how I lost the baby weight

I like to sit back and watch my blog evolve.

Right before my eyes, but by no conscious decision on my part, Tuesday Food Day is becoming not only about sharing recipes and tips, but about nutrition and health in general. Such as the post about diet coke, which is a must-read for anyone trying to kick their addiction to the “bubbly chemical juice” (thanks to the husband of Andrea from Peanut Butter Handprint for coining the term).

I don’t have any recipes begging to be shared this week, so instead, I’m going to tell you how I lost the baby weight. Something that women do not always discuss, although the subject is one that sparks many a curiosity.

walking with Giovanna in the Moby Wrap at 3 weeks old

Before I begin, please remember that every new mom has her own unique experience with pregnancy, child birth, breast feeding, baby care, and the associated weight gain and loss. I am only here to share my story and the techniques that worked for me.

My first piece of advice? Don’t gain that much baby weight to begin with. Easier said than done. You tend to hear all sorts of stories about the mommies who gain 80 pounds and lose it all within a month. You hear about these stories because they are WEIRD. The exception, not the rule. Perhaps some women need to gain 80 pounds to safely and healthily grow their roughly 7 1/2 pound baby, but usually this is not the case.

From my first prenatal appointment at 7 weeks to my last one, which was 2 days before my due date (so, 39 weeks and 5 days) and less than 24 hours before little Miss Giovanna entered this world, I gained 26 pounds. Not too little and not too much. On the low-end of normal. I believe this was due to my behavior rather than my genes. My mother gained 40 pounds during each of her pregnancies. Not that much more, but slightly higher than the recommended 25-35 (and for the record, she lost it all). My mom says that she ate like a pig when she pregnant. In fact, she even snorted when she told me this. Oink Oink. Which brings me to my next piece of advice…

Don’t eat like a pig.

Sorry, but pregnancy is not an excuse to stuff your face. It’s not a free pass to gluttony. If anything, you should consider your body to be a sacred temple during pregnancy. There is a tiny little person growing in your womb, don’t you want everything to work right? Don’t you want your little seed to have the best possible start to life? Your baby eats what you eat. Would you feed your baby processed, artificial foods with little to no nutritional value? Or would you choose fresh, whole foods from the earth packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and life? Furthermore, would you want your baby to skip breakfast and dinner? Would you want your baby to overeat? Would you want your baby slurping down coffee or soda or sugar? I know that none of us are perfect and motherhood is a lot of pressure. Do your absolute best and if it’s truly your best, it will be good enough.

Treat yourself with the utmost care and respect, and you will be treating your baby the same way.

This means that you must limit empty calories. Lunch and dinner should (with little to no exceptions) include lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and other legumes. Food from the earth. Limit animal fat.

Savor each bite. Sit down when you eat (which is one of my many weaknesses). Appreciate and love your food. Eat what is in season. Be serious about everything you put in your mouth. For an in-depth understanding of these lessons, read “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. But first read my post about the book, which Mireille herself links to on her own website.

Avoid highly processed founds like the plague. Would you rather have a very small slice of a decadent yet semi-healthy flourless chocolate cake or two oreos? The oreos may actually have more calories.

Recognize that your primary source of nutrition should come out of the earth, not out of a cardboard box or a plastic bag

Find your indulgences in fruits, healthy fats, and small amounts of your favorite things. Like dark chocolate. (The caffeine is negligible, but check with your doctor to be sure.) For many weeks during my pregnancy, I could not live without my daily chocolate avocado smoothie. Now, as I am breast feeding, this treat tastes even better. I’m not sure how that’s possible, although it may have something to do with the fact that breast feeding leaves me far hungrier than pregnancy.

You only need an extra 300 calories per day during pregnancy. Don’t you dare eat for two. Well, you can eat for two. But keep in mind that the second person is very, very small. 300 calories isn’t very much. You could pack that many calories into a mocha from Starbucks. Although we are not drinking coffee and we are avoiding empty calories during pregnancy, right?? (The caffeine content is no longer negligible, but again, I’m not a doctor. Ask your doctor.)

To put that into perspective, you burn roughly 500 extra calories per day while exclusively breast feeding. You actually need to eat more when you’re breast feeding than when you’re pregnant. Which brings me to my next tip in losing the baby weight: exclusively breast feed your baby for as long as possible. This may mean one month, six months, or a few years. Just do what you can. But remember, our bodies were made to breast feed. Our babies are designed to be breast fed. Our pregnancies are intended to prepare our body for breast feeding. We gain weight while we’re pregnant and the extra fat is to help us feed our babies. That fat is designed to be burned off. So, get it off. Don’t let it stifle you.

