After being a glowing bundle of pregnancy beauty, it is a massive shock to the system when you’re still carting around an extra 20-30 kg of baby weight.
During your pregnancy, it is normal, accepted and encouraged to stack on a few kilos. It’s even a non-issue for the first few months after popping bubs out. When you’ve got a baby that is no longer a newborn, though, it can be a little disheartening that the weight has decided to stick around.
Part of being pregnant and giving birth instills a state of acceptance within most of us. We know our bodies will never be the same. There are the stretchmarks, the hernias, the scars, the saggy tummies, the crumbled skin, the hemorrhoids, the carpel tunnel, the sudden increase in aches and pains. There is baby weight that’s just not willing to be lost in a hurry.
I, for one, have accepted that I’ll never feel confident enough with my body to wear a bikini ever again. It’s sad, yes, but I’m okay with that one. The part the got me down, though, was when my firstborn was 9-months-old and I still wasn’t back to my normal weight. I didn’t feel good about my body – even fully clothed.
Still wearing maternity undies, maternity jeans and my husband’s big baggy t-shirts, I wanted to feel more like myself again. There was a wardrobe of clothes I wasn’t ready to part with.
Being mentally prepared
I was getting a few off-the-cuff comments from people in my life, reminding me that I was carrying a lot more weight than ever before. I shrugged it off most of the time, explaining that breastfeeding and a lack of sleep was the culprit for my new figure.
The date for my return to work was approaching though, and I didn’t have any suitable clothes that fit me. Not working for the past year meant I didn’t want to blow a lot of money buying a whole new wardrobe of clothes, either.
I got to a point where I was mentally ready to do something. I was ready to feel a bit more like me again.
Not buying into anything
I knew I didn’t want to do anything drastic. I didn’t want a diet that made me feel like I was suffering. Nor did I want to sign up to any subscriptions for prepared meals. Anything expensive wasn’t an option and I definitely didn’t want to consider meal replacements. None of these were sustainable to me.
Going to the gym was something that seemed impossible – the time, the money and the lack of joy from it. I played sports with a group of friends once a week, and at the time that was all I could manage anyway.
What I needed was something that didn’t cost anything, didn’t consume me and I could see myself doing permanently. I needed an attitude adjustment.
What I decided to do
I decided to simply count the calories I consumed during the day and record it on my phone in the ‘Notes’ app. I set myself a limit for how many calories I’d consume each day and split that up across 6-8 smaller meals.
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, a dietician, a doctor or anything of the like. So, take my experience with a grain of salt.
I set myself a limit of 2000-2200 calories per day. I didn’t want to do anything too extreme – I was still breastfeeding and I wanted a realistic caloric intake that I could keep up long-term. Next, I decided on the types of food I thought were important: dairy, meat, fruit and veggies.
I then made a list of snacks and meals that I could eat each day to cover my food groups and keep me full. Finding foods I enjoyed eating was also a priority.
Every time I ate or drank something, I’d add the calories to my list for that day. Eventually I didn’t need to keep a list – I became really good at figuring out how many calories each meal had! If I wasn’t sure, a simple Google search, like “calories in a banana” took seconds to work out the magic number.
Splitting up 2000 calories each day into 6-8 meals meant I was never hungry. I usually ate because I knew I needed to, not because I was hungry.
The greatest part of the diet was: I could eat anything, as long as I worked it into my calorie count. One of my favourite dinner treats was (and still is) a Hungry Jack’s burger.
The proof is in the pudding
My weight dropped every single day. Each time I hopped on the scales, I saw a tiny difference – but a difference nonetheless. It was super satisfying seeing the results so fast and so consistent. I’d weigh myself one day at 80.3kg and the next I’d be 80.1kg.
I began my new lifestyle weighing 81.5kg and within 5 months I had lost 25kg. My weight continued to drop a few more kilos after that and I then readjusted my calorie-intake so that I wouldn’t lose any further weight.
I felt great, my clothes fit perfectly and I could see a huge difference in how much better my joints felt. Playing with my baby was no long a source of exhaustion and moving around was so much easier. This was definitely a lifestyle I could sustain long-term.
But then I got pregnant again.