Why I am refusing to put that pizza slice down.

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A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. If a powerful genie appeared and offered to grant me just one wish, the first thing that comes in mind is this: I would like to be able to eat everything that I want and not gain a gram. If your first reaction is to mock my base instincts and lack of sophistication, please try to reconsider. Just imagine all those delicious comfort food feasts I could enjoy: pizzas and beers, buckets of buttery pop corn and eating ice-cream out of the box would definitely make life sweeter, once the prospect of looking like a bloated whale was removed from the equation.

In my 20s I did not value food that much. That did not mean I did not like food (quite the contrary) but i was happy to have a couple of glasses of wine for dinner. When I took a holiday I never looked for the the best restaurants or best ice-cream parlours, and neither did i try to educate myself on the local cuisine. Spending money on restaurants was not good on my wallet, and neither was it on my waistline. You see, being single and overenjoying your food is never such a good idea in today’s market, as you ladies probably already know.

Today when I travel I could probably skip a few museums, historic churches and monuments. If I have a great meal somewhere this makes it a nice holiday. If I am so lucky as  to eat well every day it is simply unforgettable, even without the museums and the churches. I guess it is one of the hidden advantages of growing older: You find more pleasure in the small things that when you were younger you either did not care for or you took for granted.

I remember when I was pregnant we travelled to New York. Before the trip, I spent hours, if not days, looking for things I would like to eat and restaurants I would like to visit. In this capital of fashion, not being able to indulge in cloth shopping was liberating. We visited twice Lombardi’s and both times I enjoyed a huge  NYC style Italian pizza. No guilty afterthoughts either. It was all “for the baby”.

Food gives us humans so much pleasure. There are of course numerous other pleasures in life that can make us incredibly happy. But at the end of the day, life is tough and, for better of for worse, the pleasure of food often requires less effort and is more readily available than other things.

I am not saying that eating like pigs and accepting obesity is a good thing. I am not obese and I would definitely not enjoy being one. We all hold on to the phantasy that one day that Jennifer Anniston diet will work its miracles and we will look so effortlessly chic and naturally glowing. (Diet? Daaarling, I eat everything in moderation) But as I said, life is not always a piece of cake. So you sometimes need a piece of cake to make things right after what appears to have been the shittiest of days. When this happens you should eat without a hint of guilt or sense of failure. Give yourself a break.

You deserve it.

Losing the extra weight: What I have learnt

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Being someone who has always experimented with weight loss, I have my own observations that I would like to share. With the exception of my post pregnancy weight where I had to shed around 28kg or 62 pounds, my main concern has always been the last stubborn five kilos (10 pounds), the result of love for food, loss of motivation and ignoring the caloric value of certain foods. I have never consulted a nutritionist or a dietician, (even when I successfully shed those 28 kg) but I always had a good general idea of the things I should and should not eat and I made my own diet plan according to my personal judgement.

Disclaimer: When you must lose  more than 6-7 kg it is best to visit an expert and get a a professional diet plan. The dietician will give you the right food combinations to cover your nutritional needs while cutting down on calories, and inform you about your personal ideal pace of weight loss.

However no dietician can make you thin, you are the the only person that can do that. Your motivation is your best friend in your weight loss journey, your driving force without which your goal cannot be achieved.

Below are some tips that I hope will help you keep it up and succeed.

Honesty with the scales: I myself have noticed that the times I tend to put on weight are those that I avoid stepping on the scales. Even though you should avoid obsessing over a number (numbers can lie) you still need to be honest about weight gain. No you are not “bloated” every day and it is impossible to gain significant muscle with little or no weight training, so just  be brave enough to admit that those pizzas and buckets of pop corn have turned into body fat that you now need to get rid of.

And now what? Relax.Once you get a cleat picture of the amount of extra weight that you want to lose, take a long deep breath. Success in weight loss requires that you are focused, yet relaxed. Stress, obsession, worry and impatience are only obstacles. The popular role model of the lycra clad  woman in a constant obsessive fighting mode against fat is likely create more stress and waste of your vital energy. Acknowledging that these extra pounds do not change a thing about you being a beautiful, sexy, intelligent person, but you would feel  so much better without them, is the way to start your journey.

