The day before I delivered my daughter, I was three pounds heavier than I was when I returned home from my freshman year at college.
Maintaining a healthy weight has not ever been easy for me. It is in my genes to be heavy and I have spent most of my life fighting the obesity epidemic that is moving rapidly through this country. I did hit the gym after my disastrous dorm food experience, and lost 25 lbs that summer. And I even got ripped using both Hot Point Fitness & then Stewart Smith’s Maximum Fitness. That was 10 years ago. I have gone up and down over the last 10 years, but I am now at a very healthy weight for my small 5’3″ frame because I make choices every single day that determine my success. Thus, nothing makes my blood boil more than someone looking me up and down, while I am carrying my baby, and telling me I am “lucky” to have lost the baby weight. No, no, no. “Luck” would have very little to do with the way I look. Maybe for some people it is easy, but some of us actually work hard to be healthy. Let’s not confuse thin with healthy either. Healthy and thin are two very different things. I prefer muscles.
So what is the secret? I don’t really think it is a secret. Like any weight battle, it’s math. Calories in, calories out. Self control & motivation. Here’s how I did it.
I was brainwashed by a culture that thinks pregnancy makes you fat. Most people seem to hold this belief & look at women who lose the weight quickly like they are some freaks of nature, since it has become so rare to see a woman bounce back fast. I admired Heidi Klum’s rapid return to her pre-pregnancy weight and distinctly remember something she said many years ago. She was answering a question about how she lost the weight and said in return, “well, you have to ask yourself what you looked like before pregnancy.” Got it Heidi. You cannot get pregnant and expect to look like a supermodel if you didn’t look like one before, sure. And, pregnancy isn’t going to get you in shape. So, her point was, if you are in shape before, you will have a better shot at losing the weight after. Right? Seems to make sense. So there’s Part 1: Get Fit First.
I am one of those people who got pregnant, and got sick. After a week or two of this, I found a cure: the gym. I was there every single morning & it CURED my nausea! Breaking a sweat did it! HA! Whodathunk!?! So it became a habit. And I exercised at least 6 days a week through my whole pregnancy. I gained the weight right on pace. I was told that at my starting weight, I really needed to gain about 30 lbs. I gained 29. Food was a major challenge for me during pregnancy, mostly because I had aversions to most things that were cooked. I pretty much lived on fruit & veggies. I did not eat poorly, nor did I eat extra. I seemed to be hungry all the time, but I satisfied that with nuts, cheese, fruits & veggies. And I drank a TON of water. We’re talking about 3L a day. Indeed, I was a pee machine! But I really didn’t retain water until the last week, so I think drinking that much helped.
When I found out I was pregnant, I had this major mental shift. Suddenly my health was more important to me than ever before. When I exercised, so did my baby. When I ate healthy, so did my baby. When I failed in these two areas, so did my baby. This was enough motivation for me. I can say proudly that I never used pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything I wanted or sit back & slack on my exercise. I think this is the major problem for so many women who struggle to lose the baby weight. So, Part 2: Exercise. Eat Healthy. Don’t Gain Too Much Weight. (which you won’t if you follow the exercise/eat healthy part)
See that number up there in the title? That was my number. 33 days. It took me 33 days to lose the baby weight. By 7 days postpartum I had lost all but 7 pounds. What did I do? NOTHING. I kid you not. I was sidelined for six months postpartum with a really nasty broken tailbone. They never tell you THAT can happen during delivery, but sure enough, I fractured it beyond the point that it will ever heal. I still struggle with it now & am so sad that yoga is currently out of the picture. (Not so sad, however, that I will never be able to do a sit-up again!) But I remember the night sweats & constant potty breaks to rid my body of the excess fluid. I breastfed from day one, which certainly helped with burning the calories. So, Part 3: Follow Part 2 & The Body Will Take Care of the Rest.
Now, 11 months later, I am 12 lbs below what I was when I got pregnant. Most of my clothes just don’t fit my new shape. Not because of the weight lost, but because I swear, everything just “moved.” It’s very strange, but almost every other mom I talk to about this agrees. Weird phenomenon! Since giving birth I try to be as active as I can. I eat very healthy and am consuming enough to be able to nurse four times a day.
My husband, a surgeon, often comments about the human body being smarter than he’ll ever be. It’s made to do certain things & can often heal itself. We talked about this during my pregnancy & I hoped, as most first time pregnant women do, that I’d get back to normal quickly after childbirth. I looked at women who lost the weight with awe and now, I know there is not much to be amazed by. The human body will completely take care of itself, if you take care of the body. Pregnancy is not a sentence for a lifetime of excess weight. It’s just a pregnancy. If you gain the right amount, you will lose it just as fast (well, much faster, really). I believe it is that simple. And I have many friends that have success stories just like mine to prove it!! I seem to be surrounded by fit, healthy mamas. I don’t think that is a coincidence. You are the company you keep, and being with healthy people will help you stay that way!
