Weight loss and the postpartum mom

by Kim on September 10, 2014

Well, the newborn/family photo shoot went…ok.

(SO so nice that the photographer came to our house! <—If you’re in the area, I highly recommend Anya. She was wonderful!)

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I’ve found that this kind of thing is roughly 1,000 times harder with a toddler involved. (Major shocker there, I know.)

Mason was kind of a bear during his sibling shots (when we tried to put his arm around Josh with both of them lying on the floor, he screamed “STUUUUCKK!” and wriggled out instantly—sighhh), but of course, later, he was all…

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And…

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And…

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Story of my life.

As for the man of the hour, Josh did great—sleeping perfectly soundly and cutely—until the very end. Poor Anya spent a solid 45 minutes trying to position/calm him in one last pose (not even a weird one! he was comfortably swaddled!), but he just wasn’t interested, and we ended up having to scrap it.

Such a bummer—he had on the cutest hat, but we’ll never see it again.

In other news, I did my first postpartum workout last night! I think I mentioned wanting to kick things off last week, since I was feeling so good already, but I decided I should wait until at least the 2 week mark my doctor recommended.

I didn’t go into the workout with a plan of any kind, but it ended up looking something like this:

–5 minutes walking on the treadmill (4.0, 0 incline)

30 squats

30 second plank

–5 minutes walking on the treadmill (3.8, 1.0 incline)

30 elevated push-ups (I did them against the washing machine, haha)

30 second plank

–5 minutes walking on the treadmill (3.8, 1.0 incline)

30 plie squat to overhead press (with 5 lb. weights)

30 second plank on stability ball

–5 minutes walking on the treadmill (4.0, 0 incline)

I felt a little bit sore, ya know, down below, but it mostly felt great. (Don’t worry, I’m being safe and mindful of my postpartum body. TMI alert: my bleeding has already almost completely stopped, but I told myself that if it picked up again after this workout, I’d hold off a little longer.) The walking was particularly luxurious, since I had such pelvic pain with pregnancy that any kind of walking was usually uncomfortable.

And WOW—so nice to not have to work around a big belly! I held my planks extra low and ended each one with a full to-the-floor push-up, just because I finally COULD!

Now that I’m a couple weeks post-birth, the other thing I’m inevitably thinking of/getting excited about is: weight loss. I still have 20 pounds to lose, and while I’m not super concerned about how long it will take to come off, I was at least hoping for slow, steady progress…

However: after that initial post-birth weight plummet, the scale hasn’t really budged in the last week.

There are a couple things I know I need to be doing to promote healthy weight loss during this sensitive early postpartum period:

–EAT MORE

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been struggling with low appetite, which is no good for breastfeeding or weight loss. When you don’t get enough calories, your body down-regulates your metabolism and hangs onto every little bit of fat it can for survival purposes. With breastfeeding, this happens even more, since the body’s #1 priority is making food for baby, at any cost to mom.

You’ve probably heard that breastfeeding burns 500 extra calories a day. So it’s tempting to think “oh, I’ll just not eat those extra cals and lose weight even faster!” Yes, the body will have to tap into fat reserves a little more to support milk production, at first—but it will also store every calorie you put into your mouth and, eventually, stop making milk altogether. No good.

20140909_185817Does that say what I THINK it says?!?!

–DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

Does anyone else get sick of hearing this advice every 5 seconds? I totally do. But it really is THAT important, so I guess we’re stuck with it.

It’s a myth that drinking more water increases your milk supply, and you would have to be severely dehydrated before it would negatively impact your supply. (Actually, this article says that drinking too much water—in excess of “drinking to thirst”—could eventually negatively impact your supply too.)

Hydration is important in the postpartum period for the same reasons it’s always important—things like supporting energy levels, biological processes, and yes, weight management. It’s just that new moms are notorious for neglecting their own needs, and it’s easy to forget to drink even the amount of water you normally would.

20140908_135902Forget water…Look at me! Look at me!

I actually just downloaded an app on my phone called Water Your Body to remind me to keep up with my H20 intake. It notifies me every hour and a half to drink 9 ounces of water (per the settings I put in), and keeps a running total of how much I’ve drank toward the average amount my body needs based on my current weight.

