motherhood,  pregnancy

7QT: Weight loss after baby and ‘the new normal’

Joining Jen et. al. for the weekly.

So I was aaaaaaall set to bang out a couple trite lines today about keeping your nose to the grindstone and sticking to a clean eating plan and letting those mommy pounds roll off your back(fat) but then, but then…I happened to clickity click over to Bonnie’s place before I opened my blogger window and bam. Gut check. Reality check. Reminder of what really matters, aesthetically speaking.

So I’ll still share my personal experiences with the body after baby…but maybe in a less ascorbic tone? Heck, I’m still working on getting dressed in the morning (this post was super inspiring in that regard) and making a teeny bit of time for daily prayer (mostly fail, but I’m trying.) so this is very, very much a work in progress. End disclaimer.

Lipstick, earring, huge sunglasses. No shower necessary.

My bag ‘o tricks for getting back to normal:

1. Walking. Sounds a little disappointing, right? Wrong. I was an avid runner (think 5 half marathons) before I had kids and so far, until this post partum period, I would spend months trying to coax my stretched and taxed body back into something resembling race shape so I could proudly reclaim my identity of ‘runner.’ This time around, thanks to a healthy dose of reality (I have very little, very needy kids and even less energy and no apparent chunk of time in which I might even attempt to run) I’ve decided to embrace my inner grandma and … walk it out.

Plus, while living in Rome during the first 2 trimesters of this most recent pregnancy, I gained almost zero weight until week 21, a feat which has never even come close to being repeated. I chalk it up to the daily grind of 3-4 miles of casual walking which was oh-so-conveniently integrated into daily life there. Plus 80+ pounds of stroller weight to muscle around.

Now obviously I’m not able to exactly replicate that whilst living in far-flung suburbia, but I’ve been trying to log miles either on the walking trail in the evening or at the gym, and on the days I can hit that magic 3 mile mark…I feel pretty good.

2. Arbonne protein shakes. I attempted their 28 day detox program but then was slightly distracted by a combination of a family-wide stomach flu epidemic and then an impromptu trip to Italy involving multiple days of pasta/gelato/pastries/wine/repeat … but I’ve still managed to shed about 12 lbs since I started incorporating their protein shakes and a daily cup or two of their detox tea into my diet. Here’s a fun fact: my best friend (that’s not her on the splash page; she’s hotter than that) is an executive vice president in their company, and she regularly hooks me up with steeply discounted product. Since I’m giving her a little shine here today, she graciously offered to host a giveaway for a bag of my fav: vegan, GF chocolate protein powder ($69 value) `which, when mixed with ice, water, and a banana, tastes about as close to ice cream as I’ll let myself come most days. You can enter a couple different ways at the end of this post.

3. The Perfect Health Diet. Bought the book ala Jen’s recommendation, devoured it in about a day and a half (it’s very, very ‘science’ soooo…be warned.) and immediately began trying to implement the dietary recommendations. I’ve yet to get on the supplement train, but on the days when I do eat in the proportions recommended by the authors, I feel really good and my blood sugar is scary stable. (Basic framework: 1 lb of proteins, 1 lb of safe starches, 2 lbs of leafy green things per day)

4. Showering. I know, I know…the irony. But here’s the thing: when I make the effort to put myself together for the day, even if it’s only in my favorite sweat skirt (I feel dirty just typing that) I make better choices re: food and exercise. And I just feel better when I catch a glimpse of my clean momself in the mirror and don’t see a greasy teenager staring back at me.

5. Positive self talk. I know, I know…the worst. But actually the best. And if you can change the narrative in your head about the way you see yourself, you’ll start to actually see yourself. Like the way God sees you. And the way your husband sees you. And you’ll start to make peace with yourself for looking exactly as you do right now, in this season, instead of longing for some you of yesteryear with a 28 inch waist and a closet full of size 6 jeans. And when you are kind to yourself, you’ll actually make better choices concerning food and exercise. It’s amazing.

6. Avoid the sugar. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a reiteration of #3, but seriously…added sugar is what makes food hit my brain like crack. I’ve always fancied myself a salty gal, but when I started to really look at the labels of my salt-laden favorites, I realized they were actually loaded with sugar, and since I don’t get the same ‘buzz’ from salted almonds, for example, as from salt and vinegar potato chips, it’s probably not just the salt that’s driving my fierce need to empty the whole bag.

7. Nine months on, nine months off (or longer, depending on how close together your kids are/how many pregnancies you’ve had). Horrifying? Perhaps a bit. Realistic? Yep.

