Does anyone else think it’s hard to lose weight while nursing? Do you try everything to lose baby weight only to feel sabotaged and like nothing you do makes any difference? This is exactly how I’ve felt after every one of my 7 pregnancies and I want to make sure no other woman feels alone in her struggle to get back in shape! Pregnancy can do a number on even the healthiest and strongest bodies, but it IS possible to feel normal again! Read on for my tips and tricks for how to lose weight while nursing (and what to do if you can’t).
I’ve tried to be very transparent and open about my postpartum weight loss and exercise journey after giving birth to Alice last February. (See my progress posts and photos here: Before, month 1, month 2, my frustrations, month 7). It’s SO easy to drown in the sorrows of postpartum soreness, flab and low energy, all while scrolling through Instagram and staring at seemingly perfect women who give birth on Monday and show off their 6 pack on Wednesday.
I love hearing from other women about their struggles in both treating their bodies right AND loving them where they are so I hope some of what I share can help others as well! I remember hearing all about how breastfeeding a baby was the best way to lose the extra weight after giving birth. And after 13 years of getting pregnant, having babies and gaining and losing a combined total of about 275 pounds (holy crap!), I can assuredly say that that is most definitely NOT always true!
I do have some (ridiculously lucky) friends who seem to be able to eat all the cookies in the universe and still lose the baby weight as soon as they leave the hospital. I try to love these friends despite this unfairness, but I admit, it’s HARD! Ha 🙂 I’m convinced that the way breastfeeding hormones (and the refined carbs that these hormones demand that I eat) affect my body, is that they simply make my metabolism a little bit slower.
I tested quite a number of ways to get fit and shed the fat during this past year and a half and I’m sharing them with you today! I’m going to officially call the photos below (taken at the beginning of July this year) my “after” shots. I’d love to tone up a little bit more and I generally feel most comfortable at a weight about 10 pounds less than what I am now, but to get there would take a level of exertion and self-restraint that I’m just not willing to put forth right now. That’s life as a busy mom and I’m just fine with it!
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned this time around!
- Weighing yourself is generally a terrible idea. The scale doesn’t tell you when you’re turning fat into muscle or how much good, whole food you’re eating or whether or not you hit your exercise goal. Make small, incremental goals for yourself and if you do want to compare progress, do it with pictures and a measuring tape.
- Become accountable to someone! My post-partum fitness journey was full of ups and downs and hair-pulling moments but the progress was always made when I had people to rely on and use as support. Fitness Carli’s Instagram and meal plan helped me a ton, as did Clean Simple Eats plan (so yummy!) and the BBG app (done with a couple of awesome girlfriends) all helped me build muscle and make great food choices.
- Breastfeeding is worth it! I know it can be frustrating to never see any progress because you’re giving your helpless little infant so much of your time and calories and body but it’s SUCH an amazing thing! I can’t tell you how many times in my 13 years of baby making that I’ve been tempted to wean a baby because I wasn’t losing weight fast enough. And while maybe that’s the right decision for some women, for me, that thought was a purely selfish one. I kept nursing and loving on baby Alice as much as humanly possible, and then, when she was almost 15 months, we stopped. It was an amazing year and I don’t regret a single minute, despite my stubborn flab.
- This is the key to postpartum fitness and weight loss that no one wants to hear but I have to say it: the BIGGEST factor surrounding how fast you can get fit and lose weight after having a baby is how active and healthy you were BEFORE having the baby. Ergo, no “eating for two” or lying on the couch for 9 months. I know it’s crappy news and too little too late for anyone reading this after an unhealthy pregnancy, but if another baby is in your future, do yourself and your family a favor and take care of yourself while pregnant. It’s one of the hardest and most valuable things we can do as moms!
- Be PATIENT. I know, I know. This is another terrible truth bomb, but your body is not a machine. If you treated it like garbage during pregnancy (or for 30 years before that – haha!) then chances are good there will be no “bouncing back” 2 weeks after giving birth. Our ultimate goal for how we treat our bodies canNOT be to look good in a swimsuit. We have to treat our bodies right because it’s the right thing to do! And because it feels amazing. The awesome side effect will often be that we look good in (and maybe even out) of our clothes, but even if we don’t (because stretched out skin and cellulite will be my bosom buddies forever) we will STILL feel amazing! We will live longer, healthier lives when eat right and stay fit and, perhaps most importantly, be great examples for the next generation.
First photo by Christie Knight Photography