the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Featured community question with accompanying forty-five pounds

Today’s featured question comes from user Brookelyn Bridge:

I don’t know if every pregnant woman feels this way, but during the last month of my pregnancy with Marlo I was always thinking, what if I never lose these extra forty-five pounds? What if this pregnancy has changed my body forever? And then I’d follow up that thought with, I’m going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. And if by some miracle I do give birth, it’ll be a hermaphrodite alien who votes Republican.

Mind you, at that time I was more at peace then than I’ve ever been in my life. Can you imagine the thoughts I have now? Don’t answer that question, JON.

It took a little longer to lose the weight this time, but only because this time I didn’t wake up every day contemplating suicide. I cut way back on the donuts, kept an eye on bad carbohydrates, and breastfed the baby for seven months. And then one day I didn’t have to perform a series of gymnastic maneuvers to get my jeans over my thighs. Add to that a case of shingles, the stress of bullying a multi-billion dollar corporation into fixing my broken washing machine, the death of my Granny Boone, and a bevy of other catastrophes that our lawyers say I can’t talk about publicly, and there goes an extra five to ten pounds.

Stress is very effective when it comes to losing weight! However! It’s not fun! And can result in divorce!

A few months ago I committed myself to a vigorous workout routine wherein I hit the gym five days a week. Mainly to help cope with the stress. I had to take a bit of a respite when I broke my tailbone, but now that I’ve been back at it for a month I can honestly say that I’ve never been in better shape. The thing is, I know I’m lucky to have a naturally thin frame. I’m the five-foot-ten daughter of an incredibly thin-framed father whose father was naturally thin-framed. Our legs start at our shoulders, and scientists would have a hard time locating our butts.

I don’t take it for granted, though, and my diet consists mostly of veggies, lean meat, and whole grains. I snack on fruit and raw almonds. And at the gym, I really push myself to the limit. And I do it because it feels incredible. Which I guess is a really long and winding answer to the question. I love my body after Marlo. Because I’ve worked really, really hard to get here. And the work continues to fulfill me.

More accurately, I’ve really enjoyed and learned so much through this journey.

  • kayakgrrl

    2010/04/28 at 12:24 pm

    Plus, you are the epitome of fabulousness.

  • janthony

    2010/04/28 at 12:32 pm

    As someone who lives and works practically ’round the clock in front of the computer, you’d think I’d weigh 500 pounds. Not. Stress does wonders as a appetite supressant 🙂

  • edgyveggie

    2010/04/28 at 12:33 pm

    This post really made my day, I was in a slump about losing weight, but if Dooce can do it with a million other tasks in the day, I could, too, right?

  • ahensley0024

    2010/04/28 at 12:37 pm

    What about the hotdogs?!?! Marlo has to learn to make mama a hotdog!!

  • ooophelia

    2010/04/28 at 12:47 pm

    I love you, I really do, but this post makes me want to throw a turd at you.

  • Roo8382

    2010/04/28 at 12:56 pm

    Go on with your bad self, girl! Good for you for having amazing confidence.

  • TexasKatie

    2010/04/28 at 12:57 pm

    We must be related – I am 5 foot 11 with legs that start at my armpits, too. Naturally skinny, and hope I look as awesome as you after two kids!

  • Coyote

    2010/04/28 at 1:00 pm

    I have 4 kids, and my post-pregnancies body is just fine. No one can believe I’m a mother of many. I attribute it to healthy eating, nutritional supplements, and a modicum of exercise.

    Awhile back, I started gaining weight, then my naturopath put me on bio-identical hormones, which definitely helped. However, eliminating gluten from my diet has made the pounds fall off like crazy! I’ve made no other changes. It’s amazing!

  • Brookelyn Bridge

    2010/04/28 at 1:01 pm

    I feel like I won the lottery! Featured question AND Dooce responds?! Wow.

    Heather, you have a rockin bod!

  • mommica

    2010/04/28 at 1:10 pm

    Also feel lucky to have a naturally thin frame, which seems to be getting thinner as I age – much like my mother’s has. Any day now people will be accusing me of drug-use and anorexia. I digress…

    Anyway, mostly I’m OK with how my body has changed. Except I really, really, really miss my boobs.

  • dooce

    2010/04/28 at 1:14 pm

    Yes! Agreed! I miss the boobs terribly!

  • Blahggy

    2010/04/28 at 1:23 pm

    I’m 8 months pregnant and have been wondering about my post-baby body. (And, more so, my post-baby vagina, but that’s not where we’re going here.) I’ve got a naturally thin frame, too, with a 6′ dad who has never weighed more than 163. So that’s helpful. And I’ve been going to the gym doing yoga and weights for the last bit of my pregnancy.

    I may *kind of* miss the boobs, but there are some implants hidden WAAAAYYY under there, so I know they can’t shrink past a certain point!

