Fat Loss, Health, and Pregnancy: Part 1

In this two-part letter, we discussed my friend's efforts to get pregnant, and how it related to health, fitness, and fat loss. Here is Part I.

Names have been redacted, typographical errors have been corrected, and some phrasing has been slightly altered because in retrospect it sounded kinda silly. I'm a nerd...

"I decided to split this into two emails. It was getting pretty long and I wanted to make sure I emphasized a couple of things properly so they wouldn’t get lost.

Here are what I feel to be the two most important things to consider/digest/contemplate/keep in mind before we even talk about exercise and nutrition and such…

#1: You Should Understand Why Your Doctor Has Advised You to 'Lose Weight.'

Doctors often deal with so many people (people who don’t care about the whys), and make and hear so many recommendations that it’s no surprise that the recommendations themselves often become disconnected from their intended purpose. I think it’s important to think about, though.

There is no magic weight or body-fat percentage required for pregnancy. Your weight as a number on the scale is not the issue: your weight as a manifestation of your body’s current health status is the issue. The human body is incredibly intuitive and adaptive. If we give it signals that life is not great here on Earth (through inputs like excessive or un-managed stress, poor nutrition, poor sleep patterns, and a lack of movement/challenge to the body), then it will not allow you to get pregnant. Why would it? If it thinks you’re struggling as-is, it certainly won’t risk both taxing your body even further and creating another life that needs to survive.

Our goal should be to get you to a higher level of health. Improved health will equal improved fertility. Weight loss (specifically fat loss) will very likely just be a nice side effect.

#2: You Need to Be Selfish!

You are a very giving and hardworking person, Friend. You dedicate a lot of time and energy to doing your best for everyone around you. You’re a teacher, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter. In all of those roles, you give 100% of yourself, and it does not go unnoticed. But I think it would do you good to take a step back and do some things for you. Be selfish. Take care of your own needs—not in lieu of everyone else’s, but in order to better be there for those who depend on you. You absolutely deserve it, and it will only help you in the long run.

It’s sort of that “protect the rescuer” idea. [In a rescue situation, the first priority is always to protect the rescuer. This may sound odd or cruel, but the idea is that there’s no point in losing both the victim and the rescuer. Back to the point…] The more strength and energy and the less stress you have, the better you’ll be able to provide for other people. Take care Friend, and taking care of others will only get easier.

This, in fact, is partly what your body is doing automatically for you right now: taking care of itself first, and then when it can handle it will decide to take on another responsibility.

There are a few changes you’ll likely need make and a few new routines you’ll need to get used to in order to pursue better health, and it may seem as though you don’t have time to add them on top of your already busy life. This is where being selfish comes into play. When you think about these things, remind yourself that you should do them, you can do them, and you deserve to do them."

Continued in Part 2.