ERINN’S SUCCESS STORY
So enough about me. I wanted to feature THE PERSON that comes to my mind when I think of postpartum fitness. I lost the weight, but I am not at a good fitness level yet (well, according to my standards of what is considered fit). Meet my friend Erinn, who you may remember from this, this & this (side note: wow my style has changed so much already!) She is SO inspiring. She was a marathoner pre-pregnancy & was in amazing shape. We bonded over our love of healthy living & infertility struggles. We saw the same doctor. We took the same drugs. We got PREGNANT!! Erinn carried not one, not two, but THREE babies for 30 weeks. She gained 45 lbs during her pregnancy. One week after delivery, she had lost 26 lbs. Six weeks after delivery, she was down 36 lbs, just nine to go to reach her pre-pregnancy weight. And of course, she was unable to exercise due to her c-section. 36 lbs lost due to breastfeeding, being in AMAZING shape pre-pregnancy & taking care of herself during pregnancy (even though she was hospitalized on bed-rest for the last few weeks.)
So how did she do it? Erinn does not have help around the house. She has used her one year old triplet BOYS nap-time to get her body back. She has a treadmill, elliptical & free-weights in her home & in December she began P90X, since going to the gym was not an option for her. She ran a half marathon just six months after delivery & was only five minutes off her previous record…this woman has the most ripped abs I’ve seen on a mom…and that is just ONE YEAR after having TRIPLETS!!! Check her out. She is now five pounds less than her pre-pregnancy weight. Erinn, you are amazing!
So, I write this post to ENCOURAGE you.
Those of you that have never been pregnant can have a baby & have your body back fast. Those of you that may have struggled the first time around, can start with part 1. Get fit now. It’s not too late. Your next pregnancy can be different! Take the reigns! Your health is just that, YOUR health!! You are in control!
Due to recently going viral (thanks to pinterest) & a host of disrespectful comments, I have closed the comments section of this article. This blog will continue to be a place of encouragement & inspiration & I do not tolerate anything less than that in the comments section.
For those of you seeking more information as to how this outcome was achieved, you might enjoy my article on how I use a modified Crossfit as my exercise regimen of choice. I have also been asked about my diet, which is probably the biggest determinant of my success. You can find an example of what I eat on the bottom of this article & a bunch of my favorite recipes in the styleberryTREASURY.
The following is my comment from the recent discussion on facebook where I was asked, by some of you who felt discouraged by this article, how I achieved these results–especially while I was down with a broken tailbone for six months postpartum:
It’s not about how we look it’s about how we feel & how healthy we ARE (BMI, moving & eating habits)–looks are a by-product of that & we are all different. Of course it’s all easier said than done but I DO what I SAY. & I shared that. & at the end of the day, I’d rather put a success story that was achieved through hard work out there in the blogoshpere than to keep it to myself. Even if it helps just one person, it’s worth publishing.
More of HOW I did it:
What did that hard work look like you ask? Reading every label at the grocery store. Not letting high fructose corn syrup in this house. No soda. No junk. No processed food. Cooking/meal planning well over an hour each day. Eating out no more than two times a month. Budgeting so I can afford to eat organic. Packing my husband’s lunch daily & preparing all my daughter’s meals. I could not workout for six months after caroline was born due to a broken tailbone, but I did walk every day. That is just not what I consider a workout. It’s a daily necessity. I don’t write about health/fitness very often because it isn’t a passion. It’s just something that is part of my lifestyle and I find it pretty boring. & yes, breastfeeding helps, but so does how much I move, the careful choices I make every time I open my mouth and my very careful portion control. Self control & discipline are not easy, but it’s all I do. Does it sound simple? Sure. Is it? Nope. I will help you in any way that I can, but let me assure you–this is just as hard for me as anyone else. Even if I make it look easy.
Best wishes on your postpartum weight loss journey! :)
I’ve received a lot of questions lately about my second pregnancy, and how that compared to the first–if I was able to achieve these results again. & the answer is YES! And even faster! Since I lost more than I gained with my last pregnancy, I started my second pregnancy about 13lbs lighter than the first. I exercised as long as I could (some painful varicose veins kept me from doing much the last trimester) but I moved a lot. I ate the same healthy diet as always, really consuming no more than I normally do the whole pregnancy. I gained roughly the same, and it came off so quickly. I was back in my regular jeans within three weeks of delivery. It was awesome.
I tend to hang on to an extra five pounds or so in my belly–that my body needs to make adequate milk–until my babies start solid foods at about six months. I never tried to lose weight or restricted calories, my body just went back to normal on it’s own while I continued my healthy lifestyle choices and exclusively breastfed. Now at nine months postpartum, I am back right where I started. & feeling great! :)
So it was no fluke–just healthy choices. Here’s the visual–it still amazes me what the body is capable of!!