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What It Took to Lose the 50 Pounds I Gained While Pregnant

Photograph by Twenty20

At the beginning of each appointment with my midwife, I stepped on the scale. For months, I watched the number rise. As it should—growing mama, growing baby.

Ten pounds and then 20, and then, at my 40-week appointment, I looked away. I knew what the scale read the week before and this week, I was certain I’d hit a new high. I was on the brink of gaining 50 pounds throughout my pregnancy and I hadn’t yet given birth! Would I gain even more?

Thanks to the heat of summer and third trimester swelling, I surely did. I don’t know what my final weight was. I never looked. To me, though, it felt like A LOT.

Once my son was in my arms, all 11 pounds of him, the thought of how I’d slim down didn’t cross my mind. He was here, where he belonged, and I’d gladly sacrifice my figure to carry, birth and adore him all over again.

And yet, 50 pounds was a bit alarming.

None of my clothes fit well—regular or maternity—and I didn’t feel like myself. More than my other pregnancies, I wanted to begin the road back to “normal.”

In past postpartum seasons, I had learned that it's a fine balance—mentally and physically—to lose weight after baby. Too fast and my milk supply was affected, too rigorous and I became exhausted. So, this time, I waited.

I ate what my body craved: oatmeal, burgers with all the fixings, giant Cobb salads and dozens of eggs. I didn’t count calories, but rather, aimed to make the calories count—fewer sweets, more things from the earth and lots of water. I got fresh air on low-impact walks while babywearing and chased after my big kids. I took naps and made rest a priority.

To my surprise, in those months since giving birth, I had lost 40 pounds.

My fourth trimester turned into a fifth trimester. No shame in the “I just had a baby” game! As my body healed from a precipitous birth, I started thinking about officially weighing in and setting some goals to shed the 50 pounds that pregnancy gave me.

When my son was 8 months old, I stepped on the scale. To my surprise, in those months since giving birth, I had lost 40 pounds. With 10 pounds left to shed, I decided to train for a 5K and I corralled my sweet tooth with a vengeance. These two efforts, a mix of exercise and fuel management, took care of the final 10 pounds. Apparently, running miles sans a cookie reward allowed my body to shift into gear.

Now, a year postpartum, I’m still working on the last bit: the weight from two pregnancies ago. Half of me wants to attempt a more detailed diet or find an exercise routine that would jump-start some weight loss, the other part of me is resigned to accept my “mom bod.” After all, this mom bod of mine has does some pretty spectacular things and if it wants an extra 10 pounds as a high five, who am I to say no?

It took over a year for me to get back to "normal." The weight came off slowly—more often than not, it was discouraging. It took patience, diligence and effort on my part. It took establishing new routines. It took many miles.

I’ve learned that the postpartum days have a slow and steady rhythm. With so many things. And that’s OK. Gaining lots of pounds during pregnancy is OK. Losing it over a year’s time is OK. Not losing the last bit? That’s OK, too.

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