The Terrible Three’s Are Making Me Fat

First of all, let me say that I’m a pretty healthy person overall. Six years of working in the vitamin department of a health food store taught me that white flour and white sugar are ministers of Satan sent to make us all sick, fat, and constipated.

I eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, smoothies, and whole grain snacks in between three balanced meals. I try to work out a couple of times a week, and my family and I go on walks most evenings.

But then something strange happens around 8:30 pm every night. And I think it’s making me fat.

THE DAY MY JEANS STOPPED FITTING

I first realized something was not kosher when my GAP boyfriend jeans — which are supposed to fit loosely — started getting tight around my hips.

(It was probably my bad for buying them when I was nursing my third child last summer, experiencing miracle calorie-burning power and rocking an extra svelte physique than my normal slightly curvy-girl self. I was a fool to think that would last forever!)

Rut roh, I thought.

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[Photo: My very own boyfriend jeans that betrayed me…along with the rest of my jeans.]

Now I don’t normally weigh myself but go off of how I feel and how my clothes fit. However, one morning I decided to hoist myself onto the bathroom scale. An undisclosed number flashed at me condescendingly.

Okay, no big deal, I thought. I just need to pay more attention to my dinner portions. I’m not nursing any more. I can’t just eat a half a Costco lasagna and not have any consequences.

About a month later, I had a doctor’s appointment and the nurse wanted to weigh me.

“Must we?” I asked her with a nervous chuckle.

My hesitancy came from the fact that I had just eaten lunch and was wearing the jeans I was still delusional about fitting into. (And anyway jeans weigh at least 20 pounds.) Plus, the scales at the doctor’s office are most certainly provided by some pharmaceutical company that makes antidepressants because they will, without fail, say you are three or four thousand pounds heavier than your scale at home.

Plus, the scales at the doctor’s office are most certainly provided by some pharmaceutical company that makes antidepressants because they will, without fail, say you are three or four thousand pounds heavier than your scale at home.

I stepped out of my flats and took my sunglasses off my head and set them on the counter, as if that would help my cause. Then I stood on the scale.

This is not good at all, I thought as I looked at my new number. That’s a few pounds heavier than I was a few weeks ago. What the heck is going on? I am not having dessert tonight no matter what.

A HOSTAGE SITUATION

That night, it was my turn to put our precious three-year-old to bed. She is clever and strong-willed, so in the time it takes one of us to put her to bed, the other parent can do jammies, brush teeth, read stories, say prayers, tuck in our 6-year-old AND our 19-month-old, run a marathon, and STILL be done quicker than the parent who suffered the terrible misfortune of having to put the middle child to bed. (I kid, I kid.)

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[Not my kid, but looks about right. Photo credit: Julian King https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/]

I could go into further detail about the kind of cray we’re dealing with over here, but the important thing is that we have amazingly sweet and wonderful moments with our girl. She is so beautiful, spunky, funny, and affectionate. We love her so so so so very much.

But bedtime is the crescendo of her stubbornness and will. And when you’re in her lair enduring her seventh jammie change, unreasonable demands (i.e. “Ice and cold and water please,” “You didn’t bring me enough ice,” “I wanted my purple sippy cup not a big girl cup”), temper tantrums, or questions about the meaning of life, it is very similar to a hostage situation — you just don’t know if you are ever going to make it out alive.

CHOCOLATE DEVILS

On this particular night, I finally emerged from middlest one’s bedroom, and joined my husband in the living room. He had already made the kids’ lunches for the next day and was now watching Sports Center.

“Good job, babe,” he said, standing up to give me a hug.

I sighed and tried to crawl under the XXL t-shirt he was wearing. (I’ve done it before. He’s very tall, and let me say, it is tremendously comforting. It’s like I’m a joey in a mama kangaroo pouch, safe from the harsh conditions of the outback.)

“I need ice cream,” I announced.

Hubby informed me that he had a special treat for me tonight. I didn’t know if that was “code” for something else — maybe I had given off the wrong signals when I tried to hide under his shirt — so my exhausted self silently praised the Lord when he made his way to the kitchen.

Hubby informed me that he had a special treat for me tonight. I didn’t know if that was “code” for something else — maybe I had given off the wrong signals when I tried to hide under his shirt — so my exhausted self silently praised the Lord when he made his way to the kitchen.

