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Dear Me #3 — Finding the Right Balance

Finding the Right Balance
by Gwen C.

September 27, 2020

What do I wish I’d known sooner? Not to eat so many simple carbs while pregnant with my second son.

I had a hard time getting pregnant the first time—due to an undiagnosed thyroid problem, I came to find out—but it was an easy, straightforward pregnancy. All was well until the afternoon of December 22, when my son decided to surprise us and arrive ten weeks early. The story ends well—he’s a chatty, sporty seven-year-old, but it’s the place I go back to when I think of my nine-year struggle with weight management.

While he was in the hospital, comfort foods from my mom and mother-in-law, who took turns visiting, gave me the strength to force myself awake twice a night to pump breastmilk absent a crying baby, drag myself to the NICU every day, and generally keep up my spirits.

After he came home from the hospital seven weeks later, midnight snacks gave me energy for a “high needs” baby, and sandwiches and crisps were a staple of my back-to-work diet. And when I was pregnant with my second son, two years later, everything seemed just that little bit harder, of course. I tried Weight Watchers and paleo/Whole30, counted calories, and made what I thought were (mostly) good choices. I was a bit heavier with the second one than I had been with the first, and afterwards weight loss never seemed to stick, even after weekly consultations with a nutritionist, and I began to be resigned to the idea that I would not be able to get back to a healthy BMI.

Chalk it up to stress (working full-time in the London financial district, caring for two small kids, commuting through some of the most congested streets in Europe), chalk it up to my thyroid problem, chalk it up to a simple lack of discipline, but it was a frustrating, disheartening time.

London’s daily grind in part prompted our move to Berlin, six years later, where I took advantage of Germany’s employee-friendly labor laws and started working part-time. Around the same time I started having thyroid problems again, which became the catalyst for me to try the Metabolic Balance program, and the whole point of this very long story . . .

I’m not exaggerating when I say the program—an intensive, doctor-led weight loss plan—changed my life. Now that I’m on the other side, I don’t think I can go back to my old ways of eating—snacking throughout the day, simple carbs as a matter of course, sugar-fueled peaks and troughs of energy.

The program is hard, full stop. You have to weigh everything, at first anyway, and the beginning weeks/months can be socially isolating, because the early stages of the plan require 100% adherence—no afternoon cakes at a social tea, no wine at ladies’ night, no tasting the bread during Luisa Weiss’s amazing German bread making course (!) last year. Meal planning took time and energy and seemed like its own part-time job at first.

But wow was it worth it. I feel like my old self again—pre-thyroid diagnosis, pre-pregnancies, pre-juggling-it-all stress. And I was able to beat something that had started to seem so unwinnable. I have a stronger trajectory for my health and wellness and peace of mind, and the tools to carry that through middle age and beyond.

So yes, my advice to my younger self would still be to lay off the chips! But I would also like to tell her that there is a way to course correct and to get yourself back to yourself when you feel you’ve gone off the rails.

The views expressed by the author are her own and do not constitute an endorsement of any product by the AWC Berlin.


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