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I love being a mom, but man, oh man, am I having a hard time juggling my new weight and new body.
I know it took me nine months (let’s be real, 10 months this last time) to brew a baby girl, and I shouldn’t expect to be back in tip top shape by four months out, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with my body right now.
I’m trying to be forgiving and kind to myself.
But last week I had a come-to-Jesus moment.
I had nothing to wear.
And this isn’t some overly dramatic whiny girl acting like a scene out of Clueless. I seriously, legitimately, undeniably, irrefutably had NOTHING to wear.
My nursing bra was dirty and in the wash. So were my yoga pants and t-shirts. None of my pants or dresses fit my postpartum mushy mess of a body. My usually cute Victoria Secret panties didn’t even fit.
I lost it, and did the unthinkable….I bought clothing.
Big clothing. Clothing I never thought I’d purchase. I bought generic ugly boring underwear a size up than I usually am, and jeans at the GAP that are 3 sizes larger than I wore three years ago.
That’s right. I’m 3 jeans sizes larger after having two babies.
I’ve now worn these bigger jeans to the park, to King Richard’s Faire (for Game of Thrones Day no less,) for walks around my neighborhood, and even out on a date night. But I’m always upset with myself when I pull those pants on…
I know it’s tough, and Tall Dad keeps telling me that I need to cut myself a little slack. And, no, this isn’t about trying to live within the social norm of being a skinny woman either.
It’s more about how I feel.
I don’t feel pretty. I don’t feel like me quite yet. I feel like a tub of lard. Mushy, awful lard.
I took a picture of myself. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was a mix of self loathing, but also a desire to take change and lose this post baby weight.
So, I cried a little, took a deep breath, and told myself to be kind.
I reminded myself that this (bigger) body gave birth to two precious children. That it helped me survive severe postpartum depression (where I was so sad I actually lost enough weight to be back down to my original jeans…but in unhealthy ways.) This body also survived a very difficult pregnancy.
Ultimately, I allowed myself to buy one pair of biiiiiigger jeans. Just one.
Then I went online and signed up for a Weight Watchers subscription. And I have walked at least three miles ever since that day that I went to the GAP.
My Apple Watch has been praising me daily for my recent uptick in physical activity, whereas my stomach has been begging me to devour entire boxes of brownie mix.
Luckily, I’ve paid more attention to my Apple Watch than my tummy.
Because I’m exclusively breastfeeding my infant daughter, even though I want to lose weight, I can’t cut back on too many calories. Weight Watchers actually takes this into consideration, and each day I am allotted a great deal more “points plus” (aka –food!) than if I were not breastfeeding.
Losing weight while nursing can be done safely, especially by following these tips.
1. Be kind to yourself
Do I wish I was back in my small jeans and cute dresses? Yes.
But I’m not doing pageants right now. I’m not on TV on a daily basis either. My ONE job right now is to take care of my kids.
But I need to be careful that I do not put undo pressure on myself, and remember that my body went through an epic transformation during pregnancy.
2. Eat Well
If a woman is breastfeeding, changes to her diet need to be done slowly. Ideally shoot for less fat and sugar – and more fruits and veggies. I try to eat an apple a day (they are in season!) and a salad with my lunch. I still really want brownies, but I know they are not the right choice for me.
It is important to make sure that I’m eating a LOT and OFTEN, because since I’m nursing I feel like I am hungry almost all of the time. To help combat hanger (hunger + anger) I limit the sugary carbs (ex brownies) and instead choose foods that keep me full for a longer time like protein rich eggs or oatmeal.
Here’s the other thing – eating MORE and OFTEN helps you lose the weight you want – smaller more frequent meals keep that already robust metabolism going and helps you burn through the junk you’ve eaten.
More to that point – the less sugar you consume, the less your body depends upon it. You can literally retrain your tastebuds and desires by avoiding sugar. No longer will you want brownie mix like me when an apple or handful of grapes are enough to satiate that sweet urge.
3. Drink More Water
Because I am breastfeeding, I seriously need to up my water intake. I try to keep a bottle of water nearby at all times. There is one near my rocking chair, in my room, and I always take one for walks with the stroller. I also try to have a drink each time I use the bathroom or before or after I nurse.
By drinking more water, I’m helping my milk production and also helping my body feel more full throughout the day. Which means less brownie cravings.
4. Avoid Crash Diets
I wish I could click my heels three times and wish to be in my smaller sized jeans, but I can’t. We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. And I’m not in my young teens and twenties anymore.
What I mean by that is, when I was younger, I could lose serious weight in very little time.
The two problems with this are that my metabolism has changed with age, and losing weight that quickly actually isn’t healthy at all. Ideally, I should be losing around 1-1.5 lbs a week. No more than that.
Because I’m breastfeeding, my nourishment isn’t just about me anymore. I’m supposed to be taking in an extra 200-500 calories per day! And that should still allow me to lose weight.
Exercise is a struggle for me. I don’t enjoy sweating, and I rarely have time away from my kids. When I do, I’d much prefer to be playing my saxophone in the American Band…not spending it in a sweaty gym.
But I need to exercise. My body needs it.
I try to go for a walk every day with my two kids. I either push them both in my new double stroller, or I push my toddler and babywear my infant. By wearing my baby I get even more resistance and a harder workout.
Remember to wait six weeks before starting a more intense workout – you need your doctors approval after giving birth.
Set yourself up for exercise success. Hydrate, get out your sneakers, and possibly purchase some blister pads like COMPEED® Blister Medium Cushions which are only at Walgreens.
I know that after being pretty immobile during bedrest in pregnancy that my body needed a slow transition back into exercise. I actually got blisters on my feet the first week I started doing regular walks. The great thing about COMPEED® Blister Medium Cushions is that they cover the wound completely – but act like a a breathable second skin. It stays in place all day to provide a barrier that protects against water, dirt and bacteria. I guess that the Europeans have been using them for the past 30 years, and finally COMPEED® is making its way to the U.S. market! They come a variety of sizes, to help with all sorts of blisters from toes to heels. I’m going to get the toe ones if I ever start wearing heels again!
Here’s a brief video about how they work (ps enjoy the British accent!)
6. Take steps to walk off the pounds
Try to go out for a walk every day that it is nice out. Track your time and distance, and see if you can go further or longer next time.
Bring water with you during the walk, as well as a diaper bag – I like the backpack ones.
Try walking with a friend or another mom. Conversation makes the time pass by quicker. I always walk a lot further if I’m with a friend.
7. Try to enjoy this time
Soak up this precious time breastfeeding your baby, or going for walks. This will not last forever, so give yourself some grace if you find that you too have to buy some new (bigger) jeans like me.
It’s okay. I promise
Don’t worry about the scale, or how some fancy schmacny celebrity lost all of her baby weight in a month. She’s not real, and neither is that goal. She’s probably an alien. An alien with a cook, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a gym inside her home, nanny’s who take care of her other kids, and oodles of time to do nothing but eat rice cakes and do the thigh master while eating the aforementioned rice cakes. Honestly.
Don’t pressure yourself, and if people comment on your weight gain, try to tell them they are rude. Seriously. Rude. You just created a human. What the heck have they done with their lives this last year?
And if someone compliments the way you look, Thank them. Allow the compliment from that person yes, but allow it for you. We are so quick to denigrate ourselves and how we feel, or push off the compliments because we feel we know the ultimate truth. That we don’t look good.
This is something I’m struggling with. I’ve been feeling like I’ve had to explain “oh it’s because I’m actually wearing bigger clothes…I haven’t really lost that much…”
But I don’t need to do that. They were telling me I looked good. I should hold my head high and my shoulders back and instead say thank you.