Chapter 27: Losing weight like a dude

I put on nearly 30kgs when I was pregnant, which I told you all about it in Chapter 7: Postpartum Body, because I’m an unstoppable oversharer.

I talked to you about my slow and steady approach to getting back to my normal Kate weight, the importance of being kind to yourself, and that McDonald’s breakfasts truly are crack for pregnant women.

But as I sit here and type this, 18-months postpartum, the time has come to go full Dwyane the Rock Johnson on the business.

It’s time to be “the hardest worker in the room“.

And it’s time to lose those last bloody kilos.

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Losing weight, and taking names

Although I’m back to my pre-baby fitness level (*cough* Chapter 20: Half-Marathon), my weight has well and truly plateaued.

I’m also conscious that I get pregnant in a big way (*cough 30 kgs*), and I want to avoid compounding baby-weight (when the time comes) if I can help it.

And I’ve had “those last 7kgs” to lose for about a year.

BUT. And this is a big butt. Before now, I was in no state to be putting dedicated effort into weight loss. My 2018 looked like:

Breastfeeding. Lack of sleep. Adjusting to having a tiny person dependent on me. Going back to work. Lack of sleep. Insane hormones. Lack of sleep. Lack of sleep … 

The motivation and mental stability needed to try and lose weight well (read: with a healthy mindset, and a healthy approach to nutrition) would have tipped me over the edge.

However, 18-months later …

joey

Get, get your head in the game

When I’ve tried to lose weight in the past, it was usually motivated by something negative (e.g. I don’t like the way I look, or I’ve been eating “bad” and need to be “good” again).

But not this time.

Weirdly, I’m actually in a very good head space about it all … a tendency, it would appear, that is generally more prevalent in the dudes amongst us.

The Gender Pay Thigh Gap

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‘Men and women experience weight loss differently.’ – Science. 

It’s true. But I’d hazard a guess you already knew that.

Very generally speaking*, here’s how it plays out:

Chicks are more likely to:

  • Try to lose weight/think they need to
  • Be health conscience and know about nutrition
  • Have unrealistic weight-loss goals
  • Eat as a response to a negative situation, and then feel guilty (read: “eating your feelings”).

Dudes are more likely to:

  • Not try to lose weight, or think that they need to
  • Introduce exercise to help manage weight
  • Overeat in positive situations (e.g. while watching the rugby or playing poker with pals)
  • Lose weight and keep it off – if they decide to try (especially if it’s in response to a health scare).

(Source: Weight Watchers)

And then there’s this:

“In my experience, I’ve noticed that many men just see the numbers on the scale creeping upward and make a decision to correct it. Plain and simple, they decide to increase their activity and decrease their food intake.

“But I’ve seen some women beat themselves up over a few extra pounds, even though this does little more than destroy their self-worth. Berating yourself will not help motivate you to control your weight and improve your health. So the next time those negative thoughts creep into your head, recognize them for what they are and replace them with positive ones.” – Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

I don’t know about you ladies, but this speaks to my dang soul.

[*Obviously everyone has their own experiences, and the above won’t be true for everyone. I actually suspect men are leaning more towards our unhealthy ways when it comes to weight loss and self-image, but traditionally speaking, this is what the evidence tells us these are the main gender differences.]

Happy wife mind, happy life

Before I launch into what I’ve been doing (which I only share because, A) I’m nosy and I like to read about other people’s health and fitness regimes, and B) To keep myself accountable), if you do struggle with having a healthy mindset around food and self-image, can I please suggest that you have a look at some these resources before you go any further:

And yes, if you’re wondering, I really do bloody love British people.

My approach to health and fitness

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in exercise or nutrition. This is just what I’ve been doing recently, and it’s been working pretty well for me so far. Everyone’s different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting in shape.

Always do your research or see a professional before starting anything, and don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. Crash diets are damaging and unsustainable. 

Exercise

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  • I’ve been following Chris Hemsworth’s Centr app for a few months now, and I really rate it.
    • My fave workouts are: MMA with Jorge (because I’m low-key savage), yoga with Tahl, and functional HIIT with Da Rulk (his workouts are so hard, I can’t even. The dude literally trains Navy SEALS).
    • I’m also very excited for Monday when the new Gunnar X Centr four-week programme for women is dropping on the app. I’ve been reading Khloe Kardashian’s book, Strong Looks Better Naked, and Gunnar Peterson is her trainer. I. Am. Pumped!

