Monday, December 7, 2015

How I Lost my Pregnancy Weight in 16 Weeks

What's more annoying than trying to lose your unwanted pregnancy weight???  Answer: Some health crazed, first-time mom bragging about how she lost all her pregnancy weight in 16 weeks AND writing a blog about it.   Ta-Daaaaa! Here I am! lol  :D

**I should warn everyone in advance... I'm sharing what worked for me and writing about the choices that I decided to make for myself about health and fitness. No judgments against anyone else, No offense intended, and No bragging here... I only say this because some people's reactions can be really negative. My desire is that everyone be motivated to be healthy and feel good about themselves... for whatever that means for the individual! :D

My Initial Concerns About Losing the Weight...

I've experimented with a lot of diets and exercise programs though out my life, but when it came to losing the pregnancy weight after my first child was born, I wasn't sure what to expect. My mind was flooded with worries and questions: "Am I ever going to lose the weight?", "Is it going to be crazy hard and take years?", "Will my body respond the same to my regular diet and exercise?". Since I chose to exclusively breastfeed, I also had concerns about 'keeping up my milk supply', which I had heard could diminish significantly if women lost their weight too quickly or weren't eating enough.

With a little bit of research and using similar techniques I've used throughout my life, I was able to shed the unwanted pounds within four months while maintaining a good milk supply for baby!

Here's a picture of me the day I found out I was pregnant...

I weighed 153 lbs.
(Should I look happier?? lol)

Here is a photo of me four days before I went into labor...

I weighed 202 lbs (roughly a 50 pound weight gain)
Awe... look at me. So innocent and unaware of the 28 hours of vaginal trauma that was soon to take place.

Here is a photo of my first week postpartum... 

I weighed 190 lbs. 
(The only thing bigger than my belly is my new friend 'Mr. Hemorrhoid'!) 

And by four months postpartum... Here I am! :D

153 lbs 
(plus 16 lbs of baby in my arm!)

Sooo... How did I do it?

The answer isn't overly mysterious and it won't cause any Earth shattering 'Ka-Booms!' lol

I basically ate sensibly (while enjoying small amounts of junk food) and exercised regularly with a slow and gradual increase in intensity/duration.

My Diet

I didn't stick to any specific diet plan or cut any food items out completely. I'm a firm believer that you can eat all the things you love as long as it's in moderation. I also didn't severely restrict my caloric intake. When you're breastfeeding you need to eat 1800-2200 calories per day. If you don't eat enough (or if you get pregnant unknowingly!) your milk supply could severely drop.

For the most part I ate the same things averaging at about 4-5 meals/day. I found that if I stuck with the same, healthy meals everyday (with minimal variation), it kept things really simple and easy to follow. As a result, I could afford to have a treat in the evening! By eating healthy throughout the day I was 'saving up' my extra calories for tasty treats that I really enjoyed eating after dinner... but, in moderation of course.

A typical day would be...
1st meal: COFFEE! (with soy milk), 1 slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter and half a banana sliced on top (1/2 banana = 1 serving of fruit)

2nd meal: Two eggs, 1 babybel cheese (light), 1 slice whole wheat toast with margarine, 1 yogurt cup

3rd meal: 1 serving of soup (usually a vegetable/chicken broth based soup or, my favorite, Butternut squash!), 4 soda crackers, 1 apple

4th meal: Big Salad! A tonne of romaine lettuce, 1/2 a tomato, 1/2 an avocado, 2 Tbs chopped Walnuts, 1 serving cheddar cheese (cut into little cubes), 1/2 chicken breast cooked with 1 Tbs BBQ sauce. (Salad Dressing: 1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 tsp Lemon juice, 1 tsp honey mustard/dijon mustard)

5th meal: TREAT
[moderation is key here... my treat could be any food I wanted as long as it was kept down to roughly 100-400 calories. For example: 1 ice cream bar (or 2 sometimes! lol), or 2-3 slices of thin crust frozen pizza, or 1-2 servings of potato chips]. Also, not every night was a 'big' treat. Sometimes I would just have a piece of toast and a babybel before bed or another yogurt cup.

