Wow, being pregnant is hard, and when you get to those last few weeks, (okay maybe even the last few months), you just want your precious baby to come safely into the world AS. SOON. AS. POSSIBLE. You’re just over it – you feel so tired, hot, sick, and probably, huge. Then, hooray! The day comes and your baby arrives!! You’re so overwhelmed with emotions running the gamut from of joy to frustration, exhaustion to exhilaration, love to panic, and to top it all off you look down and you’re all like… what the heck is that? I thought the baby came OUT, so why is this belly still here??
Yes, I don’t think anyone properly warns you that you will still look about 6 months pregnant right after the baby is born. Ugh. Seriously? So, unless you’re super blessed or were kissed by a post-pregnancy magical fairy that just made the weight melt away like nothing within a couple of weeks… you’re most likely going to have to work at it to get it off, and, the sooner the better, because a healthier you will be easier to maintain and will make it easier to care for your family, too!
I have been through this process twice now after gaining almost 50lbs with both of my pregnancies. I blame pizza for the first and popsicles for the second. I did lose some with birth and the first 6 weeks that you can’t exercise, but I only lost maybe 15-20 lbs thanks to the birth and breastfeeding. That left a good 30 lbs still left (insert crazy wide-eyed face here). The first time it took me about 9 months with good, consistent habits and exercise. The second time, I only had 5 months before I would be competing again for Mrs. Illinois-America. Yeah… I had signed up thinking it would be later in the year – YIKES.
So, how did I do it? Here are 5 methods you can take to help speed up your weight loss after baby (I say methods and not steps because they really should be used all together for the best results):
Method 1 – Nutrition
This is probably the MOST important part of your weight loss and health journey. Why? Because the key to losing weight is creating a calorie deficit, or basically burning more calories than you’re taking in. According to this article in Women’s Health Magazine, to shed a single pound, you need to achieve a 3,500 calorie deficit. So if you’re following the 80/20 ratio, you’d want to burn approximately 750 calories through exercise and cut an additional 3,000 calories through dieting.” That’s why you’ll hear that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. That’s not necessarily true, but it’s a whole lot easier because it takes A LOT of exercise, apparently “you’d need to run 7 to 10 miles a day to lose one pound a week.” Um, no, I’ll just eat less cheese, thanks.
MY METHOD = I joined the Beachbody movement, if you will, after my first pregnancy and the 21 Day Fix meal plan, Shakeology shakes, and exercise DVDs got me there in about 9 months (ASK ME about it, or check it out here) So, I did it again, but this time I followed the meal plan VERY strictly (Using the containers for proper portion control, really trying to not order out or eat out as much as possible, and using less salt, sauces, etc., and I even printed out “score sheets” to help me keep track), I replaced more meals with Shakeology, and the last 3 weeks, I even cut out all carbs, sugar, and alcohol. Raw fruits and veggies, lean meats, and trying to use 1 healthy fat per meal seemed to help me stay full all day. That along with the other methods below…
Method 2 – Exercise
The calories you burn throughout the day probably aren’t enough (especially if you have a desk job or a more sedentary lifestyle) to create the calorie deficit you need to lose weight. Regardless, just find an exercise program, gym, dance class, or whatever you need that works for you. The best exercise is THE ONE YOU’LL ACTUALLY DO. Everyone is different, so find one that you can commit to, start out nice and slow, focus on one exercise at a time, one pound at a time, and DON’T COMPARE. You don’t know where anyone else is on their journey, so don’t feel embarrassed, worry about anyone else, or get discouraged. You can do it!!
MY METHOD – I did do the 21 Day Fix DVD’s after both pregnancies and they do work if you follow them correctly. It’s an every day commitment, BUT they’re only 30 minutes each. Just, DON’T skip a day – you’ll get stronger each time and better, follow the modified version if you need to at first, just KEEP MOVING. I also enjoy the Brazil Butt Lift and P90X3 workouts from Beachbody.
With the shorter time crunch (and a swimsuit competition looming) I did supplement by joining an Orange Theory Fitness gym. I went 2 days a week to start, and worked up to 5-7 times a week. I’m OBSESSED with OTF because of the science, sense of community, and accountability they provide. You wear a heart rate monitor so you will know exactly how hard you’re working and what you need to be doing to reach your goals, and you can even use the monitor for “off site workouts” so you can track your effort outside of the gym with an app – SAY WHAT?! Yep. It’s awesome. OTF gyms are all over the country, you can go to any one of them, and they have TONS of time options available so you can find a time that works best for you!
BONUS INFO – If you’re like, what’s the deal with “Orange Theory” anyway? Put very simply, research has shown that if you spend at least 12 minutes in your “orange” heart rate zone (84% of your heart’s capacity or greater), then you will continue to burn calories at a higher rate for the following 36 hrs! Classes are split between treadmills, rowing machines, and weight training and you basically get a personal trainer for an hour, at a WAY better price, but with a bunch of other people. So, no wandering around the gym unsure of how to use that funky looking machine, AND classes are scheduled which helps keep you accountable for actually going! They do themed weeks, charity months and events, girl’s night out, and more! It’s SO fun!
Method 3 – Detox
So, there is pretty conflicting information out there about detox-ing and if it really helps with health or weight loss. In my opinion, there is no “miracle” anything that is going to help you drop pounds like magic; it takes hard work, determination, and commitment if you’re going to do it safely and for the long-term. BUT, I did find that a detox did help me jump start my new routine, and would help me push past those plateaus along the way.
