Saturday, April 4, 2009

Postpartum weight, my story.

I wish I had been one of those ladies who fit into their pre-preg. jeans at 2 weeks after giving birth, and who look as if they've never popped out a humanbeing by the time they're 6 months post-partum. Truth be told I'll forever be jealous, I'm not Heidi Klum or one of those lucky ladies.

I've always been naturally very petite, I did sport for years and years and was barely 100lbs pre-pregnancy, I gained over 30 pounds by the time my due date rolled around, which let's face it, isn't that much, right? I looked and felt great when I was pregnant.

..Here comes the 'but'.

After I had my daughter, I still looked quite okay for someone who just had a baby. 

Time goes by, and even though I'm breastfeeding, due to stress at work, stress of being a single mom, and just stress in general, I basically eat, all I do in my spare time is eat. I work at night, so I eat.

By the time I was 4/5 months post-partum, my weight was shifting back and forth, my metabolism has always been naturally fast, but it couldn't possibly cope with the amount of calories I was eating.

By the time I was 5 months post-partum, I weighed basically, give or take a few pounds, as much as I had weighed on the day I had my daughter! This time, I had no 'baby weight', it was all fat, disgusting, hideous cellulite and fat. I couldn't even look in the mirror without wanting to cry.

At some point I absolutely soberly, typed 'pro-mia' into Google. A picture of my daughter as my desktop wallpaper was like a sudden slap in the face, to get me back to senses. I was not going to do it that way.

Finally I had the incentive I needed, breastfeeding had been a struggle for the both of us from the very beginning, after a while, my daughter refused nursing altogether, and after my milk dried out even though I tried to be the 'pumping' kind of mom, I decided that I officially had no more excuses not to get my eating habits in order.

While those close to me assured me that I indeed, didn't look as bad as I felt, I wanted none of it, I may have not looked that bad but I felt as if I never wanted to crawl out of my PJs. I was self-conscious about every part of my body.

Me at my 'biggest': 

6 months of watching what I eat, exercising as if my life depended on it (2 hours everynight after baby was down, 4 hours of strolling time in 2 sessions, 1 hour carrying my daughter around in a carrier), eating sensibly, in small batches, numerous times a day to satisfy my appetite and not starve, and to get my metabolism working properly again, I cannot possibly get across to you in words, how hard I worked which is basically, a whole other essay in itself, just because I knew that if I don't get in shape in the first year, I never will.

Finally, on New Year's Eve, (11 months post partum) I put on one of my smallest pairs of jeans, and a tiny top and I truly thought that I looked good.

However, it wasn't that easy. 

It wasn't until today, almost 15 months post-partum that I realized that wow, I lost the last 2 or 3 pounds I wanted to lose, even though I haven't neither watched what I eat nor exercised except strolling with my daughter twice a day and just active play.

I reached the goal I had set for myself, I like the way I look again and I'm happy with my body, I mean truly happy and I can live with it looking the way it does for the rest of my life. I didn't accept my flab, fat and cellulite, I fought them in every way I could and you know what, it really paid off.

So, here are pictures, after tonight I will no longer weigh myself every other week, and though I'd still like really nice toned arms by summer, I will no longer, fanatically obsess about it, my goal of being happy with the way I look is reached.

Trying to lose weight? Don't be discouraged, if you're determined, you'll get there, just please, do it the healthy way, remember, and we can't be selfish and harm our bodies anymore, because we all have our little ones to think of.

I've been getting so many PMs that I thought why not write some of the tips I've shared down here.

- First and foremost, be aware of how many calories you are consuming. Take your average day, sit down, and figure it out. For all you know, that cheese spread you use is the equivalent of what you should be consuming during 1 meal. Just remember, don't obsess about it, don't end up frantically working out how much you've eaten for breakfast.

- Eat enough to be satisfied, don't be greedy.

- If you can live without that bagel, then get rid of it! Have some crackers instead.

- Say no to mayo/butter, salad dressing, use a 'light' substitute instead, it may not taste that good but hey, you're trying to shed fat, we've got to sacrifice a little.

- Use low fat milk in your coffee instead of cream

Remember, Soda is your enemy. Go for juice or flavored water. The more water you drink, the better you'll feel.

