My Surprising Journey to Better Health and Wellness, Part 3
If you missed part 1 & 2 of my surprising journey to better health and wellness, please read that first, here (part 1) and here (part 2). This is the conclusion to my 3-part story, but really, it is just the beginning of my journey!
My Partial Inpatient Experience
Shortly after the new year, I began an incredibly pricey week-and-a-half stint at what’s called a “partial inpatient” day hospital. Essentially, that means I wasn’t so severe that I needed full inpatient with overnight stays, but I was severe enough to not skirt by with weekly counseling appointments. I had to check into the hospital each morning and get fitted with an admission wristband daily. It also meant I had to reveal my embarrassing (to me, at the time) diagnosis to my parents and my husband’s family, as I needed my mom to come stay with us to watch my older children while I was in treatment from 8:30-3:30 each day.
Each morning during the time I was in the program, I helped get my older children ready for the day, snagged a quick breakfast, and got the baby, William, ready. William came along with me to the treatment program – one of the flagship benefits and unique features of the program I was in. That alone was one of the very best parts of the program. I was able to spend one-on-one time with him, and watch him interact with other people and other babies – something I hadn’t had much of until that point. It was amazing to get to know him better and see his personality come out.
The program forced me to dig deep – really deep. Each day was emotionally exhausting, but when I look back on my time there – one of the darkest parts of my life – I feel all the warm fuzzies. Because that’s what kick-started my journey back to living a normal, healthy life. Recently, it’s been really difficult to look back on my time with PPD before the program, because the memories of awfulness come flooding back. One of my morning rituals before I even get out of bed is to check my Timehop app. I stopped checking it recently because it was too hard to look at the photos and videos from a year ago, when I was spiraling out of control, barely staying afloat. I can’t wait for spring to roll around, when my post-hospital-program memories begin to fill up my Timehop. But I digress…
Throughout each day of treatment, we had various group and individual counseling sessions, along with skills training (self-care, calming techniques, mindfulness, asking for help, etc.). There was a nursery in the unit, where moms could send their babies for naps, play, or cuddles with the nurses who staffed the room. Initially, I preferred to keep William with me throughout the day, on my lap, or by my feet in one of the many bouncers provided by the program, but I was able to get more out of the sessions when I was focusing on getting the most out of them, not distracted by his sweet little smile.
There were many tears, lots of uncomfortable conversations, and time spent with women from all walks of life who were all suffering like I was – but in their own unique way. Because this program was costing me a boatload of money, I was determined to get the most out of it. I arrived early each day, and was one of the last to leave. Most women stayed in the program for at least two weeks, but I had to leave after seven days because I simply could not afford the bills that were being racked up. Our insurance “covered” it, but our high deductible plan meant that we paid for all of the expenses out of pocket. It was so hard to leave, and I so very much wanted to stay another week to soak up as much as I possibly could.
What Happened After The Program
When I “graduated” from the program, I desperately wanted to keep up the momentum, and was so incredibly fearful that without the support of daily intensive treatment, I’d fall back to where I was. After the program ended for me, I joined two different postpartum depression support groups, with the intention of picking the one I liked best and dropping the other, but now almost a year later, I’m still attending both. I can’t imagine not seeing my girls a few times a month. I also started weekly counseling sessions. And I finally began to take my health and wellness seriously. Remember what I said in my first post about how I always said I would treat depression with nutrition and fitness? I was about to put my money where my mouth was.
In February, I finally took the plunge and purchased an at-home fitness and nutrition program that I had been contemplating for three whole years. I had a million excuses over those three years why I wasn’t ready – we couldn’t afford it, I knew we would have a third baby so why bother losing weight if I was just going to gain it again (dumbest reason ever), and I was so scared I would try it and fail, like I had failed every other attempt before. We still didn’t have the money for it, but I asked for money for my December birthday, and Christmas, and saved all that to get started.
And then, I went all in. After I ate $50 worth of Sonic and Chick-Fil-A… obviously.
A 30-Day Experiment
I wanted to see what would happen if I gave it my all – no cheats, no treats – just my full commitment and dedication – for 30 days. I started sharing my journey on social media, which was basically the scariest thing ever, especially in my fragile, PPD brain (What would people think? Would they be annoyed? What if they judged me? What if I failed?) – but I knew it would keep me accountable, and I also hoped it would help other people like me. If there was anyone else out there suffering like I was, I wanted to do whatever I could to help them, too. I loved following other moms who were real and relatable, because it helped me to not feel alone. And I wanted to incorporate that sense of camaraderie – and realness – into how I shared my story.
And so, I did. I jumped in with both feet, and shared every little piece along the way of that first 30 days. It was hard to get started – I was coming from a place where I was so depressed I could hardly get off the couch, to getting up and moving and trying to stay motivated each day. But I forced myself. I ate clean, with proper portions, and followed my meal plan (which, thank God, allowed carbs and wine). I worked out six days a week, no matter what – and with a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 5-month old baby in tow. People asked me constantly how I did it with three kids at home. Lots of patience. But really, a half hour workout could take upwards of an hour, in between getting snacks, wiping butts, nursing the baby, and breaking up sibling fights. My older two would sometimes join in and do the workout with me, and occasionally, I’d have to grab the baby and hold him as I exercised.
