Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Malnutrition was simpler

Today's entry: fitness. And the ongoing struggle to maintain it.

Weight has been an issue for me since college. I've fluctuated between normal for my height, 5'4", and overweight. My highest non-pregnant weight was 170. Pregnant, well, I was 200 lbs. when I delivered. Not all of it was water.

I had this idea when my son was born that my exercise routine wouldn't change. We had a dog while I was pregnant, a high-energy husky-collie-German shepherd mix who needed two one-hour walks a day. (No, I do not know how I managed to gain nearly 60 lbs. with that level of exercise. I wasn't exactly eating junk.) I would just keep on doing what I was doing, right? The weight would simply melt off within weeks.

Alas, the dog turned out to be psychotic toward babies. And the baby turned out to have a milk and soy protein sensitivity that made him throw up at unpredictable times. I literally couldn't take him anywhere. There went the walks.

But there also went the baby weight: because I was nursing and we couldn't afford hydrolysate formula, I couldn't consume any milk (pizza) or soy (Chinese) products, nor any acidic foods (tomatoes, OJ) or other known stomach-worriers (peppermint, chocolate, onions).

My weight plummeted, but unfortunately so did my health. I was pallid, tired all the time, and got sick five times in four months. It took digestive tract weirdness for me to figure out I was seriously malnourished.

Tempting as it was to go with the skinniness, instead I called up my La Leche League leader and asked her advice. She made a number of nutrition recommendations, and it didn't take long for me to bounce back.

Life was good until the following summer, when the baby weaned himself. Suddenly, all those forbidden foods reared their heads, at the same time that I was no longer burning 500 calories a day on nursing alone. Even though I continued pumping for quite a few months, it wasn't the same. I needed to exercise.

I swam semi-regularly, when work allowed, but it wasn't regular. In March I started walking again, but a month later the child decided he hated his back carrier and his stroller and would rather walk with me. There went the cardio aspect of my activity. I returned to swimming, but I suspect my recent bout with gastroenteritis was a result of an old and wonky filtration system in the community pool.

Recently? I've started resistance training. This is sort of like circuit weight training, except I use a band and an exercise ball. I set a goal to work out each night on doing either upper-body or lower-body exercises for at least half an hour. I figured doing this six or seven nights a week would be golden.

Except it's turned out to be more like three or four nights a week. There are the nights I'm simply too worn out from chasing the boy around all day. And my very favorite of all, the nights he will not sleep. Just try and do resistance training with a two-year-old hanging onto your band, providing that extra level of resistance you can't handle (in more ways than one). Or ball training with him deciding he would like to try and jump on that nice bouncy ball.

I did one of those online calculators and discovered my resting metabolic rate is about 1400 calories, so at least I can strive to break even most days. I can drink green tea and eat whole grains and take the boy outside and hope at least some of it counts. But exercise, at least for now? Probably a bonus.


Blogger Mary Louisa said...

Oh, I feel your pain, momma. I signed myself up for a once-a-week yoga class at night (started last Thursday). This way I am forced to exercise for an hour once every seven days. It ain't much, but it's more than I WAS getting...

I don't trust public swimming pools, either.

6/7/05 9:41 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

I would like your permission to print this out and put it into my medical file. Doctors are so unrealistic, I find.

7/7/05 4:37 AM  

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