How I lost the Baby Weight (and then some)

I've been getting asked what I did to lose the weight after having my baby so I figured I could blog about it.  

When I was 40+ weeks pregnant with J, weighing 41 pounds more than I did before getting pregnant, I would walk around my little block (hoping and praying that was all I would need to do to convince this little girl to come out into the world) and I could hardly make it around that little block without being wiped out for the rest of the day.  On one of those walks I decided that I would never weigh that much again in my whole life, not even the next time I was pregnant.  I was going to lose this pregnancy weight and I was going to keep losing weight to get myself into a healthy weight range.  

38 Weeks Pregnant

To be honest with you, that was probably just a nice idea I had --- something I was saying to myself in the middle of a humid, hot June just as kind of a mantra to keep me going.  I'm really not so sure I would have actually done it.  

Then at 42 weeks I had a c-section and it rattled me.  It was the first time in my life I had ever had anything besides great health.  I'd never had a surgery before (unless you count removing my wisdom teeth) and a revelation I had from going through it was: THIS is my body -- THIS is what I live in -- THIS is the only one I get.  

In addition to that, I was disappointed that I did not go into labor.  (I sure gave it my all trying to get labor going, but I had to be induced --- which went well and was not the cause of my c-section).  I desperately want to go into labor next time around so I began theorizing on why I didn't this time.  Science still doesn't know exactly what puts a women into labor, but I wasn't about to let that stop me from thinking it through.  My favorite theory is that I didn't go into labor because J's head was turned (kinda like her ear was to her shoulder) and so my body was holding back until she was aligned in the right position (her head's position was the reason that we had to finish the delivery with a c-section).  But I also theorized that perhaps it was because I was in the overweight BMI range before I got pregnant, and then I went on to gain too much weight for even someone in the healthy range during pregnancy.  Maybe somehow the weight did me in.  Obviously I don't actually know why I didn't start laboring on my own, it could be anything, but I decided that I was going to give myself and my body every advantage I could muster up for good health and good possibilities for any future pregnancies.  And I also knew that, whether being at a healthy weight has anything bearing on labor or not, it is a great idea to take care of my body.  And with this newfound understanding I wanted to treat this body as the gift from God that it is, instead of taking it for granted as I had been doing.  
This was the first time in my life that I was working to lose weight in order to be healthy, instead of trying to look a certain way.  (Honestly, didn't think I could look any certain way after seeing my postpartum belly.  I figured it would always be super scary --- my c-section had an "interesting" affect --- so I literally was not trying to achieve a hot body.  I just wanted to create a good-body-environment for a future baby by reaching a healthy weight.)  I honestly feel that without this c-section I would not have lost the amount of weight that I have.  I think I would have left at least 5 pounds of the pregnancy pounds on because I wouldn't have faced the issues that I have.  

Last Pregnant Photo - 42 Weeks

I know that postpartum weight loss (and weight loss in general) is a really daunting and emotional thing for most women.  So I don't want to make anyone feel like they are being chastised or judged.  Believe me, I hate that feeling --- I often fight with the feeling of being judged over having a c-section.  So I certainly do not want to give that feeling to anyone else.  I just thought my story might be of encouragement.  

As I said, when I was pregnant I gained 41 pounds.  And I came home from the hospital knowing I would lose it, and that I would go on to lose at least 10 more pounds (getting me to the upper end of a healthy BMI range.)  To be honest, I thought I was a little nuts to set my sights so high --- I have never had an easy time losing weight, I have always been in the overweight range --- those 10+ pounds are pounds I have never been able to get off.  It didn't seem like something I could do.  I mean, I needed to lose 41 pounds!!?! to even get close to losing those extra pounds!  What?!? 

Almost ready to come home!

But here is the thing: I didn't care if it seemed like I could do it or not, I was going to do it.  I just was.  I wasn't taking "no' for an answer.  I have never set my mind on something with as much determination.  

