April 17, 2014

How I Lost the 60 Pounds I gained During Pregnancy | A "Non"Celebrity's Journey of Postpartum Weightloss

I gained almost 60 pounds during my pregnancy. I'm 5'8 and had an almost 10 pound baby, but still...60 pounds is a lot of extra weight no matter how tall you are. First and second trimesters were pretty textbook and I was able to keep my cravings under control. Once third trimester hit (around the holidays...um...what?!) I allowed myself to eat every single Christmas cookie in sight (amongst other things). I was one of those women who really enjoyed being pregnant. Did I have moments of utter and complete exhaustion and times when I was so uncomfortable I wanted to punch my husband in the throat towards the end? Sure, you betcha. But for the most part, I loved it and I miss it and I'm excited for my next pregnancy (hopefully come Fall). I can only hope and pray I will be as blessed the second time around as I was the first.

 This is me on the day I went into labor. All 209 pounds of me. Almost 42 weeks pregnant. I LOVE and miss that giant belly.

That being said, when my beautiful and healthy baby boy was born in January of 2013, I was left with what I thought was weight that would quickly melt away from breastfeeding and mild exercise. I was petrified that I wasn't going to produce enough milk for my big baby (boy was I wrong...I was like a dairy cow) so I made sure not to make any drastic changes to my diet as to not deplete my calories, therefore, my milk-producing abilities. However, when the day came that my supply had "regulated" and I knew I was never going to have an issue producing milk, I decided to start thinking about a diet plan and exercise regimen.

**Disclaimer: If any of my male family members, male friends, friends of my husband or anyone resembling any of those aforementioned categories are reading this, let me just take a beat to thank you for your support, however...if you don't want to hear about breasts (specifically my breasts) you may want to stop reading right here, or just skip over the next paragraph and pick up reading right below it. I bid you adieu. If you do choose to keep reading, I commend your bravery and promise to keep it PG-13 and in the humor section.

Back to my new diet and exercise plan...how hard could it be, right? I would just start working out again and limit my daily calorie intake, because that always worked for me before, right? W R O N G. First of all, lemme just get really candid for a second and talk about how hard it is to do high-intensity kick boxing (or anything for that matter) with 2 leaky, heavy, achy fun bags bouncing off my chest. What used to be fun-sized, perky "ladies" had turned into huge, inflated garden orbs of monstrous proportions, threatening to heave up and smack me in the double chin at any given moment. I tried layering sports bras, I tried holding them in place when I did plyometrics, I tried everything short of duct taping them down like a GD tranny, but the fact of the matter was...THEY WOULD NOT BE DENIED. I was walking a fine line of being extremely grateful for the miracle of the human body and my ability to feed my very hungry and growing baby, and wanting to rip my tits off and throw them across the gym. It was an incredibly guilty feeling and a feeling no one really talks about. How do you gracefully complain about not being able to exercise because of your miraculous, food-producing mammaries? It seemed so vain and ungrateful, yet, I was feeling it. That guilt coupled with the fact that limiting my calories wasn't doing anything to assist in me losing any of this weight was enough to make me want to give up. I thought to myself  "it's okay, Colleen...you can just be like the mom from What's Eating Gilbert Grape and everyone is just going to have to accept it". Luckily I woke up the next day in a completely different mindset (that kind of irrational mood changing can happen from hour to hour after you've had a baby....in case anyone was wondering).

 Squishy, doughy me on the left at about 4 weeks post postpartum, and me today on the right, not quite to where I want to be, but well on my way (the only thing I miss from the photos on the left here are my long fingernails, huge boobs and lustrous hair *sigh*)
Then I had my "aha" moment. I knew that I was going to have to do something completely different. Something I hadn't tried before. Something out of my comfort zone. I'll get into that in a moment. But first, I decided to let my body tell me when IT was ready to start a rigorous workout routine. I told myself it was okay to just take it one day at a time and be active everyday without feeling like I had to run 10 miles or complete all the DVDs in the P90X box set. I DRASTICALLY changed my way of thinking in terms of what foods I was putting into my body and more importantly what foods I wasn't putting into my body. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to eat. I am food motivated and I am not ashamed to admit it. I got my sweet tooth from my dad and I was no stranger to indulging it whenever I saw fit (which was....often). I knew that if I wanted to see and feel a change in myself, I was going to need to sacrifice and change bad habits that I had spent the better part of my existence fine-tuning. Habits like wolfing down a pint of Ben & Jerry's a night and eating 3 pieces of cake in one sitting. Habits like finishing a double bacon burger before my husband had even gotten halfway through his. Can I still do these things? Yes, I can. I'm just that awesome. The difference is, I do them verrrrry sparingly these days. I look at sweets and burgers and cake and ice cream as occasional treats, not nightly allowances.

