I have a love/hate relationship with my reflection these days.

On the one hand, I am pretty darned impressed by and in awe of what my body has accomplished in the last 4 years: losing a rather significant amount of weight, overcoming infertility to become pregnant, growing a baby to full-term through a healthy pregnancy, birthing said baby sans-epidural after a labor who’s length I wouldn’t wish on anyone and, for a while, being his exclusive nourishment. I’ll absolutely give this bod o’ mine the credit where it’s due: those are some remarkable things to have done, and things I truly never thought it would be able to do.

And yet, I struggle with my body as it is now perhaps more than I ever have, even when I was 100 pounds heavier than I currently am.

When I found out I was pregnant, my first serious train of thought after my initial shock/excitement/happiness was complete panic at putting weight back on. The first 6 weeks or so, I was a mess and having meltdowns in front of my husband (who had lost an incredibly impressive amount of weight himself) about how I was going to turn into a whale while he kept getting skinnier and hotter. I had worked so hard to lose all of the weight I had, and the thought of gaining any of it back at all, even for a perfectly amazing reason like our baby, was terrifying. I was the healthiest, fittest, and lightest I had ever been as an adult, and I didn’t want to let go of that. So I vowed not to! Easy, right?

Not. Despite eating well, staying pretty active, and having normal weight gain through my first two trimesters, I absolutely ballooned in my third. Part of that was due to my body’s apparent need to provide extremely luxurious accommodations, as I had approximately twice the normal amount of amniotic fluid. That excess led to insurmountable lethargy, discomfort, and all-around fatness since it hurt to roll over, let alone exercise. I gave up quite a bit towards the end and fell back into many of my old eating habits, because food was one of the few comforts I had left.

By the time I walked into the hospital to give birth, I had gained almost 70 pounds.

I immediately lost about 15 after having my son. I lost another 10 once all of my swelling went down. 10 months later? 5. Freakin’. Pounds.

Thus, I am left with 40 extra pounds that feel harder than ever to get rid of. That’s just to get back to pre-pregnancy weight – which was still about 40 pounds away from my goal weight. I am fluffy and flabby again, and it sucks feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin. Even on my best days, motivation is a struggle. I am slowly starting to incorporate change once again, since I know that baby steps are my personal key to success. I’m starting with tackling what I’m eating, and am going to slowly start incorporating exercise back into my routine. It feels exhausting to even think about exercise, but I know my energy and outlook will drastically improve once I actually start doing it. This body has done some great things, but I’d like to see it do many more.

It’s time to whip it back into shape… or at least a little less-round shape.

So, parents (yes, dads too! Sympathy weight gain sucks too!)… help me out! What are some things you did after baby to help return some of your focus to your own health?

-Stephanie Ansley