MY METHOD – I started my new healthy eating journey with the 3 Day Refresh. This is just a way to start training your body and mind that you don’t need the sugars, carbs, and other addiction and overeating inducing foods. It’s not the most fun, admittedly, but it’s not torture either. You can do anything you put your mind to, and it was relatively easy – it gives you all the shake packets and recipes you need delivered right to your door.
I also drank a detox tea, added in some essential oils and vitamins, and even did some detox Epsom salt soaks whenever I would plateau and I just couldn’t seem to push past it, even with continual diet and exercise. At one point, I hovered at 150 lbs for like 2 weeks or more. It was driving me crazy! So, I drank this Moringa based tea every few days*, supplemented a healthy liver and kidney function vitamin, started putting essential oils in my water daily, and bought some detox Epsom salts for my bath (which smelled and felt amazing – so it was actually a really nice treat)! It seemed to work for me!
*This tea REALLY works, and by really works… I mean, plan to stay at home for the day, and/or be prepared and close to a bathroom when you use it. It will clean. You. Out. For real.
Method 4 – Water
For most of us, we probably already know that we need to drink more water, BUT according to this article in Health Line, 8 glasses may not be enough and it’s more individualized than you may think, too. Water is essential when it comes to body function, and is actually your body’s natural way of getting rid of waste and toxins. So, especially if you’re not into detox teas or the like… DRINK MORE WATER. Plus, if you’re snacking like crazy throughout the day, you may find that you’re not actually hungry, just dehydrated.
MY METHOD – I know that I have a drinking problem… that is, I don’t drink enough water! I just can’t seem to remember. So, I got a water bottle that I really like (like this one), knew that when filled it holds 16 ounces, and set my goal for 1 gallon a day. Yes, you read that right. That’s 128 fluid ounces. That’s TWICE my previous thought of “Eight – 8oz glasses a day,” which I never reached anyway. That meant I had to fill that water bottle 8 times a day. Did I do it? Not always. I usually got to about 5 or 6, but that’s a whole lot better than before! I definitely felt the benefits too including feeling fuller longer, less likely to snack, less likely to get headaches, more focused, and less sluggish. So, other than having to pee about once an hour, (and a mom never pees alone so there was always the added bonus of entertaining a child in the bathroom while I’m at it), this was a great, and relatively easy change that I plan on keeping long-term!
Method 5 – Accountability
As I mentioned before, the only diet, workout, etc that works is the one you’ll actually stick with. So, do yourself a HUGE favor and find a way to stay accountable, and/or at the very least make it easier on yourself by ridding your environment of your normal temptations, cheats, or downfalls.
MY METHOD –
– WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS – I especially found this helpful when I only had a short period of time to lose a certain amount of weight. I wrote down my final goal in a little planner like this that I kept in my bedside table, and calculated out each week where I needed to be to reach that goal. I would write “Goal Weight = xyz lbs” on each Monday space and “Actual Weight = xyz lbs“ below it. Then I would weigh myself each week to see how I was doing so I would know what adjustments I needed to make (or if I needed to panic yet that I wouldn’t fit into my dress. Eek)! I also kept track of what I ate throughout the day by using worksheets that corresponded with my 21 Day Fix meal plan. You can download them here.
– PURGE YOUR STASH – Yep, I got rid of all the sweets in the house (right after Halloween too, which was SO tempting, but I found an organization that gave it to the Troops called Operation Gratitude instead – winning), and replaced them with healthy snacks like No Cow bars (there’s lots of flavors to try) or these Lara Bars, easy to grab-and-go fruits, etc. This means, if you know you’re tempted to dig into a huge bowl of ice cream after a long day… throw it all out. Seriously. If it’s not there, you’re not likely to eat it (or at the very least get Halo Top or something that won’t be quite as bad. Or get some Fluff Butter… it will change your life. You’re welcome).
– SKIP DATE NIGHT – For now, anyway. I really tried to avoid going out unnecessarily, too, because the portion sizes at restaurants are RIDICULOUS (usually like 3-5x an actual portion) and they tend to use a lot more butter, oils, and salts than you would at home.
– PHONE A FRIEND – Still not working? Find a friend that will go on this journey with you, or who is already fit that can check in with you regularly (minus caddy judgment) and keep you motivated. I asked my best friend Marly (who happens to be a manager at an Orange Theory Fitness) to do the no carbs, sugars, or alcohol with me and she was happy to oblige and listen to my occasional whining when I was feeling particularly hangry. Lol
– PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS – (quite literally) I joined several Dietbet challenges through the app (where you bet and can EARN REAL MONEY). I bet $35 for 2 of them and $100 for another that I would lose a certain percentage within a certain amount of time. I’m happy to report, I never lost, so it definitely worked for me because there’s nothing I hate more than losing money! Too intense? There is also Stepbet, or you can download an app like Achievement and earn money over time for healthy habits!
Wow, this is a lot and I’m almost more exhausted actually writing it out and reading it (almost)! Point is, it takes a lot of hard work, effort, dedication, perseverance, and faith in yourself to lose weight at all, but especially in a short period of time. BUT, it can be done and I believe in you!! This is what worked for me this time, but make sure to keep your own unique characteristics in mind when choosing a plan for you. As always, reach out to me if you have any questions, need some accountability, motivation, or someone to be pumped for your achievements or pump you back up! You can do it!!
Bonus cute baby with my Vegan Tropical Strawberry Shakeology! 🙂
**NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. This is a personal account of a diet and exercise plan that worked for one person. It is in no way intended to be used as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes that may affect your health or well-being.**