I’ve hesitated from writing this post for a long time because I already know what half the readers are going to say to how I finally lost the baby weight, “Well you’re lucky.”
Luck might have something to do with it, but sheer will and desire to lose the baby weight played a much mightier hand.
I would not have written about this subject if people didn’t ask me all the time how I lost the weight or what my fitness routine is. All of us women are looking for the secret hack to losing the weight, but the overarching answer is that you want to lose the weight, you have to make the time for it, just like anything else in your life. This may mean spending more money or sacrificing other things you love in order to get more fitness into your life. It’s not the easy answer, but it is the truth!
It took me a full year, but I finally lost my baby weight, and I feel great. Like many of the parenting posts on this blog, I write it equally for you readers as for myself. I know that after future pregnancies there will be months where I feel ugly, lumpy, and depressed, and I wanted to write this post as a resource to myself to remember that I CAN get past the difficult months and I WILL feel like myself again. And although it takes time and manipulation of schedules, it can happen and it’s WORTH IT.
Level Set, And Get Real
My doctor told me when I was pregnant the last 2-5 pounds are the most important to lose, because if you don’t lose them after the first baby, you have little chance to lose them after the second, and subsequent pregnancies. She emphasized strongly that it was important to get back to a weight that you are happy with before getting pregnant again, as 2-5 pounds after each baby can add up and be extremely difficult to lose after you are done having children.
Because of this, losing the extra weight has been a focus of mine from the beginning of pregnancy. I kept up what fitness I could, and feel really strongly that barre and yoga are amazing to maintain strength and flexibility throughout pregnancy. Regarding my pregnancy diet, I talk a little about that in this post about 5 Pregnancy Rules I Broke.
I went about 6 months without ever having a scale at home, but eventually I caved and bought one for my bathroom. Yes, it’s addicting, and yes, often it made me feel like I wasn’t making any progress. But scales work for me. Once I see the number going down, I know that what I’m doing is working. This is counter-intuitive to any of the ‘if your pants fit, you’re fine’ talk out there, and I know it’s controversial. But I tried that, really I did. My pants fit, but I still didn’t like the way I looked, and lo and behold once I got on the scale, I realized I was still up 6 pounds! I don’t mean to be harsh, but this post is titled How I finally lost the baby weight, not Feeling Good in My New Body, which is equally as important, but… just, not the post. Be real with yourself about what your actual goals are, and if losing weight is important, get on a scale.
I thought, 9 months to gain the weight, 9 months to lose it.
Somewhere in my head I thought I would actually target 6 months, because hey, I liked working out. Boy, was I wrong.
At first, the pounds literally came off in my sleep, as I was sweating out fluids and water retention for weeks. But then everything came to a standstill at around 4 months. Marina just started sleeping through the night, and I was getting in maybe 3 workouts a week- 1 barre class and 2 30 minute cardio sessions while she napped. Maybe a yoga session here or there to regain some flexibility. Stroller walks. It was good, but nowhere near the level of workouts I was doing pre-baby.
I stalled at about 6 months, with about 5-6 pounds that would’t come off. So then I thought, ok I’ll give myself 3 more months, and I will try to get in another barre class a week.
It was near impossible to get that extra barre class in. Every once in a while I would be able to drop Marina off with my parents and sneak in a class, but her nap schedule was becoming so unreliable that sometimes she wouldn’t go down, and sometimes she would sleep way longer than expected, making me miss a class. I couldn’t reliably count on an extra workout, and my 30 minute morning workouts were starting to dwindle as her morning nap got shorter and shorter and shorter. Suddenly, everything got worse! I could barely get 2 workouts in a week, and almost always had to sacrifice weekend family time in order to go on a quick run while Mr. R watched Marina. I felt like I would never lose the weight because I JUST NEEDED MORE TIME.
I mentioned above that it took me a full year to lose the baby weight…
… So, what changed?
It wasn’t until about 10 months, that I made a monetary sacrifice and joined a gym with childcare. It cost more, yes, but it was a game changer.
Literally everything changed the month we joined as a family. We bought into a lower level family membership where we get 30 hours of childcare for month in 1.5 hour increments, and although I was hesitant the first week to drop her off into childcare, it instantly gave me my time back. I now reserve 4 days a week for childcare for Marina, and 1 of those days I don’t even work out, I just sit with my laptop and get to work.
My exercise routine changed almost immediately. I dropped in on a kickboxing class that is hardcore fast for 55 straight minutes, and although I am dripping in sweat by the time it’s done, I know I’ve completed my best workout for the week. The additional bonus of doing that one class is that my cardio capabilities were built back up, and so now I can manage 2 mile runs, which I haven’t been able to do since before my first knee surgery 2 years ago. Having one class a week that kicks my butt, but that I enjoy, changed the game for me.
My full schedule that I try to stick to, is as follows:
- Monday – No workout
- Tuesday – 55 minute Kickboxing
- Wednesday – No workout
- Thursday – 60 minute weightlifting class
- Friday – 2 mile treadmill run, lift heavy weights (sometimes switches with Wednesday)
- Saturday – No workout
- Sunday – 50 minute TRX class
If I’m feeling good with my work load, then I’ll slip in another yoga or run on a weekend when I have time. The moral of the story is that now I have 4 really strong workouts a week, instead of smaller 30 minute sessions that I would squeeze in here or there.
Diet has been tricky for me, as I have a sweet tooth, and I got into a habit of enjoying an extra cookie or pastry almost every day in my third and fourth trimesters. I don’t deprive myself of them now, but I do try to have protein/fruit smoothies at least twice a week as breakfast or lunch replacements when possible. I feel like they satisfy my sweet tooth while providing healthier nutrients that my body needs to recover from workouts.
Mr. R and I have also experimented with a lower carb diet, and although I don’t really stick to it, I do enjoy eating more vegetable and protein packed soups (in the colder weather) as a way to stay satisfied without all the empty calories. In the summer we grill a lot, which makes even the most bland meats and vegetables taste better!
I don’t have the willpower to stick to any extreme diet, but I am really good at understanding balance. If I eat a really heavy pasta dinner one night, sometimes all I will have for breakfast is fruit and coffee to make me feel more centered, EVEN ON VACATION. I don’t feel like I’m ‘missing out’ if all I’m eating one day is turkey roll ups, because there will be another time soon, where I will be able to indulge.
Another tip: sometimes buying an afternoon treat like a cookie can be great, as opposed to making the baked goods at home. Not only do you enjoy it more (hey, you paid for it!) but you also don’t have a ton of baked goods lying around the house for you to nibble on throughout the day. I love to bake, but I can’t control myself around the sweets, so it’s better for me not to have them at all!
Because time is so restricted, I feel like I understand what my body needs to stay healthy now, more than I did when I was 25. Before I worked out at random intervals and intensities, and always felt like I had no idea what fitness routine was working for me. Now I know exactly what I need to do, at which intensity, which is actually quite freeing. If I get in the 4 workouts that I need to do, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything if I’m just playing around with Marina at home.
My only goal right now is to maintain, until the next pregnancy. So I want to enjoy being at my pre-pregancy weight, enjoying time with my daughter and building my business until everything changes once again!