  • undecidedlyso

    2010/04/28 at 1:29 pm

    Heather, would you be willing to give us an idea of what kind of vigorous workouts you do that are so badass? I’m getting bored with my gym routines and it’s always great to hear how other people workout. Especially one that works like yours does!

  • ErikaMSN

    2010/04/28 at 1:25 pm

    I’m with ooophelia. Affectionately, of course.

  • Blahggy

    2010/04/28 at 1:25 pm

    UNRELATED: I love that Heather’s photo is totally early 90s headshot style. When, if you didn’t have a B&W headshot to submit to agents or bring to auditions, you were considered uber green crap.

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/04/28 at 1:41 pm

    I have tried all different kinds of workouts and I am a firm believer that nothing sheds the pounds like running! I taught kickboxing through college and lost weight when I picked up long distance running after I graduated. It sucks at first but there is truth about getting a runner’s high!

    Heather- I’m a mostly healthy diet person but be honest, you still have the occasional hot dog too right? Or ice cream? Or giant bowl of cinnamon toast crunch? Please tell me I’m not the only one who will follow up a salad and apple with a crunch bar on occassion:-)

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/04/28 at 1:44 pm

    Side note- Your jeans feeling tight has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. Definitely top five!

  • dooce

    2010/04/28 at 1:54 pm

    @Schnauzie_Mom, oh yes I will indulge every now and then. I’m a sucker for salt, so instead of reaching for chocolate I go straight for the chips. And once a week I have a full-on cheat meal. Something full of bad calories.

    The thing is, working out this hard makes it easier for me to eat healthier because I know the two go hand in hand. If I want to keep up at the gym, I can’t feed my body crap and expect to see results.

  • marialoo

    2010/04/28 at 1:56 pm

    You go on with your bad self, Heather! It’s great to see mommies who care for themselves, too.

    I definitely try to eat right, but am having a hard time with the working out lately. It’s sad to me, because pre-baby I ran and taught Spin. Now, I have time to work out at 8:30 at night…so it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Weekends I still run, though! Yay for the jogging stroller!

  • tngator

    2010/04/28 at 2:06 pm

    As a good friend of mine says, I don’t understand these people who say stress makes them lose weight. All of my problems seem a little smaller on a full stomach.

  • Diva

    2010/04/28 at 2:07 pm

    I’m keen to know what your workout routine is!! Been struggling to get those pounds gone, after a baby and debilitating injury!

  • kajomo

    2010/04/28 at 2:12 pm

    Yeah, I am having to agree with ooophelia! In a nice way of course.

    From a shortlegged, saddlebagged girl who no matter HOW much she works out can’t get rid of the thigh fat.

  • marialoo

    2010/04/28 at 2:16 pm

    I agree with tngator, too! Stress makes me want to EAT. It’s a behavior I have to actively combat.

  • misheru

    2010/04/28 at 2:27 pm

    Oh, all you thin people! I come from a long line of obese people, and smelling a chocolate chip cookie makes me gain 5 pounds. I gained 45 pounds my first pregnancy, and quickly lost 30 of it but couldn’t get that last 15 off. I gained 30 my 2nd pregnancy, lost 15 and couldn’t get the next 15 off. Luckily I’m done, and hanging in at 30-35 pounds overweight, which is tough for a small-framed 5’4″ person.

    On the bright side, the boobs stayed. I was a C cup, which ballooned to DD, and I’m still DD. My husband doesn’t complain, but it sucks to run these days.

    Oh yes, and I am a runner, but I’ve been plagued with hip/knee problems since having kids, so mostly I do elliptical training and swimming. Yeah, I do work out, try to eat healthy food and lead an active lifestyle, but I’m still overweight. I look at my 5’0″ 275 pound cousins and thank heaven I’m not at that weight, but still. It sucks.

    I still hope to lose 35 pounds and get back to my running weight, but since my daughter is almost 4 years old, this seems more unlikely every year. /sigh

    Have a depressed you all yet? Just a shout out here — I breast-fed for 13 months and 2 1/2 years respectively, and it does really help with the weight. I don’t think I could have lost as much as I did if I hadn’t breastfed. Oh, and @tngater and @marialoo — when I’m stressed I both stop eating AND gain weight. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but that’s what the scale says.

  • caughtinlimbo

    2010/04/28 at 2:36 pm

    I admit it, I’ve never had a baby. But I love reading about your experience having two. I could talk about my mom’s body, how it was after me and how it is now, after two more, but I don’t think I know well enough how she feels about it to speak for her.

    Really, I’m commenting because of something you said in your entry that was (I’m sure unintentionally) insensitive. I’m about to become one of those people, the ones who create a community account so they can tell you you’ve offended them.

