I gained 37 pounds when I was pregnant with Ava. I was under the care of a midwife for much of my pregnancy (I highly recommend having a midwife if you’re a newly pregnant and debating it) and she said that I should gain between 25-35 pounds. So I was a little over the mark, but not much. Ava was a peanut when she was born, just an ounce shy of 6 pounds. So I couldn’t blame a ton of my weight gain on her. Those early months were so crazy and I was so sleep deprived that I can’t really remember how much I lost right away. And I wasn’t really worried about losing weight, I was breastfeeding and I figured it would come off with time. I also wanted to maintain my supply, so I always made sure to eat throughout the day.
Whoever said breastfeeding burns a million calories and you’ll be back to your post-baby weight with no problems LIED. Okay, I know that’s the case for some women, but not all. And I was only able to nurse for about 3 months before making the switch to formula and at that point I’d lost almost 20 pounds. I was still knee deep in dealing with my adorable, but high needs baby, so again I didn’t put much thought into it. I also didn’t really change my eating habits. I never took advantage of the fact that I was pregnant and “eating for two”, but I didn’t deprive myself. I kind of kept on the same eating track after Ava was born because it was easier. But for the 3 months after I stopped nursing, my weight didn’t change. And I was still wearing my maternity jeans. I tried to put on a pair of my more roomy pre-preggo jeans and I couldn’t even get them up my thighs. Then during the summer, a friend was home visiting and well all met up with our kiddos. She takes lots of pictures and after looking at them, I realized I needed to make a change. I pretty much looked like I did when I was pregnant, minus the basketball under my shirt. I was using the fact that it was summer and I could just wear loose-fitting dresses to keep me from really having to take my weight loss seriously.
I mean, let’s be real, vanity definitely factored into this equation. As well as not wanting to have to replace all my clothes (I could barely fit my arms into certain blouses, let alone the pants). I’m not that tall (5’3″), so even just a few pounds shows pretty quickly on me. And really, I was eating terribly. I also have bad knees (I’ve already had one knee surgery and no, I don’t play sports or anything) and any extra weight does nothing but exacerbate the issue. I started trying to diet like I would have in the past, but it didn’t make a difference. I think getting older and my pregnancy just changed my body. Then I went to a get together with some of my old coworkers and one of them looked great, he was never very heavy to begin with, but he just looked leaner. We got into a conversation about what he was doing and he introduced me to Advocare. A couple of weeks later, my husband and I started the ’24 Day Challenge’ and at the end of it, I’d lost 8 pounds. I continued to eat according to the program (with some occasional indulgences due to the holidays) and towards the end of last year I had lost 8 more. I don’t weigh myself on a regular basis unless I’m actively trying to lose weight so I have no idea how much I weigh now. All I know is that my clothes are still fitting so I’m sure I’m hovering in the same place give or take a pound or two.
I think doing Advocare was the jump start I needed to start losing weight. I needed that structure and regimen to get things going and afterwards, I felt like I had the tools I needed to maintain my weight loss. I do still use some of their products and I’m not quite at my ideal weight yet because there are a couple of items that don’t fit quite the way they used to. I never really weighed myself regularly pre-pregnancy so I don’t even know what that goal weight is. But, I do plan on doing another challenge within the next few months to see if I can get there.
I wanted to share some tips that I learned from my post-partum weight loss journey that I hope others might find to be helpful.
1. Have a plan. Duh, Captain Obvious right? Well honestly, I thought I had a plan with my attempts to lose weight before discovering Advocare and it got me nowhere. What I mean is, have a well-defined plan, including what you’re going to eat, when you’re going to eat, and how much. The best part about the program was that we had a daily schedule of meals and snacks and all I had to do was go through the day and check off that I had what was planned as the day went on. This is key when you have ‘mommy brain’ and can barely remember what day it is. I knew exactly what I needed to eat for the day, everyday for 24 days. There are plenty of different programs out there to choose from, pick what you think will work best for you and one you can stick to.
