If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been sharing more and more on my postpartum weightloss journey. To briefly recap, I gained 65 pounds while I was pregnant with Arabella. A large majority of that (probably 40ish pounds) was due to my severe preeclampsia resulting in a lot of water weight. That weight fell off fairly easily, however it was the other 20-25 pounds that I seemed to really struggle with. Probably around December I sort of hit a wall with my weight loss, and as a result, at the beginning of the year I decided to start making some positive shifts for my overall health and wellness. Today, I thought I would share my journey from December to March, with a later post focusing on my more specific changes through the month of March.
From December through March I weighed the same, however I made some very positive and impactful changes during that time that I feel were imperative in altering my health, and ultimately my relationship with food. I feel that these steps helped to shift my mind and my body into a more positive place and helped to lay a lot of the groundwork that needed to happen.
My first step was getting back into an exercise regiment. Up until the New Year I really was only focusing on low impact, low cortisol inducing exercise. Part of this was because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle much stress, but the other factor was that I was still struggling with issues with my back. In January I began seeing a physical therapist and a pelvic floor physical therapist to get back to normal exercise. I also felt ready to begin more higher impact exercise (or cortisol rising). It’s important to note, that I took a solid 6 months off from anything that would cause me to raise my cortisol levels. I think this was super necessary given all of the transitioning that happens when a baby enters your life. Not only are your hormones and body changing, but you are also adjusting to a new way of life. For me, more stress on my body, wasn’t going to do me any good, so I kept it slow and steady.
Second step was becoming more in tune with how I was eating. For example, if I wanted junk food, did I really want junk food or was I just craving salt or eating it because I was overly hungry and it was easily accessible? If I wanted a snack, what type of snack was I craving? I started asking myself a lot of questions and becoming super mindful of what my body was telling me. This awareness started helping me see trends in my eating that I could later catch and stop. When I first started doing this, my awareness tended to occur more hindsight (like oh, you just mindlessly ate because you were watching tv), but as I kept at it, I soon became able to catch it BEFORE it happened. Even now though, I am still learning how my body reacts to certain things or what it’s craving and why. I think this will be something that may take a while to really learn and understand.
The third action I took, which correlates with the awareness from step 2, was knowing where I was in my cycle. I think if you take anything from this post, take note of this, because it has helped shift the blame of bad eating and understand why I crave certain foods at certain times. For example, during the week of my period, my appetite increases significantly and I crave a lot of carbohydrates. As a result, during my period I started allowing myself the freedom to indulge in some of those cravings. This helped prevent me from craving further, because I was giving in freely to what my body wanted, but it also allowed for an awareness that helped me to understand. As a result I didn’t feel as guilty because I understood that this was normal given where I was in my cycle. The following week, I would find that my appetite dropped, and many of those cravings from the previous week disappeared. Essentially, it all balanced out.
In speaking to my cycle and knowing where you are at within it, you must have a normal cycle to begin with, so part of my journey was also getting this regulated. Since having Arabella I had not had a normal period (I started mine back very early on despite breastfeeding). I was on a birth control, but it was not my normal birth control, so I made the switch back to the one I was on before I got pregnant and noticed significant improvements in my energy levels and cravings. I had been avoiding doing this because I was worried about the hormonal shifts I might experience (I am very sensitive), but I was getting my period every week in a half to two weeks. After making the change within one cycle I was back to a normal period. This helped significantly because of the cravings, as mentioned, but it also helped to decrease some uterine swelling I was having, and shed a few pounds in and of itself. Hormones have a huge impact on weight loss and gain, so if they are not well regulated, you are not going to be able to lose the weight necessary. I think this was huge for me personally.
Next, I also weaned from breast feeding. This is a super sensitive and emotional process that every woman needs to do based off of their needs, their body, and their baby, but for me, breast feeding was actually contributing negatively to my mental health, so I felt it was time to make the shift. While I still have a lot of emotions surrounding breastfeeding, I know weaning was the right thing to do for me. If you are contemplating this, I recommend you make a pro and cons list. It can help provide a lot of clarity with your decision making.
These five shifts were imperative for me. They took a couple of months to figure out, but I feel that without them, I would not have been able to have the success I have for the month of March. I personally believe that a lot of health/weight loss is mental AND HORMONAL and I think you need to get these two things worked through before you can really see any sort of significant and LASTING change.
I hope you enjoyed this post and were able to find some value or insight if you are also struggling with weight loss and/or your relationship with food. Part 2 of this post will be about what specific changes I made for the month of March when I was finally ready mental and physically to get serious about the last 15-20 pounds I had left to lose. To be clear, this is all what has worked for me. I encourage you to do your own research and personal reflection to find what you need to move the needle in the right direction for your own health.