How I lost the baby weight
At 9 months postpartum with both my kids I visually had my pre-baby body back, minus a few minor lower abdominal stretch marks. (Stretch marks are genetic, amount of skin elastin, belly size, etc. That's not something you have control over. Core strength, on the other hand, is something you do!)
This is a question I get asked a lot, so I’d love to tell you how I did it. (The nutrition side at least, you hear me talk about exercise enough!)
I gained 26lbs with the first and 40lbs with the second. The selfie is 9months after the second. He just turned 10months a few weeks ago. When I got home from the hospital my belly was huge! I felt 7 months pregnant. It was so much bigger than after my first. I did my exercises and ate healthily and my body came back. I didn't have to try too hard. Well, sometimes I had to make myself exercise, but I always felt better after, so that was worth it. The diet part, I just focused on the things below. Nothing is off limits, moderation on everything and focus on the healthy. The plus side is that I never felt like I was on a diet.
PS. I AM NOT HOLDING IN MY BELLY BUTTON FOR THE PICTURE. That's bad and you can find out why here. Belly Button Intervention
Losing weight is hard. The best plan is to never gain it in the first place but that’s really hard when you’re pregnant. I love the book Bringing Up Bebe where she talks about how French women do not gain much weight when they’re pregnant because they want their bodies back. I get that. It took me 9 months to lose the 40lbs I gained. Enough about that, you’re probably already postpartum and looking to lose weight so let’s get to the good stuff. Normally, I don’t talk about nutrition, only exercise, but I do have a 500hr holistic nutrition certification that took me a year of study to get and a love of good food. The later part obviously makes me more qualified to talk nutrition. That being said, I consider myself a true expert on exercise, I do not consider myself an expert on nutrition. Full disclosure. With nutrition, I fall somewhere in-between true expert and person who doesn’t know the difference between fat vs water soluble vitamins. Alas, everyone loves a good success story (I see it all the time in the exercise world), so here is how I lost the weight. Plain and simple.
- Don’t deprive yourself, eat the real food version
- Example: Good chocolate vs bad. I eat great quality chocolate every day. It’s yummy. I never feel the need to eat an entire bar, because I know I can eat more tomorrow. I also never want to “raid the Easter basket.”
- Use language like I won’t instead of I can’t.
- “I won’t put that crap in my body. It’s my choice and I value my health and energy levels.” Instead of, “I can’t eat that because I’m on a diet.” Feel the difference?
- Fuel yourself for success. Don’t think less, think in terms of more. How many good nutrients can you put in your body each day?
- Increase your veggie intake
- Make sure you get enough protein. Protein fuels our muscles and balances our blood sugar.
- Make sure you get enough good fat. Good fat goes a long way for weight loss.
- Fiber, etc.
- Make sure you’re not eating for a reason other than hunger.
- Negative self-talk
- Be in it for the long haul (lifestyle change) and don’t obsess over it too much.
Losing weight can be hard and frustrating!! To keep it off forever it also helps to lose it slowly over an extended period of time, which can also be mentally depressing and frustrating. Most of the Biggest Loser participants gain back 100% of the weight they lost during the show. Short-term crazy crash diets do not work in the long-term and I don’t know anyone that doesn’t want long term results. I’m assuming you do as well?
It’s been my experience that people want to see what someone else has done, this is inspiring because it gives you the competitive edge of “if they can do it, so can I”.
That’s absolutely true. You can do this!! You can accomplish any goal you set your mind to. Your why just needs to be strong enough.
Why do you want to lose weight?
It’s great to want to look better and feel better. It’s great to want to be sexy. Those are good things. Where it turns bad is not loving yourself through the process.
It’s really hard, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, to reach goals while putting yourself down.
Right now, I want you to find something to love about your body, then let the rest go. Obsessing about what you don’t love will rear it’s ugly head later in the form of self-sabotage! You have to feel you are worthy of reaching your goal. If you put yourself down, you will most likely fail and not reach your goals.