As far as my "diet", I decided I wasn't going to diet. I was not going to count calories. I was simply going to cut out all white (refined) flour and all white (refined) sugar. I cut out ALL preservatives and if I ate anything packaged, it was to have 3 ingredients or less and I had to recognize and be able to pronounce all of them. And the water...I drank ALL the water in the world, every minute of every day, everyday, I was drinking water. I had adopted a "clean eating" lifestyle and was voracious for any information I could find online. Sounds simple enough, but truth be told, cutting out refined sugars, flours and preservatives drastically limits what you can eat. I knew this was going to be the case, so I had to get very creative with my meals so I'd stick with my new lifestyle. But I DID stick with it, I never (EVER) cheated. If I ate out at restaurants, I'd look up the menu online and determine my best choice ahead of time so I wouldn't be tempted to throw down a plate of spicy buffalo wings. If I was going to a family gathering or party, I'd eat a healthy meal before I got there and stick to fruits and veggies if I felt "snacky". After a while, it just became second nature and my body started repaying me, and repaying me quickly. I was definitely onto something. In this case, the simplest answer really was the best answer. Weight started flying off at warp speeds and I felt better than I ever had in my life. I was able to start working out again at high intensities as well as start running again and enjoying it (which hasn't happened since high school).
 Sorry for the blurry pic on the right up here, wonky iPhone camera probably had baby spit on the lense.

I gave myself a goal of 1 year to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 155lbs which would have been around this time now. I met my goal about 4 months faster than I planned. I have let up a bit on the "no exceptions" strict guidelines for eating and have allowed myself my fair share of indulgences since meeting my goal weight, but the great thing is, I now know how to control myself. Treats actually feel like treats. For the past two and a half months, I have been incorporating Zumba and MixxedFit classes about 4 times a week and I have surpassed my pre-pregnancy weight by 8 pounds. I am now aiming for my wedding day weight of 140 and know I can blast these last 7 pounds if I continue with my very active lifestyle. Honestly, the number on the scale isn't as important to me as it used to be (something I've struggled with since I was old enough to care) and now it's mostly about how I feel. Whenever I'm feeling "scale obsessed" I make my husband hide it somewhere until my bat-shit-crazy moment has passed and I can be trusted to focus on things that actually matter in life. I'm not exactly where I want to be yet in terms of muscle definition, but I know I will get there if I keep pushing myself.

The main point of this post is...losing baby weight (or any weight for that matter) is hard work. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. There is no quick fix (unless you want all your weight to come flooding back). I commend anyone who is navigating these waters while simultaneously taking care of a new baby which is even harder work. Maybe you're a new mom and this is the first time you've ever had to think about weight loss, maybe you're a mom of 4 who are already grown and out of the house, maybe you're not a mom and you just want to take better care of yourself. The point is, listen to your body. Be HONEST with yourself. There are some times you are going to need very tough love from people who know you are capable of pushing yourself harder, and there are some times you are going to need someone to tell you it is okay to go easy on yourself and cut yourself some slack. Find that support system. Build it up wisely and then USE it. Hopefully my gritty (and at times, unpleasant) weight loss story can help inspire at least one person to get started on a new healthy lifestyle. If anyone has questions, feel free to leave me a comment below (I read them all) or you can reach me via the "contact me" tab in my side bar.

