I've been thinking about writing this post for almost a year now. The journey of postpartum weight loss is different for everyone, but for me it was a huge struggle. I'm passionate about good food but self-control is not one of my strengths, so losing the weight I gained during my first pregnancy was not a walk in the park. As I'm now faced with trying to lose all of the weight from my second pregnancy, I thought I would share my story and a few thoughts for those of you that may be walking this same road of losing weight after baby.
When I was pregnant with Madeleine I gained a little over 50 pounds. I had a really challenging first trimester which prevented me from keeping up with any sort of exercise routine, but I also know I ate way more carbs and sweets than I should have. People (and my doctor) made comments about my weight gain, but I honestly felt helpless to do anything about it because my cravings for both the quantity of food I wanted to consume and the types of food I wanted to consume seemed so out of my control. I had a long and difficult birth with Madeleine, so it was a while before I was up for even the littlest amount of physical activity. At my 6-week check up my doctor told me I needed to wait an additional few weeks to heal before I could start exercising. When I finally healed, I started running but only kept that up for so long. I honestly didn't do anything too structured to try to lose the weight: we tried Whole30 (and failed miserably!) and I tried counting calories, but neither of those was sustainable for me. Like I said, I seriously struggle with self-control, and I just didn't want to change how I was eating and sacrifice my normal diet.
It took me four months to get within 15 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight, but it took another six months for me to finally lose those last 15 pounds and hit my goal. I lost an additional 2 pounds to lose a total of 55 pounds in 11 months. And then I found out I was pregnant two weeks later. My second pregnancy was more challenging than my first, and even though I was throwing up a lot in the first trimester, I was constantly starving and eating everything in sight. Again, I made poor eating choices because I felt so miserable, and I couldn't keep up with any exercise. In my second pregnancy I gained 55 pounds.
My recovery after Cora's birth (her birth story to come at some point, I promise!) has been so much easier than with Madeleine. I've been out walking already, and it feels so great to be moving and exercising! I've lost 20 pounds so far, but I have a long way to go. It's really daunting to be back in this same spot looking down a long road of trying to lose so much weight and working to fit into my normal clothes. It's easy to feel discouraged when I compare myself to other young moms who seem to lose the weight easily. It's easy to make healthy choices one day, only to have a rough night with little sleep and give into the temptation to eat three cookies the next day. It's easy to feel depressed when I feel like I have nothing wear. It's easy to feel like I'm never going to get my old body back, so what's the point. It's easy to feel bitter about the toll childbearing takes on my body, instead of joyfully giving of my body for my children. I think it's probably safe to say that I'm not alone in having these feelings. Pregnancy, childbirth, life with a newborn, life adjusting to multiple kids - these are all very real and very hard things, and losing a lot of weight after and in the midst of them is challenging!
I once read that self-control is just empathy with your future self, and that's really ringing true for me right now. It seems like I just lost 55 pounds, so I remember so clearly how both the struggle and the success felt. It's a little easier for me to make healthier choices this time around. I'm motivated to make exercising more of a priority. I have no idea if losing 55 pounds this time will take less than or longer than 11 months, but I'm trying to be patient with myself and the process. I've been thinking a lot about this passage, which I read in Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches this week:
"...realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God's design.
Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the
scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that
your children left on your body...your body can more fully praise God having
been used for His purposes. So don't resent it, enjoy it."