As a mama of two I haved lived (heck, I AM living) the dreaded postpartum season of life. I’m not sure what phase you are in now, but I personally believe there are 3 stages to the glorious postpartum weightloss process.
There’s phase 1 — the “flubber phase”. This came as quite a shock to me the first time around. Baby girl came on out but that big ole belly that was housing her hung out for much longer than anticipated. Sure, it goes down after a few days, but the flub that remains — man that’s a sight to see, am I right!? Who knew that when you left the hospital you looked like you were 6 months pregnant. Not, me. I also didn’t know the thigh and booty jiggle came home too. What a disappointment!
Then we move to phase 2 — the “who dis?” phase. Weight starts to come off, you’re seeing some progress just by ya know, surviving life (because who has time for anything else!?)…but you don’t feel like yourself. Your body still feels so foreign, like it’s not your own. Clothes don’t fit. Things aren’t in the same exact place. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin, and you wonder if you will EVER feel the same.
Lastly, phase 3 — I call this phase the “stage five clinger”. You’re working out, you’re eating decent, but those last 5 lbs haunt you. No matter what you do, your body clings to these last ever-loving 5 lbs. You tell yourself it’s because you’re nursing. Or because you aren’t nursing. Or because you still crave Oreos like you did in the third trimester and give in too often. But nonetheless, the 5 lbs drives you bonkers.
Now, if you are an anomily and the postpartum weight just flew off your perfectly-toned new mommy body then I’m going to politely ask you to go to hell. Just kidding. Seriously, you rock, that’s great and I’m jealous! BUT, for most of us, that’s just NOT the case! Even as a health and fitness coach with tons of resources, tools, and knowledge, my body did not just bounce right back into shape. In fact it took me 18 months to return to my postpartum weight after baby girl #1 and that was SOLELY because at 18 months I was deathy ill with morning sickness after finding out I was pregnant with baby girl #2! Now, at 8 months postpartum, I’m still not back to my pre-pregnancy weight, BUT my goal weight has now CHANGED — and that’s part of what I want to share with you today! Reason #5 will touch on why my goal weight is different than I had originally planned.
Okay, let’s get starting on the 5 reasons why you (we!) aren’t losing that postpartum weight:
- You need to eat MORE (of the good stuff!). As new moms, we so often forget to eat. Our lives are suddenly taken over by this itty bitty being that demands every ounce of our attention and energy. We spend our day feeding, changing, cleaning, loving, kissing, holding, patting, burping, adoring this little baby we created. So often caring for ourselves get puts on the back burner. Showers suddenly become overrated, sleep is laughable, and the idea of fueling our bodies with homemade nutritious food is just not possible. Or so we think. I know that we are conditioned to think that the less we eat, the more weight we will gain. I’m here to tell you that is FALSE! When you under eat, your body actually goes into starvation mode (sounds dramatic, but it’s true). Your body questions when it will get it’s next food source and does it’s best to conserve every ounce of fuel (calories) you have fueled it with just in case it doesn’t see any more for quite some time. This means your metabolism slows down and that initial weight loss you saw slows to a stop.
So what can we do about this?! Eat. Eat small, quick, frequent meals and snacks. Below are some of my favorite new mama go-to snacks that keep me energized throughout those crazy newborn days:
- Almonds (10-12)
- Cheese sticks
- COSTCO Protein Bars (Kirkland Brand)
- Greek Yogurt (I prefer Oikos Triple Zero OR Dannon Light and Fit)
- Peanut Butter Crackers
- Shakeology (My favorite is Vegan Chocolate)
- Carrot/celery sticks
- Grazing. This is almost OPPOSITE of reason #1, but hear me out! By grazing, I mean the propensity to nibble and snack on anything in site. Like I said, you’re busy. Your hands are full, you’re exhausted, and you just realized you’re STARVING. What’s the first thing you see? If you’re a mom of more than one, you likely see goldfish, cheerios, mac and cheese, and fruit snacks galore. So what do you grab for? Yep. All that crap. It may seem like a harmless handful of goldfish here, and a pb & j crust there, but it all adds up. I honestly noticed quite a difference in my body and how I felt when I refrained from nibbling on my toddlers snacks and meals. It takes self control, but when your body is pre-fueled with the right stuff, you’re much less likely to go for the not-so-good stuff!
