Operation: Lose Baby Weight

Monday, April 2, 2012

This post is mostly for my own benefit and for my own reference.So feel free to read or skip.

Personally, I don’t even think about trying to lose any weight whatsoever until my baby is at least three months old. My body needs time to rest and recover from the ordeal of growing and birthing a baby. Those first three months postpartum (the 4th trimester as it’s sometimes called) are a time of upheaval.  A time to leave an old life behind and to begin anew. Your family is forever changed and a new little soul added to the bunch, it's going to take some time to adjust. Don't rush it.

Months later, when the time comes to try to actually lose the weight there are countless variables that can affect the rate at which weight is lost. The amount of weight gained during the pregnancy, genetics, hormones, and breastfeeding can all slow or speed weight loss. 

Personally, I tend to gain a lot of weight with my babies. With Hannah I gained almost 60 pounds, with Abby it was closer to 45. I’m hoping with the next one, I can keep my weight gain to around 30 pounds, we’ll see. Fortunately, I've been able to lose the weight I've gained in each of my pregnancies. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it.

Despite what they say about being able to breastfeed and eat whatever you want and still lose the weight, I didn't, at least not this time. Although I've been breastfeeding Abby on demand, I don't think breastfeeding contributed to any weight loss until very recently (around 9 months postpartum). 

Even though I watched what I ate and moderately exercised, I didn't start losing any baby weight until 5 or 6 months postpartum. Nothing I would do would make the weight come off before that point. Nothing. Looking back, I think this was largely due to my hormones. I had some other signs of a hormonal imbalance, so hormones are not to be underestimated. 

When Abby was around 6 months old, I started running again. It wasn't pretty and I didn't run very far, but I was doing it. The running helped me lose a few pounds, which in turn helped stabilize my hormones, which caused my metabolism to return to normal, which in turn allowed me to really start losing weight. My body just needed to lose like 2 lbs in order for everything to start working normally again.

Along with exercising, I also modified my diet. I cut down on carbs and cut out a lot of sugar. I eat a salad for lunch every day and I don’t eat desserts during the week. I do allow myself ice cream on Saturdays, but that’s it. And I drink a lot of green tea. For some it may sound like I'm depriving myself, but honestly, I love what I eat.

Right now, Abby is almost 10 months old and I still have about 10lbs to go before I’m back to my pre-baby weight. I figure about 5lbs of that is due to breastfeeding (and weight in my boobs) and will come off when I wean Abby. So actually, I only have about 5lbs to go. Six months ago when I was about 30lbs overweight, I never thought I would make it here. I was tempted to give up and throw in the towel in even trying to lose weight, but I'm glad I stuck with it. If I can do it, you can too!

However, I do wish I had been more patient with myself and more forgiving of my body. It was difficult for me to carry around so much extra weight and I really chastised myself because of it. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not just 30 extra pounds I gained "just because." This extra weight was because I had a baby. So if you're hoping to lose the baby weight, go easy on yourself.

One more piece of advice, I think it's important to make little weight loss goals on top of the end goal of a pre-baby weight. For example, when I lost the first 10lbs I bought myself new earrings. When I reached the 20lbs lost mark, I bought myself new pants. I think it's important to recognize small achievements and to reward yourself accordingly.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, despite the struggle to lose all the weight I've gained because of my babies, they have been worth every single pound.

What are your baby-weight-loss strategies?

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