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When I got pregnant with my first baby, I had the sweetest visions in my mind of what pregnancy would look like. I would gain the recommended 25-45 pounds (aiming for closer to 25 of course), and I would be one of those women with lithe limbs and an adorable, perfectly round basketball belly. Fast-forward to my final weeks of pregnancy and I was very decidedly not lithe and that round basketball belly was a mere pipe dream. I was pregnant all over. My feet were swollen, my face was swollen, pretty much nothing was as I had envisioned. I looked a lot more like I had eaten that cute, lithe pregnant woman for lunch and was going back for seconds. OK, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but I definitely gained way more weight than I had intended—55 pounds to be exact.
After I had my baby, I had little motivation to lose the weight. I felt like a stranger in my own body—I barely recognized myself. Thankfully 35 of those 55 pounds came off right away in the week after I gave birth, but the rest hung around for a really long time. Around the time my daughter turned one, I decided to work on losing those last 20 pounds. I worked out and made some eating changes, but it was slow going. I was able to lose 13 of those 20 pounds, but was left with 7 pounds to go when I got pregnant with my second.
During my second pregnancy I gained even more weight—65 pounds. I didn't stress about it as much, assuming that I would lose at least 30+ right after birth as I had before. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I did lose 20 pounds, but that left me with 45 pounds to lose. To be honest, that number was pretty daunting, but I decided that this time around I was going to give it my best shot to lose this baby weight once and for all! I ended up shedding all 65 pounds of my "baby weight" (OK ... and doughnut weight—there was definitely plenty of that) by the time my baby was 4 months old.
I am currently at my pre-baby weight and working on those last few pounds that stuck around from my first. Before I did it, that number would've sounded totally crazy to me, but I did it—all while nursing a baby and without any crazy gimmicks or supplements. I'm definitely not one of those people who loses weight super easily (as seen from my first pregnancy), so if I can do it, I really think most anyone can. Here are some things I did that helped.
This time I've chosen to let other things slide a bit more so I can focus on this facet of life at the moment—getting healthy.
1. Getting started sooner
I waited so long to even start trying to lose weight after my first pregnancy. I pretty much just sat on my couch eating junk food and being sedentary for an entire year. When I finally did start putting in effort, it was a lot harder to lose because my body was pretty cozy at its new weight. The second time around, I got started right away and I really believe it made all the difference. I gave myself a few weeks to indulge in lasagna and cookies and casseroles and takeout, but then I started a Whole30 challenge three weeks postpartum and got refocused on making healthy choices.
2. Setting goals and making a plan
You didn't gain that weight overnight and it's totally cool to take your time in losing it. If staying in PJs and eating junk food while you snuggle your new baby for the first 6 months (or however long) feels right for you, then do it! But, I knew it wasn't the right choice for me. I already did that once, and I felt like I needed to try something different. I set some realistic weight loss and fitness goals and I went after them. I also made a specific plan for how I was going to get there. For me, doing a Whole30 challenge and documenting it via my blog and social media was that plan. Simply saying "I'm going to eat healthier" wasn't going to cut it, because it would be too easy to rationalize my less-than-stellar choices. I liked the Whole30 because it basically just boiled down to eating real food. I didn't have to measure or weigh portions or count calories or write anything down. The prep took some time, but it seemed a lot easier than following a crazy detailed plan.
3. Making healthy food a top priority
After I had my first child, I pretty much lived on coffee, string cheese and granola bars. It wasn't healthy or balanced by any means, but I was overwhelmed and "didn't have the time" to make anything better. It was definitely true that I didn't have a ton of extra time with a new baby around, but mostly I just didn't make it a priority. This time I've chosen to let other things slide a bit more so I can focus on this facet of life at the moment—getting healthy. Basically my top priorities were: family and then my health. Of course, it was a bit crazy at times, but it was worth it, because my health is not just important for me, but it's also important for my children. I want to be around for them and I want to model healthy habits as well.
4. Being a bit selfish
I truly believe that my family comes before every other commitment in my life. Health is important, but nothing is as important as spending time with my family. That said, it is absolutely OK—essential, even—to make time for yourself and the things that you need. I realized that taking the time to make healthy meals for myself and to work out made me a better mom to my children during all the other hours of the day. And making it important helped me to follow through with my goals.
As a first-time mom, I had some seriously unrealistic expectations about how my body would look and how quickly it would look like that. When it didn't happen I got discouraged and basically just gave up for awhile and ate everything in sight. Clearly, it wasn't the best option. The second time around, I realized that this was probably going to take some time. This weight that took me 9 months to gain wasn't going to just melt off instantly by breastfeeding alone. Going into it with the mentality that I was in it for the long haul made things so much better. When I experienced set backs, I didn't give up. I kept going, reminding myself that it takes time to reach goals.
I ended up being pleasantly surprised that with determination, I was actually able to achieve my goals much sooner than I expected. It still took a lot of hard work, but it was absolutely worth it. If you want to read more details about my weight loss experience you can find more details over at my blog! And good luck in your journey! You can do it!