Our bodies are doing some pretty heavy lifting (har har) during our childbearing years, and when you couple gestating with lactating, well…some things just aren’t going back to ‘normal’ anytime soon. You have a new normal. No, this does not mean you will forever be 30 lbs overweight and looking perpetually 5 months pregnant, but, there are certain things that make a body hang onto lbs like there’s a famine on the horizon, and for yours truly, that’s breastfeeding. I’m resigned to the reality that as long as I’m lactating, I’m going to have a good 12-15 lbs of ‘backup weight’ my body just refuses to surrender. Okay baby, you win this round.

Hope these were moderately helpful and not boring as hell. Back to sipping my espresso and pulling my wild animals off each other’s throats. Happy Friday!

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  • Trish

    I gained about 35 with pregnancy 1; about 20 with #2. I hardly lost any in the in-between time. I barely remember the infancy-toddler-preschool years now, but I do know I didn’t lose the baby weight until the baby turned 6 and Kid#1 was old enough to babysit him. Hang in there!

  • Mary Wilkerson

    So- now that my JP is 8 months old, it has been the longest I have gone since being married without being pregnant. It’s so frustrating how much weight I have gained (not starting out as a small gal to begin with) but then I realize, I have put on 15 pounds per kid and haven’t given myself a long enough postpartum time (a la, kids each 14 months apart) to get rid of it. Anyway, I am finally down a ‘jp’ and now gotta get crackin on getting down ‘a joey’ and ‘an aaron’- then I’ll be good. #letsdothisnfp

  • Ellen Johnson

    Great post, Jenny. I’m with ya on the lactating weight. Last time I could not lose those last few pounds until my kiddo weaned at a year. I’m a little apprehensive because I’m expecting my second in a few weeks and while I’ve had a much healthier pregnancy and weight gain this time, I know nursing is going to pull the rug out from under me again.

    I feel like I finally have #5 down, but with the help of everything else, especially exercise. If I’m actually moving my body each day and eating sensibly, I don’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity. I’m doing everything I can to be as healthy as I can, so what this comes down to is not really liking my body type, and frankly, that’s silly. Time to accept and be grateful for the body God gave me!

  • Christy from fountains of home

    Don’t you kinda want to punch all those ladies who “just lose the weight by breastfeeding”?? Because I do. That was one of the biggest crocks of mothering bs. I think I gain weight breastfeeding. I feel like I eat double what I eat when pregnant, it’s just ridiculous. I just stopped nursing Nora about a month ago and so far no noticeable results in the weight loss department. Of course, my husband tells me I should actually step on a scale to know what’s actually going on but that seems way too depressing.

    • Eliese

      Absolutely with you on this. Nursed my second for about 14 months, took several more months to fit semi-comfortably in all my old clothes. Then a few months after that I was pregnant again. I think maybe my best tips for achieving a new normal is to not expect a normal for a while, you know?

    • Laura

      I lost weight while breastfeeding both times, but it still took about 9 months. Nine months on, nine months off seemed reasonable to me so when I see all these women who lose it so much more quickly, I’m just . . . whoa. . .. But then!!! my weight bounced up as soon as my babies weaned, both times. So now I’m almost 20 lb above where I was at the start of my first pregnancy. Grrr. I’ve put the scale away out of reach.

  • Bek

    This is a fantastic post! The sugar thing…the positive self talk thing…. it’s all so good and necessary! Thank you for this post.

  • Kelly Halverson

    I think the walking thing is what helped me the most. And patience. Realizing that it takes awhile for your body to make a baby and it takes awhile for your body to un-make that baby body stuff. And changing my expectations. I will never look like I did before I had kids. And that’s ok because (blah blah blah) they are worth it.

  • Ana

    Oh man, I would love to try the arbonne shake. I cannot justify the price but probably if I tried it I would be sold.
    These are great tips!

  • Kate

    I definitely need to work on putting myself together. I have this hang up about putting on make up regularly or doing my hair or pulling an outfit together because I don’t want to look like I’m “trying.” When I see my greasy hair tied in a knot, then at the very least I know I’m not “actualizing my potential” and I can take some comfort in that…I think it’s a stupid rut, and I’m trying to start some new primping habits. We’ll see…

  • Brittney

    Great post! I totally agree with the walking. With baby no. 2 I was walking right about 3/4 miles a day. We live in LA and only have one car, so…getting the toddler to playdates/classes/etc meant LOTS of walking. I just recently gave up sugar (mostly) and the diet coke. It’s scary how addicted I was. I seriously went through withdrawls for days! Its been making a huge difference in my energy level. I’m going to check out the book at our next library trip!

