Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Getting my skinny back on (or how a skeptic infertile found Jenny Craig)

This past 8 months or so, I've been thinking (unhappily) about my weight but feeling overwhelmed with parenting and, until recently, breast milk pumping and being a working professional mom. I have also reflected on the fact that I was never overweight before infertility. And even for the first few years of infertility, weight wasn't really an issue. But over time, with the multiple pregnancies, and the subsequent miscarriages (not to mention the dreaded prednisone those many times), and all those IVF cycles where I was told no aerobic exercise during the cycle....the weight crept on (click here for a detailed description of how infertility, IVF, and recurrent miscarriage conspired to totally mess with my weight over time).

For a brief time after Magpie was born, I thought I'd be golden. I'm one of the only people I've ever heard of who found pregnancy to be a slimming experience. I was gaining moderately in the first and second trimesters, about 15 pounds in total, I think. And then WHAMMO, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 27 weeks. After that, and per my doctor's and nutritionist's orders, I became fastidious about my diet. I was so careful that I only gained 17 or 18 pounds the whole pregnancy (but STILL had to go on ever-increasing doses of insulin to keep my fasting glucose down. Ugh!). Once Magpie was born, I lost 35 pounds almost immediately (Magpie + retained fluid + placenta). And presto! I was thin-ish! Like in BMI = 22ish land.

Except that it didn't last. The being awake every 3 hours pumping + a baby who couldn't feed well from the breast or bottle and took an hour to be nourished resulted in me being a thoroughly sleep-deprived mess who was snacking to try to function. And the weight crept back up, up enough to reach a BMI of 25, which is considered officially overweight, and which is not good, especially for someone who was now at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (I believe the stat is that up to 60% of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes in the next 20 years - and holy yikes! I didn't want that to be me!)

This past Spring, I also learned that my father (in his 70s) had been recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, after years of high fasting blood sugar. Hmmm, sounded awfully familiar. And so in the months following that, I had started checking my fasting blood glucose numbers again periodically. And guess what? My fasting numbers were consistently over 100 (normal would be 70-90 or so)...um, NOT OK. Somehow this potential health issue seemed to be more motivating than any appearance-related reasons to lose weight. I started to think that perhaps I am one of those people who needed to be on the slimmer side of things to keep this glucose issue under control. But how to get there seemed undoable. I mean, on the one hand, it's fairly obvious and we all "know" how to do it. Just eat less and move more...and yet, it's one of those things that seems harder to put into practice than you would think.

Then I saw on Jennifer Knepper's blog Why Don't You Just Relax that she lost more than 17 pounds with Nutrisystem....which got me thinking... I'd never considered a structured program. In the past, pre-infertility, if I was up a few pounds, I'd always just lost (and I suppose ultimately regained) weight on my own, at one point (at least) chronicled on this very blog. So I mulled the novel concept of actually signing up for a program. The simplicity of something structured was appealing. The idea of someone just telling me what to eat, and even providing the food. As a working mom, it seemed like it might fit. I need simple.

Just after Thanksgiving, I decided to call Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. And I ultimately decided to try Jenny Craig instead of Nutrisystem. Reasons included: (1) that online reviews consistently seemed to rate the Jenny food as tasting better than Nutrisystem food, (2) there's a Jenny Craig center near my home, and (3) the Jenny Craig plan came with weekly personal coaching and an in-person weigh-in. Given that I'm a pleaser/achiever kind of person, this accountability factor seemed potentially pivotal. When I learned that Jenny Craig had a Black Friday sale waiving their enrollment fee (which is sometimes as much as $400, I think...ouch!), meaning that I could join for just $20/month + the cost of food and cancel at any time, I signed on. I figured, worst case, I'd hate it and be out $20 and have a freezer full of diet food.

