Before I started IVF I had heard what I hoped were rumors about weight gain. Are you ready for this? YES!!! IVF causes weight gain…Surprise! Did I think injecting over fifty synthetic hormones would not cause weight gain? In all honesty probably. Or maybe it’s because I am on IVF #4, Oh, and don’t forget about the two IUI’s prior.
Weight gain is something that is very hard for me to accept in addition to all the other “stuff” that comes with IVF. My entire life has been deep rooted in modeling. My life was all about my height, weight, fitting into sample sizes and being measured at castings. Ugh, that dreaded measuring tape if that weren’t bad enough the clients would also have a scale. So you can imagine even though I am not working as a full-time model now the mentality is still ingrained in my subconscious.
I have worked out since I was a Freshman in high school. I am extremely athletic, was a cheerleader throughout high school and loved more aggressive sports (soccer, kickboxing). I have a hunger to be active on a daily basis. I take great pride in feeling and looking good. I work out to keep my body healthy, lean and my mind stress-free.
Working out was never about losing weight for me, it was more about the control and feeling good. Did I feel pressure to be a certain size at all times? Of course I did but I didn’t know anything different. The second you say you’re a “Model” you get labeled either being an anorexic or a bulimic neither of those two things ever entered my life. There are many times I can recall walking into Wilhelmina or Elite and hearing my booker say to me “Nikol, you really need to lose some weight.” or “Nikol, we can only show you to clients from the waist up.” That was the best one I will never forget. The weight issue got to be such a repetitive statement that I just blocked it out. I have an athletic body, I was never a stick thin model and never would be. If I had to change my body to unrealistic measurements or get breast augmentation, then this wasn’t the right career for me. I stuck to that personal mantra my entire twenty-year career. I never once gave into “losing weight” for someone else’s agenda nor did I get plastic surgery to book more swimwear jobs. So maybe I lost out on some jobs but I didn’t lose out on myself.
This post is not about my modeling career and weight, but I needed to give you some background on how weight has been present in my life. Knowing that my regular enjoyable workout routine would somehow not even make an impact on synthetic hormones was daunting. I know that I am not the only one that feels helpless when it comes to weight and IVF. You might feel I am shallow like what’s the big deal it’s only for a short period. That’s what I thought on my second IUI. Never did I think I would have five failed cycles in my back pocket and starting IVF #4 right now. NEVER.
If IVF isn’t hard enough physiologically, you have to deal with your body changing and it’s not something you planned or is remotely desirable. Not all but most of us that are starting and going through IVF are somewhere in our late thirties and early forties (if you are under thirty-five and reading this I am #jealous). There are so many changes happening with our BIG fortieth from “What am I doing with my life?” to “UGH why can’t I just get pregnant?” There is an enormous amount of pressure that goes along with infertility. I have to say it’s been hard for me to deal with gaining inevitable unwanted weight, not fitting into my favorite jeans and just feeling blah. It’s like IVF is deciding who’s boss, I am here to tell you that #GirlBoss just took the control away from IVF.
I know exactly what you are going to think when you scroll down and see my bathing suit picture selfie that I took when I was starting IVF #3 in May. She looks good, what’s her problem? I worked hard to keep what I once knew was my body. I am not killing myself in the gym, but I am not sitting around complaining about my body like I did when I first started infertility treatments. Each and every one of us knows what our “feel good” weight is. When your everyday clothes stop fitting it’s devastating. When your body is changing, reshaping not because you are sitting with Ben & Jerry but because you are a courageous woman fighting to create a family that’s when the lightbulb went off for me. I didn’t want to sit back and feel sorry for myself like I did for IVF #1 and IVF #2. I came back fighting prepping for IVF #3.
My workout routine hasn’t changed that much since I started infertility treatments what changed is my consistency. Here is what my workout routine looks like on a weekly basis. I babied myself during IVF #1 and #2 then I got smart and told myself “LET’S DO THIS.” I work out five days a week Monday through Friday.
Monday: 30 minutes of cardio either on the treadmill or elliptical. When walking on the treadmill I always pick a program that will guide me through my workout. I never do manual because I would never push myself.
Tuesday: I stick to The Four-Hour Body workout routine and 20 minutes of cardio. I do a full body weight lifting routine (please note I do not lift weights at all when I am in my two-week wait, and I just walk on the treadmill.)
Wednesday: 30 minutes of cardio. I change up my machines, so I don’t get bored.
Thursday: 30 minutes of cardio.
Friday: Full body workout routine with 20 minutes of cardio.
Saturday and Sunday: Relax
So what do you do? How do you feel good about your body when IVF is making all the changes? Check out this empowering video! Love how I want to get right in there with these girls and sweat!!!
My Top 10 Tips On How To Survive Body Changes and IVF:
- Understand that no one gets out without some change with their body. The ultimate goal is to get pregnant, you know that your body is going to take on so many changes once this happens. Think of this as a little prelude to the wonderful gift of being pregnant and having a new life grow inside you.
- Don’t sit on the couch feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and do something active that makes you feel good. It could be a leisurely walk with your dog or going for an after dinner stroll with your husband. Whatever you do don’t sit around just thinking of IVF.
- Get a Life Planner and make some health goals (save $10 here). I bought tons of motivational planner stickers to motivate me and keep me reaching for my goals. I love seeing positive quotes each week that keep my spirits lifted. It’s not about losing weight; it’s about staying healthy and feeling as though you are in control because at the end of the day YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR BODY.
- Find workout clothes that make you feel incredible. Pick out your favorite colors, get comfortable sneakers and look forward to putting on your workout gear each morning.
- Create a playlist that will rock your world each morning. I listen to crazy music when I am working out to keep my mind focused on only working out. A little Candlebox, Christina Aguilera and of course Beyonce.
- Find a workout partner or workout with your husband. Working out with a buddy keeps you accountable and motivated.
- Let yourself feel all your emotions, don’t bottle them up thinking they will go away. It’s entirely reasonable to have breakdowns believe me I have been there.
- Positive Self-Talk: Change your dialog with yourself. The second a negative thought crosses your mind about your body, weight, etc. Cancel it out with a positive more productive thought. Instead of saying “UHHHHH I am SO Fat, I can’t believe this is happening to me.” change it to “My body is strong, beautiful and courageous.”
- Keep eating healthy but don’t deprive yourself. You want to be mindful of eating a low-sodium healthy diet when you are going through IVF. Plan meals ahead of time. Sign up for one of the healthy meal plans like Blue Apron to keep you on track and to feel in control.
- Take the time to pamper yourself. Book a manicure and pedicure or treat yourself with a massage. IVF is extremely taxing on our bodies. You have to take the time out and nurture yourself. Relaxing and chilling out is something that I work on each day. Slowing down and be present.