It’s been three months since Dashiell was born. The morning after, I remember being surprised by how unpregnant I looked. I thought it’d be at least another month before my disconnected stomach muscles found their way back together, but my pre-pregnancy silhouette had returned practically overnight. I felt really good.
During my pregnancy I had gained twenty-four pounds but within a week lost sixteen. Most of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit a couple weeks later– even my jeans! I felt like I’d dodged a bullet. Like most women, I had dreaded what pregnancy would do to my body, but the damage seemed minimal. Two weeks post-partum I almost breathed a sigh of relief.
I’d been so careful with my eating for the previous nine months—for the health of my baby and for fear of gaining “too much”—that I felt I deserved to relax for a while. But I had decided long before I gave birth that no matter how much I had gained I’d give myself some time to enjoy being a new mom without the stress of losing weight. Plus, I was told so many times, “Oh! When you’re breastfeeding the weight will just melt off!” Well, it’s been over three months, and when I step on the scale these eight pounds are still staring at me. It could be a lot worse, but as I’ve watched friends half my size complain about their “rolls” and their thighs (which don’t even touch in the middle!), I remind myself that body image is all relative, and that we can’t compare ourselves to one another.
I’ve tried cutting back a little and getting out for a few walks a day, but whatever I’m doing is not enough. I’m frustrated, and with summer coming up I’m feeling a little desperate to lose ten pounds…fast. The other day I tried on a dress and wished it didn’t fit the way it did. To be clear, I’m not a body hater – I love my body. After all, it created my beautiful son. I just want my clothes to not tug. That’s all. A simple request, but I’m feeling like I’d do anything to get back to my pre-baby weight.
The other piece of the story is that Andy and I are still living with Mom and Dad. We temporarily moved in a couple weeks after Dash was born so that I wouldn’t be alone all cooped up in our New York apartment during the long winter days of my maternity leave. We’ve loved living here and all the support and help we’ve received with a newborn. (We know we’re spoiled!) But besides four walls and a roof, we share a lot–the ups and downs of one another’s lives, household responsibilities and, most every night of the week, the same dinner table.
When I told Mom I wanted to try something called Whole30 to kickstart my post-baby weight loss, she scoffed. (I knew she would.) She’s not one for fad diets or extreme elimination. “If it’s not sustainable for life, don’t even start it.” That’s her mantra. We’ve had this conversation so many times in my life, like when I was in college and wanted to go on The Zone Diet. Or when I was trying to lose weight for my wedding and did Atkins. The question always was, “And what happens when you come off that diet?” For me, that’s never been an issue. I’m excellent at maintaining my weight, I’m just terrible at losing it.
When I started cooking and eating vegan a couple years ago, not for weight loss but for health reasons, Mom wasn’t happy about that either, but she respected it. I felt better without the meat and dairy, and as a byproduct I lost some weight. But once I found out I was pregnant I went back to meat and dairy in moderation so that I could easily consume enough protein for my baby.
Yesterday’s conversation wasn’t great. I was annoyed, she was adamant. But after we had the same conversation about Whole30 that we’ve had about every other diet I’ve ever wanted to try, we compromised on going back to a more vegan diet with a few exceptions. She said she wanted us to allow chicken broth and Parmesan cheese and I agreed. This Curried Coconut Soup with Spinach and Peas was our first dinner going back to what I call a vaguely vegan or “vague-an.” And of course we ate it, enjoyed it, went back for seconds, and declared the meal perfect. Who missed the meat? No one. And as I went to sleep last night I felt good for making one step in the right direction. One meal at a time.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon each: curry powder and smoked paprika
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite-diced tomatoes
- 1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) light coconut milk
- ½ head bite-size cauliflower florets
- 1 pound carrots, cut into medium dice
- 2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) chickpeas, drained
- 8 ounces each: frozen spinach and frozen peas
- Heat oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, and paprika; sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes; stew to reduce slightly, a couple of minutes longer. Add broth, coconut milk, cauliflower, carrots, and chickpeas; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until cauliflower florets are tender and starting to break apart, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and peas; let stand to blend flavors, a few minutes longer. Serve!