But also remember that it took 9 months to put it on, it may take 9 months to take it off. Be patient and good things will come. Be impatient and you may give up. It took me 4 months to lose it all, but I am still working on toning and tightening at 6 months postpartum.

Exercise through out your pregnancy. If your doctor says it’s ok. A few months ago, in Pregnancy: the bellies, the worries, the beauty, I revealed some of the complications during my pregnancy, which compromised my long walks for several months, with the exception of prenatal yoga, which was always approved by my caregiver. But during the first half and the last month of my pregnancy, I was a walking woman. I walked everywhere. During the first few weeks of my pregnancy, I ran everywhere. And then morning sickness hit and my running days were over for a long while. I didn’t gain more than a pound or two until I was about 14 or 15 weeks. Which was fortunate considering that my wedding took place when I was at 13 weeks.

Exercise after you have the baby. As soon as your doctor says it is ok. It’s nearly impossible to find time to exercise when you are a new mom, which is why babywearing is so essential. I couldn’t have lived without my Moby Wrap when Giovanna was a newborn. It was comfortable for both of us, and I could escape for walks while she napped, safely snuggled next to my chest. Long walks should never be underestimated in their ability to help you lose weight. If you feel like walking is too easy, then walk up hills. Steep hills. If you can’t find them, find a treadmill. I also dabbled in exercise videos, including Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, but I could never stick with them. Especially when the flowers started blooming and I couldn’t stand to exercise in my living room. There are tons of classes you can do with your baby. Mom and baby yoga. Stroller strides (which I went to last week for the first time and it was a great time). If all else fails, you can always chest press your baby.

Drink lots of water and herbal tea. Always. These liquids will keep you hydrated and regular, with the added bonus of suppressing your appetite. Herbal tea will even nourish your body with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In fact, the world’s civilizations with the longest life expectancy are known for their special reverence of herbs for health and healing.

Let go of unrealistic expectations. It’s ok if your ass doesn’t look like Jessica Biel’s. Aim to be healthy, fit, and feel good in your skin.

Be kind to yourself. Hug yourself. Love yourself.

* * *

How much weight did you gain during pregnancy? Did you lose all or most of it? If so, how? Was it difficult or easy? Please share your own experiences!


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34 thoughts on “how I lost the baby weight

  1. Had to check this out to see if you are releasing any major SECRETS to getting rid of the STUBBORN baby weight. But, alas, no. I must keep doing what I’m doing, exercising (I got up at 6:00 this morning in order to do so, and I feel so proud), eating well and enjoying natural products and FLAVOR, and then being patient and staying kind to myself. Yup. It’s really the only way. I just get impatient and frustrated sometimes. I feel like in my mid-30’s after the baby (who is now a toddler), I have never had such a hard time losing the weight ever in my life than right now. ARGH. Ok, just gots to keep doing what I’m doing! (I lose a pound one week, then gain a half pound the next, and it is so sllloooowww!). 🙂

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    1. 6 am is early, good for you. Sorry I didn’t release any major secrets, but like you said, exercise and a sensible diet is the only way. (Although I will admit that my post-pregnancy exercise consisted only of walking until recently, and I did lose weight by walking.) And I feel you, it’s insanely frustrating. Are you drinking enough water? Have you tried herbal teas?

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  2. We had very different pregnancy experiences. I gained 70lbs both times. Ate non-stop because I was hungry non-stop. I could barely sustain myself. Same while nursing, there was never enough food.
    I lost it all nursing. I don’t call it weird, I call it human biology. I don’t think anyone loses 80lbs in a month.

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    1. It’s amazing how every body reacts very differently to pregnancy. I always expected myself to be hungrier when I was pregnant, and I was certainly not prepared for the hunger that comes with breast feeding. Although breast feeding alone did not help me lose all the baby weight, I had to cut out sugar for a while, etc.

      By “weird” stories about people who lose 80 pounds in a month, I was referring to celebrities. Who’ve most likely had the help of plastic surgery. And/or something else unnatural. I agree that no one should lose 80 pounds in a month.