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  • I also love walking. I have a 15-minute walk to work to and from the train station each day, and on Friday-Sunday when I’m at home with my boys I like dragging them around the block with me. If you don’t really like exercise, give walking a go. It really is one of the best things you can do for your body. 
  • Note: I haven’t run since I did my half-marathon in February. I really got the urge out of my system! But I’m sure I’ll pick it up again at some stage.

Food

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  • I started by cutting down how much sugar I was having a few weeks ago, and having a cup of tea after dinner instead of snacking in the evening.
  • Last week I got my first Fresh Start with Nadia My Food Bag, which I plan on doing fortnightly.
    • I like Nadia’s sensible, whole food approach. She focuses on nutrition, not deprivation, and is really into low-GI foods (slow burning energy).
    • The meals are packed full of veges, and are under 450 calories a serving.
    • Most meals do me for both dinner and lunch the next day, and they’re super scrummy.
    • I’ve also cut down my snacks. I now just have breakfast (normally black coffee, green smoothie and 1-2 slices of toast or porridge), and my Nadia meals for lunch and dins, and either a flat white or a couple of carrots at my desk during the day – and the odd cheese scone for sanity.
  • One of the things Nadia recommends is doing the programme alongside the My Fitness Pal app, which is essentially a digital food diary.
    • I’ve used My Fitness Pal before and I find it helps keep me accountable (read: having to log that you ate eight cookies in one sitting can really make you second-guess you life choices. Now I only do that sometimes … #becausebalance).
    • However if you have any issues around food, please steer clear of it. Calorie-tracking can be really triggering for some people.
  • It can also feel quite sad and unsocial to be particular with your eating around others, so I’ve decided that once a week, if there’s a fun event happening involving food, I’m just going to go for it. Life is for living, after all.

I hope that’s been helpful or at the very least mildly interesting, but more than anything I hope you leave knowing that you are awesome just as you are right now.

Whether you’re at your “goal weight” or not, you rock. I have a goal in mind around my weight, but I still think I look great, and it’s my hope that you love and accept yourself too – at every size.

Kate x

Chapter 12: Cool Soccer Mom Hair

Motherhood is full of surprises.

Some are wonderful.

Like how ridiculously, heart-string-wrenchingly beautiful it is when your baby reaches out and touches your face for the first time. Or smiles. Or hugs you. Or laughs. Or falls asleep on you. Or gets food all over their face. Or breathes. Or exists.

Some seem real bad, but are actually fine

Like did you know that most stretch marks fade?!

I. Did. Not!

I’d just gotten used to looking like I’d been mauled by a tiger, and – poof! No more red claw marks down my tummy.

Bloody thrilled, mate.

Some definitely are as bad as they seem

Like sleep deprivation.

That crap is fierce.

It was my son’s birthday this week, which means I have not gone to bed – and stayed there all night – for over 365 days. Not that I am for sure counting.

I am currently surviving on coffee and love.

And some are just plain crazy town!

Exhibit A. Your hair doesn’t really fall out when you’re pregnant.

For nine months you become this lush Pantene ad of a woman. But then birth happens.

And

your

hair

falls

like

rain.

Showering becomes a very disconcerting exercise. Like, y u still in my hands, hair? U no live there.

I think my hair-exodus calmed down around 6 months postpartum (tbh, I have no idea. The last year is a beautiful blur), leaving behind some very questionable regrowth layers.

I have also been slowly turning into the lion from The Wizard of OZ as one of my budgeting hacks (two words: halved income) has been to cut down my six-weekly visit to the salon to six-monthly.

Grim.

Effective, but grim.

Also, #firstworldproblems.

“The Cool Soccer Mom”

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Last week (a casual six months since my last appointment), I booked in with my gorgeous hairdresser Haley, and asked her to make me look like Gemma Arterton, please and thank you.

I call this haircut: “The Cool Soccer Mom”.

It’s like Amy Poehler in Mean Girls meets Hilary Clinton.

