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Hello there friends! OOOH boy. Today’s post has been one of my most requested posts, and it’s also been one of the posts that I’ve put off the most ha! Postpartum weight loss is such a tricky subject really.
First, every single person is different so postpartum weight loss can look entirely different based on each person and their experience. Second, postpartum weight loss after each individual pregnancy can look entirely different. And last, we can do ALL THE THINGS, and our bodies may never look like they did before kids.
So I’m always hesitant to tell you my experience because you may follow my advice to a T, and still not have the same results.
At the end of the day, you really just have to find what works for YOU and your body.
SO with all of that in mind, today’s post is just going to be me sharing my experience and what worked for me… K?
For those of you who are new here, I have four kids but I was pregnant three times (twins!), so I’ve had three experiences with postpartum weight loss.
Currently I am at the weight that I was pre babies. So let me tell you my experience and what I did to lose the weight.
I am not one of those women who loses weight while they are breastfeeding. I don’t produce much milk if I don’t EAT. And I’ve always prioritized milk production over weight loss. I usually lose about 10 pounds after giving birth, but that’s about it until I’m done breastfeeding.
It was frustrating at times to hold onto that weight, but I’m also glad I prioritized my supply.
I breast fed my oldest for almost a year so I actually didn’t lose much weight between ending breastfeeding with her, and getting pregnant with the twins 6 months later… and I gained WEIGHT with the twins (around 60 lbs, and I delivered at 33 weeks… can’t imagine how much I would have gained with another month!).
After the twins were born I was eating a TON, and I had an amazing milk supply… so much so that I was able to exclusively feed them pumped breastmilk for 4 months. However, while I lost some weight after giving birth, and from the stress of the NICU, I gained a lot more while pumping.
HOWEVER, at 4 months we realized that one of the twins had a milk sensitivity so I completely cut out dairy, and surprise! Turns out I had a milk sensitivity too (I had experienced almost daily headaches for as long as I could remember, and they almost disappeared overnight). I pumped for another two months after cutting out dairy, and the weight literally melted off… but my supply also dwindled to next to nothing because I found it hard to adjust to my new diet and therefore my calories weren’t what they need to be to produce milk.
So this time around with my youngest I knew I wanted to find a way to lose the weight in a healthy way, at the right time.
Par for the course, I didn’t start losing weight after Gabe until he was done breastfeeding at 6 months. Unlike with the twins no weight was melting off because by that point I had figured out how to make unhealthy food dairy free ?.
And then I discovered macros. I first heard about counting macros from my friend Paige on Instagram, which led me to Biceps after Babies, and Lillie Eats and Tells. I didn’t sign up for coaching from Amber (although that’s definitely available!), I just signed up for her free material and went from there. I utilized Lillie’s meals for almost 6 months exclusively, and the weight came off!
So let’s break it down:
First of all, what the heck am I talking about? Basically, Macros refers to the ratio of protein/fat/carbs that you’re eating on a daily basis. The specific ratio that you eat will depend on your goals.
To figure out what my ratio should be I used the free macro counting materials that Amber provides when you subscribe to her newsletter, and then I plugged that ratio into the myFitness Pal calorie counter app (you can enter your numbers into the goal setting under “more”).
I then used Lillie’s recipes, tweaked as needed, and that was basically it.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about (I just took screenshots of a day of meals):
It did take some time to come off… about six months to lose 30 lb, and I was VERY consistent with my macros, and sticking with a slight calorie deficit (I did 1500 calories/day). I definitely don’t agree with extreme calorie deficits… slow and steady wins the race… but you have to have a deficit to lose weight.
What I love about macros is that you can eat anything you want, and as long as you stick to your ratios and keep your deficit, you’ll lose weight. So it’s not a diet, it’s just simply eating at a deficit consistently over time until you reach your goal.
Plus, I feel REALLY good when I eat macros. I think my body loves that balance, and I can feel it!
It sounds easy right? Ha! It is and it is isn’t. It does take work and organization, but the more you do it the more you’ll be motivated to continue as you see the weight start to come off. And there’s no “cheat days” or “bad foods” so when you want to indulge you can (just stick to your deficit!).
So that’s how I sorted out my nutrition. Let’s talk about fitness!
I am not in shape at all ha! I’ve had such a hard time working out consistently since my youngest was born. I try to squeeze workouts in during the day, but I’m always interrupted a million times so they don’t feel super effective.
