getting back into shape postpartum: how I'm doing it

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Above: 18-19 weeks PP

when I was in Florida in January, I hit my pre-baby weight, the weight I was when I got weighed at my first official sonogram appointment. I weighed 144 pounds! 

in mid January (about a month ago) I was being extra healthy and doing high-intensity, hour-long workouts almost everyday, in preparation for my little sister's wedding. I wanted to look my best, but most importantly, feel my best. about 3-4 weeks of that helped me shed the extra 5 pounds that I had leftover from my pregnancy. 

HOWEVER, starting with the wedding itself, I've been a little off my healthy game. I've had some nervous energy surrounding my childcare situation (what to do?!) and I am SUCH an emotional/nervous energy snacker/eater. if I'm stressed, I eat. if I'm nervous, I eat. if I'm scared, I eat. SO, I put back on a few pounds (I haven't weighed myself, but I can feel it) since hitting that goal weight, so I figured, "what a better time to share about my post-partum shape up journey than now?" I figured it would reinvigorate my goals and hold me accountable (which is how I lost 30 pounds in the first place and committed to a healthy lifestyle!)

and while seeing that number on the scale was gratifying, it was also skewed. I'm not as fit and conditioned as I was when I find out I was pregnant. so, 144 completely toned is a lot different than 144 semi-toned. thus, while it felt good to reach the goal on the scale, my next goal is to firm back up again! 

ALSO, your body is completely different after you have a baby. your fat cells are stored in different places on your body, your body requires more calories if you're breastfeeding, and you aren't in the same shape as you once were pre-baby. oh, and there's the whole pelvic floor rehab thing (I seriously pee my pants during Orange Theory Fitness classes, it's mortifying, but there's nothing I can do - and I wear thick pads!) 

so, while I hit that goal number on the scale, I told myself the whole time that the number wouldn't be that important - it would just be one stage of my postpartum fit journey. kind of like the first big "milestone." 

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Left: 7-8 weeks PP, Right: 20 weeks PP

how I reached my goal weight post partum

but before I get into my goals moving forward, let's talk about how I finally reached my goal weight and what I did to get there. and let me tell you - during my pregnancy, I was EXCITED for the postpartum shape-up challenge. I was looking forward to "starting from scratch" and working to get back into shape. there's something about a fresh start! 

what I quickly realized is this: if you stay in shape during your pregnancy, getting back into shape postpartum won't be a struggle, really at all.

honestly, the weight peeled off in the beginning from breastfeeding and within 6-7 weeks postpartum, I was fitting into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. they were a bit snug, especially around my hips and thighs (where a lot of breastfeeding mamas store fat), but I fit. I was eating an extra 300-500 calories a day and still managing to lose weight. so, I have breastfeeding to thank for that initial weight loss! I probably went from weighing 175-178 when I gave birth to about 155.

however, your uterus is still super swollen and you retain a LOT of fluids, so you still look pregnant for the first few weeks. there's nothing you can do about that and during this time, I was kind to myself and was liberal with my diet. I wanted to eat healthy to feel my best (because what's worse than having a food hangover when you're also working on 2 hours of sleep?! NOTHING), but I definitely let myself eat something sweet if I was craving it or have an extra serving or slice. I really, really listened to my body and what it wanted and gave it.

here are some photos taken 3-5 days after giving birth:

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then, I hit a bit of a plateau and that's because I wasn't eating as healthfully as I could be (I was using the, "I just had a baby!" excuse). I was splitting a bag of chips here and there with Lu at night, ordering fries instead of salad with my meals when we went out, and indulging in desserts. 

eating better

basically, I started watching my diet more - it's a very basic equation: eat well and you'll lose weight/maintain a healthy weight. I wanted to make sure that I was still eating enough to support breastfeeding, so I started cutting out the crap (ie the chocolate bar at night) and replaced those calories with an extra serving of lentils with a meal, a large serving of nuts and raisins, almond butter with banana, or a nutrient dense smoothie or lactation bar. I started eating smarter, eating foods that would nourish me, give me energy, make my skin glow, and get better absorbed and not just sit on my hips (like a chocolate bar will.) 

most importantly, I listened to my body's hunger cues. if I was hungry, that's when I'd eat. I wouldn't just "eat to eat." this led to eating 3 large meals a day and 2-3 snacks per day. 

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as I felt better, I slowly started working in workouts (around 7-8 weeks postpartum) whenever I could/had the energy. if my mother was visiting, I'd have her watch the baby when he napped so I could go to the gym. OR, on the weekends, I took advantage of Lu being home and worked out. I rarely had the energy in the evenings, and I usually was cooking dinner, feeding the baby, and was exhausted from a sleepless night.

basically, I made sure to get in 2-3 workouts a week. after about a month of eating better and exercising a couple days a week, I was around 150 pounds, so I had lost an additional 5 pounds.

since I know I'll get asked the question, here's what a sample day of eating looked like:

  • breakfast: oatmeal with almond butter, banana, blueberries and a side of scrambled eggs OR a high-protein smoothie with granola
  • post-workout snack: usually a lactation bar OR a Square Organics protein bar.
  • lunch: a tuna salad sandwich with avocado and greens OR a bowl of roasted veggies with avocado, lentils and tahini
  • afternoon snack: nuts and raisins (about 1/2 cup nuts with a small handful of raisins)
  • pre-dinner snack: a smoothie, some almond flour crackers with vegan cream cheese, or a banana with almond butter
  • dinner: fresh fish with brown rice and veggies OR some chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and greens
  • dessert: a piece of dark chocolate

exercising

THEN, my sister's wedding was coming up and I knew I wanted to look and feel my best, so that's when I kicked it into high gear with the exercise to help me tone up and help turn the remaining fat into muscle and slim down. I went from doing 30 minute workouts 2-3 days a week to doing 20 minute high-intensity workouts (using the Nike Training Club App) with 20-30 minute runs OR hour-long sessions at Orange Theory Fitness 5-6 days a week. I noticed my stomach tightening back up, my legs slimming because of the running, and my arms strengthening. 

by the time my sister's wedding hit, I hopped on the scale, because I felt really good and had a feeling I was back to my "old self" and sure enough, the scale didn't lie: I was back to 144 pounds, I had lost the last 5-6 pounds, and I definitely looked more toned and felt wonderful! 

moving forward

like I said, the past week has been an "off week" for me, I haven't been eating as cleanly or portion-controlled as I could be. but, alas, life happens - and the decision of what to do with Luca in terms of childcare has been stressing me out and I've been compensating with mindless eating habits.

moving forward, my goals are to continue toning up and eating well. more than ever, I want to be in the best shape of my life so that I can have the most every possible for Luca! 

in terms of exercise:

  • fit in at least 3 spin workouts a week (I have a Peloton bike!) 
  • fit in at least 2 strength training workouts (I have dumbbells at home and will do bodyweight exercises)

in terms of diet:

  • cut out the late-night snacking
  • cut out sugar/keep it to a small piece of dark chocolate
  • eat vegan for 2/3 meals/day (I find that when I consume animal protein, I tend to eat more during the day, because it's less fiber-filled than a vegan/vegetarian diet)

and that's it!

let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to share my journey with all of you!