**The key to having the treat in the evening is sort of similar to the old children's suppertime rule 'You have to eat your supper first before you can have dessert'. After I eat my big salad for dinner I'm less likely to over-indulge in the junk food later... so, no matter what the treat is: pizza, chips, nachos.. I always eat dinner first! It's super important not to eat junk food when you're starving! :)

My Exercise Routine

For the first 6 weeks after delivering my baby I was pretty much 'Out of Commission'! Due to the vaginal trauma (to say the least! lol) and the subsequent various discomforts that are a result of childbirth (aka, 'hemorrhoids', Ouch!), and sleepless nights, any kind of physical activity was very slow and minimal. 

On about day 3 or 4 postpartum I started off by taking a teeny tiny walk (more like a hobble), only about 30 meters down my road, and literally went at a snails pace. It was pretty pathetic. I was so surprised that just 'walking' would end up really hurting my "postpartum Lady Bits". It seriously felt like with every step I took my vagina was going to fall out. After the first week or two I could walk to the end of my road and back, then I progressed to walking around the block. Once walking became less painful/uncomfortable I started taking longer walks at a more normal pace. By week 7, I was ready to start my "Walk/Jog" routine.

What is a "Walk/Jog routine" you ask??? Well, let me tell you...

A 'walk/jog' is where you alternate between walking and jogging for a length of time or for a specific distance. 

My 'walk/jog' Routine...

-I plotted out (roughly) a 2 km loop around my neighborhood for my 'walk/jog's'.

-Every other day, I would 'walk/jog' my 2 km loop by starting off with walking for one minute, then jogging for one minute... and repeated that for the duration of my 2 km loop. I continued with the 'one minute walk/one minute jog' routine for roughly a week or two until I felt comfortable doing it.

-As I got stronger, I progressed to walking for one minute and then jogging for two minutes... then it was 'walk for one minute/jog for 3 mins'... and so on.  Once I felt comfortable for a few 'walk/jogs' at that time increment I would increase the 'jog time' by only one minute. 

-Now, by week 18, I'm jogging my 3 km loop with only one walk break in the middle. My ultimate goal is to be able to jog the entire loop 'comfortably'.

When I first started out, my 'jogging' was super, dooper, slow! Seriously, old people walking their Terriers would pass me. I would do my routine at night time so no one could see how out of shape I was. My motto was, "It's better to be moving slowly than to not be moving at all". I tried not to expect too much of myself as far as strength and cardio. I knew that the results would come later as long as I didn't give up.

(*Note: I never work on jogging "faster". I only try to jog for "longer". Speed will come naturally once you get stronger and gain better cardio. It's more important to increase the duration of exercise. You have to be careful not to injure yourself by doing too much, too soon. After delivering a baby, your body still has the hormone 'relaxin' flowing through your body which is responsible for 'relaxing' your ligaments which ultimately can lead to unstable joints and subsequent injuries.)

As far as 'weight lifting' or resistance training, I didn't do any! lol
The only thing I did was pick up my baby, rock her to sleep, carry her around, dance with her, burp her and push her in the stroller during walks. It's great resistance training on it's own!

The Key Factors in Losing My Pregnancy Weight

1. I was a healthy weight and somewhat physically fit before getting pregnant. (See my blog articles for more details: My Secret to Healthy Weight Loss and Management & Why You're Not Losing Weight)
2. I worked out regularly, walked everyday and ate sensibly during my entire pregnancy.
3. During the postpartum period (after week 6) I was committed to doing my exercise routine every other day, no excuses. (Even in the first few weeks, I was slowly walking and mobilizing.)
4. I breastfed my baby. It burns calories like crazy! (300-500 calories a day) :D
5. I drank water all the time. It wasn't hard because breastfeeding made me crazy thirsty. No sooner would my baby latch on and I would 'all of a sudden' be dying for a huge glass of water. Oh Oxytocin, you crazy hormone!
6. I ate my 'healthy food' during the day first before rewarding myself with my 'treat'... And, I didn't let myself eat junk food when I was starving. Moderation is key!

