It must have been two months after my second baby was born and my husband had planned on taking us all out. I rummaged through my cupboard and pulled out the biggest size dress I had – it was a size 16, floor length Khaki maxi and had an elasticised waist. I remember struggling when putting it on, and felt the pinch at my shoulders, back and tummy. I turned to look in the mirror praying that it would look okay-ish. Instead, I felt a huge tidal wave of disappointment, disgust, anguish and self-hate. I looked truly awful. It didn’t help that I hadn’t been sleeping because of the night feeds and the black circles under my eyes were evident through my makeup. My hair was freshly washed and straightened but looked limp and bare (postpartum hair loss anyone?).
I remember going downstairs and my husband telling me I looked nice – I thought he must be lying to protect my feelings and went to the bathroom for a secret cry. Not only did I hate the way I looked, I also felt guilty for feeling so self-absorbed when I should have been focusing on my new born baby and three year-old son. That night I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to spend the next few years feeling depressed about my weight and missing out on those precious happy memories I could be making with my babies. I decided that I would lose weight healthily, be kind to myself AND enjoy my children – that these priorities don’t have to be mutually exclusive and I can do them individually or at the same time. I signed up to Weight Watchers that very night.
Starting My Journey
The first few weeks were hard. I was exclusively breastfeeding and felt the constant need to eat and drink something sugary. I was addicted to Coca-Cola and I was constantly snacking as I always felt exhausted and lacking in energy.
With the Weight Watchers system, you’re given a set amount of points you can eat in a day (based on height / weight); certain foods are given ‘points’ and you have to ensure you don’t go over your daily allowance of these points. Foods like chicken breast, eggs and fruit have zero points and you can eat an unlimited amount of these (but you have to add the points of any fats you use to cook!).
I had to overhaul my entire way of cooking and eating habits. Because I had quite a high number of points in the beginning (the heavier you are the more points you’re allowed to have) as well as the additional points you get for breastfeeding, I was still having a can of Coke and Tesco’s cheesecake every night. The fact that I was able to eat my favourite foods (albeit in more limited quantities ), was enough to keep me on track and prevent any binge-eating. I lost my first 3 stones in 6 months. I also exercised three times a week for 45 minutes at a time (HIT and strength training) and loved it!
My Biggest Challenges
It gets a lot harder when your calorie allowance/points reduce as you lose weight. My baby had also started eating solids alongside milk, so my breastfeeding allowance was lowered too. This is where I started making a lot more substitutions. I switched to zero sugar fizzy drinks, sweetener for tea or wholemeal wraps instead of roti. I also began to cook curry with very little oil/butter and ate lots of fruits and vegetables to keep me full. I bought bite-sized sweet treats, such as brownie bites so I could have one or two when my sweet tooth kicked in.
I knew my biggest challenge would be kerbing the high calorie snacking that I used to do during the day. It was almost like I had the need to constantly eat! Before, I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen thinking about what to eat next.
I found that eating foods like low calorie vegetable soups, fruits with 0% fat Greek yoghurt and eggs in every form really helped with satisfying my urge to snack.
I found that I was STILL constantly eating but this time I was making healthy food choices. I never felt hungry or deprived and was losing on average 2lbs a week. My hair started looking shinier, my skin improved greatly and I even slept better.
I’m now at the last leg of my journey, with one stone to lose. This has definitely been the biggest challenge. With the recent lockdown I struggled to stay on track and my exercise routine went out the window with gyms closing. The difference this time is that I don’t berate myself for falling off the wagon. I remind myself of how far I’ve come and renew my intentions to get back on full track as soon as I am able. Alhamdulillah, though I have started to focus again, I am reliant on all of your prayers to be successful inshallah!
To see a video of my journey, click below.
Shortly after filming this video, unfortunately my health deteriorated and I was soon diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Developing rheumatoid arthritis meant I was in severe pain most of the time so exercise and diet become less of a focus. I had to put my weight loss goals on hold so that I can focus on getting better. Inshallah, I’ll be starting my weight loss journey again very soon; in the meantime, I am enjoying life with my little family and it would be lovely if you could come and support me on Instagram @nonos_sphere.
Noreen is a mother of two young boys Aydin & Awais, 5 years old and 2 years old respectively. She is a Law post-graduate and is currently working part time as a Risk Assessor for a major bank.
In the above video recorded last year, she talks about her weight loss journey after birth & how she managed to lose 3 stone on a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Although her weight loss journey is currently on hold since the video was recorded due to health reasons, she still blogs about her health journey and the ups and down of motherhood on her Instagram account @nonos_sphere. Please follow and show her your support!
All guest writer articles come from our Muslim Mamas community or from our network of supporters. Some contribute one-off stories; some contribute as anonymous mamas. All experiences and opinions are those of the writers.