Weight loss journey. Weight loss in a journey whether you need to lose 4 or 64 pounds. It is a change of attitudes and the realisation that healthy eating and exercise is a way of life. In fact, you need to accept that excessive eating and, unhealthy foods will always make those extra pounds creep back on. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more you have to watch your diet and eat clean.

Weight Plateaus: Embrace the idea that they exist. If there is one thing to be said about weight loss this is that is is not linear. It might appear that you are dieting for one or two months and the scales has not moved. The truth is that your body fat is a result of long term eating habits and what you need to do is to readjust these habits- in the longterm-to eventually find your weight where  you want it to be.

Learn to say no: Myself being Greek means that I come from a culture where throwing food away and not emptying your plate is the gravest of sins. I still remember as a young child my mother coaxing me to eat the last piece of bread “because children in some places in the world die of hunger”. Having this attitude makes it hard for you not to transgress, especially if you have a partner or child that orders pizzas and heaps of french fries and then does not finish them.Take responsibility for yourself and learn to say no to food. Are you willing to eat all the food available in the restaurant or all the food sold at the supermarket to rid the world of hunger? I thought so.

So do not give up. Weight loss is above all an attitude and a mental state . If you get there with your mind, the body will follow.

The Bitter Truth about my Pregnancy Weight Gain

I feel for you Kim

I feel for you Kim

When I put my foot on the scales for the first time after giving birth it was 8 weeks post partum and I was consciously holding the baby in my arms. I thought, if I saw something I did not like I would blame it on the baby. When the actual number hit me, two thoughts crossed my mind: a) the baby cannot possibly weigh that much before she turns ten years old b) an old classic: this scales is old and broken.

Just to be completely sure, I tried to balance the baby alone on the scales before I tried again without her. Coward me. I had never seen that number in my pre-pregnancy life.

During my whole pregnancy I was in denial about my weight gain. Apart from the fact that I refused to get on the scales after the fourth month when I realized I was already 10+ kilos heavier, I somehow tried to convince myself that “it is all swelling and fluid retention”. (Guess what, it was not.) But I could not control it unless I went on a diet, and that was not what I wanted to do while pregnant.  Having been slim most of my adult life, I never had to struggle to lose anything more than 4-5 kilos max.  So when I had to confront my post partum weight reality, I panicked. I kinda expected that out of these 28 kilos half would be gone after delivery with the baby, the placenta and well… the swelling. At least that is what so many moms on numerous pregnancy blogs claim, that by the time they left the hospital 10 kilos had miraculously evaporated. But it does not always work that way.

When it comes to pregnancy weight, It turns out that your body, in combination with the amount and quality of food you consume will do what your genes and hormones dictate. You may have the noblest intentions to stay “all belly” and be like one of those celebrity moms that go into their skinny jeans a few days or even hours after giving birth. If it is not genetically meant to happen, it will not and the worst thing you can do is to hopelessly cling to this idea in a desperate effort to maintain a sense of control in your life.

Becoming a parent suddenly changes your life so drastically and means that your weight gain will be the least scary of the scary things that will happen to you. I am not suggesting you should eat for two or stuff your face at meals. On the contrary, staying healthy should be a priority. But bear in mind that weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy and how much weight you put on will not solely depend on your eating.

Frankly I am tired of being bombarded with images of pregnant media personas and celebrities-pretentiously- competing who has the best genes.  Yes, we all know there are women out there that are naturally very thin and manage to stay slim during pregnancy.  We also know there are people who can afford expert diet consultation, personal trainers, chefs, weight maintenance programs and plastic surgery.  But the majority of us cannot and the worst thing that can happen to a woman is not the kilos she stocks up during pregnancy but her obsession and frustration over it.

Fellow moms, it’s ok.

Summing up, I had a discussion lately with a male friend. He was telling me how much weight both he and his ex partner had put on during an unhappy relationship. He literally felt heavy with frustration and toxic emotions and it was as if the weight came not from the excessive food but from the feeling that they were both dragging their feet living under the same roof.

So I say away with the weight gain remorse! It is as harmful as the weight gain itself and the surest way to find the old you again is to do everything in your power to be stress free and happy.

 

 

The Perfect Transplant

Skywalker thinks I should make more effort to involve my parents in my pregnancy.

