What I look like, every single time, right after giving birth: This was a few days after I had Caleb. I weighed about 170 pounds in this photo.
And this is what I normally look like:
That’s a 35 pound difference. (After all, a few pounds actually DO belong to the baby.)
This is not my favorite topic: weight loss. I don’t like discussing it because it often makes us feel bad. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m going through a heavy phase, hearing skinny people talking about their weight really gets on my nerves. It can be a sensitive issue, and I like to make people happy, not sad, so I’m going to address this just this one time. After this, you’ll read no more weight loss posts from me.
Being the vain person that I am, I do eventually always buckle down and get the baby weight OFF. That may be easy and happen naturally for some of you. If you gain 20 pounds, then what work do you have to do? This post is for the women like me: the ones that gain 40+ pounds no matter how hard we try to eat right and exercise.
I always feel like people come and visit me right after I’ve given birth, expecting to see me looking thin already. Instead, they meet a chubbier version of April, that still looks pregnant, but the fact is that WEIGHT LOSS TAKES MONTHS, NOT DAYS.
When I’m pregnant, my body handles food and exercise completely differently. It clings on to every bite I eat. I have gained 55 pounds every single time, save this last time. This time I gained 40ish.
By the time the baby is 9 months old, I almost always have it whittled off. I can’t tell you how to get stick-skinny because I’m not stick-skinny, but I can definitely tell you how I lost 40-55 pounds. ; )
Oh! And you have to give the tummy circumference extra time. After giving birth more than once, it may take you up to two years to get your middle shrunk back all the way, and you may always have a little extra skin.
APRIL’S RULES FOR WEIGHT LOSS:
1. Breastfeeding. If you can, at least give it a try. It takes a while to see results, but eventually you should. I have friends that didn’t have to do anything more than breastfeed. I have other friends that breastfeeding did not help at all with the weight loss. It definitely helps me lose the weight faster because it burns so many calories.
2. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR A DIET PLAN. Boooooooooo diets!!! Don’t do it. Crash diets do not work, and any weight you lose from the one month you’re able to stick to your crazy diet plan will just come back when you wake up and realize that that Nutrisystem food tastes disgusting. (It does. I’ve tasted it.)
3. DO make permanent changes in what you buy at the grocery store, and try to get your husband on board. (That’s the tricky part.) One year after having Daniel, I realized that I had actually gained a bunch of weight while my husband was in Afghanistan for 6 months. This was not pregnancy weight. This was sedentary lifestyle weight. I knew I had to get it back in gear. First I read this book:
She will drill into your head great fundamentals of eating right. For me, it was a great reminder that I do not have to have dessert every day.
Then I made these dietary changes:
a. I cut out soda. (except for a treat once every couple of weeks)
b. I stopped buying any junk food at all. Not even Oreos. Since that time, Alan has added back in buying ice cream (ugh). I guess I need to get back on his case. If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it. It’s really that simple.
c. I replaced the junk food with these snacks:
-yogurt covered raisins
-popcorn (Read the label. It’s not bad.)
-100 calorie granola bars
-cheese and crackers
Pssssst! You know all those articles that tell you not to drink juice, etc. Well, okay, fine, it’s worse than water, but it has HALF the sugar of soda. Also, coffee is extremely beneficial to your health, and it fills you up too!
4. Oatmeal makes a great meal, any day, any time. That wasn’t really a change, as I’ve always eaten oatmeal, but I just wanted to put that out there. ; ) It doesn’t have to be complicated and time consuming to be healthy. These health magazines make it way too hard with all the complicated recipes with ingredients you’ve never heard of. Instant oatmeal is just fine.
5. EXERCISE. Every day!!!! I’m not talking P90X or Insanity everyday. That is not my style. Who has time for that? Not a mom of lots of little ones! You work in exercise wherever you can. Buy DVDs that are 30 minute programs, or sometimes I just cut the long ones off at 30 minutes. Just make sure that at least once a week you’re doing some kind of strength training. I also do stretching at least once/week to keep back pain away. Ever since my yoga teacher moved, I am a wreck.
WALKING IS GREAT EXERCISE! Plus, it can give you alone time. Whenever possible, as many days a week as Alan gets home before dark, I leave all the kids with Alan and hit the sidewalk for a 2 mile walk. Sanity time! Remember!! Jesus always went off alone to pray! We should too!
In addition to that exercise, I walk my children home from school. That adds in another mile, and when you add in pushing a double stroller, it is a significant work out.
If you really want to torch calories fast, RUN, or attend a strength training class.
My most successful weight loss was not related to pregnancy at all. It was after that Afghanistan tour, when Daniel, my 3rd son, was a toddler. I actually got to the point of no chubby middle section because I worked out really, really hard every single day. I was doing a whole lot of running, and a little bit of weight lifting.
I will have to get my anemia under control before I can work out like that again! I’m too tired to even think about all that stuff. Meanwhile, I’ve still lost 45 pounds just breastfeeding, walking, doing yoga, and not buying cookies or soda!
6. DO NOT count calories. Just eat somewhat healthy, and when you’re starting to feel full, you know, QUIT EATING.
7. Sleep! Sometimes you might just be getting a late snack to stay awake. Instead, assert your will power, and go to bed.
8. EAT EVERY THREE HOURS, and duh, don’t skip breakfast. Eating every three hours keeps you from getting that starving feeling that makes you pig out. It also boosts your metabolism. Snacks should be small but nutritionally helpful.
9. Oh yeah! If you have a c-section OR even tearing from a natural birth, do NOT exercise until 6 weeks out. Trust me. I thought I could be all tough and carry around two babies at once, two weeks after giving birth, and there were busted stitches as a result. Youch. You don’t want that. ALWAYS wait six weeks.
I wish I had more before/after pics to share, but I’m so vain that I always delete my ‘fat’ pictures…. However, I do not delete pregnancy photos, so here are a few of those:
See, I’m not one of those thin pregnant women….
As you can see, I never really posed for any ‘before’ or ‘after’ pictures, because the weight loss was always so gradual. That’s the kind of change that lasts. It doesn’t have to be complicated to live a healthy lifestyle. Just get moving, and skip the non-nutritive foods at the grocery store!