How I lost the baby weight…and then some (part 2)

(If you haven’t read Part 1, hop on over to get caught up. Today I’m picking  up where I left off last week…)

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Although the doctor recommended that I gain between 25-35 pounds during my pregnancy, I gained about 45.

I’m not sure of the exact number because I stopped looking at the scale around 39 weeks (I made it to 41).

I wasn’t concerned. All along I was trusting that my body would do what it needed to do to bring a healthy child into the world. Thankfully, because of the work I’ve done in the past I felt a peace about it the entire time.

Don’t be misled, making peace with a body that is rapidly growing and changing did not come easy. I was intentional about curbing negative self-talk, saying affirmations and appreciating my body for the miracle it was creating.

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But let me tell you, no matter how good you feel about your body at 41 weeks pregnant, the postpartum body is a body like no other.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Nobody told me that I’d still look 7 months pregnant….for weeks. And I was surprised to see just how much weight I’d accumulated on my lower half once the gigantic belly disappeared. Wow. Talk about interesting proportions…

To this day, my best tip for new moms is to prep your closet with a few postpartum “outfits.” Big, flowing maxi dresses or leggings with long, flowing shirts. Dressing the postpartum body makes dressing the pregnant body seem like a breeze.

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a few days postpartum

New moms: don’t worry, the water retention melts away and things change rather quickly. Just be prepared for a confusing body shape for the first month or two. 🙂

As strange as it sounds I was actually looking forward to losing the baby weight. But more than that, I was just excited to make my body my own again.

I had an un-medicated birth and a pretty smooth recovery (you can read my birth story here).  I was able to go for short walks outside and sit without pain within a few days.

All in, it took about 9 months for me to lose the baby weight. I went slowly because I didn’t want to starve myself, I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible and I didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time working out.

In order to continue with my new path of freedom and grace when it comes to health and fitness I decided to focus primarily on my mental health, hoping that my physical health would follow suit.

Thankfully, it worked. On my baby’s 11 month birthday I had lost all of the baby weight plus an additional 15 lbs.

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How I lost the baby weight:

1. Breastfeeding

There’s no denying that breastfeeding helped in a big way. Breastfeeding has been much more challenging than I imagined. It took me a long time to find my groove and as a working mom with a baby who refused a bottle, it’s been a challenging time commitment. But I’m so, so glad I stuck with it. It’s a blessing for mama and baby and it burns an extra 300-500 calories per day. 🙂

I’m 12 months in and still breastfeeding 5x per day.

I know not every woman can breastfeed (no judgement here), but if you have the option, I encourage you to stick with it as long as you can. It may help!

2. Walking

I started walking as soon as I felt comfortable. At first it was a walk to the mailbox and back but the walks gradually got longer and faster as time went on. More than anything, I committed to walking for the mental health benefits. I was worried about getting the baby blues and did everything I could to set myself up for a healthy, enjoyable maternity leave. Getting outside every day helped to boost my mood and ease my body back into shape.

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3. Running

Another thing I did to take care of my mental health was begin running again. I had missed the post-run feeling and my time alone to think.

I truly did this for my mental health – because as you know, running has never helped me lose weight. In fact, it usually makes me gain.

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Getting back out there was REALLY hard. I mean really hard.

I had to time my nursing sessions just right, push a jogging stroller with a 25 lb car seat snapped in, layer on 2+ sports bras and get out before 9:00 AM to beat the summer heat.

It wasn’t pretty.

I essentially waddled for the first month or so. But I stuck with it and eventually got my groove back.

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It should be noted that even though I have come to a place in my life where I enjoy exercise, that doesn’t mean I always feel like working out. Not even close. More often than not I’m tempted to choose the couch over a run or a nap over Pilates class, but I’ve learned that I always feel better once I get out the door or put my running shoes on.

Even for me, the hardest part is getting started. But when I’m done it’s always worth it.

I ran a half-marathon at 5 months postpartum and my weight loss completely stalled during this time. I believe my body was holding onto my weight because it needed the reserves to continue breastfeeding.

All in all, training for a half-marathon did not help my weight loss, but it significantly helped my mood, mindset and muscle tone.