- Try to find an alternative to your favorite fatty indulgence, I used mustard instead of salad dressing, skip the mac n' cheese sauce and just grated cheese over my pasta and melted it. Baked potato is healthy, filling, and can taste really good with a little bit of effort put into it.

- Chicken soup is awesome, I make mine with chicken broth, noodles, chicken breast, dill, potato and some carrot, Nika loves it and it's super healthy. Soups in general are great (and cheap to make!), and a lot of them taste better than you may think, remember not to discriminate against food, try new, healthy alternatives.


- Become obsessed about how much you're consuming, don't try to cut what you consume in half. It will only make you weak, cranky and bitchy, trust me. You may last a few days eating nothing but apples and veggies, but no good is going to come of it, your body is likely to panic and your fat reserves aren't going to go anywhere.

- Never skip a meal if your family is having pizza for dinner and you've found the strength to not have any, replace it with a big helping of salad or chicken and rice.

Remember to let yourself indulge every so often, 1 night a week, have ice cream, pizza, pasta, whatever you want. Only remember that there's nothing wrong with indulging a little everyday, and there's no need to designate a day in a week, because you're likely to pig out so much, the work you had done earlier that week will just go to waste. A little bit of something you love which is fattening or unhealthy is fine, just don't go overboard!

I eat a big portion of salad (tomato, cucumber, lettuce, grated cheese, canned tuna, mustard) for lunch, which means I'm completely full and I don't snack between lunch and dinner. I've a medium sized dinner, and let myself snack while I'm at the computer, as I'm generally up until 2 am, sometimes even 6 am because of work.

Don't forget that 'healthy' calories are easier to burn off than 'unhealthy' ones, in other words, you can have a double portion of salad but only half a slice of pizza, overpower yourself, go for the salad and keep focused on your goal, or if you choose to have that slice of pizza, 50 crunches first chance you get!


- You've a stroller don't you? Use it! Seriously, it's great exercise and the little one will love it. I take my daughter out at least once a day, generally twice, and sometimes even 3 times, we spend up to 6 hours outside on good days!

- Take very little opportunity to move! Child is down for a nap, take the first 10 minutes to do 50 crunches, then enjoy the rest of your 'me' time. Do this every time your child's napping, and try to increase the number of crunches, or whatever exercise it is that you're doing by 10 each week. Bedtime - a solid 80!

Slings, carriers are awesome! Take out one activity during the day, stick your little one in a sling and do it. I generally go to the shop with Nika in a sling, even if you drive, get out of the car, put your child in the sling and do your shopping, don't put them in the cart. It's hard, but it's an awesome workout.

Get a walk-o-meter, a device that measures how many steps you take a day, stick it on your wrist or where ever, and don't look at it until the day's over.

I walk between 6000 and 8000 steps a day, apparently ideally, we should walk 10,000


- Don't put exercise off, if you will, you know you'll never make up for it!

- Don't exhaust yourself, it's pointless to go 200 crunches today, only to be in so much pain that you won't be able to do any tomorrow!

Don't weigh yourself every day, or numerous times a day, do it once a week and take the result with a pinch of salt. Be patient as the process takes up to 3 weeks to kick in, even if you're doing all the work. If you still see no result, time to adjust the routine a little more.

Other advice:

 - Go out shopping, get yourself a top or pair of jeans that you REALLY like, but get it in a size that doesn't fit you at the moment, but, if you lose say, 10 pounds, will fit you great, and if you lose 12 will fit you even better. It's great motivation, and a great substitute for weighing yourself, if the scale idea depresses you. I got myself 3 cute tops for the summer, I'm really happy with the way I look in them now. I had only tried on 1 of them, and I barely got it on, it was way too small, imagine my excitement when I put it on a few weeks ago it looked great. - Every time you lose 5 pounds, treat yourself to a little gift from your dear self! Or make hubby do it, I mean it's what they're for, innit?  
- Don't set impossible goals like losing 40 pounds in a month! Set doable, short-term gols and take things step by step. Pick a date on the calendar and mark it, and mark your progress every week if you want, possibly with pics too.
The moment someone close to you says you're too skinny or that it's noticeable that you're obsessing far too much about weight loss to an unhealthy physical and mental extent, it's time to take a deep breath, stop whatever it is you're doing with your body, and talk to a good friend and decide whether it really is time to stop. 

2 years post partum