–SLEEP AND STRESS: Do your best

Fact: great sleep promotes weight loss. Fact #2: when you have a newborn, your sleep sucks.

At best, it’s regularly interrupted, so your body doesn’t get as much time in deep sleep as it’s used to. At worst, it’s totally shattered, and your body’s in a total panic. Either scenario is horrible for weight loss, and there’s really nothing we new moms can do about it.

The other side of the coin, which we have only a tiny bit more control over, is our stress level. Just like with undereating, being dehydrated, and not getting enough sleep, being stressed out makes the body cling to fat like crazy. And, of course, the newborn period can be extremely stressful for moms, as we’re trying to figure out who this new little person is and what makes him tick.

This is where the new mom pampering comes in. Being super woman and not accepting help from others does nothing but sabotage your own health and postpartum weight loss goals.

Personally, I’m really bad at this one. I’ve had this freelance project dragging out for the last three weeks straight (one that I was hoping would be done pre-birth), and it’s been weighing on my mind every single day. I can physically feel the stress of it. And that’s just one thing—my entire To Do list is out of control right now, when really, all I should be thinking about is feeding my baby and napping.

I wish I was the kind of person who could stop and do yoga in her living room, but I’d just spend the whole time thinking about all the things I should be doing. Super un-zen.

20140909_105240 (1)Toddlers: the best teachers of true zen.

There’s one other big hitter in the postpartum weight loss equation: hormones! It’s another area where postpartum moms have limited control, since hormone levels shift dramatically post-birth whether we like it or not.

For me, while I know that unbalanced hormones can be a huge weight loss obstacle, I also know that this crazy hormonal postpartum phase is temporary. Things will eventually level out and normalize, and when they do, all that extra fat is going to go POOF! (Right??)

 

Something to read: did you hear about the Urban Outfitters’ “Eat Less” T-shirt controversy? I can’t believe that shirt made it to shelves! What are your thoughts on it?

 

Fellow moms: what was your postpartum weight loss journey like?

What do you do to stay hydrated?

Any toddler photo shoot stories??

 

xoxo

Kim

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jade September 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Totally agree with the eat more philosophy. The first time around I was so cautious and the weight held on for dear life until I went ‘crazy’ at christmas as I was starting to become a negative nelly wondering why my body was not responding to the miracle that is breast feeding weight loss, it wasn’t until I upped those calories that things started to happen. I still have a few more days of ‘cooking’ over here before seeing what life with two kids will be all about!
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Giselle September 11, 2014 at 9:25 am

I bet she got some great shots of your cute kiddos!
Great postpartum goals. I sucked at drinking water AND eating enough calories. I actually heard the other day on a podcast that the breastfeeding mom should be taking in more like 700 – 900 extra calories a day! I’m sure for each person this is different. Some women seem to produce milk at the drop of a hat and others (like myself) have a hard time producing enough for one feeding. I think you’ll be fine since you’re so conscious of listening to your body and doing what’s best :-) Ummm Urban Outfitters really!?! I hadn’t heard about that but seriously disgusting! Not that I ever really shopped there but now I NEVER will!
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Ashley Pitt @ A Lady Goes West September 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

These are great tips. I learned so much this weekend at a pre-and post-natal training, and I have a greater understanding of the body and its needs before and after childbirth. Sleeping, drinking water and eating enough are always good things to do, post-baby or not. Hope you’re feeling great!
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Laura September 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Just discovered your blog and, despite rarely commenting on blogs, wanted to let you know that I love it! I’m 33 weeks pregnant and may have snooped through just about every pregnancy-related post you have written : ) I’m quite curious how the whole post-preg weight loss thing will go for me (and loved your post on pro’s/con’s of working full time outside the home… precisely what’s on my mind in text format). Thanks for sharing!

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Kim September 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for visiting!! Glad you enjoyed the posts and congrats on your pregnancy!! Hope the weight loss goes well for both of us! :)

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Alysia @ Slim Sanity September 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Ooh I totally feel you on the nagging to do list. I can’t stop and do anything relaxing if I have anything left on my list! I’ve become better at it in terms of chores, but it still is pretty difficult.

If I don’t carry a water bottle with me or have a big cup full of water, I drink ZERO water that day. So I always make sure to have a jug full at work or a giant glass full at home.
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