Everyone and their mama told me that their body was never the same after having children. It makes sense. Your body stretches out to the size of a Guinness World Record sized watermelon while you carry a human being for nine months. You step on the scale at every doctor’s appointment and just shrug as you see the numbers go up, but you drive through Chick-fil-a and get that #1 with a sweet tea and a chocolate chip cookie right after anyway. Maybe that last one was just me. I knew things would be different, but I had no clue the kind of “different” they would be. I expected to not fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I expected to still see an ungodly number on the scale for a while. I had no clue that my body would actually be different- really different.
I got home from the hospital feeling like one hundred freaking bucks except for the lower half of my body being on fire. My stomach was “flat” compared to the basketball I had been carrying in my midsection for the past few months. That feeling fled as quickly as it came. I had one pair of pre-pregnancy jeans that fit me after a couple of weeks, but I’m convinced they were under the spell of some kind of sisterhood of the traveling pants, voodoo mama juju business. Not only did the majority of my pre-pregnancy jeans not fit, but my shirts and dresses barely went past my shoulders. Now THAT is what we call disheartening. I’ve always been a curvy chick, but now we’re talking curves on steroids. My hips seriously weren’t lying. I won’t get started on my thighs and backside. All my weight was distributed in a way that made me feel less than comfortable. I finally knew what everyone was talking about. It’s not about being a bit “overweight” after giving birth. It’s about getting used to a body you’ve truly never met before. I decided to do what any postpartum woman would do and complained about it, cried about it, ate a whole bag of chocolate chips, etc. But then I did something life changing. I did something so unspeakable, that you probably won’t be able to get past it when you read this next line. I went out, and I bought a new pair of jeans. You heard me. I bought a new pair of jeans in a size that I’ve never worn, and I went home and snuggled with my newborn who thinks I’m the epitome of awesome.
I’m not saying to not worry about weight loss and getting healthy. I’ve been taking every step to make sure of that, but your body just went through major trauma. Give yourself a break, Mama. You WILL fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans or that little black dress you used to wear on date night. It just might not happen today, tomorrow, or 6 months from now. So, you may as well learn to be comfortable in the skin that you’re in- the skin that stretched so you could meet the absolute love of your life. There are so many ways to get back to the body you once knew or maybe the body you’ve always wanted. Here are a few pointers that are working for me on my postpartum journey.
1. Clean Eating. No brainer, right? Stop crash dieting and fad dieting. I’ve done both in desperation. Everybody is different. Not every diet out there is going to give you results like it gave another person. I have PCOS, so I’m prone to unnecessary weight gain. My body doesn’t process carbs and sugars as it should, so I’m supposed to have a low-carb, low-sugar diet. This is what I follow, and I try not to complicate it. Get to cooking! It will save you money, but it also guarantees that you know what’s going in your body. If you’re not exactly Betty Crocker, use your crock pot. It’s your best friend. If you’re a snacker like me, make sure you have plenty of low carb snacks on hand like cut veggies, pickles, boiled eggs, cheese sticks, almonds or make homemade kale chips or cheese crackers. Clean eating can get stale after a while, so use Pinterest to help find new recipes to mix things up. Meal prepping is also a wonderful idea if you have a couple hours to yourself, so you can grab and not think twice about it.
2. Work out. Easier said than done with a baby, am I right? I promise, it doesn’t have to be hard. You can do so many home work outs that are completely effective. Get on the Popsugar Fitness Youtube channel and choose from tons of work outs that will get you sweating while baby naps. If you’re like me and have zero motivation to work out at home, and you have to endure a golden retriever licking you in the face while you’re trying to do pushups, then join a fitness community. FIT4MOM Charleston has been a game changer for me! They have classes 6 days a week, and I get to take my 2-month-old son with me. You’re guaranteed an intense work out, and you’re motivated by other moms. Otherwise, just do something active every day. Every time I put my son down for tummy time, I have my own “tummy time” in the form of crunches and planks right beside him on the floor. The little things add up. Don’t forget to consult your doctor on when you can start working out again.
3. Stay hydrated. I HATE drinking water, but I’ve learned that it’s the best thing for my body. It flushes out toxins, aids in fat loss, keeps me hydrated and full, and does wonders for my skin. Try to drink at least half of your body weight a day. Reward yourself with a glass of wine later.
4. Don’t stress. When we stress, we release cortisol which can slow weight loss. Google the science behind it. I truly believe taking time for yourself to reflect, relax, and just breathe is so essential for not only weight loss but for daily happiness. We work hard with our little ones. Not to mention that we’re taking care of a home, working a full-time job, running errands, pulling our hair out trying to get the baby to nap after two days of no sleep. Sometimes we don’t consume enough calories during the day due to being so busy or the stress of everything going on causes us to binge eat the wrong foods. Go take a bubble bath, get your nails done, take a long walk along the glorious aisles of Target, or whatever might make you feel like a human for a little while. Treat yo’ self! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t adequately take care of others.
5. Set realistic goals and be patient. If you were a size ten before pregnancy, don’t expect to become a size two after 4 weeks of exercising and eating a vegetable or two. Set goals to motivate you but give yourself plenty of time to achieve them. It took nine months for you to gain the baby weight. It might take you nine months to a year to get it off. That’s okay! Don’t compare yourself to the girl who lost all the weight within a couple months or the celebrity who had her six pack abs back faster than you could do a burpee. That’s her story, not yours.
Ultimately, just realize how amazing you are. It’s taken me over two months now to understand that. I have the greatest job in the world. I’m Jack’s mom, and I’m bettering myself every day for that chunky little nugget. I’ve never known what it felt like to have my heart beating outside of my chest until meeting him, and if that’s not the best motivation there is, I don’t know what could be! Thank you to my support system that never fails to tell me that I’m beautiful, worthy, and strong. If you don’t have people like that in your life, let me know. I’ll be glad to tell you what a rock star you are whenever you need it.