Baggage: My Postpartum Weight Loss Journey
In the seven months since Joshua Jr was born I have managed to slowly but surely drop my pregnancy weight with only 10 pounds left to lose. I gained almost 50 pounds during my pregnancy and I’m not gonna lie, I had moments of sheer panic that I’d never be able to lose it all. I had hoped to only gain 25-30 pounds like my mother during her pregnancies but found that just wasn’t possible for me. Despite starting my gestation out on a pregnancy friendly meal plan and hiking my butt off 5 days a week my weight kept creeping up. At a certain point, probably around 4 months I gave up the struggle and tried instead to respect my body’s needs and trust my instincts. About ten days after Joshua Jr’s birth I got back on the scale to see where I was at and how far I had to go.
I had miraculously dropped about 30 of the 50 pounds. I remember being absolutely dumbfounded and weighing myself two more times to be sure the scale was correct. A few days after that I headed into the doctors for my two week checkup and their scale said the same thing. I had dropped 30 pounds without batting an eye. I kept asking how that could be possible and my doctor just shrugged and said after the 10-15 pounds of baby, placenta, blood and amniotic fluid weight you typically drop post birth the rest must have been excessive water retention. Which made some sense since by the end of my pregnancy my feet had swollen to the size of cantaloupes! The rest of the weight however has not disappeared quite so magically.
We’ve all heard about the gals who tone up and get right back into their skinny jeans weeks after their babies birth but this was not me, nor was I trying for it to be. I have only lost 10 pounds since that first initial drop but that’s ok because I decided from the start that I was going to lovingly but patiently reclaim my pre baby body, and forgive the glorious imperfections that would forever grace my new post baby body. Like the caesarean scar that everyone said would be practically unnoticeable but in my case stretches almost hip to hip. Every once in awhile I look at the scar and wish I could do something to minimize it, then I think to myself that it’s actually kind of a beautiful reminder. This attitude of forgiveness and gentleness is the spirit with which I have embarked on my weight loss journey and it’s made all the difference in the world.
The years of deprivation, counting every single calorie, completely eliminating major food groups and setting unreasonable weight goals are over. None of those things ever really worked for me and only fostered an unhealthy, resentful relationship with my body, an attitude that I do not want to pass on to my daughters. There was something about my pregnancy and post pregnancy body that instilled a sense of body pride in me and a freedom from body shaming that has been such a persistent part of my life for so long. It was the most natural and healthy thing in the world to put on weight during my pregnancy and allowing my body to shed it slowly, gracefully and healthfully feels…good.
Low calorie meals are an important part of losing weight for me. I don’t burn a tremendous amount of calories a week because I’m not into those high impact cardio or weight training classes. So I have to be somewhat mindful of what and how much I’m eating. Again, I don’t go crazy obsessing over it, especially because I was breastfeeding and had to maintain a higher calorie count than I normally would when trying to lose weight to keep my supply up. However that didn’t mean I completely let myself off the hook and gorged on burgers and fries everyday (like I wanted to) but instead made sure I was eating wholesome, nutritious meals with calories that came from healthy ingredients. When I’m working and actively trying to maintain my on screen weight I have the blessing and benefit of healthy, diet meals delivered fresh daily to my front door. However, while I’m off work and home in Utah I have no such luxury and am forced to figure it out for myself while still preparing foods that my family will enjoy.
EatingWell has become one of my favorite go to healthy meal planning sites. They have tons of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes and each includes all the nutritional info you need to determine your perfect daily calorie intake whether you’re breast feeding or not. They even have weekly meal plans tailored to several different calorie goals. For the sake of ease I’ve been gravitating towards their recipes for overnight oats and smoothies for breakfast and simple soups for lunch. Though they have awesome dinner recipes, I’ve been trying out Hello Fresh, a food delivery service that drops off a box of ingredients and recipes once a week for fresh, healthy meals you can cook in about 30-45 minutes. It saves me meal planning and grocery shopping which is kinda great and they have several different meal options like Fit for those of us looking for lower calorie dinners. So far I’ve really loved it and the food is pretty good. It always takes me longer to prep and prepare than they promise on the recipe card but that could just be me and my OCD style of cooking.
By assembling about four or five overnight oats, throwing together three or so soups at once and making sure my freezer is stocked with frozen fruit I’m able to make my healthy low cal eating relatively painless and easy. Which is kinda exactly what I need it to be if I’m going to stick with it and shed those last 15 pounds!
Some Of My favorite Eating Well Oats Recipes
And Smoothie Recipes
And Soup Recipes
My best weight loss advice is to start every morning by saying out loud a positive mantra of your choice about your body. Mine is “I am easily, with good health, inspiration, grace and gratitude losing weight faster than I can even imagine with harm to none.” Then I say my gratefuls. Thanking my body for it’s perfect health, strength, limberness, vibrancy, youthfulness and beauty. Whether I always believe these things about myself and my body or not, I say them. By saying them out loud with love and gratitude I have found that I not only start to believe them, but my body exhibits what I say and believe. The more I complain about my back hurting, my weight gain, my stiff neck, my sore feet, my ugly thighs, the more those things exhibit themselves. Positive intentions and mantras aren’t magic however. I still have to do the work to achieve the health and vibrancy I desire so once I finish with my positive intentions I set about preparing and eating food that doesn’t have a lot of extra calories or bad fats. I devote no less than 3 days a week to exercise that suits my body type, like yoga and long hikes and I get PLENTY of sleep. At least eight hours a night. Yeah I realize that’s a little hard to believe with a 6 month old and all but it’s the truth. That baby has been sleeping through the night since he was almost three months old, yes I’m bragging but I can’t help myself! I’ll get into how we managed to accomplish that in another post but for now suffice to say that’s it’s 1/3 routine and ritual, 1/3 the baby’s temperament and 1/3 dumb luck.
Anyway, back to my weight loss theories. The difference I’ve found in doing the work with a loving and positive attitude versus an anxious, frustrated and negative one is that the weight really does seem to just fall away with less struggle. There’s an ease to it all that never existed before and instead of weight loss being a terrible, frustrating burden and battle it’s become more of a lifestyle of healthy choices I make to show my body the love it deserves. Now that is an attitude I do want to pass onto my kids!