Possibly the best gif I’ve ever seen.

Baller.

Other famous mum-fan include Kween of Hair, Lauren Conrad, real life Belle Marion Cotillard, and “Where the bloody hell are ya?” Lara Worthington.

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So. Damn. Chic.

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How-to style this mother

There are lots of different techniques you can try (like this one, or this one) – but an easy method is …

The Cool Chick Curl

  1. Starting at the front of your hair, curl first segment backwards away from your face
  2. Next segment: curl the opposite way (towards your face)
  3. And so on until you reach the back of your head
  4. Start the same process on the other side
  5. Straighten the ends (or leave uncurled)
  6. Spritz with sea salt spray (or hairspray) and mess up.

Done!

Curled Bob

I also like to air-dry my curls sometimes to get a little chic curled bob poppin’.

I do this when: a) I want to channel Marion and feel ooh lala and French, or b) I. Can’t. Be. Bothered. Heat. Styling.

Side note: my fave writer Zoë Foster-Blake has a phenomenal curled bob.

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Tiny Dancer Bun

I’m a huge fan of the half-up bun. Like …

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It’s easy. Cute. And let’s face it, ponytails and buns are RIP when you’re hair’s at this length.

Other than pigtails (and pigtail buns or braids), it’s kinda your only option.

So at least it’s a good option!

Footnote: The origin of the term “Soccer Mom”

While I was researching for this post, I found out something really interesting.

It turns out, the term “Soccer Mom” became a thing during the 1996 election (Bill Clinton v Bob Dole), when the typecast of a suburban, SUV welding white woman became a “swing vote category” (Source).

We must win the Soccer Mom vote!

Fun. Facts.

When did you have a big hair change? Was it after a big life event? We do that, huh.

Kate x

Ps. The struggle has been so unbelievably real trying to get a good photo of the new do, so here are some random grainy photobooth snaps of me and my man at our friends’ wedding yesterday.

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Chapter 7: Postpartum Body

I put on 30kgs when I was pregnant.

Half was literally a little person. And the other half was Bacon and Egg McMuffins.

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Side note: I’m pretty sure McDonald’s breakfasts are like crack for pregnant women. The McMuffin, hashbrown and orange juice combo was my holy trinity of cravings. I can’t even tell you how good it tasted, guys.

I.

Can’t.

E V E N.

But now, ten months on, I’ve decided to be more intentional with getting back to my regular Kate shape.

Disclaimer: I’ve been listening to a lotta Jameela Jamil (warning – her language is as colourful as her pantsuits) and Wobble (a podcast about happiness and body confidence), so am currently woke as hell to @i_weigh and body positivity, and thus need to say right off the bat …

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Jameela Jamil: actress, activist, queen.

To all the mums out there

  • Your body literally made a human. Then you birthed that human (which, SHEESH, any which way you do it is a beautiful, miraculous, horror show). And now you’re raising that human – the toughest, best, worst paid job there is. Wonder Woman ain’t got nothing on you.
  • You DO NOT need to “bounce back”. If all you do in a day is keep that child alive and loved, and yourself sane – then you have done plenty!
  • You offer the world so much more than your waist line. Whether you shrink a lot or a little after you give birth, it doesn’t change who you are. You’re still smart, creative, brave, kind, funny, talented, bold, lovely … all of the things that make you, you.

This is just my story. It’s not intended to be some sort of sage guide, or God forbid, something that makes you feel like you need to lose weight. Screw that.

You do you, boo.

Let’s start at very beginning, a very good place to start

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Back when I did boot camp with Change Fitness (ft. my sister-in-law Ari, who will really love that I’ve included this photo), and could bounce on a trampoline without wetting my pants. Heady days.

I tried a lot of diets in my 20s.

Whole 30, low carb, no sugar, MyFitnessPal calorie-tracking, Paleo, Weight Watchers …

I even tried Veganism for a hot second. (Not for admirable reasons, I might add … but because I read a book called Skinny Bitch. I think the premise was that you were meant to eat mainly plant-based … but I just ate a lot of toast.)

I’m not sure why (airbrushing, the mid-drift baring 90s, or that I was a little barrel-bellied as a tween…?), but I always felt like there was a cheeky 5kgs I could do without.

