While I was pregnant and still working, my belly growing larger and rounder by the minute, it seemed that my middle-aged colleagues couldn’t resist telling me about how their pregnancies had ruined their bodies. I’d hear comments like I used to be a size 6 before my kids were born (big sigh) and It never quite goes back to the way it was, you know on a fairly regular basis. I didn’t know what these comments were supposed to do for me, so I brushed them off, telling myself Well, that was just so-and-so’s experience. Mine will be different.
During one of my later pregnancy visits with my OB, my 5’2’’ body tipped the scale to 186 lbs- meaning I’d put on almost 70 lbs in the last 37 weeks (11 of them were spent in bed, feet and hips elevated). But I was in no way alarmed by this. Neither of my doctors ever mentioned concerns about the weight I was packing on, so I assumed my weight gain was normal and necessary (and it was) to ensure that I would deliver good-sized, healthy babies. I had read that the body stores away fat during pregnancy to help with milk production once the babies are born, and that breastfeeding (which I had planned to do exclusively) would help my body shed all of those unwanted pounds after delivery.
At the last non-stress test before my scheduled c-section, I asked one of the labor and delivery nurses what I should pack in my hospital bag as far as clothing for myself- maternity clothes or maybe just the clothes that I wore early in my second trimester, the ones about 2 sizes up from my pre-pregnancy size? The nurse said I should expect to still look about six month pregnant after delivery. Six months?! Are you kidding me?! She could see the horrified look on my face and added, “Don’t worry, honey. No one goes home in their skinny jeans.” And she was absolutely right. I walked out of the hospital wearing the same maternity clothes I had worn coming in.
Months after my twins were born, I continued to hear comments like I used to be a size 6 before my kids were born, but I also heard words that felt more encouraging, such as Nine months on, nine months off and Give yourself at least a year. I desperately wanted my body to look and feel the way it had before the pregnancy, but I had no time to take care of myself the way I used to. When I was hungry, I ate whatever was fast and easy, regardless of the nutritional value. And most days, it was hard to find time just to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. So, finding 90 minutes to get myself to the gym and back was just not possible. And then there was the breast feeding (which, unfortunately, did not take off all the weight the way I had dreamed). I ended up breastfeeding my twins until they were 13 ½ months old, though not exclusively as I had planned. While I loved that I was able to do this for my little ones, I always had a really hard time producing enough milk for both of them. The lactation consultant told me not to even think about dieting until I was done with nursing, and so I didn’t. And each time I looked down at my big, fat postpartum belly, I told myself, This is just for now, not forever.
And then the day finally came. It was April 21st of this year. My babies were weaned, and independent enough for me to spend a little more time caring for myself. I checked out the South Beach Diet book from my local library and signed myself up for a gym membership and some 30-minute sessions with a personal trainer. It was time to get my postpartum butt back into shape. I stepped on the scale for the moment of truth. Yes, I had lost a good amount of weight, but I still had 36 lbs. to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I had never, ever needed to lose this much weight and was very naive about what this process would be like. I remember thinking, This is a no brainer. You just eat right and exercise and off comes the weight. I foolishly thought I could drop all that weight in time for our early July vacation. And maybe, for some of you, losing your pregnancy weight was no big thing. But instead, what I found was that losing weight was much, much harder than I’d imagined. Finding time to prepare healthy meals and snacks is easier than it once was, but can still be a challenge. And making time to actually eat the meals and snacks is still hard as well. Going to the gym after putting the kids to bed is not necessarily what I would prefer to do with my free time, but it does feel satisfying to work up a good sweat and know that I’m doing what needs to be done to take care of me.
So how’s it going? We’ll 3 ½ months later, I’m down 20 lbs. with 16 lbs. to go. I’m still not back into any of my pre-pregnancy clothes, but I can finally fit into the ones I wore in my second trimester (those ones that are about 2 sizes larger). I know that it will still be months before I can dig my old wardrobe out of the attic, and there are some parts of my body that may never look the same again, but if Melissa Joan Hart can diet and exercise her way back to a slimmer body, so can I.
So, who has words of encouragement for those who are still working to lose the baby weight. Any good tips or stories what will inspire? What healthy snacks fill you up and curb your cravings? Please, do tell!