    I don’t intend on procreating (this could change), and it’s highly unlikely that it would happen by accident, but were I to choose to give birth I, too, would be less than pleased with an alien/Republican baby. But if my baby was intersexed (a “hermaphrodite”), I would not be disappointed. I would never fear that my baby wouldn’t have one of two sets of genitals our society has deemed “correct”. Intersexed people suffer so much discrimination and intersexed babies are so often mutilated so their parents can have “normal” children.

    I consider myself an ally to intersexed individuals. I’m speaking out because, as a member of the queer community, I hope my allies would speak out for me.

    This is not intended as an attack. My hope in posting this is that you become educated on the matter. There are several documentaries on the subject of intersex abuse and discrimination, and it would be worth it to learn more. I feel as though you are an ally to my community, and as such might be open minded to the idea of being an ally to theirs, too.

  • poopinginpeace

    2010/04/28 at 2:37 pm

    I mostly just hate my boobs now. I used to have such nice perky small C’s. Now they are down to my belly-button B’s. If only I had the money to get them a little lift!

  • dooce

    2010/04/28 at 2:40 pm

    I do a ton of weightlifting for an hour two days a week, and the other three days I do a running/sprinting routine on the treadmill for an hour. And then I make sure to get a ton of protein to help my muscles recover.

    Ultimately, I’d love to run a marathon, but I don’t know yet when I can fit the training into my schedule.

  • dooce

    2010/04/28 at 2:42 pm

    Also! Important! I wear a heart rate monitor and try to keep it between 120-165, with lots of up and down.

  • pyjammy

    2010/04/28 at 2:48 pm

    Just be glad it’s only one baby, not three. My body (not that it was great to begin with) will never be the same without surgery. Sigh.

  • aslapintheface

    2010/04/28 at 3:09 pm

    What about boxed wine? Are you allowed to have that? Use the boxes as weights and I bet it would be allowed.

  • thelivingexperiment

    2010/04/28 at 3:09 pm

    Heather, did your boobs change/ sag after breastfeeding? That’s one of my fears…does exercise help with that?

  • Diva

    2010/04/28 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you Heather! I am getting my workout groove after being able to walk again. I reckon that heart monitor is a great plan.
    Also, I was literally two minutes from you when you were at Ben’s Chilli Bowl! Too bad I didn’t run over to see you. Sniff.

  • sonjabean

    2010/04/28 at 3:21 pm

    Hmm. Mostly I feel like I’d like my previous bladder capacity back. The peeing, it’s just not ever the same after pregnancy, and I don’t think sit-ups are going to help. Seriously, when I’m in a public bathroom and I hear someone peeing nonstop for 30 seconds (or more!!!) I am beside myself with envy. In honor of dooce, let me capitalize that. BESIDE MYSELF. Or actually, I wish I were beside myself, in the next stall, with a bladder that could hold a 30 second stream of pee.

  • Vander

    2010/04/28 at 3:41 pm

    I look like I’ve had four kids and I’ve had none. Does that count for anything?

  • girlplease

    2010/04/28 at 3:49 pm

    I will say I”m interested in hearing more about the “divorce” mention. Yes, you and Jon’s lives are private and your own, but many of us share in this battle of stress and impacting the relationship. We can learn from this–maybe.

    For example, my work drama is getting so out of hand that I might wind up going from superstar in reviews to on probation all because of a micromanaging, paranoid manager. This has been the best job I’ve ever had—benefits, duties, and pay. If I lose this job, we’re SCREWED. 100% of everything relies on my income. Stressed? Naaaa.

    However, as I was telling DH teh story at hand, he goes “well I gotta work out” in mid sentence. I flip out. He flips out. He texts me that my anxiety/worry about everything is the #1 reason for our marriage to suffer. I argue him not worrying about ANYTHING is the reason.

    In short, stress is to blame.

    So we would like to hear how you get over it, improve on things, etc. because it’s bullshit to say that only one person causes the stress.

  • SRotten

    2010/04/28 at 4:01 pm

    Gawd, I feel like I am kissing your ass, which I assure you is not my intention. But- as usual, I feel your go get ’em personality is showing through in your workout routine as well. That kind of general character trait is what has made you as successful as you are. Keep at it!

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/04/28 at 4:01 pm

    @Dooce- I’m trying to work up the time and motivation for a full marathon! I’m doing my 4th half marathon this weekend and would definitely recommend starting with those, they’re a ton of fun. I recently found the Big Sur marathon in one of my running magazines. It looks amazing, if you ever want to do it, let me know;-)

  • mjryates

    2010/04/28 at 4:08 pm

    I was obsessed with losing weight after I had my daughter last July. One book I found tremendously helpful is Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell. Since I read it, I have more or less followed the guidelines for working out and have lost most of my baby weight (I’m hanging on to four pounds and I really want to lose about ten because I weighed five pounds more than I wanted when I got pregnant). The one thing I haven’t done is keep a food journal. I eat pretty healthy (I think anyway), but I love wine. I’m sure if I didn’t drink, I could’ve weighed ten to 15 pounds less than my current weight. Who knows if that’s really true? I just love me some wine. Red.