And the silly thing is, when I look back at photos of myself now – I was tiny!

All I see is a skinny little fool who thought she was chubs, and I want to give her a hug and a piece of cake.

Nothing like gaining nearly half my weight, and a whole lot of perspective!

Self-love is my home girl

This reality check was a real proverbial slap to the face, and because of it I became determined to take a slower, kinder approach to getting back to my usual size.

I was also very conscious that diets made me sad and weird, so I did this instead:

Post-birth

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I gave zero craps.

I ate proper meals to set me up to survive the no-sleep nights and milkshake production line that was my chest – but also drank all the coffee and ate all the baked goods (because, “no-sleep nights”).

I had also just

Given.

Birth

A few months later

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✌🏼✌🏼

When I was physically able to, I started doing Saturday boot camp with my friend group and it. Was. LIT.

I had really sore hips in my last trimester of pregnancy (cue: all the hobbling), and then an episiotomy (don’t Google it), and was even more hobbly post-birth.

So being able to move again made me ridiculously happy.

I was off my face on endorphins by the end of each workout.

I also started doing my own weights and HIIT circuits at home (I love Blogilates on YouTube, and had a good 12 week stint with the Sweat with Kayla app), and went on lots of evening walks for self-preservation (they were to make sure little man had at least one nap in the “witching hour”).

To fuel these workouts I started making sure I was eating lots of veges and protein, and less takeaways and processed stuff.

I remember being into Pita Pit’s Chick’n’Fala Salad in a VERY big way.

All this, combined with the fact that I was minus a baby and a significant amount of water weight (my hands and feet had finally deflated), meant I was down a solid 20kgs by about 6 months postpartum.

And then winter happened

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And the weather kaiboshed boot camp.

And I got sick. And my husband got sick. And little man got sick.

And I didn’t exercise.

And I ate all the Gingernuts.

And I plateaued.

Until

Now.

Two weeks ago, I started eating differently.

I thought about how I didn’t want to go on a diet.

I thought about everything I knew about healthy eating.

And I picked up my copy of Nadia Lim’s Fresh Start Cookbook.

The literature.

The “Say goodbye to fad diets” tagline spoke to my damn soul.

Her advice is sensible, kind, and actually relatively easy to follow.

It’s about eating a range of food groups each day, keeping your portion sizes in check, having whole foods (she calls it “nude” food 🍒🍑), and eating to add nutrition to your body – not eating to minus food groups, or calories.

Which I respect.

I also found it a more helpful mindset than the diet headspace of deprivation and being “good” (at least in my experience).

Yesterday, for instance, I knew we were having a family birthday dinner and I had a double-layer carrot cake with cream cheese icing (I dieeee) in my fridge – so at lunch I chose to go to The Lab (genuinely the most Millennial eatery you’ve ever seen) for pea and broadbean smashed toast with poached egg, halloumi (food of the heavens) and a beetroot saucy bit, and (the nicest) green smoothie (I have ever had).

And it was delicious. And colourful. And full of happy-body stuff.

And then later that night, I throughly enjoyed dinner and (a slice and a half of) cake.

Because, #balance.

You should go and love yourself

One of the hallmarks of body positivity is to let each person decide for themselves what is good and healthy for them – and not to judge them for it.

People are all different shapes and sizes, and that’s how it should be.

As for me – I’d been the same relative size for about 10 years, so that’s what I’m aiming to return to. It’s my comfy Kate size.

I also have some fly ass clothes that I’m looking forward to shimming back into …

But that doesn’t mean I don’t love my body right now, just the way it is. Because I really, truly do.

And I hope you do too.

Your body that it is.

Not mine.

That would be weird.

“You should go and love yourself.” – Justin Beiber

I_Weigh

To finish this odyssey of a post, I wanted to do my own @i_weigh.

It’s Jameela Jamil’s campaign for ‘life positivity’, and how we are the beautiful sum of our parts – not a number on a scale.

I recommend it. Not even to post, if you don’t want to.

Just to think about and acknowledge all the awesomeness that is you.

Because:

Possibly the smartest thing John Meyer has ever said.

Have a lovely weekend.

Kate x

Chapter 5: Running

Running has always been the worst.