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I nursed at the starting line and nursed at the finish line. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

4. Eating whole, natural foods – very little sugar, very little alcohol.

You didn’t think I was going to tell you that the pounds melted off without paying attention to my diet did you? 🙂

As I’ve mentioned, I had to cut out dairy, gluten and soy for a big part of my year postpartum. My daughter wasn’t able to digest the proteins in dairy/soy and gluten didn’t seem to help.

Thankfully, I was already planning on using the meal plans that Drew Parisi created for The Pilates Body Program to help get my diet back on track. Drew’s recommendations fit very well with my dietary needs so I was able to follow the meal plans pretty closely.

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I did not deprive myself, I did not count calories, and I did not restrict my portion sizes. 

I just focused on filling my body with as many nutritious foods as possible, snacking regularly (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, before bed), eliminating refined carbohydrates (bread, crackers) and drinking lots of water.

Over the past year I’ve had very little alcohol (maybe 1 glass of wine every 2-3 weeks) and very few desserts (with the exception of chocolate coconut ice cream from time to time).

Again, it’s not magic, what you put into your body directly affects how the weight comes off.

I gave myself time and listened to my bodies cravings and needs.

All important elements for breastfeeding and healthy weight loss.

5. Eating healthy fats

Remember how I used to eat artificial sweeteners, low-fat foods and 100 calorie snack packs during my biggest, most unhealthy season of life? There’s a reason for that. Low fat foods and packaged foods will NOT help you lose weight.

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The right kind of fat is necessary and healthy. It’s good for your brain, good for your mood and helps you feel full and satisfied. I truly believe that’s why I never feel deprived. I eat avocado, nuts, nut butter and coconut oil on a daily basis.

Unsaturated fat is important for health, important for breastfeeding and important for weight loss.

6. Pilates

You knew this was going to be included right?

I’ve had a really hard time getting to the studio this past year (babies are a lot of work) so I am thankful that Pilates can be done from home. I squeeze it in during nap time, do 10 minutes before bed, do tricep dips in the bathroom after brushing my teeth, etc.

Since I don’t have time for long, luxurious workouts anymore I focus on squeezing in little bits of fitness and activity into my day. Walking to the mailbox, walking to Starbucks, Pilates on the floor while Blake plays, squats while I brush my teeth.

It’s tempting to fall into the trap of ‘all or nothing’ thinking, but every little bit counts. Something is always better than nothing. Living this way has been a big part of my mental and physical transformation.

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So there you have it.

Losing the baby weight takes time and attention. But it doesn’t have to be miserable. Focusing on whole, nutrient dense foods helps me to feel satisfied and nourished rather than deprived and hungry. It also doesn’t have to take hours at the gym (hallelujah).

My personal advice would be to focus first on what you’re filling your body with each day, and second on exercise that will make you FEEL your best.

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I approached the postpartum season with my focus on feeling good again – confident, healthy and positive – rather than losing weight and I think that’s why it’s been such an enjoyable season for me.

I went through months of stalls and a series of ups and downs. If I was solely focused on the scale it would have been incredibly frustrating. Instead, I was paying attention to how good it felt to get out for a walk, how much better I felt after having a green smoothie, etc.

If you’re a new mom and are in the process of finding your body again I encourage you to take your time. Your body will be different, you will have to get re-acquainted with it, but you don’t have to listen to the people who say your body is ruined.

Your body is not ruined, it’s just in transition. 

Give yourself grace. Remember you created a miracle. And make one healthy decision at a time.

Let’s talk about it, what helped you during your postpartum period?

xo,

 

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PS – You may also enjoy 10 Self-Care Tips For New Moms, How Pregnancy Changed My Relationship With Food, Exercise and My Body, and Blake’s Birth Story.

PPS – If you’re looking for an AMAZING community of women to support you as you work toward your health & fitness goals I encourage you to check out The Balanced Life Sisterhood. You get new workouts, recipes and resources each month and so much more!

