For those of you that don’t know my fertility journey, my husband and I embarked on an IVF round in the beginning of 2021. After having 3 miscarriages naturally and given that I am going to turn 44 this year in November, we felt that it was time to hand over to the world of IVF in hope that I would get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy.
I have always battled with weight to some degree throughout my lifetime. Growing up as a child, I was always tubbier than my friends, which I guess made me stand out from everyone else. I was often picked on for being bigger, either called fatty or cabbage patch kid. Those voices will always be in my mind, a scar that never leaves me. Being overweight as a child wasn’t easy, I would also constantly overhear people saying is she allowed that, can she have that, I don’t think that will fit her! As if I was an alien.
Throughout my younger years, I was constantly on various diets, but I guess so much was going on in my mind that it wasn’t easy to lose weight, plus I loved food so much, so it was hard to identify a healthy relationship with food at a young age. I didn’t want to feel different to all my friends, I wanted to eat and enjoy my food like they did. Eventually at the age of 13, I weighed 13 stone, and something had to change. I went on a healthy diet, by documenting what I ate every day, and within a year I lost 3 stone. It wasn’t easy but again it’s a scar in my mind that never leaves me.
As I got older a few years later, I started to become more restrictive with my food which led me to losing more weight and eventually I was classified with an eating disorder at the age of 16. Not only did this take over my life but it also took over my family’s. After a few years of counselling and being hospitalised on two occasions, I finally healed myself. You can heal an eating disorder but again it’s a scar and memory that never leaves you, and an addiction which could be reinstated at any stage.
After each miscarriage, I was left with a body that I didn’t feel comfortable in, as well grieving the loss of the pregnancy. Throughout all my pregnancies I would never deny myself from eating what my body was needing, it’s a moment that you embrace what your body needs. For me, being pregnant and a mother has always been a lifelong dream of mine. When I was about 8 years old, I used to stick my tummy out all the time to see what I would look like being pregnant and dreaming of that day that I would become pregnant when I was older. After each miscarriage I’ve always been left with excess weight. Having had an eating disorder in the past, it would have been very easy for me to switch into that mode and be restrictive with my food. However, becoming a mother, I know the importance of nourishing myself with healthy food and not being restrictive, so I avoided going down the restrictive route. After my miscarriages – as tempting as some miracle crazy weight loss diets sounded – I wanted to be kind to myself and not go down that road. As I mentioned above, we had 3 natural miscarriages in the space of two years and being over 40 with someone who’s prone to putting on weight, it takes a toll on your mind mentally and body.
We started the IVF journey in February this year, and unfortunately our first round didn’t work, I was suddenly faced with unexpected weight gain, from the drugs, steroids and extra consumption of food, excess hunger triggered by the medication, which meant feeling hungry all the time, and inevitably, I gained weight. Between each cycle we had a few months off, and I admit due to the failure of this first round, I didn’t get myself back into shape. We started our next round in May, which initially we were successful, but unfortunately this pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage. On this cycle, I was on a much higher dose of a drug called Prednisolone which notorious for excess weight gain, and unfortunately, I wasn’t made aware of it. I was on a high dose as it helps to decrease your immunity to prevent miscarriage, and one will do whatever it takes to prevent a miscarriage. But the weight gain was at least 1 ½ to 2 stone.
Since 2019, with both rounds of IVF and our 3 natural miscarriages, I’ve put on just under 3 stones. A couple of weeks after my last miscarriage, I decided that I wanted to attempt the scales. I’m very much all for being kind to myself, but this time I put on so much weight from all the drugs and steroids, that I mentally found it hard to cope. When I went on the scales and saw that I had hit the 13 stone mark, it really sent me into a downward spiral of remembering the last time I weighed 13 stone, which was when I was my heaviest at 13 years old (at the time I weighed more than my dad), and this time on the scales I weighed more than my husband.
I sat down in much disbelief of how much more can my body take. I could have easily slipped into my old eating disorder habits, but why would I ruin all the hard work I’ve done over the years to heal my relationship with food.
I was suddenly faced with the dilemma of how I would lose weight in a natural way, and especially after googling how long it takes to lose excess Prednisolone weight, which states it takes up to 6 months to 1 year, this was another stab in the back.
There’s a whole host of diets as we all know, and where to start is a minefield, do you do keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, slimming world, weight watchers? The list is endless, plus it’s very hard for someone like me, whose passion and career revolve around food.
Having been through my personal journey over the last 3 years with infertility, I know I need to feel lighter and lose weight, but at the same time I don’t want to be restrictive or obsessive. I haven’t chosen any diet in particular, but I’m adopting the mindful eating lifestyle. It may take longer, but I am preserving. Being a chef has its perks as I have the time and passion to create lots of nutritious meals and be on top of what I am eating. There’s no quick fix that’s easily sustainable, so I just have to be patient and remember when I was 13 it took a good year for the weight to shift.
From all the treatment I’ve been through, unfortunately it’s not just weight gain I’m battling with, but how my body doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I’ve just started to increase my physical activity twice a week with a personal trainer, and it’s a real challenge but I am doing whatever I can to feel better about myself. I am waking up and getting a little workout in before breakfast via YouTube, there’s so many options available, and whether I am in the mood for a 10/15- or 30-minute workout there’s so much available and in the comfort of your own home and it’s free.
At my age this journey is a hard one, since my miscarriages 4 months ago, I still get the odd upsetting comments, like – wow how many months are you, congratulations on your pregnancy or you’ve put on weight. The whole process is incredibly hard, but we are still keeping positive that we will have a child of our own, and in the meantime, I need to get back to feeling lighter and good in myself.
I’m constantly faced in my mind, about my eating disorder getting triggered but I am doing everything in my power, to keep a healthy relationship with food.
We are all on some sort of journey whether it’s associated with weight, fertility or general health and wellbeing, and it takes time and effort to achieve progress. Hopefully, one day soon, I’ll be back wearing a pair of jeans as I have been living in black leggings for over two years now, and I’ve had enough of them!
I will not be giving up on my love of food, as they say ABS are made in the kitchen, diet is important, but exercise plays a role as well.
If you want to follow my journey on Instagram @myrelationshipwithlife