When I start something new, I’m often excited, eager and full of motivation. I feel like I can do anything and get a burst of adrenaline at the idea of something new. I love change and while it’s not always easy, I always enjoy it more than the status quo. I like challenging myself and pushing myself to try new things.
I’ll admit though, I often approach this type of a change with a level of naiveté and some unrealistic expectations. I get caught up in the excitement and positive energy and forget to sit myself down and add in a dash of realism. This often leads to disappointment and I’m still learning not to repeat this pattern.
Most recently, this relates most to my diet and exercise routine. Since June, I’ve focused heavily on these areas in my life, really trying to get healthier during IVF for a potential pregnancy. Logically, I knew that the hormone injections were affecting my body in a variety of ways but I still expected certain results.
I have access to the InBody machine at my gym in order to track my progress, which measures body fat and muscle mass. I’ve been doing this since I first started there in August. Between pumping myself full of hormones and a slight lack of consistency when I wasn’t able to workout during the retrieval process and when I was sick, I knew my results wouldn’t match my expectations. So, before I took my second InBody measurement, I prepared myself for less than stellar quantitative improvements, despite knowing I was helping my body regardless. I was right. There were very minimal improvements in my body fat percentage and muscle mass.
While this was disappointing, I knew there were other factors at play that were equally as important to me. I was moving my body more, eating healthier and trying to start our family, which are all beautiful things. These results did not deter me. Sure, would I have liked to see some more physical changes as a result of all my hard work? Absolutely. But I had to manage my expectations and keep reminding myself of the bigger picture and why I was doing this.
Fast forward to January 26th, 2022. My last hormone injections were in early November and because I got sick, I had to take a break from exercise during that time as well. During December and January though, I was all in. I was taking a break from all the hormones and diving into my health again. I was weight training 3-4 times per week every week, missing maybe three workouts during this two month period. I was eating healthy (90% of the time), taking a whey protein supplement and rarely eating out. I was doing all the right things with as much consistency as I could.
So, I decided to do another InBody scan to measure my progress. Surely I’d have made some progress in the past two months given that I was on a break from hormones and I was being very consistent with diet and exercise. As I finished my workout and asked the gym director for the results of my scan from earlier, he said that one of the coaches would reach out to me.
Full of hope, I asked, “Did I at least make some progress?” He pulled up the comparisons and said actually I had lost 1 lb of muscle mass. I’m sorry, what?! This doesn’t make sense to me. He agreed that it seemed like a lot, and clearly trending in the wrong direction, especially since I told him all I had been doing the past two months.
He recommended that we do another scan two days later on Friday, in case it was a machine error. I felt defeated but agreed in hopes that the numbers would shift. Well, the second scan was even worse. It said I had lost another pound of muscle mass. Whether the Wednesday scan was correct or not, it looks like I’d lost 1-2lbs of muscle mass in the last 2.5 months, despite weight training 3-4 times per week and eating healthy. I was not happy.
There are a couple possibilities of what could have happened though.
1) I might not have been consuming enough protein as a vegetarian with my current diet. On days that I don’t track, I likely get around 70-80g of protein daily with one protein drink. I had already decided on increasing to two protein drinks daily because I still didn’t think I was getting enough, so I was about to increase my protein intake to around 95-110g daily. Still lower than what I’d like, but honestly it’s the most sustainable with my diet.
2) My hormones could still be regulating after 7 months of IVF and that may be having a longer-than-anticipated impact. My doctors never discussed this specifically, so I truly have no idea if it’s related, but it’s certainly possible.
3) The most unlikely scenario is that it’s something cancer-related, which is always, unfortunately, in the back of mine and my husband’s minds. We’re not jumping to that though.
I have to say, these results really brought me down for a few days. It’s hard when you’re putting in so much effort but the results aren’t showing. I logically reminded myself all the ways this healthier lifestyle is benefiting me, despite the lack of data showing physical improvements, but it didn’t take the sting away.
Did I let this slow me down though? Absolutely not. I was hopeful that in about a month, with hard work, consistency and a bit more protein, I would start to see the numbers move in the right direction. At the end of the day though, I’m pursuing an intentionally healthy lifestyle for the long haul. I want to be active, strong and healthy for myself and our family. I’m keeping that at the forefront of my mind.
This is the same thing I’d recommend to others. Progress is not always linear – there will be plenty of ups and downs. You won’t always have intrinsic motivation to keep going, but you can stick to your commitment to yourself regardless. I hope to be an example to others by pushing through any disappointments that come along, learning to better manage my expectations and keeping the bigger picture in mind. We’re all still rising!