Note: I completely understand that every woman is different, every body is different and every postpartum journey is different. This is just what’s worked for me this time around and I in no way intend to come across as judgmental or showy. We’re all in this together mamas. xoxo

27 Comments
  1. Colleen blackall 2 years ago

    Robin, inspiring post, thank you! I am not post partum but rather into menopause which has so many challenges for weight loss. Your healthy mindfulness and patient approach is so helpful. I am filled with negative self talk even at age 49! I really had to challenge those thoughts on my bday yesterday. Thanks so much for this post,!,

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Hi Colleen, Yes I’m sure that presents challenges of it’s own. And I agree – this mindset can be beneficial no matter what season of life you’re in. I’m glad you’re challenging your own negative thoughts — and happy birthday! What a gift to celebrate another year. 🙂

  2. Madison 2 years ago

    Love this post, Robin! As you know, we hope to have a baby sometime in the near future, God willing, and I am already nervous about how I will respond to my changing body. Having struggled with disordered eating in college and finally finding a place where I feel at peace with my body it makes me fearful that some of those bad habits will come back into play. Your balanced and patient approach is so refreshing!

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Thank you Madison! I believe it’s all about being intentional. If you know your struggles and know your tendencies you can prepare yourself so that you don’t fall back into old patterns. It takes a lot of awareness and intentionality but it’s so worth it. I include a lot of this kind of stuff in my Balanced Beginnings program. 🙂 xo

  3. Sophie 2 years ago

    You look SO AMAZING. I think being destressed really helps too? I’m almost converted to pilates here! 🙂

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      YES! Less stress is key.
      I was also going to add that sleep is extremely important both for stress and weight loss. Because of that I got my baby on a schedule and I think it really helped. 🙂

      • Sophie 2 years ago

        Stress really is such a killer!

        Robin, I was wondering how someone can get all the benefits of Pilates without having the studio equipment (like align plates)?

  4. Lori 2 years ago

    So good!! I love that you shared your journey. I get so sad when women say they don’t want to have babies because it will ruin their body! Our bodies are made to bare children (well most body types. I know several women who have physical challenges having children, but that aside), and it’s nice to hear from a public place that our bodies are not ruined after babies! Just different but entirely possible to get back to a fit and healthy place. Super encouraging Robin!!

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Agree Lori! It doesn’t have to ruin our bodies! We just have to be okay with a little bit of change. And I know a lot of women who feel they are in better shape AFTER having their children. Of course it takes work but it can be done. xo

  5. Kelly 2 years ago

    Hey Robin— this was so encouraging to me. I’m so thankful that I didn’t struggle with the weight coming off, but despite being smaller than my pre-preg size, everything is very loose and jiggly. I’ve actually had people tell me I should stop nursing because I was losing too much weight. I’m thankful for pilates and strength-training because it is easy to do at home, doesn’t require a ton of equipment, and I enjoy it WAY more than cardio.

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Hi Kelly! So glad you found it encouraging. And that you’re able to do some of this at home with your little guy! xo

  6. Nicole 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this, Robin. I keep feeling like I “just” had a baby–but then it hits me that Luke is almost 14 months old 🙂 My belly is still rockin’ a bit of the “just-had-a-baby” look, but I can slowly see some progress there too 🙂 You are so right–it’s not ruined, it’s in transition 🙂 That’s a very good way to look at it!

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Hi Nicole! We all have our own timelines. 🙂 And funny, I was just asking my client the other day how long she thought I could get away with saying “I just had a baby”…I’ve been milking that for all it’s worth! 🙂

  7. Chandelle 2 years ago

    Such an inspiration!! And a great reminder! I lost a lot of weight before getting pregnant doing these same things…but then I gained 50 pounds during pregnancy and have been struggling to lose it all….Thanks for these great reminders!!

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Hang in there Chandelle! Give yourself grace and time. One healthy decision after another. 🙂

  8. Urban Wife 2 years ago

    What a great post, Robin! Thanks for sharing your postpartum journey with us. I love the last line, “it’s not ruined, it’s in transition.” It’s incredible how powerful the mind is. I would say that mentally, it has been harder than anticipated for me postpartum. Running was (and still is) definitely my go-to thing that helps and now, incorporating Pilates and yoga back into my life. I just tell myself that yes, God gave me the ability to carry another human for 10 months so my body is going to look different now and will never look like it did before (even if I weigh less/am more tone/stronger), but it’s all worth it. 🙂

  9. runwfaith 2 years ago

    Thanks for the post Robin. It was encouraging. I am 11 weeks postpartum, and definitely need to give myself more grace in this whole transition. I definitely didn’t think about how difficult the postpartum part of this would be…It is definitely a mental battle field. Every. Day. I was like you, oddly super excited for the challenge; I have never really HAD to try to loose weight. But dang, I had no idea how hard it would really be, mentally and physically. Also similar to you, I was in pretty good shape pre-pregnancy (I used to work as a fitness/wellness professional as well)… and gained +40 lbs during pregnancy. I am finally starting to feel a little stronger. Starting with week 1 of the PilatesSummerSeries, I had to modify most everything. I went back and started doing the routines again last week and this week, and it’s super exciting that I can do more of the exercises I could not do before or I do not have to modify as many of them! I know I have a long road ahead and need to just be patient. So, anyhow, this was nice to read. Thanks.