- Lack of Planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? Gosh, it’s so true. When we don’t plan ahead, we so often pay the consequences – in various aspects of our lives! In the realm of postpartum weight loss, planning is KEY. I know you’re thinking, “PLAN?! WHEN?!” I know, I know. I’m not saying it’s easy. If it was easy then every woman would be nailing her postpartum weight loss goals. My suggestion is to start small. Design a little plan with 3 meals and 3 snacks. Grocery shop (online!) for your ingredients, set aside 1-2 hours on the most convenient day for you, and create these 3 dishes/package these 3 snacks. By starting small, you will be able to see that you can accomplish this meal prep, feel victory over this area, and grow moving forward! You don’t have to be a culinary expert, I promise. Please use the recipes tab on my site to access some super simple and healthy meals! If you are someone who craves structure and routine but just can’t carve out the time (or energy) to make up your own meal plan to follow that will give you the results you’re looking for, there’s a great solution for that! For me, creating meal plans is like playing tetris. It’s fitting together a puzzle that, in the end, will give my clients the masterpiece they desire! If you’re looking for a customized meal plan filled with easy, simple meals and snacks (along with the recipes, grocery lists, and templates) to help you along, please feel free to head over to the Mama Meal Plan section of my site!
- Daily Exercise. As mamas, our hands are full 99.9% of the time. We are constantly juggling humans, diaper bags, car seats, baby paraphernalia, etc. It’s pretty rare that we have a “lazy” day around the house. I think many of us are tempted to count all this hustle and bustle as our physical activity for the day. I mean, we FEEL like we worked out, right?! Sometimes we even break a sweat while wrangling those little love buttons into the car for the 3rd time in one day. Here’s the thing, while being active on a daily basis is certainly much better than being sedentary, it’s not going to count for your daily exercise! I know, this stinks. Again, this is why you don’t see the majority of mamas snapping back into shape a few months (or heck, years!) after giving birth. It takes effort! However, it is 110% possible IF you have the right mindset paired with the right tools. What does mindset have to do with exercise? A whole heck of a lot. I think many of us feel like we just don’t have that intrinsic motivation that so many others have. We don’t wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to run a 5k. We wake up looking like a scary mombie with day old spit up in our hair and armpits that we forgot existed for far too long and consist of borderline braidable armpit hair. So how in the world are we supposed to find the energy and time to make working out a priority? We mentally decide that this is a nonnegotiable. It doesn’t have to mean a 6 mile run or a 2 hour gym session. It can mean a 30 minute brisk walk with the kids. Perhaps it’s riding your bike with your older child. Maybe it’s waking up before the kids to do some pilates or yoga (sounds crazy, but check out my post The Secret Sauce to Waking Up Before the Kids if you WANT to be that morning mama but just can’t fathom how that’s possible!). I think different seasons of life call for different kinds of exercise! If you just had your little love nugget, walking is for you. If you are past 6 weeks postpartum and ready to amp it up a bit, but weary of permitting someone else to care for your baby in a gym nursery setting, then Beachbody on Demand may be the best route for you. Or, maybe your littles are a bit older, you’re a SAHM and you’re dying to get the heck out of that dang house; then perhaps taking some classes at the gym is what will fill your cup. If this is brand new to you, set small, attainable goals. Remember what we talked about with meal planning/prepping? Start small, feel victory, move forward from there.
- Your Body is Different. Honey, you had a baby…or babIES. Your body IS going to be different. Don’t roll your eyes. I know whenever I heard this when I wasn’t losing that postpartum weight I would get SO frustrated. Of course I knew I had a baby. I knew the miracle that was. I was proud of my body. But, I mean, could you blame me for wanting to FINALLY feel like myself again? Wanting to feel confident and comfortable in my own skin? I was there. Hey, some days I’m still there. But here’s the deal. As mamas, we have to accept that some things about your bodies and our lives will be different. This is NOT an excuse to throw in the towel and accept that we can’t lose the last 20 pounds. Oh, no, no no! This is the ability to say, “My hips widened a bit. I’m now a size 6 instead of a size 4. And that is okay.” It’s about changing your goal weight from that pre-baby weight to maybe something a little more reasonable. Remember how I mentioned that my goal weight is no longer my pre-baby weight?! My goal weight is 2lbs. above my pre-baby weight. Why? Because my body is a little different. My goal weight isn’t 10 lbs about my pre-baby weight, it’s just a smidge higher to allot for some of the changes my body went through during and after childbirth. Remember, this should be FREEING for you, not used as an excuse to think you’ll just never be the same. You can feel confident and strong in your new body. I promise you. Reflect, think on a reasonable weight or body composition for YOU, and make THAT your goal. Your goal is YOURS. Not mine, not hers, not the crunchy organic runner chick down the street. She can rock that thigh gap all she wants, go her. But that doesn’t have to be YOU. Your job is to be HEALTHY and STRONG. Also, remember that at the end of the day, the scale knows so very little about you. It should be used as a tool for progress, not as a bible for perfection.
Mamas, I would love to hear your feedback and your success stories as well after implementing some of these ideas into your life! Please, always feel free to email me at email@example.com — I love chatting with other mamas and hearing their questions, concerns, AND, most of all, celebrating their victories with them!
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