Getting back in shape

October 25, 2011 

Gain during pregnancy

Andrea Weigl, food reporter, writes: My husband and I are celebrating the birth of our baby Wednesday morning, a beautiful 7-pound, 11-ounce daughter. I promised to chronicle my efforts to lose my baby fat on the "Turning the Scales" blog. I figured writing about my efforts would encourage me to lose the weight as quickly as possible.

Before I got pregnant, I weighed about 150 pounds. I'd rather be closer to 140, but weight has a way of creeping up on us as we get older. I consider a fluctuating waistline a hazard of my job as a food writer.

When I started this pregnancy, I was on my way to a 40-pound weight gain. I was putting on about one pound a week and eating whatever I wanted. I'm a sweets fan. I also love to bake. I had bowls of Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs for breakfast. I reacquainted myself with Nutella, that delicious chocolate hazelnut spread, as a late-night snack. As a pregnant food writer, I saw no reason not to indulge.

That was until I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. When I got that phone call from the doctor, I cried. I thought my overindulgent ways were to blame, that I had put my child at risk. But the specialist said my family history destined me for this diagnosis. (My mother has type 2 diabetes and controls it with diet and exercise. My paternal grandmother also had diabetes at the end of her life.)

I talked to my mother about her diabetic diet, learning that it's not only the amount of carbs but what you eat in combination with them that matters. After talking to the specialist, who put this new diet in context of what I could and could not eat while pregnant, I adjusted my ways. No cereal for breakfast or late night snacks. No white bread. No white rice. No regular pasta. No fruit juice. No sweets.

A typical day's worth of food was two eggs and Canadian bacon for breakfast, string cheese or an apple for a snack, a lunch of leftovers (ham and bean soup or meatballs, pasta sauce and whole wheat pasta) and some form of protein with veggies for dinner. For a late-night snack, natural peanut butter on low-carb sandwich bread or an apple and peanut butter. To drink, I stuck to water, skim milk, decaf iced tea with Splenda or coffee with skim milk and Splenda.

My sweet tooth was sated by sugar-free chocolate pudding, a square or two of high-end dark chocolate or a few dark chocolate-covered almonds.

I weighed 175 pounds when I was diagnosed at the end of July. Let me tell you that gestational diabetes put the brakes on my weight gain. Two months later, my weight hovered at between 177 and 178 pounds. My mother and husband worried that I wasn't gaining enough weight. But my doctor said I was fine. My belly kept getting bigger. I could tell that I was losing weight that I had gained in my hips and thighs.

The gestational diabetes is expected to go away now that the baby is here. But I plan to continue to follow this diet as a way to eat healthier and lose this weight as quickly as possible. The experience also scared me and this diet may become permanent. I hope to sit down with a specialist to talk about what I can do now to avoid getting diabetes when I'm my mother's age. I'm sure the advice will involve exercise and modifying my diet in the long run.

Between continuing this diet and breastfeeding my child, I hope the pounds will come off quickly. In the coming months, I'll share my successes and failures along the way.

A blitz before the holidays

Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: As of Sunday, I'm following the advice of my health coach and doing a one-week "blitz" on Take Shape for Life. That means eating five meal replacements and one "lean and green" meal each day for a week, to burn off the excess lard. If experience serves, that should be all it takes to bring my weight back into line, and Coach Charity Husk says the timing is important.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's loom, and along with them, the threat of added pounds that don't disappear - on top of the extra pound or two I'm already battling.

The Cleveland Clinic has a tips sheet with "8 Steps to Surviving Holiday Weight Gain" with good strategies for the upcoming party season. Read it in the post at tinyurl.com/67vo76u. One tip that caught my eye was to aim for seven servings of fruit and vegetables every day; they fill you up with fewer calories. I've been struggling to get in five most days. I'll shoot for two more.

Weight-conscious staffers share stories and tips at blogs.newsobserver.com/turningthescales.

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