I’m not saying that to be a Debbie Downer, I’m saying that because I want to see you succeed. So, I need you to dig deep, go to the root of what you don’t like and be honest with yourself. Why don’t you like it? Then I want you to decide that it’s ok. You can love yourself and work on getting better at the same time. Actually, you NEED TO love yourself to be able to get better. It’s a prerequisite. Sure, being negative and putting yourself down and focusing on what you hate about yourself can work for a few weeks, but that ugly self-saboteur will rear it’s head at some point and whisper in your ear, “Just eat that, you can diet again on Monday.” Only someone who loves themselves can put that voice to bed forever.
How freeing would your life be if you didn’t self-sabotage? If you could just work toward your goals with purpose and clear intention.
How would your life be different if there were no need for Monday diets?
Step 1: Love Yourself
For some this can be a life long battle, I recommend going to some counseling. For others, it can be as simple as a mental shift. They just decide each and every day when they wake up that they are going to love and support themselves and pour into making their bodies better.
Did you ever wonder how a guy can say, “I need to lose some weight” and then weeks later the weight is gone? I think this concept has baffled women for a long time. I often hear women say, “he didn’t eat anything different, just ate less of it.” Which is accompanied with an eye roll and a, “that never works for me.”
It takes 3,500 calories to burn 1lb. I know right! This is why a lot of women go on crash diets. They cut out x, y and z food groups and eat 800 calories a day or something crazy. Sure it works short term but most people can’t sustain that and gain it all right back anyway. Our bodies don’t want to starve, so if you cut out too many calories, it will get really good at slowing down your metabolism to conserve those calories. It doesn’t register the extra fat stores you want to get rid of. That’s why thinking long term is so important. Or as my mother used to say growing up, “Patience is a Virtue!” Oh, how I still hate that saying. Patience should be a 4 letter world.
Since it takes A LOT of calories to gain or lose 1 lb of fat, a day or even a meal of “I’ll just diet Monday,” can really kill your progress. Psychology shows us that if we tell ourselves something is off limits, it makes us want it more. That is devastating in the long run. Let’s say you do a great job all week. You cut out 500 calories a day equaling a deficit of 3,500. Awesome!! That’s 1lb of fat loss. But, then your self-saboteur voice sneaks in your head and says, “you’ve been so deprived all week, you can eat x, y, z. You can have more even though you’re a little full. You can ________.” So, you consume an extra 1,000 calories one day. It’s not hard. There are some Starbucks coffees that have an extra 500 calories in 1 cup. But, let’s assume for a second that you drink the whole coffee and had the second half of the bagel with cream cheese that morning because you just wanted to feel really full. This dieting business is so hard!!
You’re still at a deficit but now it’s only 2,500. Which means, YOU DIETED ALL WEEK AND DIDN’T EVEN LOSE 1LB. I’m not saying this to make you depressed or make you hate me. (Please don’t hate me.) I’m telling you this to help you reach your goals. Keep reading. I’m going to share all my tips.
** It’s not as cut and dry as calories in calories out. Some calories are harder for our body to break down than others, but you get the gist.
**I'm also not saying, "Don't give yourself any special treats, like a Starbuck's coffee." I'm saying moderation.
Step 2: Calories do count but I don’t want you to count them all the time.
You need to be aware. Ignorance is not bliss. You need to know how many calories are in that coffee drink. Once you’re past the awareness stage, counting calories can make you eat more. What?! I’ve seen it happen so many time. People will keep track of their calories to an obsessive degree counting every mouthful. This issue comes to play when you look at your calories and think, I’ve only eaten 700 calories today, I can really go all out for dinner to make up the rest. Sabotage. At some point, you’ve got to let go of the counting and start listening to your body. You need to see if your body is full or if it actually wants to eat what’s in front of you. It may be that if you didn’t focus on the calories, you would have only eaten half of the meal in front of you instead of all of it. A few more days, weeks, months of listening to your body instead of regimenting it with strict calorie control, will lead to meeting your goals without feeling so deprived.
***This only works if you have healthy habits in place, to begin with. i.e. Lots of veggies and all that jazz.
Step 3: You have to eat real food.
I love big macs. Love them! But, I haven’t had a big mac in over a decade. I would probably hate the McDonald’s version if I tried it again. I buy good meat, grill it and make a big mac sauce from scratch. Ok, I lie. My husband makes the burger and the sauce for me and it’s delicious. I usually eat it with a big pile of purple coleslaw and often times a half a burger is all I want. Bonus- I get to eat the other half tomorrow. Yum!