My Motivation to Lose My Pregnancy Weight

1. I have made the decision in my life that I want to be "Healthy" physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; and I have my own definition of what that means for me.
2. I want my child to have a healthy mother who is able to play with her, keep up with her, and live a long, full life so I can be there for her.
3. Our children mimic our behaviors and learn from our example as parents. I want my daughter to live a healthy life and value the act of 'taking care of herself' in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually... just like 'Mommy' and 'Daddy'!

Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions or stories of what worked for you!


*Disclaimer- Always consult with your physician before starting any new diet or exercise program*

**UPDATE!  JUNE 2, 2016**

I am now 10 months postpartum and I reached my original fitness goal as of January, 2016 and I feel great!

My current weight is 142 lbs (I'm down to my high school weight... Yay!). I am currently 11 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. It has never been my intention to try to weigh a specific number, but instead, my desire is to attain (and maintain) a self determined fitness level AND eat healthy (most of the time! *wink).

During the past few months I have made my maintained my original fitness goal of jogging my 3 km loop, every other day, as well as eating sensibly. My daughter is now 10 months old, still nursing 4-5 times a day (as well as eating meals), weighs 23 lbs now and is happy, healthy and strong!

No matter where you're starting from, as far as your current weight or fitness level, you can take the same, tiny, baby steps that I did and make a big change. It takes time, persistence and just taking it one day at a time. One choice at a time. All you have to do, is try to make the next choice, the right one!


**UPDATE September 17, 2017**

(*Disclaimer* I apologize for the weird bathroom selfie where I'm awkwardly trying to keep my boobs up and off of my stomach LOL... these types of photo's aren't really my forte... probably a good thing!)

Sooooo... I am currently just over 2 years postpartum (which means my vagina is Aaalmost back to it's normal size) and I am pleased to announce that I have been successful in maintaining my weight loss! Yay me! :)

I am currently 145 lbs which is 8 lbs less than my pre-pregnancy weight. :) 

Unfortunately, I gained a couple of pounds over the past year due to a hip related issue which interfered with my cardio workouts (Piriformis Syndrome... nasty!). It's starting to heal up now, but I had to give up my jogging routine for the better part of this year for it to fully clear up. 

For exercise, I walk my dogs daily, play and run around with my toddler, push the baby stroller on walks and take it up hills through grass for more resistance and to get some cardio out of, an otherwise ordinary, leisurely walk. I do chin ups occasionally at the local school yard while my daughter and I are at the park. I pick up my two year old throughout the day (she's 30 lbs), I hold her, dance with her, hold her up over my head and swing her down for fun, so... that's a pretty darn good arm work out lol. Otherwise, I do not lift any weights currently.

As for my diet, I basically eat the same things everyday. I find that the routine of having the same meals daily helps keep me on track. 

Here is a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Coffee with soy milk, one slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and 1/2 banana
Snack: 2 scrambled eggs with a slice of cheese 
Lunch: 4 steamed Costco Pot-sticker dumplings, 1 cup steamed broccoli, and 1/2 breast of chicken with soy sauce
Dinner: Greek Salad with broccoli and carrot slaw, 1/2 an avocado, 2 Tbs walnuts, 1/2 breast of chicken, and a glass of red wine (or two shhhh!)
Snack: Tortilla chips or potato chips (just a handful or two!)
(I sometimes also have a high fiber bar during the day for a snack if I'm out and about... and I try to drink water all throughout the day!)

I don't have regular 'cheat days' scheduled, but I do indulge in treat 'meals' every so often (maybe every week or two). I credit my weight loss maintenance to my diet mostly, as well as being active daily.

Thanks for continuing to follow my progress! I look forward to hearing any comments or questions from my readers. :)