I have to say, wow. It has so far been pretty easy. There have been moments where it's difficult, but really...it's been just moments. The majority of the time, not so rough. Up until this week when I decided to crank it up on the activity front, I have also really not been exercising in any devoted way because I don't have time. And I'm pretty tired a lot of the time. So really have been doing nothing beyond just choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator kind of thing. Nothing drastic, probably little that is even officially "aerobic" for sustained periods. Have I lost a good amount of weight without really exercising? Amazingly, yes. Do I need to figure out a way to fit exercise in going forward? Of course I do.

The prepackaged food is exactly what I needed as a newish mom/crazy busy professional, because I have never had so little free time in my life. I think the first week or two I ate all Jenny Craig "cuisine," because the consultant told me to...but since then, I've eaten several meals a week on my own (fortunately my consultant/coach has been cool about this the whole time, even though I suspect it means she earns less). When I was traveling out of town over the holidays, I even went a whole week without any of the Jenny food, which was remarkably harder, but doable. Now that I've progressed well, I am phasing out even more of the pre-prepared food.

I have to say that although I didn't expect it, the pre-packaged food has been great. Shockingly, it tastes pretty good (most of it...), and more than that, it's easy - which is KEY for me right now. Most things that require a lot of extra effort beyond parenting and working and my marriage are just not currently in the cards.

So it's been seven weeks now since I started. I planned my start time specifically to begin between Thanksgiving and Christmas with several weeks before New Years, a time I might be prone to "taking stock" thoughts about things like my weight that might lead me to feel discouraged.

And so...seven weeks in...here's how things have been going:

Weekly Weight Loss

Starting BMI just after Thanksgiving = 25.2 (officially overweight)
Week 1:     - 4.4 pounds (back into normal BMI territory, less than 25!)
Week 2:     - 0.8 pounds
Week 3:     - 3.6 pounds
Week 4:     out of town so no Jenny food and no weigh-in (Christmas travel madness!)
Week 5:     - 4.4 pounds since last weigh-in
Week 6:     - 2 pounds
Week 7:     - 1.6 pounds 
Grand Total So Far: 16.8 pounds lost! (BMI = 22.4!!!)

It's nice that the weight has come off pretty easily and quickly - that is not what I was expecting and that fact has been very motivating. I plan to go "shopping" in my own closet once I drop a few more pounds to try on many clothes that haven't fit me in several years now....I'm thinking some of my stuff hasn't been worn since 2008. Yikes! And Yay!!

Will is enjoying the not-seen-in-a-long-time-smaller-version-of-Mo, too. And he's also lost a few pounds in the past 7-ish weeks (mostly because we've curbed the nighttime takeout, I think), not that he needed to. He's been a skinny minnie since he cut out all bread products and gluten back when I went gluten free for the first trimester of my pregnancy with Magpie in February 2012.

I hope you can stand it, but expect some future posts on Jenny food, weight maintenance (where I'm thinking the real work will need to be done - after all, I want to keep the weight off for the long-term, right?), blood glucose control and weight, and sample menus (not JC food - regular food!). And don't worry, I'll also be posting about Magpie and other life stuff too.

Anybody else been working on whittling down their waist size? How's it going? And if anyone else has done Jenny Craig, I'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly on maintaining after the weight loss.


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  1. I'm right there with you. Gained 19 pounds with baby #2. Somehow the scale hasn't moved but 10 pounds. I'm also of the lucky ones who can't seem to drop a pound while breastfeeding, no matter how many calories I consume or how often I do the 30 day shred. :-/ Add that to coccyx injury sustained during childbirth and well, working out isn't even easy these days.

    Good for you for starting a program during the holidays and seeing such awesome results. I'm interested in hearing more. Specifically the cost associated with buying their foods. I think with a toddler and a 7 month-old I need something easy and this just might be it.