  • Paige Kellerman

    I wish I had tips for getting the weight off after baby, but it probably wouldn’t be wise to ask the woman who drinks sugar free Red Bull like it’s her job and claims to the public that any weight she’s lost is because her children are sucking the life out of her. Eh em. But I’d still love to try the powder.

  • Amelia Bentrup

    Glad to see that someone else hangs onto 12-15 pounds while breastfeeding. I feel like everyone else only hangs onto 5 lbs..but I seem to hang onto more…which is hard when you don’t really have a break between pregnancies and breastfeeding.

  • Beth (A Mom's Life)

    6 weeks post delivery and of the 60 pounds I gained I have 25..TWENTY FIVE!!!…still hanging around. It is depressing but I try to not let it get to me. I really need to get back to some form of exercise but I haven’t really felt like it yet. Hoping now that I’ve hit the 6 week mark I’ll start to get my mojo back. Meanwhile, I’m trying to cut myself some slack and just know that eventually it will come off. Although, now that I’m 44 it is so much harder to lose weight than it was when I was 34. Ok, I promise I’ll stop whining and complaining now. 🙂

  • Sawako

    I don’t really have tips besides walking a lot. I’ve also been trying to get started on the Ballet Beautiful videos (some are free with amazon prime), we’ll see how that works.

  • Elise Schlipman

    Thanks for the tips Jenny- I love walking, and I have to do my workout before the boys wake up or during morning naps- if not- then maybe tomorrow- morning workouts best for me!!!

  • Beth

    Avoiding sugar and thinking positively are two things I really struggle with. Can you still call it “baby weight” when your baby is 3 y.o., though?!

  • runtomary

    Wait… Is it baby weight when you don’t have kids? 🙂 I try to stay strict with no sugar and no grains because I totally lose any semblance of self-control when I eat either!

  • Erin Reardon

    I am on baby boy number three … he is 7 months old. I gained 65 lbs … been struggle with postpartum depression (on meds all good now). The weight wasn’t moving with anything (weight watchers … detox…etc) Now I am back at the gym trying to workout 3 times a week. I was using myfitnesspal and it was a great help. Things are alittle busier with summer and warmer weather so I have slacked with that but have been eating more of a Paleo diet and that is helping with the sugar cravings. I will start the 21 day sugar detox on June 10th and I know that will help (doing it with a friend also … good accountability)

  • Debbie

    Oh gosh – number 5 really struck me! As a homeschooling Mom it is easy to want to stay in sweats all day but getting dressed truly does make a difference! I think that is one of the Fly Lady’s rules as well!

  • Reconciled To You

    I’m just always happy when I see I’m not alone and I’m not the only one… though my ‘baby’ is 15 – so I should have figured out something by now (and actually over the last 15 years I’ve had my “conquer the bulge” moments lol right now is not one of them). I think the sugar crack comment is one that struck the biggest chord.. I think I seriously need to pray about honing in on that MAY totally be my nemesis. thanks for this honest and informative post.

  • Rosie

    Figuring out a new strategy for dressing a new body has been SUPER helpful for me – before I had babies I dressed to emphasize my flat tummy and small waist, and those things are looooong gone and never coming back… But I kept trying to wear those clothes and the same styles after I had my first two! It took me quite a while to finally realize that my body is just different and, as you say, there’s a new normal!

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  • Natasha

    Thanks for sharing your weight loss journey! It’s something we never escape as women, and maybe we’re not meant to, as such a unique and central part of who we are reminds us of our desire to be loved, and in particular I think to be loved by God. When I find myself struggling (as I often do lately, since I am no longer nursing and the extra calories I take in are not magically burned off like they once were), I try to connect with why I feel that way, why do I feel so much pressure to look a certain way? And inevitably it becomes an invitation to open my heart to God, who lies me when I’m broken, weak, and feeling my worst. Here’s a post I wrote soon after my sixth baby was born in a time when it wasn’t such a struggle for me. Today it is, and I praise God for that – because it reminds me of my need for Him. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  • Kimberly

    Not sure that this is terribly helpful for all, but my weight loss strategy after baby was breastfeeding – it was amazing how pounds came off – I am hoping that will be a repeat with baby #2 coming in Sept!

  • Kate @ Daffodils

    Thanks for the shout out! I need to get on some sort of exercize routine too. I am over the 9 month mark and still have a good 6 lbs hanging on. Of course, salt and vingar chips now sound delicious, so maybe I should start with diet :/

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