I'm not one of those women who normally obsesses about her weight. Except for a few times when I've put on five or 10 pounds (hello, freshman year of college!), I've usually been lucky enough not to have to. Pregnancy changed all that. Mine and Jessica Simpson's.
Jess has somehow become the poster child for what moms should and shouldn't do when eating for two and losing the baby weight. She has been the subject of extraordinary scrutiny since she got pregnant. So much so that she was Katie Couric's first guest on her new show for the "big reveal" about how many pounds she's lost so far (she'd reportedly gained an estimated 50 or more). Good-NESS, do I sympathize. You already feel ridiculously out there for all the world to see when you're expecting a baby (no hiding that balloon in your stomach). But to have everyone on earth watching you, judging you every step of the way? Can't even imagine.
Simpson's handled it like a trooper. Sure, she's a celebrity, but in many ways that makes it worse than for regular moms like me. No one cares about us. It's nice.
But ... but. Nobodies also have fewer luxuries at our disposal when it comes to things like getting back in shape after carrying around another person inside us for nine months. My pregnancy with my first baby was thankfully pretty healthy and normal. I gained 27 pounds, which is on the lower end of the acceptable range. And in the two weeks after my daughter was born, they melted away magically, just like everyone said they would.
Until they didn't anymore, and I was stuck at 10 pounds above my pre-baby number. That might not seem like a lot, but it felt like it -- especially because my old clothes didn't fit right but my maternity clothes weren't working either. I did a lot of what you're supposed to do to help the process along. I breastfed. I walked every day with baby in the stroller. I drank even more water than usual -- nursing makes you so thirsty you feel like you're in the desert. I cut out sweets and ate less. Um, okay, confession: That last one is a lie. What I didn't expect was how starving I'd be while I was breastfeeding and how much I was going to crave cookies and candy even more. So yeah, you burn all those extra calories. But I don't think your raging hunger and all the hormones can really balance it out as much as you think. That "breastfeeding makes you lose weight" thing is a conspiracy, I tell you!
Anyway. You should still breastfeed if you can. It's good for everyone. Etc. Back to the baby weight. I started going to the gym again a time or two a week. I consciously cut my portions and watched what I ate, just a little. Nursing tapered off slightly. Eventually my weight dropped another five pounds. Now I was within reach! I could see the light!
And there it stayed, for months. I went from being someone who only occasionally steps on the scale to someone who steps on the scale almost every day. It felt crazy and it wasn't me. But my daughter was then 6 months old. Why hadn't I bounced back yet? And why, every time I ate even slightly more than usual, did my stomach stretch so easily and my weight jump a few pounds?
It was only less than a month ago, around her nine-month birthday, that I finally inched back to my pre-baby weight for longer than a day. I worked hard to limit my sugar fixes. I exercised a little more frequently (not easy for a new mom!). That's where the baby came in handy. I did baby crunches with her, baby lifts, baby lunges. Sometimes I even borrowed a neighbor's infant for overall toning.
But seriously. One of the best tips I can give moms is to be patient and good to yourselves. Watch portions, fat, and sugar, but don't beat yourself up if you have a bad day -- or seven. Exercise, even if it's just short walks with the stroller, whenever you have time. Drink water. Try to eat healthy foods that will fill you up, preferably three regular meals and a few snacks a day. And realize that so much of it is hormonal, especially if you nurse for a long time like I have. Your body will be out of whack. The pounds can and will come off if you want them to. But it's true what those books say. It took you nine months to gain it; it could take at least nine months to lose it all. So hang in there. You too, Jessica. You're all beautiful moms, just as you are.
Did you go back to your old weight after having a baby? What did you do to lose the pregnancy pounds?
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