But after working really hard to follow my intuition and trust the process during my pregnancy, it felt extra devastating to find myself right back where I started a few months into my son’s life: an emotional wreck and physically even heavier than my highest during pregnancy.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but just recently I’ve started to finally see things with some retrospect. What I’m starting to recognize is that I should have given myself a freakin break sooner. The shift into motherhood is tough, and good God it’s not like I didn’t have enough to deal with without the self-hatred as it was.
Life continues to uncover lessons in the most unexpected places for me. I continue to learn that my response to stress is self-hatred, self-sabotage, and shutting away from the world. I recognize that when I’m hating myself, I care less about what I do and how I treat myself – including what I eat. And I have learned that I will never again judge a new Mama, because it is not easy to give all you have for someone else and also try to keep up with society’s demands on how we should look, act, and feel. It’s a setup for failure.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I’m here now. Almost six months into my new life role as Mother, and feeling less in my body than ever before. My life before Isaac was centered 100% around living a healthy lifestyle, and I feel like I’ve completely lost that. As far as numbers go, I lost the baby weight immediately after having Isaac (was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight in the first week), but gained more than 20 pounds since. I could blame it on the lack of sleep, the change in diet, or the huge lifestyle shifts, but I know that it is directly related to my depression and lack of self-worth.
So what? Now what?
Well, recognizing the issue is always the first step. I know that I’ve been putting my needs aside for six months, and I know that I would feel better if I could just (1) be gentle on myself and (2) make simple steps to care for my health and well-being.
For me, that means cutting back on sugar, wheat, and dairy. Clearing the house of foods that trigger binges. Implementing daily walks with the babe. Writing. Eventually it’ll include a strength-training regimen and getting back into being a fitness instructor, but I think I need to start small for right now.
In such an inherently selfless time, it’s incredibly difficult to choose to take time for myself. But I need to recognize that I deserve to live a happy, healthy life [this is something I’ve always struggled with]. I need to be healthy for my family, but also for myself. And I know that the greatest thing I can do for my son is to set an example. The better I feel about myself, the better I can be as a mother.
What small steps are you employing to live a healthy, happy life?
Motivational Mondays are meant to offer you tips and tools to help you live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. What would you like to see for Motivational Mondays? Would you like to be a contributor? Comment or email me at greenplatedinners[at]gmail.com!
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