I had my first child at the age of 27 and I went into new motherhood anticipating that it would take awhile to bounce back … and it did. I gained 55 pounds during my first pregnancy. I lost 35 right away, but those final 20 pounds stuck around for quite some time. I was able to lose all but seven pounds of pregnancy weight by the time my daughter was 18 months old, but it definitely took awhile. And then I got pregnant again.
I was anxious about having to lose weight again, but I learned some things the first time around and was determined to do things differently this time. During this second pregnancy I gained 65 pounds (a lot, I know), but now at three months postpartum I have lost all but five of those pounds.
It’s been so much quicker and easier the second time around, which I absolutely didn’t expect after hearing all the cautionary tales from other moms who say that it’s much harder to lose the baby weight the second time around. I attribute it to the small, but important tweaks I made to my attitude and my actions this time around and I wanted to share them with the hope that it might help some other mamas out there. So here you go …
1. Getting started right away
With my first pregnancy I waited to start making any healthy living changes until my daughter was six months old. So basically that means I was eating ice cream and cookies and sitting on my couch for six months. By the time I got started with a “get healthy” plan, my body was pretty happy being at this new weight. Apparently it got pretty cozy having a spare tire and wasn’t in a hurry to get rid of it. I really do believe that getting started right away was the biggest factor in bouncing back sooner. I started doing a Whole30 challenge (a form of the Paleo diet) less than a month after giving birth and I’m so glad I did!
2. Raising my expectations
I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I think there’s anything wrong with just hunkering down with their new baby and just relaxing and eating whatever they feel like for awhile, because I’m totally on board with that. It’s perfectly normal to take some time to lose that weight … it’s not like it got there overnight. BUT, I knew that I could do better than eating junk food and being sedentary for six months straight, so I raised my expectations for myself. Even though healthy eating and exercise seemed daunting with a newborn and a toddler, I told myself that I was strong and capable and that I could do this.
Simply saying “I’m going to eat healthier” didn’t really work for me in the past. I needed to be specific; I needed a plan that I could commit to. This is why I decided to do the Whole30 challenge and write about my journey via my blog and social media. It was a way I could commit to a very specific type of healthy eating while making myself accountable to friends, family, and followers. It helped immensely!
4. Making healthy food a priority
As a first-time mom I basically lived on coffee, string cheese, and granola bars. It was hardly a balanced diet, but I made the excuse that I didn’t have time to make healthy meals and snacks. And while it was true that I was busy and overwhelmed, it really boiled down to the fact that I didn’t make healthy food a priority. This time, I’ve made every effort to eat three balanced meals a day with fruits, veggies, healthy fats, etc. because my health is important not just for me, but for my kids, too. When I’m well-fueled, I’m able to do my job as a mom much better.
5. Taking time to get ready
Putting on real clothes and taking the time to do my hair and makeup (at least some of the time) has helped me bounce back a lot quicker. When I’m taking time to put a little effort into my appearance, I feel more motivated to stick with these healthy habits I’ve begun creating. It’s a little thing that makes a big difference for me both physically and mentally.
6. Getting out there
Instead of staying home for months like I did the first time around, I got out as soon as I had healed enough to do so. Even simple errands like grocery shopping or going for a walk helped me to feel more like myself and more motivated to get back into a good routine.
7. Being a little selfish
There’s this pull to pour everything you have into your children, but it’s important to take time for yourself, too. Taking time to make healthy meals for myself and to work out or actually get dressed makes me a better mom who still has plenty of time for her children.
8. Being realistic
After my first child I had some unrealistic expectations of what my body would look like and how quickly it would bounce back on its own. I was somehow under the illusion that breastfeeding would magically make all the weight melt off and that I could eat however I pleased. When this didn’t happen, I became discouraged and gave up for awhile. This time I was real with myself. It took 9 months to gain this weight and it might take even longer than that to lose it, but that some progress was better than no progress. I think just having a positive attitude and not giving up has been crucial.
What things did you do that helped you bounce back after having a baby?