      Giovanna is still not eating much (if any) food and I am still hungry as ever. But I must have started overeating because I recently gained a few pounds, and now I am working it back off. I wish I was one of those lactating mothers who could eat anything under the sun and not gain an ounce. It sounds like you may have been one?

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  3. Ha – Sean will be so proud!

    At 6 months post partum, I am just now back into my normal weight range. I try to limit meat and eat small healthy snacks when I can instead of big meals.
    I am definetely at the stage where I need to start getting all my jiggly bits firmed up. It’s amazing how things can shift :/

    Have you ever had coconut water? I am addicted to it…

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    1. Good job, Andrea! I know exactly what you mean about things shifting. Although I’m roughly the same weight (give or take a pound or two, sometimes more), I have saddlebags that I never had before! And of course, my tummy likes to pooch out. It’s hard when you’re home most of the day to resist the ice cream in the fridge (which is why I get annoyed with my hubby for bringing it home in the first place). I do like coconut water, but I rarely drink. Maybe I should! Where do you buy?

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      1. I get my coconut water through Amazon Fresh since I do all my shopping with them. A case of 12 is $21 but I heard you can get the same case at Costco for $14. The case lasts me 2 weeks since I have one almost every day.

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  4. Great tips, Lucille! I actually was one of those moms that gained a ton of weight while pregnant. Funny thing though, I really didn’t eat different than when I wasn’t pregnant and I had always been thin before. My body was like a weight gaining machine. But regardless, it is always good to be cognizant of what we are doing and not treat pregnancy like an excuse to go on an all ho-ho and twinkie diet. My favorite tip in your list? “Let go of unrealistic expectations. It’s ok if your ass doesn’t look like Jessica Biel’s. Aim to be healthy, fit, and feel good in your skin.” Totally made me laugh and feel good about myself at the same time!! Thanks for this.

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  5. Sounds like your body was just doing what it had to do to grow a baby! Some women definitely do need to gain more weight. I’m not sure why my body didn’t…perhaps it was due to genes after all. The grand scheme of the circle of life is beyond my understanding!

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  6. I really enjoyed this post Lucy! It’s really about common sense and doing everything with a purpose. I gained 40 lbs with Shayla which was way too much for my body to handle- all movement was painful and up until her birth there really was no relief. I’d like to think I didn’t over eat (but really?! 40lbs doesn’t happen by itself!), because I really did not have any typical pregnancy cravings. I literally did not even show until I was about 5 1/2 months which was when I decided I should tell my employers: ) It took me about 13 weeks to lose my baby weight and another month after that to really get to the size I felt more confident at. But like you, I got super hungry breastfeeding and my blood sugar would drop so quickly I wouldn’t know what hit me! I still have to take snacks everywhere I go just in case. I think it’s always safe to say that our bodies usually know what’s good for us, we just need to ‘listen’ and be more aware of what’s going on inside us. I chose to not go heavy on the exercise (A) because I had a very physical and active job while pregnant and (B) because I HURT so much, my feet swelled almost 2 sizes: ( Walking after pregnancy has been my best friend as well. Thank you for your insight Luc!

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    1. I didn’t have any typical pregnancy cravings either. But a previous commenter said she gained a bunch of weight even without eating a ton. Sometimes your body just does what it needs to do! You can’t always blame yourself. I’ve had some scary blood sugar drops as well, and now I won’t go anywhere without a snack 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only one. In fact, I almost had to reach for my snack today. Giovanna and I ran some errands (and went to the park) on foot, so there was lots of walking and I got extremely hungry towards the end. I get so hungry that it’s hard to think about anything else and I find myself wanting to eat all the time. I think it’s because G is now 6 1/2 months and still not really eating food. I try at least twice a day, but she’d rather just play with it. The only thing she likes is fruit, which we give to her in this little mesh feeder. Anyways. We really need to get together. I’m thinking the weekend after next? It would probably be too hard on a weeknight…right?

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  7. FAB post dahling! I loved that book “why french women don’t get fat” – and I’m a stickler for “real” ingredients (don’t eat anything low fat or fat free ever or any processed foods, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, etc). I didn’t change my diet at all when I got pregnant either (I like to eat as much raw fruits and veggies and nuts as possible, tons of water) I gained 18 1/2 lbs with my first who is now 2 years old, and 29 lbs with my second who is now 5 months old, and I’m no sprink chicken (I’ll be 36 in October) – I nursed both babies (still nursing my lil one) and the extra pounds just melted off in a week to 10 days – even though I am less than pre-baby weight I am dying to tighten up again, I miss the tone! I think the clean eating and nursing was the main factor – I never feel restricted, If I feel like something naughty I just do it since I eat clean most of the time – all of your tips are right on spot for anyone, pregnant or not, bravo sweet bella!

