I have been so quiet on the social media front but in real life, where things REALLY happen, I have been REALLY REALLY busy caring for the ones I can hold in my arms, and not just the ones (low carbies) I hold so dear in my heart. Let me fill you in on some lost chapters, news, celebrations and current happenings.
I gave birth to twin girls and launched my first book (two weeks later) in the year I also turned 40! I also had to start working on my second book in that same year, homeschooled my awesome 10 year old son (with aspergers) and supported my dynamic 12 year old deputy head girl!! (I actually scheduled my nervous breakdown, but had to postpone it …again, due to time limitations…) Seriously though, I have been so aware of a total outpour of grace and mercy in this time, also a profound assurance that had I eaten junk during this time, my immune system would not have kept up the way it did. (Go low carb healthy fat!!!) Our girls had colic and sleep is yet to return to my daily routine, but more about this just now. (I know some of you have pregnancy and weight gain questions…)
In the above, bottom right picture, I was 12 weeks pregnant and on the left 30 weeks. The girls where delivered via c - section at 37 weeks and 4 days. That is basically full terms for twins. Oh my thankful heart!
They weighed an amazing 2.9kg and 2.5 kg's and where perfectly healthy and happy babies.
My pregnancy was truly blessed, despite the high alert from the medical arena, I never had high blood pressure once, blood sugar levels where super stable and I gained enough weight to sustain two babies. (I never told my doctor that I followed a low carb lifestyle, I simply did not feel it was needed to rock the smooth sailing proverbial boat)
In the first trimester, food was not always my friend and I lived off of my instant cereal recipe from my book. Towards the end of my first trimester I also tried to include plenty of free range eggs, free range chicken, grass fed beef, avo's, coconut oil, olives, amasi, bonebroth and loads of a variety of non starchy and mild starchy veggies like pumpkin and carrots. (I craved spinach once and I craved home roasted organic peanuts once… those where my total pregnancy cravings) REALLY! For the rest, I just ate mindful with nutrient density as my main aim. I really did not aim for a ketogenic state and I probably ate closer to 50 or even 70 grams of clean nett carbs per day, but I never counted. I trusted my body, I ate when I felt hungry and stopped when I was full.
My appetite picked up during the second trimester and I gained most of my weight during this time. I felt scared at times for maybe depriving my babies from crucial foods, because all online advice suggested to eat plenty of carbs in the form of whole grains and fruits. It usually did not take too long to realize that GMO filled, processed, gluten laden and sugar filled, starchy foods where really NOT what my body needed. I simply found other sources of B vitamins, fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C etc. You will be surprised if you google - foods containing Vitamin B6, 12, potassium, fibre etc. There are so many lower carb options usually fairly high on those lists.
I had to eat cleverly towards the third trimester, mainly because I filled up really quickly. Green smoothies and pan toasted nuts and seeds to the rescue.
I ate an array of berries (probably 1/2 a cup or so a day) and had an apple here or there, but mostly still did not focus on a high fructose intake. Interestingly enough when I ate a whole apple, I felt hungry within seconds from eating it, so I focused on some smaller summer stone fruit but mostly berries. I ate frozen berries straight from the bag on several hot summer days or I drizzled a bit of cream over frozen blueberries, allowing the cream to set around them like little frozen ice cream pearls. It was wonderful to have a craving - free, energy - filled pregnancy. It really was my easiest, healthiest pregnancy at age ALMOST 40!
However, there was that one evening that I was too uncomfortable to sleep, that I actually wished I could commission my hubby to go and find me that "Fill in the blank" rare food item, that I craved for AND - HAD - TO - HAVE - RIGHT - AWAY just for the sake of some company – ok and maybe a little "shared" burden of discomfort… dramatic sigh…
The real challenges for me started after the girls were born. Breastfeeding made me super hungry! Weighing for the first time 4 weeks after the girls were born I was surprised to see that I only weighed 4 kilograms more than when I fell pregnant. That was not bad at all! Low Carb was Lekker even in a multiple pregnancy. However, with a very demanding milk supply to meet, (2.2 litres per day) babies who hardly slept at the same time, a book that launched and set of like a rocket to my surprise and normal life duties, I started gaining weight on the same foods I ate before!Now this was so strange and confusing to me, I lost weight breastfeeding my older kids, what on earth?
I was constantly stressed that my milk was not enough for the girls and knowing what all they put into formula milk, I fought like crazy to keep a good supply going. Sometimes I ate frantically to keep the factory going, other times I was simply too busy to even ever reach the kitchen during a day.
I gained about 5 kilograms whether I ate loads or nothing and I learned a valuable lesson… When your hormones tell your body to store fat for survival, nothing you do can bypass that signal. The combination of high prolactin hormone levels (fat storing) and the lack of sleep and increase of stress that caused a raise in cortisol levels (fat storing hormone) alerted my body to fight a potential "famine" and keep me and my babies alive. (Our bodies were designed wonderfully and fearfully, folks)
So I made my peace, ate my normal nutrient dense regime and avoided the scale… yup, selective denialism saved my sanity.
The day I started to wean my girls 10 1/2 months, the weight started to come off all on its own.And after their first birthday, as sleep stretches of more than 45 minutes at a time became a reality again, weight shifted some more.
I started working with a personal trainer on some strength and HIIT training in order to get those hormones happy again and to seriously strengthen my core after the almost 1.3 meter babies-in-my-tummy diameter I reached during my last days of pregnancy.
Dare I say, things are starting to feel normal again. I have read somewhere that with a multiple pregnancy it can take your body up to three years to fully recover. I tend to understand that a bit better now.
It is tough to have grace with yourself during processes when TIME is the best healer.So my best advice is to eat as healthily as you can, exercise as quickly as you are able to and DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS!!! I am serious! It will steal your peace and make you miserable. Some things simply take time, and those jeans you want to fit into again will fit again as soon as your wonderfully and fearful body feels safe enough to let go of its emergency supply.
Ladies, sometimes we can focus so much on counting kilo's that we forget to count our blessings…trust me…the struggle is REAL.
I am so thankful to say, our girls are now going for 19 months and have NEVER had processed, grain or sugar filled ANYTHING.No cheese curls, cookies, teething biscuits, fruit juice or ANY form of commercial candy. They don't nag or cry for things in a store, because those little colourful candy wrapper aisles hold no meaning for them.So far, so good. (They do sometimes indulge in mud :-)
They are super smart and two real live wires, keeping us on our toes every minute they are awake.
I get a lot of e-mails about my pregnancy and staying on a low carb lifestyle. I am always hesitant to answer for the following reasons:
- I am NOT a medical professional.
- I cannot tell ANYONE how many carbs they should eat during pregnancy. Our biochemistry is way too vastly different from one another.
- What works for me, might not work for you.
- The term LCHF means many things for many people. I cannot be accountable for your understanding of the term. LCHF can be anything from a strict keto diet (Less than 20 grams carbs) to a very laid back Paleo regime or even an Atkins approach that might include grains.
I simply chose an unprocessed, grain – free and sugar - free approach where I practiced mindful eating, included healthy fat sources, grass – fed/free - range protein sources, loads of veggies, occasional fruit portions and made sure that my blood sugar levels stayed as stable as possible.
For me this was not at all a different approach to my normal lifestyle. This is what I have been doing for 4 years and counting.It was not motivated by a sudden fear of weight-gain, it was my gift to my girls. The gift of caring enough to feed them a nutrient dense, real food diet from day one.
And yes, it happens to be a lower carb diet… but not for the sake of a diet… FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
If you are currently pregnant – I pray it to be a most blessed journey.
And remember, no scale can weigh the JOY of motherhood!