A friend recently asked me how I lost my baby weight. It got me thinking that I should do a blog on it, as maybe someone else was also curious. I don’t want to seem like I have all the answers, I certainly don’t. This is just my story.
Most people assume that the baby weight just falls off me. That isn’t really true though, so I’d like to share how I really lost my baby weight each time, which has been an average of 3 stone per baby. I want to write it down so that I don’t forget what it was really like, and maybe it will help or encourage someone else who’s battling the post baby belly.
When I am pregnant I gain weight really easily. Eating eases my morning sickness and gives me a bit of the energy I lack and I am always really hungry. I do choose healthy foods, but my body just holds onto every calorie I give it. It seems to thank me for the food and then store it on my thighs! I am so glad that we don’t weigh women in this country at their antenatal appointments, as I would find it a monthly humiliation process. I never keep within the boundaries recommended for weight gain, despite eating healthily. By the end of pregnancy I have normally gained about 3 to 3 1/2 stone.
On the day I give birth I lose 10lbs. It is the only depressing part of that wonderful day. Seriously, how can I only lose 10lbs! I then realise that I have 2 and 1/2 stone to go. With each baby that weight has taken longer to come off. With baby one and two it came off by 7 months with almost no effort and I actually ended up losing more than I gained. Then baby three plus was where I discovered that my weight no longer just fell off and I started looking into what was delaying my weight loss and I started to see a correlation between my hormones and weight. It seemed that I could eat exactly what I did with my first two babies but I was getting different results. I was not just older this time, but I also weaned the babies later onto solids and took a more laid back, baby led weaning style approach. I have seen that as long as my babies are on just milk my body will not shed the last stone of weight. This does make sense from the perspective of protecting your baby’s milk supply by having a reserve of fat.
The other challenge with losing the pounds has been age. Once I hit 40 losing weight seemed to get even harder. It took me over a year to shed the weight after having Katie. I don’t know how much of my weight loss is down to my effort and how much would be natural. All I can share is what I did.
For the last 6 years I have largely given up sugar and white carbs. I started this out of a desire to get rid of persistent yeast infections, which plagued me after I had a lot of antibiotics for quinsy. Every time I indulge in these treats I get another yeast attack and so I have learnt that sugar free is the best way for me. I am not super strict about it, but I was stricter once Katie started weaning, to help me to get back into my old clothes and to help completely eradicate the pregnancy exacerbated yeast problem. I don’t ever aim to be super slim, I just want to be the shape I am designed to be when I am eating healthily.
If it is of any interest for to you to know what I actually eat, then here is an average day. I generally have sugar free granola with coconut and homemade natural yoghurt for breakfast, vegetable soup for lunch with a couple of slices of this bread https://www.food.com/recipe/yeast-free-wholemeal-bread-56999. For dinner I eat quinoa instead of pasta or rice and sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. We normally then have protein and veg. I always eat until I’m full, or let’s be realistic, until a little one needs me and I get distracted! Phil and I eat in peace, as a date night, a couple of times a week, and then I always eat more because I am not busy. I also eat a square of 70% dark chocolate each day as a treat and one or two pieces of fruit.
I used to be a real sugar addict and coming off it was hard, but after a few days the cravings went and I now don’t particularly like sweet foods, they just don’t give me that deep sigh of relief that they used to.
My focus is not really on weight but health, which also includes exercise. I did do a Pilates class for several months after Katie to help with my core muscles. Now I just race around trying to keep up with the children, house, garden and animals! I very rarely weigh myself now that I am back to my old size.
Over the years I have learnt to respect my body and feed it what it needs to work best. I also want to work with its rhythms and seasons, fighting it is rather pointless and in my experience leads to disappointment. If the weight won’t go, then maybe it shouldn’t go and so in that season I love my ‘love handles’, knowing they are helping to feed my baby!
I think that for me, getting back into my old clothes is part of keeping my sense of Vicki as a woman, not just a mother. That part of me that still exists as an individual. I LOVE being a mum, but let’s face it, children take everything, your teenagers take your clothes, your little ones eat your food, they all take lots of time and energy, but one thing that’s mine is my body. I want to look after it as it’s the only one I get and it works hard. So I try to put the best fuel in and take care of it, knowing that my body is a gift from God to be cared for and offered in service to him.