Clawing it Back

June 13th, 2018

Joslyn McIntyre, freelance writer, Vermont

I recently lost 10 pounds. It was no big deal. I simply stopped snacking.


I constantly hear stories about people who were drastically overweight, made a few subtle shifts in their diet, and the weight “melted off.” I met a woman recently at my kids’ school who took up a vegan diet this year and lost THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS. 

They say the weight melts off when you’re breastfeeding. That didn’t happen to me. Then they say it melts off when your kids learn to ambulate and you’re chasing them around all the time. That didn’t happen to me, either. I have been hoping to get back to my fighting weight (or like, somewhere within a 20-pound differential) for the last few years since giving birth.

After my kids stopped breastfeeding (and I still weighed pretty much the same amount as when I was ten months pregnant), I decided to get rash and try one of those “magic shake” diets everyone raves about. It was a week of sheer hell and literal starvation. I spent $300 and lost 11 pounds — which I immediately gained back, and then some, when I went back to my normal eating habits (which are fine, just for the record).

I threw the Whole 30 into the mix at one point. That was a bust, too. I spent a fortune at Whole Foods and got so sick of eggs I could not stomach the thought of another frittata, but did not lose one pound. Not one!

Charlize Theron recently did a slew of interviews promoting her wonderful new movie Tully, and the fifty pounds she gained for the role — and then had to lose. She talked a lot about how hard it is to lose weight in your forties:

“I was worried. I was like, this is taking a really long time,” she continued. “Because on Monster, I just didn’t snack for five days and I was fine. You know your body at 27 is a little different than your body at 43, and my doctor made sure to make me very aware of that. Like, you are 42, calm down, you’re not dying, all good.” (hellogiggles

Charlize Theron is one of the most beautiful humans alive, in my opinion, so this was heartening to read. It took her a year and a half to lose the weight she put on for the movie, and she says, “It was hell.” This is a woman who most likely has all the nutritionists and trainers in the world at her disposal, so is there any hope for the rest of us aging moms?

Still, I refuse to give up hope; I am not quite ready to settle for this current weight zone. It’s uncomfortable, and none of my clothes fit. Clothes just don’t fit, period.

I decided to claw it back.

Twelve weeks ago I made a pact with myself. I gave myself three months to eat in a way I knew was the best I could do, without intense suffering or insane grocery bills or illogical time-consuming food prep.

Here’s what I did (this is the very short version):

  • Stopped drinking alcohol (and yes, I want a medal)
  • No more flour, sugar, or sweeteners

  • Way, way, way more vegetables

  • Lots of eggs and high-quality proteins and fats instead of carbs

  • No more late dinners or snacks

It wasn’t just about losing weight, of course. It could never be, or it would fail. I had a deep curiosity about whether I could feel better. Years of too-early toddler mornings had nearly broken my spirit. I felt like my internal organs were constantly on the cusp of failing, my muscles and bones barely holding together. The aging felt rapid and relentless. 

I am trying to write in the past tense here, as though this was a problem I had, which I have now solved in a mere twelve weeks. Victory being mine, I’m back to my pre-baby, young-for-my-age state of body and being! But nope, that’s not the case. Of course it’s not.

There is good news, though.

First, the quantitative metric: I lost ten pounds. You can’t really tell. I still can’t even remotely fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes (or even my husband’s clothes, sadly). I look pretty much the same. But this progress, it gives me hope. It makes me feel like maaaaaybe I’m not doomed to maternal sloth. I don’t see myself doing triathlons anytime soon, or wearing shorts, for that matter, but maybe, just maybe, I could wear jeans again someday?

Now for the qualitative metrics. The mornings are maybe a squinch easier without wine and sugar in my life. And being off sugar begets less sugar cravings, which is always nice. And most importantly, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I am able to actually stick to something difficult for twelve weeks, no matter how many shitty toddler bedtimes I endure, stressful work days I have, mornings I am woken up in the fives, and mealtimes watching my kids eat carbs while I choke down another salad.

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