I remember at Intermediate there was a month in the school calendar where we would do cross-country every Wednesday. And it was. Horrific.

Mainly because I was a little bit of a chubster. And I had braces, which didn’t impede my running, but certainly made sure I developed a personality.

I wasn’t a natural athlete. I liked Harry Potter and carbs. And my hobbies most definitely did not include struggling around (what must have only been a 2km) block in my Slazenger sneakers, while turning a violent shade of plum in front of cute* boys.

They were character developing years.

“The Treadmill”

According to TedTalk metaphors, getting “on the treadmill” of life isn’t something to be recommended.

But for a Kate scarred by running in public, a gym treadmill offered the perfect cardio oasis.

Air-conditioned, mood lit, and pumping MTV … it was my version of Batman’s ab-enhancing jumpsuit:

It was beautiful, flattering anonymity.

The cardio cinema became my Bruce Wayne training ground, and Les Mills my Ra’s a Ghol.

Treadmill training prepped me for my first Wellington Round the Bays 10km race, and much to my surprise, it really was a “fun” run.

Evidence: 

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Obligatory before and after shots from my 2014 race

F•R•I•E•N•D•S with running

After my initial runner’s high Round the Bays, I did another couple of races, but always seemed to find myself in the same pattern:

  1. Wants to become “a runner”
  2. Trains on treadmill
  3. Does race
  4. Dies
  5. Never wants to run again

  1. Decides wants to be “a runner” again …

I’m more will-they-won’t-they than Ross and Rachel.

More evidence

So this time, I’m doing something different.

I’m learning to run.

Outside.

The Postpartum Loop-Hole

As I discovered in every race ever, running outside is harder than being on the treadmill.

It’s like trying to drive a manual when you’re used to an auto. It all seems the same, but then there’s that third pedal, and you’re just like, w h a t.

I also used to be quite mean to myself about my running fitness. Because I could do 8km on the regular on a treadmill, I would beat myself up about struggling to do that outside.

Which is so dumb on so many levels. (Life’s much more fun if you treat yourself like you’re your own bestie).

Enter: the postpartum loop-hole.

I had a baby 10 months ago, and during that process, any running fitness I had went bye-bye along with my ability not to cry while watching This Is Us.

But I also learnt something else. Something, if we’re honest, I kinda already knew:

It was like all of a sudden I didn’t mind if I had to do walk/jog/walk between lampposts.

I didn’t feel like I “should” (the dirtiest, guiltiest of words) be able to do this already. The postpartum loop-hole gave me permission to be a beginner, and to be ok with starting at the bottom (now we here).

“The Secret”

I had to have a baby to learn “the secret” (and get some bad ass lightening tattoos, which some people call stretch marks, but that’s cause they basic).

But all you’ve had to do is read this blog (… lazy?)

The secret is: Just go for it.

Don’t worry about the “what ifs” of “I shoulds”. If you want to try something.

Just go for it.

Start the blog (!). Book the tickets. Ask the question. Do the thing.

What’s the worst that could happen? You fail. Oh well. Everyone does that. Just learn from it, have a laugh, and move on.

Like me with running: I don’t really care if my face looks like a plum pudding when I run.

Because. I. Love. Running.

Well – I love the feeling directly after I finish running.

Endorphins, yeah, that’s what I love. Endorphins.

That and the amazing sense of pride I get after doing something stupid hard.

And that’s exactly what I felt when I took the photo at the top of this post. It’s me after doing my first outside run without stopping around my new regular neighbourhood route (which Strava tells me is a tidy little 4.3km.)

I’m feelin’ 22 21.0975

Now I can’t very well tell you to just go for it, and not get on board myself.

So, I’m going to try something too.

I’m going to do the Wellington Round the Bays this February. Except this time – I’m going to do the half-marathon.

Which you better believe I instantly regret putting onto the internet and making myself accountable to. But stuff it.

I’m going for it.

Kate Rates: Running

It’s ridiculous and hard, and it makes you feel like death and victory all at once.

Running is the best.

10/10, would recommend.

Have you ever done a half-marathon before? For the love of all that is holy, please. Help. Me. Any tips would be very much appreciated.

Kate x

*On reflection, my taste was super questionable.