“Ask your dad to touch your belly” he told me the other day.

“That’s not a good idea. He doesn’t like touching people that much.”

“Maybe you can go near him and let him touch your belly by accident.” SW insisted who believes that my dad’s aura is weakened by touching sick people all day and could use some positive energy coming from the baby.

My mother on the other hand touches my belly all the time. She is very happy to caress my belly and speak to it. However when it comes to sharing information and having long mother/daughter conversations, she is not that good.
Lost in her transplantation journals, my mum gets really excited only when a conversation turns scientific. Trying to have the regular chit chat about morning sickness does not really work that well between us.

“So mom, how was it when you were pregnant with me?”

Her face gets an agonized hard expression as if she recalls life in the battlefield: “It was difficult” she says “A day before I delivered I had to sit for my University Exam at Med School. I had so much studying to do. It was such an important exam…” Blah blah blah, she goes on about the exam.

“Did I kick a lot?”

“It was such a long time… I don’t really remember now”.

One last effort:

“So mom, how do you wax the bikini when you are pregnant when you cannot really see down there?”

“……”

Finally she finds a way to relate, her eyes light up and her expression changes into that of a happy child that realizes that Christmas is here.

Do you know that the fetus is the perfect natural transplant?” she says with excitement. “It has 50% completely foreign DNA and yet your body does NOT reject it. It is an unexplained miracle of nature.”

The miracle of nature and its scientific dimensions have finally triggered a conversation. I try to adapt and ask more questions or get more involved practically into Science. Like that time I made my family take a pricey DNA test to find out where our deep ancestors come from and how we are genetically related. The only two people that resisted the test were my sister, who believes human DNA could be similarly compared to the DNA of rats, and my dad who could not give a rat’s ass.

“So is it possible to save the umbilical cord after giving birth…? For the future health of the baby…?” Or something like that.

Her eyes light up again: “You can save the umbilical cord blood for the benefit of Science” she gasps “It is very unlikely your baby will ever need it.” and adds:

“It can be arranged.”

The Things a Pregnant Woman does not want to hear

The things that people say to pregnant women are almost impossible. Pregnancy, a once normal condition that rarely invited comments, has now become this huge deal that everyone in the outside feels they have to relate somehow and express some kind of opinion, comment or life view.

Googling the most common things that bother pregnant women I did not really find among the most popular reasons anything that offensive or shocking. As a pregnant woman today you should not really take offence easily but rather kindly try to see where every person is coming from. There is such an abundance of judgment around pregnancy out there that If you pay attention to every little thing you will drive yourself crazy or completely neurotic.

Weight gain remarks, unsolicited medical advice or assumptions about your postpartum life challenges (all often joined by uninvited belly touching), are things you should generally learn to shake off easily. We unfortunately live in times where pregnancy is seen as a lifestyle choice, as the Daily Mail “sidebar of shame” would agree. We see a pregnant woman in a voyeuristic gaze and instead of wishing her all the best and going on with our lives we try to spot that hard toll pregnancy has taken on her life, body and mindset.

I personally learnt not to mind weight gain remarks. When I first heard “Now that you grew fat you look like your mother” (Double compliment for me and my mother) by an old relative I did mind for a while, but then I put things in perspective. If it matters to him, it does not matter to me.

 I still have to admit there seems to be some secret guilty pleasure some people feel in seeing a person who walked all their lives in skinny jeans now waddling down the street. It is the same guilty pleasure that the Daily Mail sidebar brings to people’s lives.

So is your weight gain just baby or body fat as well?” Another old relative asked in deep concern.

Funnily enough, I do not care about that either. For one thing, there is people out there who genuinely and in all seriousness have these concerns. Give them a break.

What I do mind is horror stories. Anecdotal stories about miscarriages, birth defects and the like are things that pregnant women do NOT want to hear. You might have a sudden itch to share a horror story with your pregnant friend. Don’t do it. Keep your horror stories to yourself. Don’t even say that horrible word to her, in any sentence or context. It is possible that it might haunt her.

If you have to say something, you don’t even have to pay her a compliment about how good she still looks if you do not feel that is true. (Even though that would give her a secret joy that would make her day).

Just look at her and tell her with certainty: I am sure that everything is going to be just fine”