I was a 5’5”, 39-year-old business owner weighing between 115lbs and 120lbs when I became pregnant with my first child. Prior to my pregnancy, I was a slim former dancer with an athletic rather than the typical dancer waif build. While I was dancing, I worked hard to remain 10+ pounds under my natural weight. After retiring from dance, I avoided getting on the scale, deciding that feeling healthy and making peace with my body was top priority. I even refused weighing-in for routine physicals. When I became pregnant, I wanted to enjoy the experience of growing!!!
I made a deal with the OBGYN and midwife and agreed to hop on the scale backwards, as long as they took a vow of silence.
When my daughter was about 18-months old, I returned to the doctor for a routine visit and before I could say a word the nurse who did not know I had been pregnant exclaimed, “you lost over 55 pounds”. Truth be told, I was not really surprised.
While I was pregnant food had never tasted so good (I ate a lot of curry). I worked a lot and saved money for maternity leave. When I was not working I was napping. I went from exercising about 13 hours a week to zero. I became short of breath going up a flight of stairs. I also acquired HELP syndrome a severe form of preeclampsia in my third trimester, which caused my body to hold onto a lot of fluid.
I imagined that after delivery and a few months of breastfeeding I would return to my pre-pregnancy weight. This was not the case. Here are some things I learned and what I finally did when I wanted my body back.
5 things I did not expect about new motherhood:
- I temporarily lost all professional ambition. I fell in love with my baby. I fell in love with motherhood. After, six months of maternity leave I reluctantly returned to work. I discovered that I enjoyed the time away from my daughter more than expected, loved working with clients, but did not want to manage a business. I wanted to maximize my time with my family. I gave up my commercial lease and simplified my professional life. Creativity is extremely important to me; my work was part of fulfilling this need yet did not give me upmost personal freedom. Now, I focus on projects that inspire my creativity and allow me to manage my time more freely.
- I was hungry and thirsty all the time. All of a sudden it was easy for me to empathize with women who never lost weight after pregnancy. I had never been so happily inactive and I had one heck of an appetite. I was not interested in making my usual treks to the market or preparing meals—I just wanted to spend time with my baby. Rather than eating a meal, I found myself chowing down a high protein/high calorie snacks.
- I lost my risk-taking gene. Suddenly, activities that could result in injury were of no interest. I did not want to do anything that would prevent me from cradling that baby in my arms. No surfing big waves on the outer reef; pretty much no surfing at all. No long downwind paddles. No cycling; I sold my road bike. Even my yoga practice, which one would consider relatively benign got put on hold. While breastfeeding, the Relaxin hormone comes into play and was keeping my ligaments loose; even the most mindfully modified yoga postures resulted in painful shifts of my pelvis. I was baffled to find that the activity I looked forward to most was a long delicious nap holding my daughter in my arms.
- I felt BEAUTIFUL not fat. I loved how my breasts would swell and fill with milk. I did not care that my jeans and slightly tailored clothing did not fit. I was happy to adopt a uniform of comfort. Somewhere in the back of my mind there was a voice that wondered, “will this last…will my body ever be the same”, that very same voice whispered back “nothing in your life has been forever”…
- Soooo, I finally I got curious and got back on the scale. I was surprised to find that I weighed around 145lbs which was more than I imagined. I decided to started counting calories. I did not set a goal of loosing a certain amount of weight with in a specific time period. I just thought, let’s see these numbers steadily decrease. I know that I have a relatively low resting metabolic rate, which means that I do not burn many calories while at rest. Using the tricks from my dancer past I started reducing my calories and losing weight.
Here is what I did:
- Get on the scale around the same time every morning.
- Get into a food routine. Same kind of diet for a week then switch it up. I would have a tofu scramble for breakfast, salad for lunch, high protein soup for dinner. Then next week high protein smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, protein and veggies for dinner. Snack with a hummus like dip and celery or apple.
- Eat enough protein.
- Avoid/limit carbs, gluten, alcohol, most dairy.
- Eat things that are healthy, comforting, satisfying and make the belly feel full: smoothies and soups work for me.
- Drink enough liquids. A minimum of 2 mason jars of water or herbal tea a day.
- Do not deprive yourself a small treat. For me this means eat 3 squares of dark chocolate.
- Get enough quality sleep. For me this meant night weaning my daughter.
- Get enough exercise and make it count. Now that my daughter is older and we are both sleeping more, I exercise every chance I get which ends up being between 2 and 5 hours a week. I practice, yoga, Pilates, GYROTONIC ®, go to barre classes, take walks, and run around with an active kid. Even though, I own a Pilates and GYROTONIC® studio, I like to be a student and attend a group classes. I like the barre class with Trish at Infusion Yoga in Paia. There are great online classes for moms and dads that do not have childcare and cannot get out for a class. Try http://onlineyogateaching.com with the amazing Cat DeRahm or check out https://www.pilatesanytime.com. Instead of an hour of chillaxing, try moving your body instead. I feel less tired and happier when I exercise.
My daughter is almost 2, I am still breastfeeding and I weigh between 116 and 123. If you have are having trouble loosing weight and have no idea of what resting metabolic rate is, ask your physician for a referral to a dietician. Resting metabolic rate is key when deciding how many calories are right for your consumption.
In this tech world there are great FREE and easy to use weight loss and nutritional monitoring apps and software out there check out this link for some suggestions.