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      Robin Long 2 years ago

      Go easy on yourself. At 11 weeks I was still walking around like a pregnant lady! I am a Pilates instructor and did Pilates through my entire pregnancy and at 11 weeks I could not do my own videos. 🙂 So give yourself time. Really. It will come off slowly and surely. Just focus on doing the things that make you feel your best and relax. It’s just a season.

      And keep up the great work on your Pilates mat! xo

  10. Mel 2 years ago

    This has been so enjoyable to read, thank you for sharing. I love that you started going for walks as soon as you could and that you did that everyday. I bet it has benefited your little one as well. If I have a third, I definitely want to try that during maternity leave.

    I also love how you ate the foods that you and baby needed, whole natural choices without counting calories or worrying about portions. And then finding exercise that you enjoyed. I’m going through that right now and this was very inspiring. We had changed our “lifestyle” (diet) to primarilly Paleo and it had been the best thing for us. Then after we returned from a tropical vacation in Nov 2013 things went a little sideways (even though we still did great on vacation, it got messed up when we returned). We hnow ave restructured our eating the last two weeks and have changed our workout routins. I was defiantly ready for a change. One of my biggest things is preparation. I have to make a meal plan and grocery shop on Sunday to have a successful week.

    Thank you Robin

  11. Cori 2 years ago

    I feel like this was written for me and me alone, Robin! I’m so thankful you are willing to share about your post-birth journey – I haven’t yet heard this kind of insight and honesty about getting healthy after having a baby, and it’s really what I needed to hear. I never ‘let myself go’ during pregnancy, but I’ve found that the temptation to be lazy and eat fatty foods is much stronger for me now that I’m a new mom. I’m also finding that breastfeeding is not melting away my extra weight like I had hoped. I think I expected to have some belly fat to lose, but like you mentioned, the lower body sure changes during pregnancy!! I’ve definitely fallen into some unhealthy self-talk as well as I take stock of my post-baby body, and I appreciate being reminded that I need to be intentional about changing those habits. Actually, you’ve reminded me how vital it is to be intentional in all things. This is just what I needed to read as I embark on a more intentional path to health in all areas…Thank you, friend!

  12. […] CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2. […]

  13. […] you’re looking for a serious dose of encouragement, read my friend Robin’s amazing story of body after baby. We need more of those amazing […]

  14. Larisa 2 years ago

    This was really inspirational and relatable. I totally agree about taking care of your mental health first and hoping everything else will follow suit. Getting outside was the best for me post partum. Before my daughter came I thought I would get right back on the walking horse as soon as I got home but It was exhausting just to walk a couple of blocks. My husband made it our goal to get out of the house once a day and it helped to get my bum off the ‘nursing couch’ and build up some sort of stamina.

    Green smoothies were also my life saver… i can’t get through the day without one! You look amazing!

    p.s. don’t you LOVE kickee pants? I think that’s what your daughter is wearing in one of the pics… I’m obsessed.

  15. Amanda 1 year ago

    That salad looks AMAZING what’s in it?!

  16. rebecca 11 months ago

    I’m 39 weeks today and while I’ve been extremely careful about diet and exercise, I’ve still gained about 40 lbs (that’s with working out 3-5x/week). I was feeling pretty bummed about the gain, but I’m so glad to see other mama’s that have lost the weight (plus some!) and aren’t preaching crazy diets or snapback in 3 day programs! Thank you!!!

  17. Mary 9 months ago

    Currently 6weeks postpartum with my 3rd child in under 3years, this post was a good read for me. Even though I lost all my pregnancy weight and was only 3lbs away from my ideal weight before all 3 of my pregnancies, it always seems like such a huge challenge right after having a baby.
    Will definitely be looking into the meal plan you posted, continuously hungry while nursing- encouraging to see you could exercise so much and still nurse.
    Thanks for reposting!

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