Xoxo,
Coll

15 comments:

  1. That was funny and insightful! Thank you for your story! I need to tone up and I know it is all about the food I eat and the sugar cravings. I am getting ready to go to Cabo & SD in June and this helped motivate me to start planning ahead more in regards to foods and to take the time to incorporate healthier eating into my daily lifestyle. I eat pretty healthy already but there is a reason I still have the extra lower belly fat and loathed inner thigh issue, jingle jangle arms that just needs a little trimming and toning. Do you have a list of foods or recipes that you followed daily? I would love some more in depth food tips! Thanks for sharing, once again! -Angela

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It was crazy to look back at all my progress photos. I tried to take them every couple of months so that when I was feeling discouraged and the scale didn't seem to budge, I could visually see my results. It totally helped keep me motivated! I completely understand the sugar cravings. It's so frustrating that there is sugar in almost EVERY single packaged food. Even the ones that aren't sweet! It's no wonder so many people are addicted to it. It's a tough habit to break but if I can do it, seriously, anyone can! Once I cut out all the sugar and white flour, the lower belly fat virtually disappeared! (I'm sure all the water helped as well). I just PMd you on Facebook, I hope that helps a bit! Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help! Have FUN in Cabo and SD! How exciting!

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  3. Wow, what an interesting story and congratulations on loosing so much of the baby weight. It never sounds easy, and a lot of women just aren't successful, so this is no small accomplishment!!

    xo Jackie
    Something About That

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    1. Thanks so much, Jackie! It's definitely not easy but it IS doable! It just takes a lot of hard work and dedication and eventually it pays off :) So glad you stopped by for a read and hope you stick around!

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  4. I too am no where near where I would like to be. My lower belly is my biggest struggle. .what websites can I go to learn more and get recipes?

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    1. If you do a Google search for "Clean Eating" there are all sorts of different resources that will pop up, but my favorite sites for recipes are www.thegraciouspantry.com , www.cleaneatingmag.com , www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/category/recipe-box/clean-recipes and www.joyfulhealthyeats.com. Also, Pinterest is a great resource for clean recipes :) Hope this helps!

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  5. If I ever get pregnant, I want to have the same results! You look great!

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    1. Oh you are SO kind! Thank you! I'm a work in progress! I thought after birthing an almost 10 pound baby that my stomach would never be the same, but I was wrong! Hopefully I'm as fortunate the 2nd time around (my luck, I'll get pregnant with triplets!) haha

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  6. I just had my baby April 15 I'd love to know some quick snack and meal ideas. I have no time to Internet surf to figure out a new diet.

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    1. Congrats on the new baby! Such a fun time! One of my FAVORITE things to do is "overnight oats" which I can prepare easily the night before and then I have it waiting for me in the mornings. Here are some great recipes for overnight oats: http://www.buzzfeed.com/arielknutson/overnight-oat-recipes-oatmeal-cold and the other cool thing about those are they are great for milk supply if you are nursing since the oatmeal is "fermenting" overnight (don't let that word freak you out, they don't get sour, they just chill in the fridge overnight).

      Also, one of my other faves to do for snacks is popping a big batch of air popped popcorn at night and then portioning it out in ziploc baggies. You can season with salt-free Mrs. Dash for a little kick.

      Whenever I get a sweet tooth, I make myself a cup of herbal tea and pop a few teaspoons of raw, organic honey in there and by the time I'm finished, it's usually gone.

      Hope some of those help!

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  7. I'm almost 2 years postpartum and have still been struggling to lose the 50 pounds I gained. This article was very helpful because I know I'm not the only one. And I also have been trying methods I used in the past to lose weight but my body has changed. I really enjoyed reading this and it helped me lots. Thanks. :)

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    1. It's amazing how our bodies change so much after pregnancy and are resistant to what used to work before right? So frustrating! Good to know I'm not the only one. I'm so glad you found this helpful!

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  8. Your journey has really inspired me. There are so many parts of this that I can relate to. I weighed about 210 at delivery, and gave birth to a nearly 10 lb boy in early February 2013. My pre pregnancy weight however was 175, and I am down to 170 now. (I'm 5' 7") I am bound and determined now to have an after pic like yours...only i'd be much much paler. haha.

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    1. Hi Morgan! Wow! That really is similar! So great to have such big healthy boys, but it's SO hard to get rid of the weight. Congratulations for getting all yours off and then some! That's not easy to do. I'm so glad you found my story relatable and hopefully inspiring. I'm planning on doing a follow up post to this one with more detail and more specifics (meal plans, grocery lists, etc.) Let me know if you have any questions and good luck on your journey! Don't let anyone make you feel like Moms can't do the work to get healthy and fit! It's SO possible :)

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  9. I just laughed so hard I thought (hoped) I may go into labor. Thank you for being so candid, I needed this. My starting weight was 160 and I have packed on an additional 60 in the last 37 weeks of pregnancy. This was what I needed though, a bit of realness. Thank you!

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