  2. 16 pounds in 2 months during Christmas time, that is amazing and totally unheard of! Good job Mo, that is more than anyone could ask for! Bring on the Jenny posts! I want to lose a few pounds before babies come, so I'll be coming back here for inspiration! xo

  3. Good for you! It sounds like you are doing great. I need to figure out a plan after this pregnancy. I was skinnier than I had been in years while breastfeeding, but as we wound that down, the pounds all came back on, and they brought friends with them for the party. Sigh.

  4. So impressed! I am in much the same boat and just hit my 20lb weight loss goal after using MyFitnessPal and buying a FitBit so that I walked more. But JC sounds like a great option and EASY. Easy is key. Also, since we both live in NYC and have dogs, if you ever want to go for a brisk--ish walk with the pups, let me know!

  5. Gosh, I could lose some weight so please, bring on the menus and so on.....

    D took some photos of me on the beach with the kids and I sat here with my mouth wide open at how fat I am.


    You on the other hand are the image of self-discipline :)

  6. irrationalexuberance - would be totally up for a walk sometime : ) (not in this blizzard, mind you, but fairer weather!)- let me know!


  7. Shoot me an email at slpdc at hotmail and we can set something up for when the city defrosts!

  8. Great job! I've lost 75lb on my own, and I had to do it by counting calories and weighing in every day. I'm a numbers person and I need to have a set goal, and need to see good and bad choices reflected in the next day's weight. The first 50lb was pretty fast and easy, but I've had motivation issues since then. Every time fertility treatment is delayed I stop eating well. That's not to say I'm gaining it back, I just stop losing. I still need to lose another 15 just so I'm in the overweight category, and another 35 on top of that to be within normal range. I am still aiming for just overweight at this point.

  9. Kalisu - WOW. I am so impressed. 75 lbs is a feat! Congratulations! I know you say you have more to go, but I hope you give yourself tons of credit for the work you've done already. Inspiring.


  10. Oh my....I seriously thought you were writing my story here. I didn't have quite the journey you did but we did do 2 years, 2 miscarriages and 5 medicated cycles (3 iui and 2 ivf) for our first child....I ended up 15lbs up before I ever got pregnant and then very heavy during pregnancy and never lost all of it after he was born. Then...baby number 2 came along (thank you embryo adoption...only one cycle needed)...but i was still 20lbs overweight and then prego again...and then....Gestational diabetes. I managed to control it through diet up until the last few weeks......and I lost a lot of weight during the pregnancy (which my dr and dietitian freaked out over)...and when baby was born...I was actually quite thin and feeling good and the water weight and baby weight was coming off....and then...life exploded,,,,,she never slept, we sold a house, bought a house, moved, remodeled and I had to go back to work....I promptly gained 20lbs.....When she was 11 months old I went to Weight Watchers. I have always liked their method of not requiring packaged food and learning to eat on your own and it does work....but I just got so tired of prepping food and counting points and it became exhausting. I lost about 12lbs but once I stopped going to meetings it came back. And that 2nd baby...although I love her to pieces...did not sleep for 2 years and I also snacked to stay awake. She just turned 3 and I am still fat. It is killing me. Be we are more rested and on a better schedule and we now all go to the gym as a family....but I have considered doing a Nutrisytem or Jennie Craig for 8-12 weeks just to really get a jump on things. I just need to get off my butt and do it. It does not help that I am now nearing 47 and my metabolism has taken a nose dive. It gets harder as you get older and I really really hope I can lose at least 15lbs....but ideally I need to lose 25!!!! Uhg! Congrats on your weight loss. It is hard to stick to it sometimes but so worth it in the end. Like you...I worry about the type 2 diabetes....I need to keep my weight in check to avoid that. We are already Gluten free (our son has celiac disease)....but GF does not always mean low cal...uhg. But thanks for posting this...it is motivational. I really really need to get some (or all) this weight off...it affects my mood.

  11. Hi Mo - You inspired me with your Jenny Craig story and I am trying it. I like the fact that it is so easy. And the food is good too. I was very surprised. Thanks for posting. Kathryn


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