For New Mom EJ, It’s Time To Drop The Baby WeightBy Ejiro Ogenyi
Published: July 14, 2015
I started thinking about dropping the baby weight even before I had the baby. When I got back from Nigeria after a trip to hold my traditional wedding, I found that I had gained 8 lbs in three weeks and I wasn’t even 6 months pregnant yet.
This was the reality check that I needed to start building the habits that would help me lose the weight and keep it off after the baby arrived. I didn’t start making changes immediately though, and I still had my moments of indulging in Oreo cheesecake dinners.
The first steps to shedding the weight was to start building the habits that would help me do it while I was still pregnant. To do this, my third trimester was all about getting used to tracking my meals and exercise and actually eating healthy and exercising.
Tracking helped me build awareness about how I was eating and exercising and how that made me feel. This helped me feel the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle. While doing this, I was also talking to mothers as part of my research for my book on shedding post-baby weight.
The women I spoke to were amazing in their determination to raise healthy babies and in their openness in sharing their very real challenges with me. Listening to their stories helped me understand that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.
When it was my turn, my first course of action was to take my measurements before I started consciously making changes. This allowed me to determine my starting point so that I could make objective comparisons along the way rather than arbitrarily thinking that I had or hadn’t lost weight at the pace that I wanted.
I started my journey at 175 lbs, and it took about two weeks post delivery to shed the water weight that comes with carrying a baby. All in all, the first 21 lbs (9.5 kg) I lost were a combination of the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, retained water, and some initial weight. Then I lost an additional 9 lbs (4 kg) by following a plan that I detailed here. Here are what I believe to be the six main reasons for my success thus far:
I threw out my unrealistic plan
My initial plan involved counting calories and mild physical activity before my six-week clearance appointment. I ended up never counting a calorie and I didn’t have the motivation to workout till I had permission from the doctor. Instead, I chose to focus on eating healthy in the early weeks while I was getting used to being a mom. Best. Decision. Ever.
My new plan consisted of four simple rules that I wrote up to help me eat healthier and paying attention my hunger cues.
I leaned on my support system
Having my mother with me was a huge blessing and so was having a hands-on husband. I got my love for experimenting with healthy eating from my mom — she taught me how to make my vegetables delicious!
My husband knew my workout schedule as well as I did and knew just how to get me out of bed when I lingered in the morning by asking “hey aren’t you supposed to be doing yoga?”
They both respected my workout time and only interrupted if baby Riley needed to nurse. They were also very good at not offering me food that didn’t fit my four rules.
I made eating healthy really simple
My four rules were my guide to building each and every meal. Following these rules meant that each meal consisted of whole grains, heart healthy proteins and fats, and at least one serving of fruit or vegetables. It led to some pretty creative combinations of meals such as steamed broccoli and lentil curry or turkey and ham lunch meat as a snack.
The rules made my meals were even more interesting, which meant I enjoyed how I ate and rarely had cravings for junk food. The upside was that following the rules and eating till I was satisfied helped me connect to my body in a way that I haven’t ever done. I only resorted to counting calories to make better choices when choosing packaged foods.
I started slow with exercise
The same day I got cleared by my doctor to exercise, the first course of action I took was to take a Fitness Assessment that I use as part of my Smash Boredom Fit Club. I used the fitness assessment to objectively see where I was with fitness. The results were not surprising, and I decided to start my workouts with yoga to slowly build my strength back up.
It took me two weeks to stop feeling my uterus during workouts and I was feeling stronger, so I took another assessment to help decide what exercises would come next. My second assessment confirmed that my core was stronger and I could safely increase my exercise intensity, so I picked an appropriate Smash Boredom Workout to start with.
I could have tried to dive right into exercising like I did before Riley, but doing it this way significantly reduced the chance that I would get overwhelmed and frustrated and quit as a result.
I Tracked What Mattered
Rather than using services like MyFitnessPal to track my food and exercise, I created custom trackers for myself to track what mattered to me. The food tracker centered around my four rules. My initial goal was to be able to say yes to every rule for at least 90% of my meals. I found 90% to be too stringent and dropped this down to 85% because I was still losing weight at that level.
I also kept track of my workouts. I used to use a heart rate monitor that showed how many calories I burned, but I found that taking the time to wear my heart rate monitor, the chest strap, and wait for them to talk to each other added precious minutes to my time to get ready for my morning workouts.
Plus there was no need for that because I was doing Smash Boredom workouts that I knew were effective, and Yoga was a release for me and not a calorie burning workout. My workout tracker was focused on the exercises I did, how long I exercised for, and how I felt afterwards. This allowed me to do more of what felt good and less of what didn’t.
I gave myself a realistic deadline
It took me 39 weeks and 2 days to carry Riley in my body, and I wanted to give my body an equal amount of time to lose it. I also came to terms with the fact that my body, in some ways, may be forever changed by pregnancy. I now stitches where there were none before; my breasts and hips are larger than they used to be; my waist is back to where it was but my tummy which may have returned to being flat is not as tight as it once was.
There’s still work to be done, but I also have 24 more weeks (6 months) to do it. I confess I remain a little worried that my body won’t quite return to its pre-baby state, but I’m also hopeful that the woman who comes out at the other end would be stronger, fitter, and more able to handle whatever challenges that life, motherhood, and “wifehood” brings my way.
This is EJ’s chronicle of her first year of motherhood. You may also be interested in her pregnancy journey series. Find out what you’ve missed and catch up on the series here — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13
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