This is for all you moms who are making New Year resolutions to lose the baby weight! You CAN do it!
I gained 36 lbs over the course of nine months. I nearly tipped the scales at 200 lbs – the last month of my pregnancy I couldn’t bear to look at that ever-growing number anymore. I tried instead to focus on the healthy, growing baby inside of me, and not the daunting task looming ahead: losing the weight.
I weighed myself at one week postpartum, excited to see how much “fell off” due to birth: 9 lbs. Really?! And 7 lbs of that were baby. Another couple weeks and I was down only a few more lbs. By 6 weeks postpartum, I had only naturally dropped 14 lbs. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me!
I tried not to have unrealistic expectations about postpartum weight loss, and I encourage all new and soon-to-be moms to do the same. I had heard the mantra, “9 months in, 9 months out” and told myself to not put undue pressure on myself, and just work the hardest I could to be healthy instead of focusing on a number.
The first, and most important, factor in spurring on the weight loss was making healthy decisions regarding what I put in my body. From the moment my son was born, I was extra motivated in this regard because I wanted to be sure he received the best nutrients possible through me!
Here are some examples of the choices I made regarding healthy meals. Many of the foods we made in advance and froze in large quantities. For the first month most of breakfast and dinner was a matter of pulling ready-made meals from the freezer. This was such a blessing, as making healthy decisions while busy with a newborn is impossible if you don’t have the food on hand.
- homemade granola with full fat unsweetened yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit
- Green smoothies
- homemade whole-grain or gluten-free (GF) muffins
- Egg muffins or other egg bakes
- Oatmeal with cinnamon, raw honey and apple slices, or alternatively try quinoa meal!
- Tuna or salmon mixed with a vegetable (grated carrots, tomato, or celery is my favorite), hard boiled egg, lemon juice and seasoning, served in an avocado or one slice of whole-wheat or GF bread
- Mango, black bean and avocado salad served with corn chips
- Nut butter (cashew, peanut or almond – with no sweeteners) with celery, carrots, banana, apple or any of fruit/veggie you wish!
- Green salad with custom add-ins. My favorite is avocado, carrots, beets, and turnips with a honey, mustard, balsamic, garlic and salt & pepper dressing!
- Healthy Hamburger Helper
- Taco bar: tomatoes, avocados, corn tacos, cheese, sour cream, grass-fed beef and black beans
- Stir fry: we make this weekly and it’s different depending on the vegetables we have on hand. Broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and cabbage are our favorites. We serve over sautéed cabbage or rice with amino acids (soy sauce alternative) or Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), toasted sesame oil, red wine vinegar and sriracha sauce.
- Beef Stew
- Turkey wildrice burgers with sautéed mushrooms and mashed rutabagas (a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes)
- Quinoa Patty Burgers with a vegetable side
By maintaining a diet full of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats (such as coconut oil, full-fat butter, avocados and olive or grapeseed oil), minimal sugars and grains, it helps your body receive the nutrients it needs so that it doesn’t hold onto extra pounds thinking it “needs” them. Also, as contrary as it sounds – eating healthy fats actually helps your skin tighten and hydrate! They are just as important during pregnancy to help hydrate the skin and make it stretch!
After our stash of freezer meals and friends with meals came to a stop, it took even more discipline to take a couple hours each week to meal plan and grocery shop. I would allow myself one “treat” a week so that I didn’t go crazy with my sweet tooth. The desserts I chose were still healthy choices. My favorite are these “protein” brownies and I now make them a couple times a month with no guilt: GF Divine Wholesome Brownies.
After discussing it with Mr. Pen, we decided to make room in the budget for a gym membership. It was important to me to start feeling normal again. We chose a local YMCA that also offered quality child care.
I started at 6 weeks post-partum, but my weight loss efforts quickly became very discouraging; I was working out 3-5x a week and eating nutrient-dense meals and not losing any weight. I was stuck at the same weight for over 3 months. There were so many days I wanted to give up, especially when I discussed weight loss with other moms who said I would never be able to lose the weight in nine months, that my body would never be the same so there was no point trying so hard, and that the way I ate wasn’t going to last – it was just a fad diet. Because of my personality though, I felt more driven to work hard to spite the naysayers and show moms that it CAN be done with dedication and discipline!
After about 4 months I finally was able to see the fruits of my labor; the weight slowly started to melt away. The days that I made nourishing sustenance choices, I felt perky, motivated and positive. It was amazing to me how much my choices affected my outlook on life. When I caved into my Chinese food (my vice!) cravings, I noticed how quickly I felt sluggish, lazy and even depressed. During some bouts with some post-partum depression (PPD), I noticed how impacting diet and exercise can be.
At 6 months post-partum I celebrated shedding the last pound, bringing me back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I was so excited! I felt so motivated, accomplished and proud. I am 10 months post-partum, still eating a great diet albeit not working out as consistently, and continuing to lose a few extra lbs. I am down the 36 lbs I gained in addition to losing another 6 lbs.
I was not one of those moms who lost the weight naturally, and breastfeeding didn’t seem to help as much as I heard it would. I worked so hard, often 3-5x a week at the gym, to lose the weight. I didn’t give into my sweets cravings and only indulged in my Chinese food cravings every other month! It took a whole lot of dedication, motivation and discipline. Losing so much weight in such a short amount of time is never easy. I will say that it is true my body will never be what it was; my stomach resembles a road map with the sheer amount of stretch marks, my skin is still saggy, my hips are wider and my butt is jigglier. I am hoping that continued exercise and a healthy diet will tighten up my skin, but I am resigned to the fact that things will always be just a little different.
What I’ve learned is most important right now though is that I’m healthy. I am learning to not focus on a number, but instead reading my body for signs that it is operating how it should.
For those that are looking to lose the weight but don’t have access to a gym, or one with childcare, there are a lot of workouts available at home. Although it takes more motivation to exercise at home, it will be worth it. I use the app BodyFitness to garner ideas for new workout routines. I also love MyFitnessPal to track my exercise and my food intake. Sadly, it doesn’t have a “breastfeeding” option so I am not strict on maintaining the number of calories it assigns to me, but I’ve found that since cutting most grains, I naturally eat fewer calories because vegetables and fruits have lower caloric content than carbs and sugars.
Myfitnesspal app tracks my weight loss and exercise – I loved the updates whenever I input more weight loss! It was so motivating!
We have a netflix subscription, which also offers a variety of workout videos from Crunch Fitness, including a prenatal yoga workout – the days I didn’t make it to the gym, it was nice to have an option for working out at home. I haven’t tried videos such as the 30 Day Shred or P90X which are popular choices; but I will say that I was not up for the intensity in many workouts in the months following birth so don’t be discouraged when you feel “out of shape!” But it’s great to try as long as you resolve not to feel discouraged if you can’t complete the workouts for awhile.
As far as diet goes, I have so many favorite blogs that post delicious and healthy recipes that are worth following:
It was so hard, but it was so worth it and I feel so much better about myself now! I have more energy and feel confident that I’ll be able to keep up with my son as he grows and starts to outrun me. I am excited thinking about how much we will be able to experience together because he has a healthy mama – he makes it completely worth it.
How did you lose the baby weight?