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    1. I’m inspired by YOU. You sound like you have really good eating habits. Mine are far from perfect, but maybe I’m just too hard on myself. I definitely have a daily treat, usually a square of dark chocolate. I love every food I eat, including raw vegetables, so I don’t know why I have the need to be naughty every day. Obviously, I never feel restricted either 🙂 Glad you enjoyed and thanks for sharing your story, miss bella! And by the way, I just started taking Stroller Strides classes to tighten and tone. They’re great, I’m super sore today.

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  8. Luc!
    I love your post, you are absolutely spot on! I will say that in the first few months for those who experience morning sickness, it isn’t as easy to eat such healthy foods…any kind of food for that matter–you eat what you can, empty calories or not!

    I am so glad that you couldn’t live without your moby wrap! It made me feel special to know that my gift came in handy!

    I love you! xo

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    1. That is very true. During the morning sickness phase, whatever calories you can manage to eat are good calories. I’m so glad you’re done with that part! And I’m so excited for you for the rest…

      I love you, sister! See ya tomorrow?

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  9. I have to say that the last couple of pounds I lost I am attributing to the 30 Day Shred. I run and try to eat decently, but I am still nursing and have that ravenous response to lactation! I am down all of my baby weight from this pregnancy (about 25 pounds), but I still have weight to lose. I gained more (maybe 30-35) with my first and still had a few of those pounds when I got pregnant the second time.

    Your tips are great, though. I try to eat whole, clean foods when possible, although I am surviving on caffeine most days 😦

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    1. I write this as I sip my coffee…I love caffeine. Although I limit myself to one coffee a day, I usually want more. If I weren’t breast feeding, I would not be able to resist. Lactation also makes me ravenous. It’s tiring to always be hungry. And when I eat, eat, eat I gain weight! So I know it’s not necessary to eat so much. Even though I want to 🙂 Good for you for sticking with the shred!

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  10. I really like this post. It’s hard to completely commit to a lot of things but I think if you try your best that’s what matters.
    I was sick through my entire pregnancy and actually weighed 3 pounds less when I delivered than what I started out at and am now almost 30 pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant. I would love to loose another 15 and am struggling to do that. I’m lacking a little motivaton and really need to start eating more fruits and veggies!
    Love reading your “healthy” posts. It inspires me to want to eat better!

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    1. Wow! Good for you! Sounds like having a baby just made you skinnier. You are one lucky gal. I’ve had to FIGHT to stay at my pre-pregnancy weight, since I’m so damn hungry all the time. But I cannot imagine being sick for 9 months. That must have been hellish 😦

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  11. My goodness, we have more than a few things in common already! I was 5 months pregnant when we got married 🙂 The wedding was totally planned, but the baby was just the cherry on the cake. It happened much faster than we had anticipated!

    I’ve always been athletic but during my pregnancy I lost quite a bit of my motivation (and ability…) and did not do that much — I ran a bit, some yoga and a lot of walking.

    I must have gained between 25 and 30 pounds. Was very diligent at first charting my weight gain, but the last few weeks I lost track, partly because I went past my due date! And partly because it was mostly water retention.

    I breastfed exclusively for 6 months and continued nursing until my son’s first birthday. It took me about 6 or 7 months to loose the baby weight and some! Breastfeeding really takes it out of you! I was under my pre-pregnancy for a few months until I stopped nursing and gained a few pounds back.

    Great list of recommendations Lucy!

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    1. Yes, nursing makes me positively ravenous. I wonder if I will gain or lose after I stop nursing. I’ve heard that both can happen.

      I read somewhere that it’s considered trendy to be a pregnant bride. How far we have come! I didn’t mind being a pregnant bride, but I have friends who would rather postpone the wedding. You should post some wedding photos!

      Thanks for sharing your story. It feels good to be slightly lazy during pregnancy, doesn’t it? The perfect excuse to take it easy. Your body needs it, for once!

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  12. Ahh the baby weight. Is it really still baby weight if it takes you 5 years to get it all off? That was definitely my case. I actually GAINED weight after the twins were born because of how hard it was to take care of myself while taking care of two babies. Now they’re 7 and I have back the shape that I had 10 years ago–maybe even better. Nothing like kids to give you the incentive to stay in shape. Thanks for the great tips!

