I have written before about how I gain weight after adopting my children, and that this is not an uncommon experience for adoptive parents, nor should it be any big deal. What has surprised me this time around is that even though I have returned to normal levels of activity and am eating as well as I ever did prior to Elvie’s adoption, my clothes still don’t fit right, and in fact they are a bit more snug this time than when I gained weight after bringing Zinashi home. Because I believe that if I am living in a healthy way, my weight will naturally be within what is a healthy range for me, what I’ve been trying to do is to make one small change at a time to get back to my usual healthy habits.
I figured that over time, my body would return to its previous shape and size, and I would be able to wear all the clothes in my closet comfortably instead of just half of them. When that didn’t happen, I decided to accept that my body must have gone through some metabolic mid-thirties change that I wasn’t aware would occur, and just planned on adjusting my wardrobe once I was sure that this is the body I’m going to have. But then I heard something that might be the missing piece to the weight gain puzzle, and it has nothing to do with eating well or exercise. It does, however, have everything to do with healthy habits.
According to what I heard on this segment on NPR’s Morning Edition, my problem might simply be lack of sleep. And not only that, but sleep is likely just as important to my health as eating well and exercising. In the study cited, just four nights of too little sleep affected the way that fat cells behaved, making them more insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can lead to a host of unhealthy problems, such as fatty liver disease, and can also lead to the body retaining more of the food that you eat as fat.
If this is true, it stands to reason that as Elvie sleeps better, I will get more rest, and in turn my fat cells will respond the way they are meant to instead of becoming insulin resistant and causing me to be uncomfortable in trousers that lack an elastic waistband. But I have a part to play in this, too. I need to make an effort to get to bed earlier. I need to make rest a priority, and I haven’t been. I’ve been using my late nights to get time to myself and get work done. While I still will need to do that some, I think I can adjust so that I can get to bed sooner each night.
On my desk I have an index card on which I’ve listed each small step I’m taking to live a healthier life, to build habits so that I don’t have to think too hard about exercise or eating well. I had something else in mind to add next, but I know now that the next small step will simply be to go to bed earlier. Like everything else on the list, it will likely be tough at first, but it won’t take long to make it a habit. Time will tell whether or not sleep is the missing ingredient in my recipe for all my clothes fitting again, but whether or not it shows in my waist size, getting more rest is healthier for me. No matter what happens with my trousers, I will feel better and parent better with more rest, and that is most definitely a good thing.
More of Finding Magnolia on Babble:
With Thanks to Elvie for Finally Letting Me Sleep Longer Than an Hour at a Time
Finding My New Mom-of-Two Personal Normal
Two Kids: More Than Twice the Work of Just One Kid