He worked diligently in there for a bit and came back with two bowls of vanilla ice cream on top of chocolate lava cake he had warmed in the microwave.

“Oh my gosh,” I mumbled, mid-savor, “Where did you find this?”

“Trader Joe’s,” he said with a smug smile.

Wow!” I exclaimed.

Now, I’ve been to Trader Joe’s a thousand times and have never seen the package of chocolate lava cake goodness in the frozen section. And yet he runs in real quick for bananas and half-and-half and finds this delicious decadence that is sure to be my demise.

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[Photo: The amazing Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes. You’re welcome.]

As I enjoyed the very last bite of my tantalizing treat, I remembered the vow I had made earlier that day at the doctor’s office: I am not having dessert tonight no matter what.

But you know what’s hard about that? When you’re going through the terrible three’s with one of your children, there are some nights you feel like you deserve some kind of reward for not getting your buns handed to you by a little person who can’t even pronounce the word “hospital.” (Sometimes it’s “hossible” and sometimes it’s “huxtable” and we don’t plan on correcting her any time soon ‘cause it’s stinkin’ adorable.)

When you’re going through the terrible three’s…there are some nights you feel like you deserve some kind of reward for not getting your buns handed to you by a little person who can’t even pronounce the word “hospital.”

It’s not that I don’t love and adore being a mom of little ones with every fiber of my being. It’s just that sometimes, at the end of their bedtime routine, I feel like curling up into fetal position and eating a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake. By myself.

It’s this mentality that is most likely the culprit of my weight gain over the past few months. And while it has not been a horribly drastic increase and I know many women struggle much more with this issue, I can do the math if I continued on this two- to three-pounds-a-month trajectory. Not good.

So what’s a girl to do?

BREAD OF LIFE

I was thinking about a passage of Scripture the other day where Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Mmmmm……bread. (Cue the Homer Simpson drool meme.) Is there anything better than fresh bread right out of the oven? Warm and spongy. A little crispy and buttery on the outside. And oh, so comforting. You break it open, releasing a little steam that sings you a Justin Timberlake love song.

(Okay so maybe it’s this romantic view of food I have that’s making me fat, not the terrible three’s ha!)

Let’s say you go to a restaurant with friends and you’re trying to watch your weight. You don’t want to be “that” guy by asking the table to forgo the complimentary bread. You think, Why can’t everyone else enjoy it just because I’m addicted to carbs? I’ll just exercise a little will power. A little self-control.

When the bread arrives, you remind yourself you’re not going to eat a roll. But the smell wafts over to you and everything you said in your mental pep talk five minutes ago goes out the window. You decide to eat just a half a roll. One. Okay, fine, two. Man this is so good. And the soft butter that tastes like Disneyland in a gold wrapper. Who makes this stuff? You are convinced it’s legal crack.

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[Photo: Bruno Raymond https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ ]

You can’t just eat one piece of bread, people. It’s supposed to be filling, but you could eat a whole basket of it at a restaurant without even realizing it.

But Jesus said He is the Bread of Life—that anyone who comes to Him will never go hungry.

That’s the kind of comfort food I need. And after I re-read this passage, I wondered, how often do I go to Jesus when I’m having a difficult parenting day?

That’s the kind of comfort food I need. And after I re-read this passage, I wondered, how often do I go to Jesus when I’m having a difficult parenting day?

I go to my husband, to my thoughts, to my friends and family, to social media and parenting blogs, to my chores, to my late night snacking, but maybe I need to start going to Jesus.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Not that I won’t enjoy a treat here and there in moderation, but my soul needs refreshment that no chocolate lava cake can ever give permanently. I need God’s comfort, wisdom, and peace.

I need His Word to remind me not to grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9) and that those who hope in Him will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31).

I need Him to help me deny myself (Matthew 16:34) and make better choices—to do the good I know I ought to do with regard to eating healthfully and coping with parenting stress.

Jesus is my portion and my blessing (Psalm 16:5). I believe that. And if a byproduct of turning to spiritual comfort instead of comfort food is that my GAP boyfriend jeans fit a little looser again, well then, that would be rewarding indeed.

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