Oh Pregnancy Weight, Please Go.
And It Just Kept Getting Bigger
How many times do you watch a celebrity get huge while pregnant and think. "oh that poor girl is getting mocked. I'm so glad it's not me that got that big". Then 2 weeks after giving birth, you see them in a bikini and they look better than you on a normal basis. Magazine and website articles are plastered all over the place as if to mock you saying "look at _____ post-baby body only ____ days/weeks after giving birth." Nothing tests your self-esteem and body image more than being pregnant... until you're not pregnant anymore.
You think, "hey I can do this. I just need to work out an hour a day every day". After the first few weeks (after your postpartum doctor's appointment of course), you sit there exhausted going "seriously, how the heck am I going to do this." It's easy when you have a nanny or the like that gives you the time to do that. I barely have enough time to shower, let alone work out. I tried, I really tried. But when you're up all night with the baby, then chasing the baby around all day, then getting your son from the bus, then helping your son with his homework, then making supper for the family. When is there time or energy to do that? I think the everywoman has the same problem: me-time.
Then we have to face the unrealistic expectations. Adriana Lima, Victoria's Secret model , gave birth a day after I did in September and 8 weeks later does a Victoria's Secret fashion show. I understand, that's her job so she had to hurry and lose the weight to do her job. But as I sat 8 weeks postpartum reading that article, I died a little on the inside. I obsessed over it, because as much as we hate to admit it, that's what we do no matter how self-confident we are. I much rather it when people like Reese Witherspoon, who also gave birth around the same time I did, say "what's the rush?" and stay "chubby" or at least in Hollywood definitions. When celebrities do that, we don't seem to go as crazy because we don't have some "unreal" expectation.
I'm 9 months postpartum. I started out around 125lbs, an average weight for someone my size. I embarrassingly gained 70lbs during the pregnancy despite not sitting around eating "crap" food. Sure, I didn't exercise much while in the early stage of pregnancy. Mostly because I slept the entire time. When I wasn't too tired to do anything, I tried my best to give it at least a 20 minute walk every day. During my prenatal visits, I eventually stopped looking at the scale because the numbers scared me as they rose. I didn't have gestational diabetes, just a larger baby. I tried to do everything right, just like I was supposed to. I expected to gain weight. I expected to gain more weight than I did with my first one. I realistically expected that I was going to get big and was thankful I had a round belly so I looked pregnant and not fat. I kept saying I was fat, but my husband did the obligatory "you're not fat, you're bringing our child into this world". Unrealistically, I expected that the baby weight would just disappear with the baby like it did the first time. I was wrong, so very wrong. I only lost 10lbs of baby. Today, I stand with a 30lb weight loss to go and another 40 until I'm happy with myself.
Weight Loss After The Baby
You're told all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding for your child. You're then told the added benefits to you: decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer; helps your uterus return back to normal size; lowers risk of osteoporosis; saves money on formula. Oh, and it helps you lose the baby weight. People tout breastfeeding as the ultimate weight loss technique while celebrities flaunt their baby weight loss to "prove this point". Don't let the celebrities fool you: breastfeeding only really causes you to lose about 500 calories a day. They have personal trainers and dieticians to do the math for them. Breastfeeding isn't some magic "baby fat melter". It helps, but don't go into this unrealistically expecting to nurse away every pound of baby weight. Without proper diet and exercise, nursing won't pull any magic disappearing acts. One fact about breastfeeding I didn't seem aware of was that I was just as hungry as I was when I was pregnant. All the time, I was starving and it's easy to grab something quick and bad for you while you're hungry and chasing around a baby.
So what's a realistic table for losing this weight? Doctors tells us "it takes 9 months to put the weight on, it'll take that or more to lose it all". We're told not to rush it, to watch what we eat and stay active. But what's realistic for a new mom who is up most nights with a crying baby, and spending her mornings running around after the baby after he learns to crawl or walk? I joke that my exercise every day is running after my baby boy saying "no, don't do that!". After 12 hours of that, you just get so beat you look at your Zumba videogame and elliptical and say "screw it, I'm going to bed". Maybe that's just me. Realistically, especially if you're nursing, you can't go on any special diets because you need that energy and fuel to keep up with the demands of the day. Realistically, the weight will come off when it comes off and you just have to hope you work off more excessive calories than you take it.
This is what I try to follow with my weight loss. By try, I mean I'm way to tired to try. But they make sense. I found this via www.webmd.com
- Don't diet. Dieting causes hunger. Hunger causes stress and leads to temptations. Eat proper well rounded meals and keep only healthy snacks on hand.
- Breastfeeding. They work off free calories but don't think you can eat whatever you want because you're nursing. Bad food is still bad food.
- Keep hydrated. It fills you up so you don't eat as much, and they theorize that hydration speeds up metabolism.
- Exercise. This should be an obvious one. Whenever you want to lose weight, exercise is the key. Plus, as a new mother exercise benefits you as a great stress reliever.
- Sleep. This seems like the most difficult as a new mother. They believe that if you get less than 5 hours of sleep a night, a hormone that promotes weight gain is released, which is the exact opposite of what you want right now.
- There is help. Finally if nothing seems to work, go see a doctor. There are dieticians that can help, and with the growing obesity problem in America, I'm sure that most insurance companies help with the cost. They'll help you with a diet that meets the demands of a baby while allowing you to lose those pounds.