Are you struggling with losing baby weight? Weight loss is an INCREDIBLY sensitive topic for women. And having babies tends to complicate the already sensitive topic. I am not here to judge or condemn you – I simply want to share what has worked for me in hopes that it might help other moms, too. Take all advice with a grain of salt and do what’s right for you. That said, I think that all moms of any race, shape, size or age will find this advice to be timeless and simple. (Including those who aren’t even moms yet!)
And yes, that is my beautiful baby #4 above, whom we affectionately call “Boomba”.
First, a little bit of my own weighty story (har har)…
Despair, Daycare, and Documentaries(He DOES make beauty from ashes!)
I had four little ones all. in. a. row. My first two are 18 months apart, #3 came 17 months later, and babies #3 and 4 were 21 months apart. When I got pregnant with #4, I gave up on the idea of “staying in shape”. I thought, “Well, many moms I meet have a hard time losing baby weight. Maybe I’ll just have to accept that I’ll never lose the weight and get my figure back…”
Have you been there? Are you “there” right now?!
I want to offer hope. And I’m not afraid to, either, so confident am I that these “methods” will work for you (barring any outside factors that affect weight gain, such as a medication or health condition).
The first half of my pregnancy with Boomba (#4) was terrible. I mean truly, painfully, stinky terrible. I was lucky to have a healthy baby and to be somewhat capable of continuing on with life as normal while pregnant. But that was an incredible accomplishment for me! I had a painful umbilical hernia that ended up requiring corrective surgery while I was pregnant – 15 weeks and 6 days, to be exact. You can imagine the fear I felt preparing to have abdominal surgery while my extremely tiny baby was just inches away from the scalpel.
On top of that, I was very unhealthy. I ate terribly, mainly because I was ALWAYS. HUNGRY. Know the feeling? I could literally stuff myself full at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and by the time we got the kids in the car and returned home, I would be hungry enough to faint. I’m not joking, y’all. It was incredibly frustrating! So, I started focusing on higher fat, calorie and protein foods and skipping the fruits, veggies and such. I thought I was doing myself a favor. I gained tons of weight but felt like I was starving myself and my baby!
I felt weak and tired all day long, even after a full nights’ rest. Everyday chores felt like climbing a mountain. I couldn’t care for myself or my three other young children, let alone my husband or my house. I became extremely depressed, cried multiple times a day, despaired that I could ever feel strong again.
It came to a point where we decided we must put our oldest two (then 4 and 2) into daycare to get me some help. I would still have my littlest girl (then 1), but at least it would be less responsibility. Even with the extra help, I was fed up beyond words. I prayed desperately to the Lord to show me what was going on with my body so that I could get better.
And He DID! Through a truly inspirational movie called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead“. (That’s how I felt – though it may seem an exaggeration). In the documentary, Joe Cross is a real, average guy suffering from obesity and a wide variety of illnesses. Joe decides it’s time to see if his body really has the power to heal itself, while committing to a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. He travels across America, eating nothing but whole, juiced raw fruits and veggies. By the end of the film he had lost the weight, weaned off of all his medications, and is now a much healthier, active, vibrant man!
As soon as the movie ended, I knew what I had to do. I was going to change my diet drastically and I knew, deep down, that it was exactly what the Doctor ordered. Look out world, Stacey’s on her way back.
That very day I made a goal of eating 10 servings of fruits and veggies. Right away, I felt nothing short of amazing. And completely amazed that the answer to all my health and energy issues had been so simple all along! I made super smoothies and would stay full and satisfied for hours – a complete 180 from where I had been up to this point (remember, stuffing myself like a Thanksgiving turkey and still feeling hungry?!)
Day by day I ate my fruits and veggies, and I regained my life. Literally. I was once again able to manage, so much so that we actually took the older kids back out of daycare! I felt a deep, moving gratitude to the Lord for meeting me in my hour of need.
So, what does this have to do with losing baby weight?! Everything!
Because I kept my new eating habits after I gave birth to Boomba, too. And lo and behold, my baby weight seemed to literally melt off day by day. This was not what I had experienced with my other three! I was eating gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol free (and minimized refined sugars) and felt great.
And you can, too. It’s really, really simple, because all of these tips are common sense that we just need to be reminded of.
1. Focus on the fruits and veggies. They are nothing short of nature’s medicine. They provide raw energy and every vitamin that your body desperately needs – and you never have to feel guilty about eating a huge bowl of steamed carrots (yes, even with butter 🙂 I highly recommend watching the documentary, as well as reading Daniel 1:12-16. These two resources might provide you the motivation you’ve been looking for.
2. Find an enjoyable way to exercise. For me, this means power walking on a treadmill for 20-30 minutes, three times a week. Yes, I really do enjoy it! When you enjoy your exercise, you’ll do it more often, and your energy, figure, focus, and mood will all benefit greatly.
3. Know when your body is burning fat, and work with it! Did you know that your body burns fat when you are hungry? That’s right, your metabolism is at its highest spike during the day when your tummy is begging you for food. So, how do we use this to our advantage? Don’t eat when you’re not physically hungry – whatever you eat won’t get burned, and will wind up on your thighs. Eat when you’re hungry – but balance this with not waiting too long to eat. If you starve yourself, you’ll either 1) overeat, or 2) slow your body’s metabolism because you’ve made it think that there is not enough food available. Eat when you’re hungry. Period.
4. Everything in moderation. We don’t have to give up our favorite coffee dessert drink or candy bar or whatever it is that you love too much to imagine letting go of. But we do have to exercise caution and self-control. Reward yourself and have that cookie – just not the whole jar.
5. Know your body. What foods is your body telling you that it doesn’t like? (You know, that headache you get every time you drink a Diet Coke? Or a tummy ache and gas from that glass of milk?) What amount of sleep do you need each night? How long can you wait in the morning without eating breakfast before you get dizzy and weak, or suffer later in the day for not eating enough to keep up your energy? Am I feeling hungry because I am actually needing to eat (needing calories) or do I just need to boost my blood sugar (through, say, watered down orange juice or a handful of berries?) Our bodies were made to be incredibly smart at communicating with us. Give yours a listen.
Don’t give up the fight. Give it time and give yourself grace, but let us always push ourselves to be the best “us” we can be in every way (certainly not just in form!)