One of the more peculiar questions I’ve been receiving since I announced the impending arrival of The Sproutly One, is how I feel about “gaining back all the weight I lost since I’m pregnant now.” Lots of people have snarked – lovingly, I presume – that I “lost all that weight for nothing.”

Don’t get me wrong, I get it – I totally get it. If your idea of weight loss is the ultimate battle with a treadmill and eating celery, then, I mean… for you, pregnancy is going to mean “doing it all over again.” I tend to look at my weight loss a bit differently.

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When I first started out, I needed to learn how to commit to a workout. I had to learn how to train, how to be active, how to really stick to that whole “exercising” thing. Commitment ensured that I’d get up off my ass and go work out, regardless of how I felt, regardless of how much progress I’d seen, and regardless of how much progress I thought I should be seeing. Commitment guaranteed that I was making “active living” a regular part of my life.

Early on, I had to learn how to eat differently. I had to learn that no, not all calories are equal and that yes, some kinds of foods simply will not get me to my goal. I had to learn the importance and meaningfulness of whole foods, and how they make my goal that much more attainable. Understanding that my food intake was just as much about what I ate, not how much I ate was life-changing for me.

I had to learn that, if I wanted that hard, solid, athletic body I desired, a 100% cardio routine wasn’t going to cut it. The treadmill wouldn’t be my saving grace. I needed to strength train, and I needed to figure out a consistency that would work for me and my goals. Over lots of time, after trying it several different ways – and becoming a certified personal trainer helped – I learned not only the best way to strength train for me, but I learned that my training can and should adjust to my life, and that a shift in my life doesn’t have to mean a stop to my training.

I learned how to train for races. I learned how to craft training plans, nutrition plans and schedules. I learned what worked but, more importantly, I learned what didn’t work. Failure gave me boundaries – bumpers, if you will – to help me understand that, regardless of what I tried, there were some things that would never work for me. And, just because it “worked” for someone else, doesn’t mean I’m the problem – it could simply be a matter of the two of us not defining “worked” the same way… or any other number of reasons, none of which have anything to do with me.

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I also needed to learn how to tune folks out. Everyone would have something to say – they’d snark before I made progress; they’d snark while I was making progress; they’d snark after my progress had slowed down. They’d ask me if I was losing weight through surgery (I wasn’t – couldn’t afford it.) They’d ask me if I had a tapeworm. They’d ask me if I was eating cucumbers and carrots three times a day. They’d tell me I had to be eating cucumbers and carrots three times a day. They’d tell me that I wasn’t losing fast enough; I needed whatever product they or their momma’nem were selling. They’d tell me I was losing too fast, and that the only thing to want a bone was a dog. (I’d had plenty of “things”I was celibate. I wanted a man, thanks.) They’d tell me everything, alllll the things. People mean well – even when they don’t, it does me no good to assume they intend harm – but say all kinds of stuff without knowing the whole story. Their assumptions aren’t my problem.

Most importantly, I had to realize why I ate the way I did. I had to learn what emotional eating was, what it did to my brain, why I became such an emotional eater, what I could do to fight my addiction, and where I should begin to heal. This was a journey that took me years to learn, to understand who I truly am and how my relationship with food will never be the same as anyone else’s. All those people who wanted to shame and embarrass me for being fat, for losing weight, for not losing it fast enough or losing it too fast? None of them could ever understand the struggle of fighting an emotional eating habit. None of them could ever empathize with that – if they did, they wouldn’t have ever said such things to me.

All of this contributed to my ability to successfully lose that weight and keep it off. And, for the past years, Eddy and I struggled damned hard to finally get pregnant. This pregnancy, coming when it did, was like a gift – telling us that we finally had a handle on what’s going on in our lives, and were finally ready to take on the task of having a new little one… nine years after the first one. Oy.

That’s beside the point.

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The point is, a weight loss journey isn’t actually about losing weight – it’s about learning which components of how you live contribute to your external and internal fitness, and finding ways to change them that make you happy. It’s about learning those boundaries that work for you, and finding ways to adhere to them. It’s about figuring out what contributes to the choices you make – for me, it was hard to skip the sweets at first because of the food addiction – and how to change that.

Of course I don’t see the journey as a waste! If anything, it has changed the way I look at and handle issues during this pregnancy. I mentally compare how I handled things before, and how I handle them now. I think about solving problems the way I did before, and remind myself that using that method doesn’t bode well for me. I remind myself that, no matter how intense the craving might be, it wouldn’t do me any good to go back down the path of giving in to cravings just because I feel like it. And, this method has helped me have a healthier, smarter, and happier pregnancy. Not to mention, because I already know much of what I need to know… getting right back on the saddle afterwards will be a breeze. I mean, about as breezy as life with an infant can get.

So, it’s safe to say that I’m not worried in the slightest. If anything, I’m kind of excited in a weird way – what new game am I going to learn? How different will the journey be without the emotional eating challenges I had in the beginning? With so much more muscle, a more solid understanding of how to eat better, and a healthier metabolism, combined with breastfeeding, why would I worry? I’ll have my baby and everything I need to make this happen in a healthy way. Who could feel bad about that?