I had the steam of something bigger than myself to hold me up.  I was working towards a goal --- my future, and my kids' future.  I was putting my faith in God to move a mountain and that's what has gotten me through.  With the vague idea in my head of when we might maybe be ready for another baby, I knew I didn't have time to mess around.  I saw a deadline and it really lit a fire under me.

I came home looking like a floppy '27 Weeks'

I gave myself some grace in the beginning.  I knew they said I could exercise after a c-section at 6 weeks postpartum but I had some fears about it.  At around 8 weeks I tried some Pilates and it seemed to hurt on my left side near my incision so I said "I'd rather make sure my uterus is totally healed and stay fat for a little while longer."  For about 3 months all I did for exercise was take J on walks wearing her in my moby wrap.  They were "easy" short walks --- but let's be honest they felt hard at that point.  They were really just to get me in the mind frame of caring for my body.  

These were the only summer shorts I had that fit --- 
Wore them nearly every day

During this time I didn't want to threaten my breast milk supply by losing weight too quickly. (This can be a concern, but from everything I've read it is accepted as safe to lose one pound a week, after that initial just-had-the-baby-loss, without negative effects on milk supply.)  I didn't really focus on controlling my intake in the beginning.  What I did focus on was ensuring I was eating the types of foods that I should; I put a huge effort into making sure my meals always included a lot of veggies.  It was a lot of work.  I would spend J's naps working on food --- chopping and prepping dinner way ahead of time.  I had to do that because I was so hungry all the time from breast feeding that I needed dinner to be ready ASAP.  So I was eating things like turkey meatloaf loaded with minced up veggies, veggies and more veggies (Blake actually loves this meal).  It was a new way of eating for me, and it was really helpful to make these changes as a slow transition.  It was nice that I didn't try to make 100 changes overnight, I was able to take baby steps and get used to things, getting my taste buds adjusted.  

Moby Wrap 
(and the skirt I wore when I wasn't wearing those shorts)

After 3 months I kicked it into gear.  I had done some reading on weight loss both in general and while breast feeding and I talked to a couple ladies I knew who had had success in that area.  (A big thank you to Natanya and Melissa.)  I found it important to talk to women who had done it because I was already in a delicate place emotionally (working through my c-section disappointments) so I needed the encouragement and the example that it could be done.  And I needed some guidance because I was feeling lost.  
So right away I began to employ what I was told, and what I was told was "be active" and "count your calories."  

That was revolutionary for me.  I had never done that before.  Up until that point I was still kinda thinking if I just found some "magic" food I could "magically" lose the weight.  I had heard it before, but somehow it finally struck me as truth --- You can only lose weight if you take in less calories than you burn.  

I finally accepted this.  

Well the idea of counting calories still sounded daunting for me --- someone who HATES math and numbers.   But I wasn't about to be bested, so I Googled the old Weight Watcher's system (which is basically calorie counting dumbed down) and followed the guidelines for breast-feeding women.  (They use a new system now, which is improved, but this old way was available to me for free and it definitely works.  It is very easy to find lots of information online: you can just Google up things like "How many Weight Watcher's points do I get?" and "WW Points Lists" if you are interested.)  
Or, if you just want to do the good-old-fashion-calorie-count, Google "How many calories should I have to lose weight?"  If you are exclusively breast feeding, add 500 calories to that. (You will need to consume less if your baby has other sources of nutrition --- like when they start to eat solids.)  

While I'm on the topic of breast-feeding, I'd like to give it the proper credit for my weight loss.  I do think it helped me to lose weight, but I am not one of those women who lost the weight just because I was breast feeding.  The main reason I think it helped me to lose weight was actually emotional.  I think it was easier for me, emotionally, to diet while breast feeding because I visually got to eat about the same amount of food I would eat while not dieting in my former non-mom life.  But the thing is, I was 70 times hungrier.  I was burning 500 extra calories a day, and I was 500 calories a day hungrier.  To a bystander it might not have looked like I was dieting, but I felt like I was the person who has 3 oz. of chicken and half a dry salad for every meal.  This was not magical all-you-can-eat, it was effortful restraint.  