I used to do Yoga with Adriene workouts on YouTube, but lately I’ve been craving a bit more. I tried Madeline Moves, but the workouts were just too complicated and long for me… plus I’m not really looking to get super muscular. I just want to tone up a bit, and have better endurance so I don’t get so winded with my kids. I just started the Tone it Up 2021 Challenge because I like the idea of having a program to follow + all of the workouts are around 20-30 minutes and need minimal gear… so far I really love it!
So my fitness goal for 2021 is to make it a habit to get up before the kids do to work out, and to slowly get more in shape.
I’ve got the nutrition down, but now I want to build a little muscle!
Okay that was super long winded. But before I close this out, I asked you guys on Instagram if you had any specific questions for me so let’s end with your questions (there were a ton. I already answered a bunch above, but I’ll group the remaining questions as best I can):
Q1: Did you find postpartum weight loss to be much harder than usual weight loss?
I would say yes and no. When I’ve wanted to lose weight in the past it worked very similarly (although I wasn’t counting macros at the time, just calories). The deficit is key… what I have found to be harder with postpartum weight loss is that it’s a lot of losing fat (because your body stores fat while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding) so I find it hard to tone up in my more “stubborn” areas.
Q2: Nutrition tips for weight loss without loss of milk supply:
Like I said before, I have not been able to lose weight while breastfeeding, but this last postpartum experience I did do my best to eat well so that when I was done breastfeeding and ready to lose weight, my body would be “ready” to go into a calorie deficit. It’s always harder for me to feel full when my body is used to eating lots of empty calories. So I guess my best advice would be to eat as healthy as you can, but eat enough that you’re producing milk and then when you’re ready to be done breastfeeding the transition will be a lot easier.
Q3: How do I schedule in exercise?
This one is SO hard you guys! I used to be really good about getting up early to workout, but since having 4 everything has changed! All three girls used to nap… now none of them do so when the babies napping I still have 3 little ones needing something! The things I used to do during nap time now have to get done in the evening so I never get in bed when I need to which makes early mornings not a thing! That’s one of my goals this year, but it also means I just can’t do everything I was trying to do this past year. So I guess my best advice is figure out what non-essential things you can cut out of your day so that you can get to bed early and wake up before your kids. Of course you can always squeeze in a workout during the day (and that’s what I end up doing a lot), but it’s a lot harder to focus on a workout when you’re being interrupted 5,000 times).
Q4: How to stay motivated?
This is one of those things that I think comes easier to some people than others so if you’re someone that has a hard time staying motivated, don’t be too hard on yourself! What helps ME in particular is knowing how I feel when I’m taking care of myself through nutrition and movement. Mentally, physically, spiritually… everything clicks into place when I’m prioritizing my health. So the longer I do it, and the more I invest in my health the easier it is to do. That said, baby steps are so important! What you may have gathered from above is that 2020 was a year for me to sort out my nutrition, and now that I have that figured out, 2021 will (hopefully) be a year for me to sort out my fitness. Don’t try to tackle everything at once! Although I will say that if you ARE trying to lose weight often times working out without counting macros or calories can actually make you gain weight… because you’ll be hungrier from the calories you’re burning, but the excess food may put you in a calorie excess. Does that make sense? So I would suggest working on figuring out your macros first (while still working out when you can because that IS important… just don’t make it your main focus), and once that becomes second nature you can focus on your workouts.
Q5: Balance between grace and making excuses:
This one is a tough one for sure! I think a lot of moms feel pressured to lose weight, or at least to lose it quickly but I’ve learned from experience that weight loss is very personal. If you want it to stick, you have to do it for yourself and not because you feel like you have to. You have to make a decision to get up every day and work at it… because it doesn’t happen overnight! So making small decisions every day over a long period of time will have big results, but you have to be willing to make those small steps every day. With that said, part of sticking with something is not giving up if things don’t go to plan every single time. When you make a decision you wish you wouldn’t have you can give yourself grace knowing that next time you’ll make a different decision or give yourself grace because that’s just one blip in a long journey (even a month of unhealthy eating is just a blip in a lifetime of healthy habits). Don’t make it about what you’re NOT doing, instead make it a daily celebration of the good that you did that day.
Well that’s all I have for you guys! I hope you found this post really helpful. I know from experience how discouraging it can be to not lose the baby weight when you thought you would so hopefully this encouraged you to be patient and keep working at it one day at a time.
So often these postpartum weight loss posts are about quick fixes or unrealistic advice (just breastfeed your baby! Easy!), but I can’t offer you that. What I can offer is the simple encouragement that a.) your worth is not tied to your weight, and b.) hard work and determination will lead to results.
Until next time,
You can see a previous post I did about postpartum health here (including how I healed my diastasis recti).