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5 Secrets to Losing the Baby Weight

Photograph by Twenty20

Losing the baby weight is hard, so hard. After I had my son, I focused on eating healthier foods and creating better habits. I mean, I'm a role model now! I had a child who would be watching me put hot Cheetos in my mouth.

Between healthier choices and breastfeeding (and, you know, actually having the baby), I lost 40 of the 50 pounds I'd gained during my pregnancy. Then, I hit the inevitable plateau. And I stayed there until this year. That's when I challenged myself to lose the remaining baby weight. And I did it.

Here's how:

1. Accountability

I signed up for a fitness program that guarantees you will lose 20 pounds in six weeks—if you follow through. The program consists of very strict meal planning and rigorous exercise at least five times per week. You also have to weigh in every Monday to track progress.

Like a lot of people, I tend to need someone or something to be accountable to. Just getting myself to exercise without any outside social pressure isn't enough for my resistant self. It's a method that's not right for everyone. Maybe you are an introvert or you hate loud music. Factor in your preferences when thinking about what method will work for you. You need to find the way that works for you. But do try to find it.

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2. Investment

It was $497 and, if I didn’t lose the weight, I would lose the money. So in addition to part of my paycheck, I was also investing time and energy into this. Because it required me to get up before 5 a.m., I was also literally losing sleep over this! Sometimes the stakes have to be high in order for us to take something seriously.

But just like your accountability system, you have to find out what the high stakes for you are. Maybe it's not money. Maybe time is where you feel the crunch, and so driving out to a hike is what pulls you all in.

3. Mental shift

I was up for the challenge, because I'd heard that exercise makes you more energetic—something I knew I'd been lacking. I was also determined to lose the remaining baby weight after carrying it around for 3 years.

It’s hard to say what got me to this point, but I was simply ready to be a more physically active human. I felt ready to dedicate six weeks to my body, physically and mentally.

You have to be ready and, I mean this, it's totally OK if you aren't. After all, it took me 3 years!

4. Sacrifice

The real challenge for me was waking up at 4:15 every morning so that I could get to the gym by 5 a.m. This was the only time I could exercise while still getting my child to school and myself to work. I realized how often I would stay up past 11 p.m., which made it impossible to wake up that early. I resorted to a 9:30 p.m. bedtime. Nothing, I'm learning, comes without sacrifice. If it helps this isn't just about weight loss, it's about being healthy for our kids, too.

5. Selfishness

Crux time: this is the true secret! Having a definite exercise routine forced me to set boundaries with myself and with others. I used to feel selfish leaving Dad in charge of the morning routine—getting the baby, making lunch and all that fun stuff—so that I could work out. But the trade-off was that I'd leave everything to him on Sunday mornings, since I rarely made it to the gym Monday through Friday. When I committed to this new program, I let go of that. Or embraced it. And my partner was incredibly supportive. (Nonetheless, I felt bad leaving a mess in the evenings so that I could go to sleep early.)

The secret to losing weight is to prioritize yourself to say "no" to others to say "yes" to yourself. It can seem a little bit like learning to walk again, especially when you are so used to scheduling things to benefit others instead of yourself.

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But in my case it was worth it. I couldn’t be happier that I lost the remaining weight. Also? The rumors about extra energy were true! I saw my energy levels increase, my stress decrease and my clothes fit like I wanted them to. I felt a confidence that I hadn't felt since before I had my son.

You might be surprised to learn that I didn’t lose the 20 pounds that the camp promised. However, I don't see that as a defeat. Instead, it's a sign that being fit was possible, even for me. I worked as hard as I could given my circumstances and lifestyle. And I'm determined to keep going.

So much so that I signed up for an additional exercise regimen, which lasts through the holiday season. Go me!

I can't tell you enough how prioritizing yourself is a gift we all deserve—even if it’s only for six weeks.

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