Me at 4 months Postpartum
(We took this picture to see how '30 Day Shred' would change things,
 but then I hurt my knee and didn't do the whole 30 days. Gotta watch out for that left over relaxin in your body.)  

Anyway, from months 3 to about 10 I wrote down everything I ate, every day, and made sure I did not go over the amount I was holding myself to.  I would eat 3 meals a day and had to have a afternoon snack, and if I had enough 'points' left I might have a small night time snack.  I lost about a pound a week.  I was diligent.  I weighed myself every morning and if it didn't look like that pound was coming off that week, I backed off a few more calories.  (I didn't lose a pound every single week, but I really aimed for that and usually could achieve it.  There were of course holidays and times were I did not withhold from the festivities but I tried to remain mindful.)

I attribute my weight loss to that careful consumption.  But I also did exercise.  I did a number of workout DVDs, many from the library.  I would start them as soon as J went to bed for the night (she has always gone to bed really early.)  When she was little I usually didn't make it through the workout without her needing me to go in and check on her and I would have to finish when I came back out.  Eventually, when J was 6 months old, my husband and I joined a local pool and took turns, early every other morning, heading out to go swim laps while the other stayed home with the baby.  That was hard too because some nights I was up a million times and still had to drag myself out of bed and then pray I didn't drown that morning!  I also made sure to take walks with J as often as possible when the weather turned warm again.  I know the exercise was helpful, and definitely good for me, but I wasn't as diligent with it as I was with my calories.  (Some mornings I just couldn't get out of bed.)  I know I couldn't have lost the weight on exercise alone, because I would have just eaten more calories as I got hungrier from working out if I wasn't paying attention.  

I also loved to inspire myself.  Reading weight loss books would often help to keep me in the mind frame.  And I also LOVED watching Biggest Loser.  That was the weekly boost I needed to not eat cake --- by Monday I was just dying for chocolate and ice cream and all things delicious, but I would hold out until Tuesday night to see the Biggest Loser and get mentally back in the game.  I even started hearing Jillian in my head as I was swimming laps.  (Which, by the way, my swimming was probably the funniest sight the lifeguard has ever seen.  I had no experience swimming at all and was decked out like I did.  I didn't even like to put my face in the water.  But hey, whether I was doing it right or not, I was getting a good workout.  Swimming is intense!)

So cut to today, nearly one year after J was born, I have lost the 41 pounds of pregnancy weight and an additional 15 pounds, securing a healthy BMI for me for the first time in my life.  I've never felt so fit.  The week I hit my BMI I was walking through the grocery store and I all of a sudden relized walking was easy, my body felt "right."  I thought, "No wonder they recommend this weight!"  

Off to an Award Banquet for my Husband

I wanted to share my story to be real.  The weight loss wasn't easy --- I worked harder than I ever have at really anything.  But I kept a clear head and looked at the big picture.  I didn't ask myself to lose it overnight, I was looking a year out, thinking where I wanted to be at J's birthday and where I wanted to be after that.  If I didn't keep my expectations achievable, I would have been defeated.  (That is definitely one of the big reasons I was never able to get the weight off before in my life --- if I couldn't lose it in a month I gave up.)

I plan to keep at this lifestyle --- and I plan to take this into my next pregnancy.  Hopefully I can keep the weight gain more in check (I know I definitely could eat a "few" less M&Ms next time.)  I want to do this not for vanity, but out of hope.  If I still gain more than a certain number I won't be mad --- maybe that's just what my body does.  But I will be much more aware of what I'm putting in my body --- this thing is important!

4 Months Postpartum
8 Months Postpartum

                  The day I found out I was pregnant                                  8 Months Postpartum

10 Months Postpartum


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