Our body doesn’t know what to do with fake food and chemicals. Seriously, ditch the processed food, it’s not helping you.
Step 4: Fill your nutrient tank. (Probably my best tip!)
Every morning when you wake up, I want you to picture your nutrient level at zero. Your body will eat until that level is full. You need vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, etc. If you don’t get these, you will be in a deficit. Your body will try and fill that deficit. It doesn’t want to be sick, have no energy and feel bad all the time.
As a bare minimum, I want you to get at least 4-5 servings of veggies, 2-3 servings of fruit, lean protein and some good fat each day. I also want you to think in terms of color and nutrient density. Our bodies need the colors of the rainbow. We need the cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals that are in a variety of foods.
The catch? It’s really hard to want to feed your body great food if you don’t love it. You have to think you are worthy. You have to love yourself enough to make the effort because it takes effort to prepare healthy meals.
You are worth it.
Step 5: You’re not eating enough to lose weight.
When I think about my nutrient deficit and all I need to eat per day to fill it. Man, that’s a lot of food. I love doing a veggie stir fry over grain for lunch. Sometimes I’ll add meat if I’m not being lazy, other times just some black or garbanzo beans. Leftovers are also awesome!
Then we always have a small salad before dinner. It has lettuce, spinach, carrots, nuts, avocado, and seeds. I often make my own salad dressing. Then something healthy for dinner, like a big pot of curry.
Breakfast for me is often a smoothie of some kind or fruit with some nuts or sausage. If I’m too lazy to make a smoothie, I eat 2 fruits and a lara bar or we do oatmeal. Sometimes I’ll rotate in half an Ezekiel english muffin with almond butter and honey.
I’m always so amazed at how much easier it is to lose weight when I eat real food and focus on eating for cancer prevention. Let me say that again, focus on eating for cancer prevention. It’s a good thing to keep in mind. You can still eat crap and cut calories. (Have you seen the weight watchers freezer section?). This isn’t doing your body any favors. You deserve the best. You deserve to be healthy later in life.
Step 6: Apple Test
If you’re really hungry, you will want an apple. There are plenty of times I’ve sat on the couch with my hubby and eaten an apple while watching TV in the evening. I didn’t eat enough for dinner and I was still hungry. I do not snack in front of the TV. Mindless eating is not healthy, but you probably know that.
So, do the apple test. Or better yet, the broccoli test. Keep some steamed broccoli on hand. If you’re really hungry, you’ll want to eat broccoli. This gives you a good barometer for whether or not you’re eating emotionally, bored or some other reason that’s not related to actual hunger. Our bodies deserve to be fueled with amazing food. They deserve to be respected. They are not there to take the brunt of our emotional crap.
I’m a recovering emotional eater. So, I get it. Sending you a virtual hug along with my bluntness. But, seriously, it’s not foods fault. If you find yourself obsessing, taking calorie counting too far, being negative about yourself, that’s a signal that you might be looking for an outlet for control. I’m not going to dive into the emotional stuff here but I’ve been there. And when the stress was lifted and I gained control over a part of my life that was not related to weight loss or food in any way, the weight just fell off and I had the body I wanted. It was like a happiness switch was flipped. I went from obsessing over what I was eating to simply just being healthy and not really thinking about it too much. The switch had to do with an area of my life that needed change.
This can be different for everyone, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s work, maybe it’s needing to follow your dreams, maybe it’s ________.
Maybe you already have some self-sabotage thoughts rumbling around in your head. "Well, I gained more baby weight." "I don't have time to cook healthy meals." or "Life is really hard and I deserve treats." Yes, you do deserve them, and having two small children is the hardest thing I've ever done but if I eat healthy, I have way more energy to get things done and life doesn't seem quite as hard, which helps me make the effort to eat healthy. Talk about your cycles.
All I know is, it’s not foods fault. Food is not the enemy! Food is wonderful and fuels our body to do great things. So, dig deeper if you need to, talk to someone, but most importantly from this moment on, make the decision to take care of yourself first. You are worth it!
Takeaway: Love yourself and focus on fueling your body for success!
Want to know more about my exercise program to develop those awesome ab muscles? It's pretty great! Check out MomFit Here.