There are many wonderful things about being a parent, but "ability to get to the gym" is not one of them. At least not for a single parent.
I am a short person, and I've never been mistaken for a model. About 11-12 years ago, I lost 30 pounds, and kept it off. While this weight loss never got me to what the charts tell me I should weigh, I was at a place where I was healthy, where clothes fit well, and where I was pretty happy with my body. I'd gain a few pounds here or there, sure, but I was always able to pull it back. I think the most I ever gained was nine pounds, so I never really got out of hand. I was able to do this largely because I worked out. I like food-- I'm never going to be someone who picks at her food, or forgets to eat-- so you have to make up for it with activity.
I didn't gain a ton of weight during my pregnancy-- again, because I exercised. I was going to the gym until a week or two before Elle was born, I think. My workouts changed, sure, but I was still exercising. There were many benefits to the exercising besides the weight control-- I really didn't like the feeling that I had lost control over my body, so working out calmed that anxiety as well.
In the 18 months since Elle joined the world, though, there has been no gym. I dropped my Y membership; didn't make sense financially. I get to yoga once in a blue moon-- I can't afford a sitter every time I want to go to a class, and while there's a weekly lunchtime yoga near my office, I can't get there every week. I am using the exercise bike in my basement when I can, but it's not the same as a good, intense half-hour on the elliptical.
I have gained back 25 pounds. That is completely unacceptable. Also, I can't afford a whole new wardrobe, thanks.
So I'm back on the healthy eating train. Last time I did it through that national chain (named with two words, both of which start with W and the second word is "watchers") and found it pretty straightforward. So I rejoined. "Rejoined," for me, now means I went, "signed up," bought the reference materials I'm going to need, and won't go back. Weekly meetings are nice, but see above re: yoga-- not going to hire a sitter, can't go during work. I also can't afford the weekly fees right now.
This is actually OK for me. When I'm motivated, I'm motivated. Weekly meetings don't do anything to help me in either direction. The weekly weighing in is, actually, helpful, but I'll manage.
I've been on it just over a week now, and so far so good. It's a straightforward plan: eat whole foods, eat lots of fruit and veggies and lean proteins, and make sure you eat enough healthy fats to keep things right. (It's counterintuitive, but if you don't eat any fat at all, it's not good for you AND it slows down your weight loss.) There have been a number of changes since I was on the plan all those years ago, so it's definitely an adjustment. For instance, what do you MEAN I can have all the fruit I want? Do you know how many bananas I can (theoretically) eat in one day?
Really, you can have anything you want; you just have to fit it into your day. Do I want that bag of chips, or can I have a banana AND peanut butter AND some crackers? I'm going to choose volume over specific foods, usually, which is why this works for me. And at least one day I've actually had trouble meeting that minimum food target. Nice problem to have. (I had a few graham crackers and they were heavenly.)
I do have to be careful not to eat Elle's leftovers (a bad habit that was probably responsible for at least a few of the 25 pounds) and it's not like the old days where I could just keep tempting foods out of the house entirely; there's another little person around who likes a graham cracker after dinner once in a while. But again, if I'm motivated, it doesn't seem to be a big issue. And I'm motivated. Elle deserves a mom who feels good about herself and is healthy. I deserve to be healthy and feel good about myself. And I know I can do it-- I did it before.
I'm also applying for additional life insurance (Note: I do have a good amount of life insurance already, through work, but I want a term policy that's independent of my job, and big enough that my total coverage is sufficient to take care of Elle if, God forbid, it's necessary) and it's cheaper the less you weigh.
So happy new year! May it be healthy and happy and wonderful for you and yours. I'm going to go have some popcorn now, because I can.