Thursday, April 18, 2013
How My Body Was Transformed Before My Baby's First Birthday
First of all, I'd like to make it clear that this post is not meant to make anyone feel bad if they have not reached their goal weight by their baby's first birthday. I recently wrote a post called Finding Beauty in the Baby Weight and I truly believe that even if your body is never the same after you give birth, the extra weight and body changes are 100% worth it when you consider what you've earned from that weight and those body changes. This is really not a post specifically about weight loss and trying to look better at all. What's important is feeling better. As shown above, when I came home from the hospital after giving birth to Emerald, I weighed almost 200 lbs (I am 5'2") and I felt just awful. My joints hurt, I felt lethargic, I had no energy to run around with my toddler and I was in a pretty miserable mood most of the time. Yes, some of this was due to giving birth and having a new baby and the hormone changes involved in that, but I have found that throughout my daughter's first year, the healthier my lifestyle is and the better in shape I get, the more energy I have and the happier I am. It is so much more fun for both me and my girls when I am in a good mood, when I have plenty of energy for them, when I get sick less because my immune system is out the roof, when I am strong enough to dance with them and toss them around...I feel amazing. So, I repeat, this is not a post to rub in people's faces that I lost 74 lbs in a year and make everyone feel guilty if they have not been able to do the same. No, this post is meant to encourage and motivate women (especially mommies who are struggling with their baby weight) to take steps towards living a healthier lifestyle. Our kids deserve for us to give them the best of us...the healthy, strong, energetic versions of ourselves. And I know for me, being a mom is sooo much easier not lugging around that extra 74 lbs. The more muscle mass I gain, the more weight I lose, the better my immune system is and therefore the less I get sick, the more fun I have being a mom. My hope is that this post would encourage and motivate anyone who has given up on losing weight or feeling good simply because they are busy or have kids. In less than a year, with a baby and a toddler, I have managed to whip my body into shape with only a 20 minute break from the kids a day (and all of us mommies deserve a 20 minute break every day). If I can do it, you can do it. I promise.
So here's what happened. I was 128 lbs when I got pregnant with baby #2. I gained a whopping 60 lbs during pregnancy. Partly because that's just what my body does when I'm pregnant (I gained 44 lbs with baby #1), partly because I didn't really eat right, and partly because since I also had a toddler I did not feel like I had enough time or energy to exercise daily like I did during my first pregnancy. In labor with baby #2, I weighed 188 lbs. Somehow I lost NO weight giving birth to her even though she weighed 9 lbs 4 oz, and when I came home from the hospital I still weighed 188 lbs.
Honestly, the first 40 or 50 lbs melted right off. I used this amazing weight loss plan called "Being a Mom". Nursing constantly WHILE chasing a toddler around all day and never having two hands free to fix myself food. And on the rare occasions when I did fix myself a meal I usually ate standing up and ended up throwing half of it away because it went bad before I had a chance to finish eating it. Not the healthiest weight loss method and I'm not saying to try this, it's just what ended up happening. I also realize that breastfeeding burns TONS of calories so moms who formula feed their babies do not have this easy peasy weight loss technique.
Even though I was approaching my pre-baby weight, I felt awful. I was not eating the right kinds of food or the right amount of food. I also had zero muscle mass and had gobs and gobs of flab. Eventually I got tired of feeling sick and tired all the time and I made some changes.
These are the three changes I made, not just to lose weight but to feel great and be healthy.
1. I started drinking TONS of water. About 12-14 (8 oz) glasses a day (I feel like I need that much to stay hydrated while breastfeeding...for a non-breastfeeder, probably 8-10 glasses is plenty). This helps flush the body of toxins and prevents bloating as well as avoiding dehydration which causes headaches and other health issues that us mommies do not have time for.
2. I started eating Caveman Style. It's called the Paleo Diet. It's not so much of a weight loss diet as it is a healthy eating lifestyle. You can read more about it by clicking on the link above, but basically it's loading up on meat, fruits and veggies with some nuts and a little dairy and eliminating all grains, sugar, starches (like rice and white potatoes) and processed foods. Oh my goodness. This diet/lifestyle change is AMAZING. I mean it makes me feel INCREDIBLE. It gives me tons of energy, and everything I eat just makes me feel so HEALTHY. I cannot say enough good things about it. Every time I get lazy and have "cheat days" and start eating gluten free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gluten free frozen pizzas I get bloated and cranky and lethargic. Then when I switch back to hardcore Paleo I feel amazing again. Also, I lost 18 lbs the first month I started eating this way. The great thing about this too is that there's no calorie counting. You can literally eat meat, fruit and veggies until you are stuffed full and you are still going to lose weight (or maintain weight if you're already at a healthy weight) as long as you are not eating the sugar, grains, starches and processed foods and especially if you are drinking tons and tons of water.This diet also works wonders for boosting the immune system because all the fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins that your body uses to help fight diseases.
3. I started using Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred workout DVD. I recommend this workout DVD above all others because a) it is intense and effective and b) it is only 20 minutes long, the only 20 minute long workout DVD I have seen in stores or online...most of them are 40-50 minutes and as a mom of a baby and a toddler I'm lucky if I can take a 10 minute shower every day let alone set aside almost an hour to workout on top of that. My husband agreed to watch the girls for me in the evenings (usually while they are having their before bed chill out TV time) so I can do my 20 minute workout and take a 10 minute shower. The way the workout program is set up, there are 3 different levels which get progressively harder and you are suppose to do each one for 10 days until you have worked out for 30 days straight. I think I got about 6 days into it before I realized that there were days I simply COULD NOT workout...either because we were out too late, one of the girls was sick and clinging to me, I was not feeling well, etc. so I just did each level every day that I possibly could (usually 4 or 5 days a week) until I felt like I could move on to the next level. I still do Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred every day that I can, usually either level 2 or 3 depending on how challenging I want my workout to be that day. I lost probably 5-10 lbs within 30 days of starting this workout, but the important thing is that I started gaining muscle mass which means I am much stronger and have more energy. Also, since exercise releases endorphins that improve a person's mood, the more consistant I am with my workouts the happier I am.
If you find yourself lethargic much of the time, get sick a lot, suffer from mood swings or just crankiness in general and/or have a few pounds to shed, I encourage you to try a 30 day challenge. For 30 days, make a point to drink at least 8 (8 oz) glasses of water (more if you are breastfeeding), eat only what is approved on the Paleo diet, and workout daily (Again, I highly recommend Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred since it is only 20 minutes but intense enough to be effective). At the end of the 30 days, my guess is that you will feel healthier, stronger, be in an overall better mood, have more energy for your kids and you'll love the feeling so much that it will become your new lifestyle.