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    1. YES! Still baby weight because you gained it when pregnant! No expiration date for the term, “baby weight.” At least in my world 😉 Good for you for getting back in shape. It feels good, doesn’t it?

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  13. I gained 40 lbs with all 3 of mine and they were all about 8 lbs at birth (I’m consistent). I lost it all by nursing and eating healthfully. I just hit my pre-baby weight this weekend with #3 who is 8 months old today. I’m a firm believer in 9 mos on 9 mos off. I need to firm up a lot still. I’m exercising regularly including walking, running, Jillian Michaels, and yoga, but 3 babies in 3 1/2 years is not good for the ab muscles. 🙂

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    1. You’re doing great! Especially with 3 little ones to care for. I’m thoroughly impressed. I’m also working on firming up. Hopefully by the 9 month mark, I’ll be where I want to be! And congrats on baby’s 8 month birthday 🙂

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  14. i completely agree with you! i did not “eat for 2”, and i gained 27 lbs and 25 lbs with the girls. And i lost it all, and rather quickly. in my personal experience, the women i know who gained a ton and had a hard time losing it were the ones who openly talked that they were eating for two and they could pig out at this time in the life, etc.

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    1. It’s hard not to use pregnancy as an excuse. God knows I wanted to, and occasionally did (fried chicken and french fries would be a good example), but I tried to stay in control of my eating habits. Although I will say that it was nice to be 7-8 months pregnant during the holidays 🙂 Eating for 2 on a daily basis would be a recipe for disaster for anyone.

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  15. I completely agree with all of these!! I only gained 28 pounds during my pregnancy & had lost 20 of it within 2 weeks. By 6 weeks, I was back to normal. Now, my daughter is 7 months & I’m still breastfeeding & I weigh 6 lbs less than I did when I got pregnant!!! It’s crazy. I just tried to eat healthy when I was pregnant & stay active. I’ve done the same since she was born. It’s weird, though because people aren’t usually happy for me. They seem more annoyed. Oh well.

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    1. Good for you. It’s pretty amazing that you lost it all by 6 weeks. But I’m sad that people choose to be jealous rather than happy for you, or inspired by you. Oh well. Their loss, right?

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  16. To Kristy-
    The only other secret I could add (that at least worked for me/us- my husband too ended up losing weight) was to keep anything unnatural out of the house 100% entirely. We don’t feel deprived or fall back on it because we allow ourselves to have some unhealthy snacks when “out” and about, we don’t tell ourselves no then. JUST no to anything IN the house. This probably only works for people who don’t eat out a lot =) The only other secret would be discipline and tracking food and/or calories. Ok- not much of a secret, but sometimes and easily missed key element.

    Wow Lucy, very well written on such a touchy subject!! Yes as some people pointed out some things are common sense but I’ve noticed sometimes it helps to really hear it again to verify what we think we know. These truly are some of the major secrets. The not eating for “two” thing really helped me, but then again I was so morning sick I lost a lot of weight initially, and then soo busy with breastfeeding and colic thereafter, there wasn’t enough time to eat. Hormones do play a difference in how some people gain/lose weight, but as for the people who couldn’t stop eating or get enough to eat pregnant or breastfeeding, I was one of them! And I think only eating whole foods, even constantly, is hard to put on too much weight (unless nuts =).
    Like you, I think I gained a total of ~25lbs babyness during the pregnancy, of which I lost probably a bit too quick and was actually quite a bit underweight my first month of motherhood. And similar to your story, my mother put on quite a bit more baby weight and never completely lost it, so the direct genetic component is (almost) ruled out there.

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    1. I love that you added the idea of tracking your food intake. I’ve NEVER been good at this. I do it for a few days and stop. Plus I snack so much that it’s hard to remember to do it all the time. But then again, maybe I should be snacking less and food tracking would help! As you know, hunger is hard to keep at bay when you have a growing baby nursing all the time.

      Also great advice to keep everything unnatural and processed out of the house. I try to do this as much as possible. Do you consider homemade granola unnatural? What about whole grain flaxseed bread (fresh from the bakery)? I don’t buy bread often, but I did yesterday and I think it’s some of the yummiest bread I’ve ever had. Especially with almond butter 🙂

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