2. Get a buddy. Support is key, you need to have someone talk you down when your cravings kick in. And if you have a roommate/significant other/whoever with whom you share a lot of meals with then ideally this person can join you in your weight loss/health goals. There’s nothing harder than watching someone eat your guilty pleasures while you’re not. My husband was all for losing the sympathy pounds he put on during my pregnancy and it was so helpful to have him keep me on track.
3. Drink water like there’s about to be a drought. You’ll be in the bathroom every hour on the hour, but it’s worth it. The eating schedule actually also included when and how much water to drink, and I gotta say I’ve never drank so much water in my life! I won’t go into all the health benefits of this, but it’ll keep you from having any unnecessary water retention and sometimes when you’re hungry you’re really just thirsty (who knew?).
4. Meal prep. Every Sunday my husband would get groceries for the week and I’d prep salads for lunch for at least 2-3 days. I’d make extra lean protein at dinner so we could use it for the next days lunch. I had a handful of recipes I’d use and put on repeat. I never had to worry about what we’d eat the next day because I had my repertoire of meals, honestly I think that’s key. I know, how boring right? But really, it gives you less room for error. Just keep it simple.
5. Cut the gluten, dairy, and salt. Don’t worry it’s not forever! I think in the beginning it’s important to do so. You’re basically just eating really clean, nothing processed and loaded with preservatives. It’s like a reboot for your system, you get all the junk out so you can really reap the benefits of all the good stuff you’re putting in. Instead of the typical starch we’d normally have, we’d have brown rice or a sweet potato. Salt can obviously cause bloating, but dairy can also cause swelling in some people so in the beginning it’s best to cut it out. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. For me, a life without cheese would be a very sad one indeed.
6. Eat every 2-3 hours. Don’t give your body a chance to get so hungry that you’re scoping out the vending machines. Have healthy snacks on hand and don’t skip a snack because you weren’t hungry! You will be later and you’ll be more apt to slip if you are.
7. Have a plan B. For me this was the Advocare shakes that I still have for breakfast every morning. Maybe you have a meal replacement bar instead. Whatever it is, keep it handy as well. Days when I had to bring Ava to a ped appointment close to lunch time, the shakes really came in handy because I could quickly make them and drink it on the road. They also fulfill my chocolate cravings because it’s like having a chocolate shake for breakfast. If you have something to fall back on, you’ll be less likely to be pulling up to the drive-thru.
8. Get all the junk food out of your house! Don’t let it sit there and taunt you. Just get rid of it, the less temptation the better. And you won’t find yourself standing in front of the pantry wasting time staring at food you shouldn’t be eating anyway.
9. Weigh yourself regularly. Whether it’s daily or weekly, do what works for you to stay motivated. My husband did daily, I did weekly. Guys lose weight so much faster, for him daily was like instant gratification. For me, it would have been like, “I’m giving up chips for this?! Nothing’s happening!” I was seeing more changes doing weekly weigh-ins and it prevented a lot of discouragement.
10. Don’t just rely on the scale. Do body measurements or pick a pair of jeans you’re getting close to fitting into. Sometimes they’re better indicators of weight loss than the scale. Who cares how much you weigh as long as you’re back into your jeans that don’t have the elastic panel?
I’m sure you’ve heard all these tips before, but they work! I want to do a separate post about how I’ve been keeping off what I lost. I still have my ups and downs like anyone else, but I’ve been staying pretty steady thus far. The biggest benefit that came from this, other than getting back into my Hudson jeans is that I actually feel better. My energy is up and I’m not so sluggish throughout the day which is awesome when you have to keep up with a 14 month old! Anyway, I hope you found this helpful and good luck with your weight loss goals!
A picture of me at 6 months post-partum & right after Ava turned a year old. Sorry, these were the best pictures I could find to illustrate, but I think you can see the change in my face.