Friday, April 27, 2012

mama confessions: losing my baby weight

Like many, I made some resolutions at New Year's.  Read them {HERE}

Also, like many, one revolved around losing weight/working out.

I'm happy to say that is the one I did keep.  I still don't drink enough water.  I still am not a good napper. But I did work really hard to get my tummy back.

I am not writing this to brag, although I am completely proud of myself.  Women should be proud when they reach a health/fitness goal.  My goal really had nothing to do with weight.  I chose a part of my body that I wanted to work on, my abs, and figured the rest would come along with it.

So here is my journey.

When I got pregnant I was a healthy weight for my height.  Not uber-skinny, but right in the middle of the "healthy spectrum." for my height -- only 5'3.  The number on the scale looks different on anyone.  For anyone else's frame and/or height, my weight could be too much or way too little to look healthy.

I am not someone with a freakishly awesome metabolism or someone who has the luxury of saying, "Oh, but I hate running/working I just won't." I work out for both physical and mental necessities...because I honestly love it.  I am not a picky eater.  I will try anything once and can always find something I like on a menu.  Nor am I a really disciplined portion-controller.  You know, that girl that divides her meal at a restaurant into two perfect halves and saves the rest for another meal?  99% of the time I eat every bit on my plate.  I rarely share my food with my husband.  I'm more likely to shoot him a deadly look and stab his hand with my fork.

Fact is: I really, really love food.  Particularly pizza.

That being said...I also like being fit.  Feeling strong - yes, as in having muscles and being able to push my body to the limits.  I am happiest when I don't feel like my body is holding me back -- from running a race, chasing after my baby, or wearing a cute dress or bikini.

Because I have been a runner for quite a while, and a very active person, when I got pregnant I was in decent shape.  I even started working out a little bit more during the months before so that I could be in good shape when I was pregnant.  I started taking my prenatals nearly a year before we thought we might want to start trying.  I also cut out all meat except fish in order to take off a couple extra pounds.

my "before" pregnancy shot - well, 8 weeks along 
I knew that the better shape I was in when I started my pregnancy, the easier it would be to take off the weight.  In theory.

Pregnancy is different for everyone.  Some women are on bed-rest for months.  Some have a more difficult recovery than others.  Some are just unable to work out at all.  Some deal with post-partum depression, which may make working out and eating healthy even harder.

I am thankful that I had a fairly healthy pregnancy.  I did not eat super healthy, however.  I basically ate whatever I felt like.  Red meat, sugary items, and lots of fast food crept their way back into my diet.  All of my cravings were unhealthy -- fatty, greasy foods.  Oh, and Coke Icees.  Things I normally never eat.  Also, I had to quit running at around 16 weeks because it just didn't feel right.  I tried to work out when I could...but once your bump gets really big it gets harder to do much of anything.

During my pregnancy my ab muscles went bye-bye! 
Here is the tummy at 
36 weeks pregnant.
Whoa mama. 
While I loved my ginormous baby bump, and even felt womanly and beautiful with couldn't last forever.
After I delivered my blessed babe,  the ab aftermath was absolutely no definition and a "mini spare tire."  Here I had thought I had been rather healthy, only gaining 35 pounds -- within the healthy range for my starting weight.  Then I realized that despite all the people who told me I was "all baby" - I wasn't.  There was some fat, too.  Fat that lingered stubbornly on the three inches below my belly button, which had gotten pretty messed up.  Oh and the "pregnancy hormone line" {linea nigra} stuck around a while as well.  As in, I still have it.

Of course, the first six weeks after you have your baby you are not supposed to do any "working out."  So I waited impatiently until my appointment to get the AOK from the doctor to start running again.  In the meantime...

What I did - the first six weeks:  
  • breastfed 
  • went on short walks {like, a few blocks} when the weather wasn't scorching.
  • Ate whatever...but to be honest I was so tired that eating was something I had to force myself to do.  Tried to be as healthy as possible, since I was breastfeeding.  
  • Drank a lot of water.
Here I am,
6 weeks postpartum:
This photo is not the most flattering, I know.  But I kind of have to embrace where I've been to appreciate where I am now.  During those first six weeks I lost 25 pounds...but my goal wasn't a particular was to get back my pre-pregnancy definition.  I had a ways to go.

What I did - Months 3-6: 
  • two or three 3-mile runs per week {most at 5am}
  • the occasional "at-home workout" involving free weights, lunges, squats and lotsa crunches {aka hundreds} during Baby Cormac's naps
  • when I stopped breastfeeding {at 3 1/2 months} I cut back my calories to around 1800-2000 per day. 
Here I was in January...
6 months post-partum:

I felt happy with my progress, but really wanted to amp it up to reach my goal of "getting back my abs" by the time Baby turned 9 months, so...
What I did - Months 6-9:   
  •  Six 3-mile runs per week {most pushing my 20 pound baby in a jogging stroller}
  • Two classes at the gym per week: either a total body strength-training class, spinning, yoga, or yoga/pilates mix. Praise God for gym playrooms!
  • never skipping breakfast
  • eating small 300-400 cal meals throughout the day, every three hours
  • a glass of red wine at dinner {reduces my desire for sweets}
  • rarely having a carbonated beverage (as in one maybe every two weeks)
  • only one serving of carbs at dinner 
  • plank pose, plank pose, plank pose  -- I will never do a million crunches is the easier, better option!
9 months post-partum:

It has also helped to not focus on my "weight" but only on making healthy choices to lose the belly fat.  I can't obsess about a number on a scale.  It still hovers several pounds above my pre-baby I more-so rely on the motivation of the before and after pics!
36 weeks pregnant
six weeks post-partum
six months post-partum
nine months post-partum
Every woman is different.   It took me nine months of hard work, and I am okay with that.  I also love to work out, and have always been someone who needs to work out everyday to feel good/fight off depression.  Some might think it is easier for me to work out/be healthy because I "stay at home" -- but the reality is that it has nothing to do with it whether you work inside or outside the home.  I know working mamas who made the effort to get to the gym, lost their baby weight and look fabulous.  I also know SAHMs that never work out.

For those who were instantly bikini-ready post-baby...I salute you and wish I had your amazing genetics. I seriously have friends that look incredible post-pregnancy and didn't have to work out at all.   Completely happy for you -- and totally envious!  :) :)

For those that have to {and will continue to} work really hard to get to the place where you feel your best physically...keep it up, ladies!!!

For future mamas:  Don't expect it to happen quickly.  If it does, great...but be prepared to make sacrifices of your time and your taste buds.  Give yourself at least as much time as it took to grow that baby to get back where you feel happy.  And be prepared to work really hard for it.

Just in case you aren't Gisele or Jessica Alba.  :)

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Where are you in your journey, baby or not?  What are your fitness goals?  What ways did you change your lifestyle to get healthy post-pregnancy?   How are you preparing your body for a possible pregnancy?  What is your motivation to lose weight/be healthier -- clothes, baby, energy-level, better sex life, etc?

I'd love to hear!