There are three main things that I want to talk about when it comes to postpartum weight loss - diet, exercise, and HORMONES.
I nursed Blair until 3.5 months old, and pumped exclusively until 4 months. During this time, I was eating well, but I was also eating a TON of food. I was a bottomless pit. Could not satisfy my hunger if I ate an entire cow. This was something that I was frustrated with because I knew in order for me to lose weight/fat, I needed to be in a slight caloric deficit and I simply wasn't. I was lucky that my weight stayed the same and I did not gain weight... Until I got on a very bad form of birth control, which I will talk about in the Hormones section. It wasn't until I stopped nursing and I got off of hormonal birth control that I started not being hungry all the time and was able to eat at a slight caloric deficit to aide in weight loss.
During the first few months of Blair's life, I was still trying to figure out the whole "mom of 3 kids" thing. I was exhausted and lack of sleep and energy kept me from doing anything extra related to exercise. I simply did not make that a priority. Yes, I was active. Always going to a ball game or chasing a toddler around the house, etc. But I wasn't doing anything purposeful to exercise and sweat. Once Blair was about 6-7 months, I slowly started getting back into the gym. When I say "slowly," I mean it. I remember the first time I went back, I could only do about 15-20 minutes of walking on the tread mill before I was completely pooped. Fast forward to today, I still don't "work out" as much as I'd like, and this is something I am going to be working on changing in the immediate future. I do, however, workout about 3 times a week and in those days I perform 30-40 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) either on the treadmill or on the stair master. It is the most efficient way to burn calories and shed fat, in my experience. I also do LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio 3-4 times a week as well. This helps tremendously with shrinking those hips after pregnancy and just a great way to burn some extra calories and stay active during the day. I do not lift heavy weights, as I suffered from some terrible joint issues from my depo provera shot, and I do simple body weight exercises at home almost every day. What I do isn't time consuming or exhausting. My goals are simply to improve my quality of life so I am able to be the best mom I can be for my kids, and so I feel good on the inside.
I am a firm believer that the hormones part of this puzzle is the biggest one for me this go around. There is just too much coincidence for it not to be. I already talked about how I was nursing and pumping exclusively for four months. I would have gone longer, but Blair was stubborn with the nursing and simply preferred a bottle and with taking care of not one, not two, but three children, pumping exclusively simply was not in the cards for me. So we switched to formula around 4.5-5 months. I remember after weaning both of my boys, I lost 10 pounds in a month without changing anything and when this did not happen with B I was frustrated. I immediately started researching the form of birth control that I got on right after having B called Depo Provera and how it affects hormones and the research was appalling. So, for those of you who have never heard of the depo shot, it is a birth control shot that lasts for up to 12 weeks. So basically, you are getting 3 months worth of birth control in a single day. Can you imagine what that does to your body? Well, you name it, it happened to me. Within days, I started experiencing insane mood swings (poor Tyler), hot flashes, joint pain/discomfort, fatigue (literally zero energy), and yes, weight gain. I didn't gain a lot of weight because I was already carrying 35+ pounds of baby weight, but even 1-2 pounds gained at that time was enough to frustrate me. I finally convinced Tyler to let me get my tubes tied, as a permanent form of birth control that would have zero hormonal side effects. I had that procedure done at the end of September, and my Depo shot ran out in the middle of October. Literally 1 week after my shot ran out, I lost 3 pounds! 3 pounds, you guys. Since then, I have lost 28 pounds (total of 37 pound weight loss since having B). I have a much leveled out appetite and eat a far more sensible amount of calories for my energy expenditure. I eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables, try to get enough sleep, and exercise when I can to keep my hormones right. If you feel like your hormones may be off and may be keeping you from losing weight (because it certainly can!), then don't hesitate to contact me if you need help or have questions in that regard.
I hope this post helps anyone who is struggling with postpartum weight loss, especially after having their second or third child. It is hard. Its hard on our minds more so than our bodies, in my opinion. When you think you're doing everything right and things are moving the way you want them to, it frustrates you. I get it. My best advice for women who are going through this same thing is to first and foremost remember the big picture. Your health and your baby's health. Look at it longterm, and not just in the short term. Second, focus on the basics - eating REAL food that nourishes you and move your body. Even if you're not losing weight immediately, it is important to form these good habits. Thirdly, I strongly suggest you researching the form of birth control you take before getting it. Look at the side effects. Ask your doctor questions. Ask people who you know have taken that form of birth control. Lastly, give yourself grace. I had to really practice that last one this go around because things simply were not going like I had planned in the weight loss department. When you're in the wellness and nutrition industry, there is an unsaid pressure to look your best and this past year I truly had to give myself grace and focus on my mental health (because all of this was a true mind screwer). Thanks for all of the love and support you guys have given me, and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about this topic.
|Left: 1 month postpartum|
Right: 9 months postpartum