  • brooke

    2010/04/28 at 5:25 pm

    “a hermaphrodite alien who votes Republican”????

    now you’ve upset the hermaphrodite aliens.

  • crystllee

    2010/04/28 at 5:25 pm

    I hate that this post made me feel bad about myself. But the strech marks are just so severe. Congrats on your post-baby bod, though!

  • SkinnyThighs

    2010/04/28 at 5:44 pm

    You haven’t experienced the postpartum shift? I’m nearly back to my pre-pregnancy weight but everything between the navel and knees has been turned to mush.


  • tallnoe

    2010/04/28 at 6:02 pm

    It’s a vicious cycle, but I love it. Honestly, at this point. I don’t have a baby body, but just genetics to fight against. Apparently no one thinks I’m really heavy (which is a blessing) b/c I am 6 feet tall, so that’s good. BUT, my fitness level is definitely something I work on.

    And I love it. And I love eating more healthfully too. It is apparently a holdover from my childhood hippy organic veggie days. I’m back to it!

    I give you props for working out, I don’t know how I’ll keep it up when someday I have a spouse and kids! Eeks.
    Props to y’all!

  • Greta Koenigin

    2010/04/28 at 6:04 pm

    I have a problem. Ready? I can’t lose weight unless I’m severely depressed. Seriously. And thankfully, I haven’t had a severe episode since my twenties.

    So now, I’m what my southern California friend would call ‘fat, dumb and happy.’ She doesn’t call me that, just people that. But since she’s from SoCal, she’s likely to be wrong.

    Not sure which one I prefer. I guess fat, dumb and happy. With LOTS of makeup on.

  • asunset42

    2010/04/28 at 7:26 pm

    um….how is this supposed to make us – the lazy – feel better?

  • girlplease

    2010/04/28 at 7:47 pm

    For topic at hand—I’m back to near weight. Boobs are ridiculously, freakishly huge as 38DD and a pain in the ass. Back requires 2ce a week therapy. Pelvic floor muscles (that whole tailbone pain you were describing?) three months physical therapy. I have more rolls than Pilsbury. I just hide it really, really well in clothes. Oh and I don’t have much bladder control. Sneeze? Cough? Expect a leak. Hate it.

    Wish I wasn’t mush. Can’t find the time, motivation, or pain-free moment to go work out. I need to. I can’t be 38 and feel 68 just yet.

  • Nittany Lion

    2010/04/28 at 8:25 pm

    Sadly, even though I have already lost the weight my body did NOT go back to the same shape. I basically had to create a new wardrobe. Nothing fit the same (specifically shirts)…Damn Boobs.

  • xuallan

    2010/04/28 at 8:58 pm

    I do a ton of weightlifting for an hour two days a week, and the other three days I do a running/sprinting routine on the treadmill for an hour. And then I make sure to get a ton of protein to help my muscles recover.

  • misheru

    2010/04/29 at 1:26 am

    Oh, and how do I feel about my body after baby? I suppose I could answer the actual question, rather than sit in awe of Heather’s ass-lack (better than ass-lick, and there’s your quote for next month’s masthead). I hate my body after baby. HATE. IT. Including the 38DD boobs my husband loves.

    I would give my right arm to have a flat tummy and be a 34C again, but I am 5’4″ and my first child was 10 pounds, my second 9 pounds, and I’m apple shaped and short-waisted so they had nowhere to go but OUT. So I have stretch marks in my stretch marks. I’m not even kidding. I wish I was.

    Here’s where I go into a tirade about societal norms and bodies, but frankly, I just wish I could look in a mirror without cringing. These days I avoid mirrors when I can, and try to focus on the positive, like the fact that I have a loving husband and two healthy children, and ignore my flabby gut and squishy thighs. Also, I feel bad for judging my mother about her body my entire childhood ~~ karma. /sigh

  • genie

    2010/04/28 at 9:34 pm

    mommica – there is this snazy product that I’ve just found. These magic bras by Maidenform. They push up just enough without looking fake… comfy – fabulous. Like I never had a kid. I highly suggest them!

    I too have a thinish tall body… but there is a definite momma tummy here. And gym? Well… not in tiny town. Guess I should pull that stroller out and start walking!

  • Tonje

    2010/04/29 at 1:33 am

    I puked my way through both pregnancies and only managed to put on 11 lbs.- 8 of which were the baby (both times). I left the hospital in pre-preg jeans with the top button undone, and the biggest boobs I’ve ever had. Needless to say, they are gone now! The rest of me looks pretty much the same – just older. My kids have given me more dark circles than anything else!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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