I did NOT want to work out yesterday (I also did not want to post this video, but this is what postpartum looks like after 3 kids, years of binge eating, and no exercise – if I can do this, anyone can!). I thought about skipping my workout because I just didn't. have. the. energy. But I forced myself through it – and it wasn't easy. I took more breaks than usual and did more of the modifications, but I finished. —- William started crying at the tail end of the workout, SO, this is what working out with a baby looks like! One of my "I can't work out" excuses for years was the fact that I didn't know how to keep the kids busy when I was exercising – but that's not an excuse anymore. I'm getting the big kids involved every day, and if I have to, grabbing Will to join me (weight training, right? 😜). I can't be strong for them if I'm not healthy myself, so I'm no longer putting my health & wellness on the backburner. —- If this sounds familiar to you, I can help you! Make the decision to put YOU first for once. Drop me a comment or send me a message, and let's do this together! I'd love a fitness buddy! ——— #postpartum #fitmom #workout #motherhood #vbac #cfbgetsfit #fitmom #fitmama #fitfluential #fitness #workout #WAHM #WAHMlife #postpartumfitness #postpartumbody #postpartumweightloss
The kids had been my excuse to not work out for years, but now they were my excuse to work out. I wanted to show them how to be healthy, how to treat my body with the respect it deserves, and how important it is to have healthy habits.
I had no idea if this would work, or if all of this would even be worth my effort. I had failed every other attempt at a diet and workout program before, but I was so curious what would happen if I gave this my all. Guess what? It worked. I swear, miracles happened in that first 30 days. I lost ten pounds, 6.5 inches, and slowly started to feel better. A bit more energy, and some moments of happiness. This had never happened to me, with any other program or attempt, ever before.
What Happened After The First 30 Days
I am hands down the least likely person to have success with any kind of nutrition and fitness program. For my entire life, I hated exercise with a fiery passion – but I somehow found a program that I actually enjoyed. Heck, most days I even laughed during my workout – and I still do. I have chronic, actually diagnose-able binge eating disorder, and have spent a lifetime filling myself with the unhealthiest of foods, and I have a deep dislike of vegetables. But I’ve seen an incredible turnaround in how I feel, both physically and mentally, when I’m eating healthy. More energy, more patience, better sleep, less sluggishness and tummy troubles. TMI alert – it’s helped… ahem… regularity… a tremendous amount. And I’ve even found a whole lot of ways to make vegetables not so gross to my palate, and dare I say, even enjoyable. A real, “whoda thunk it” moment.
What can you do in 30 days? – I was such a skeptic one month ago. I signed up, not even knowing if it would work for me. I'd failed/quit every diet and fitness program I've ever tried. I had every excuse in the book. I struggled with years and years of binge eating. I hadn't worked out consistently in over 15 years. I had zero strength & endurance, and suffered from terrible migraines with any light exercise. And baby weight. Ohhh the baby weight! Three babies plus everything mentioned above – well – it hasn't been kind on my body. – One month later, here I stand. Down 10 pounds & 6.5 inches, and UP in strength, endurance, and confidence. The first two weeks were the hardest, but all in all, with full honesty, this program was not hard to manage overall. I can't believe it worked. – I still have a long way to go. But this month I proved to myself that with the proper nutrition, correct portions (those pesky containers DO work and it's actually a LOT of food!), fun workouts, and most importantly, the built-in support system that comes along with having an amazing coach & truly incredible team – meeting my goals is possible. And dare I say, fun. – In short, this could very, very easily be you. Trust me when I say, if I can do it, anyone can. Do you want to make a change? Drop me a message because I'd love to help you hit your goals!
With those results, I felt on top of the world, and wanted to continue – so continue I did. I smashed through program after program, getting stronger, and slimmer, and happier along the way. I felt joy like I hadn’t felt in years. The mental clarity that came along with this was astounding.
The funny thing is that I had no idea how much I had been suffering, until I wasn’t anymore.
By the time summer hit, I had lost 20 pounds, and realized this was what had been missing in my life all those years. The Zoloft and support groups and counseling got me off the couch, but they could only take me so far. Working on my health and wellness is what cranked my results up to the next level, where I truly started living again. All I wanted to do – and still want to do – is to share my experience with others. To encourage other women and moms to get up, get moving, and eat healthier. Because it has truly saved my life.
Photo credits: Heather @CookiesForBfast
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Heather is the mom behind the blog, Cookies For Breakfast. Reality TV addict. Natural living enthusiast. Accidental hippie. Comedy ninja. Loves big sunglasses, seasonal cocktails, and of course, cookies for breakfast.