As I’m approaching 2 years of being postpartum (eek!), I’ve received so many questions from new moms on how I got the baby weight off, so I wanted to share what I think worked for me for how I got back in shape after baby now that I finally feel like I really am.
I should preface this post by saying a couple of things: It takes 9 months to put it on, so it takes time to take it off and what worked for me may not work for everyone. I’m also 5 pounds over where I started and have some new curves I didn’t have before, and I’m totally okay with that.
I’ve always naturally been thin, so when I surpassed the recommended 25 pounds during my pregnancy—and eventually more than doubled that as I gained a whopping 55 pounds—my doctor said not to worry because it’s normal to gain more weight if you’re smaller to begin with.
Giving birth helped me lose 20 pounds (between an almost 9lb baby, water and placenta weight), but I still had 35 to shed. I’ve since lost 30 pounds and feel the healthiest I’ve ever been. Here are the ways I credit getting back to *nearly* my pre-baby weight:
A HEALTHY DIET
This may seem like an obvious way, but I credit being a pescatarian, mostly vegetarian, for most of my life. I’ve always been a health nut and while dessert is a weakness of mine, I follow the 80/20 rule. I eat extremely clean, organic and non-processed food 80% of the time and cheat with dessert here and there. If you put cookies in front of me I probably can’t resist, but I’m lucky that my stomach can’t handle ice cream anymore and most nights my dessert is either 2 dried dates or 2 small nibs of organic chocolate/cacao.
I ate this way during pregnancy and nursing too, though I ate more frequently with small snacks every couple of hours. Don’t get me wrong, one day in my first trimester I found myself eating a bagel, pizza, and pasta for each meal respectively—but it’s all about balance. I ate clean the rest of the week and still follow that.
I love getting healthy recipes that make it easy to stick with this with my busy mom life from Real Simple, Pinch of Yum, Robyn Youkilis, and Roz Purcell.
Starting my day with smart choices like celery juice, or now warm water with lemon also make it easy to stay hydrated, full and make healthy decisions throughout the day.
STAYING ACTIVE BEFORE, DURING & AFTER PREGNANCY
I worked out doing yoga or barre 1-3 times per week before, during and after pregnancy. I actually found prenatal yoga to be not much of a workout so I did PureBarre until my doctor said I needed to take a break from it in my third trimester. Instead I took up swimming, which was such a relief from my heavy belly that I would walk a mile each way to get there! I only swam laps for 30 minutes (usually 500mm or 20 laps — and in the SLOW lane!) but that was enough to keep me in shape.
After the baby came, it was a challenge to find the time to workout, especially to start. Instead, I would walk with him around the neighborhood until I could feel my body’s limit (giving birth did a number on me!). He was also a heavy baby, so when I carry/wore him it was a workout in itself.
Once I got cleared to actually work out again at the 6 week mark, I laughed at my OBGYN and asked, ya sure about that? I wasn’t ready! My body (and mind!) was still recovering.
Luckily I discovered MamaFit with Carolyn Tallents where she held weekly workouts in the park for new moms while our babies slept/watched in their strollers. It was amazing and just the right amount of working out I could handle at that point. I tried postnatal yoga classes, but I would spend most of the time nursing my always hungry baby, so I found myself doing yoga videos on YouTube while he slept.
Once I really felt ready again, I made an effort to go to barre at least once a week (often with other mom friends as motivation!), which I still do. Now when I don’t have time to workout, I like to do a quick YouTube of PureBarre like this one with my favorite teacher, Sarah Wingo, and sometimes my little one will work out WITH me at home which is also motivation.
I’m also walking all of the time, whether it’s around my neighborhood, the 30 minute walk to/from daycare, running to appointments, commuting or prepping for shoots. My job as a stylist is very active so it definitely helps. I also try to take the stairs when I can. You’d be surprised how walking more can really do wonders, so don’t take it for granted even though it sounds easy!
Carrying and chasing after a toddler also keeps me busy enough that it’s like a workout that I don’t have to stress as much about working out at this point. As soon as he started walking it was like I couldn’t stop moving and it definitely helped keep me in shape!
I realize this isn’t possible or an option for everyone, but breastfeeding burns quite a bit of calories, to the point where I ate more during that than pregnancy. I had a good eater, but I was still wearing jeans 4 sizes bigger than I was 3 months after having the baby!
I ended up supplementing with formula when I went back to work at 3.5 months postpartum, but I pumped a couple of times a day, so I think that helped a little, but I was still eating ALL OF THE TIME.
They say breastfeeding burns tons of calories, but I actually didn’t start dropping weight until I stopped nursing completely at 9 months. It was almost like my body knew and was like I’m yours again. It was so much easier to shed the extra weight at that point.
It’s a HUGE misconception that weight comes off during breastfeeding. Our bodies keep the weight for storage in case of famine and when we stop nursing our bodies no longer require the extra body fat, so thats why it’s much easier to lose the weight AFTER breastfeeding.
I know you’re probably like ugh, come on, but give it TIME if you’re trying to lose the baby weight. I remember when I had a newborn asking a mom how long it took her to feel like she had her body back. “4 years,” she replied as a matter of fact. I nearly cried.
At 2 years postpartum, I’m finally feeling like I’m back in great shape, BUT I don’t think my body will ever be the same (I have excess skin on my belly that I can’t stand). Still, after 2 years, I couldn’t be happier with how my body is. It created life and it’s amazing. I feel like I should be prouder than ever of my new curves.
Have you bounced back after baby? Please share how — I’d love to hear how and share more tips with my mama followers!
Not quite there yet or already bounced back (congrats mama!)?
Check out my tips by trimester, stylish children’s brand’s you need to know, or my birth story.