(6 months postpartum & 18 months postpartum)
I’ve gotten a bunch of requests to share what I’ve done this year to finally drop the last 25 lbs of baby weight plus lose 5 extra after that. The super short answer is: eat better, eat less and move more.
But in case you’re interested I’ve tried to outline below what I did that worked for me over about 5 months to get back to pre-baby weight. (If you’re not interested – please skip tl;dr – regularly scheduled outfits will be back tomorrow!!)
I love to eat. All kinds of everything. And that is exactly what I did while I was pregnant. I gained 55 lbs instead of the recommended 25-35. Oops.
30 of those pounds went away “on their own” in the three months postpartum through giving birth, breastfeeding and lots of long newborn stroller walks while I was on maternity leave. But then I went back to work full time at my sedentary desk job, stopped paying very much attention to what I was eating, and stopped my longs walks. So there was a stubborn 20-25 that stuck with me. After about six months of no progress – I finally decided enough was enough around December and got it together to lose the last of it.
When I need to lose weight the first place I start with is with food. I’d say, for me, 85% of losing weight is just paying attention to what I eat. And by ‘pay attention’ I mean – eat better food and eat less calories. Because I’m a computer nerd, they way I go about eating better and eating less – I use apps.
Eat Better – With my overloaded schedule I have have have have to meal plan and meal prep to eat better. If I plan out my meals for the week, buy the healthy ingredients and have the food ready to go in the fridge – I eat the healthy stuff (fruit, veggies, whole grains and lean protein) and am pretty happy about life. If I don’t plan & prep – I get hungry and lazy and eat whatever is easiest and most delicious in the moment – usually something cheesy, fried and high calorie.
The way that I meal plan/prep is to use a website called Plan to Eat ($5 mo/$40 yr). It lets you store recipes, drag and drop them to a weekly calendar and then it will create a shopping list of what you need that looks nice on your phone. (This is not a sponsored post – but that is an affiliate link – if you sign up and started using the app – I get a commission.)
One issue I’d been experiencing with meal planning is that I have piles of Pinterest folders and recipe books with way too many meal ideas – I tend to get overwhelmed looking through those deciding what to make. So when I started using Plan to Eat I only added recipes that I have tried before and knew were good. That way I wasn’t sorting through a bunch of random recipes each week and only looking the list of ones that were tested and awesome. Less thinking involved.
Slowly my recipe index grew. And I started to be consistent with meal planning. I spend 10-15 minutes on Friday/Saturday poking through my healthy favorites list and deciding what to make. The app makes it easy to see that you’ve made salmon 5x recently so maybe I should switch to a favorite chicken recipe so I don’t get bored. (As I used the app more and more – I created custom tags “MK Healthy”, “MK Healthy Favorites”, “Husband Favorites”, “Skylar Favorites” so I can easily find my growing set of recipes.) I drag and drop the recipes I want to make on the calendar and tah-dah with computer magic I have a shopping list.
And then on Sunday I head to the grocery store to buy food. Typically I go first thing in the morning (7 am ish) before Skylar’s 9 am nap. She’s such a happy morning kiddo that it’s pretty fun trip and the store is usually almost empty. And then when I get home I cut up or prepare as much as possible for the week ahead. (Chop onions, crockpot chicken breasts, cook rice…) I usually have a solid 2 hours during her morning nap to slice and dice and prep.
If I plan and prep – I almost always have a great week of healthy eating. (If you’re interested in what I actually make – you can use this link to sign-up for a free trial of Plan to Eat and you can see my recipe list under “Friends > MKoutfitposts” and use my filter tag “MK Healthy” and “MK Healthy Favorites” to filter the recipe list. Ignore “Guest” tagged stuff – I planned food for my in-laws that was decidedly unhealthy.)
Eat Less – The other side to the food equation is eating less. Even healthy food can be high in calories. So to make sure I’m eating the right amount I track what I eat. I use MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I try to target eating between 1200-1500 calories when I’m trying to lose weight and around 1800 if I’m trying to maintain.
I also tried to look at the calorie counting as a weeks worth of calories I could use. If I ended up eating 2500 calories one day then the next day I’d try to walk farther (Fitbit automatically syncs calories burned to MyFitnessPal) or stay on the low side of calories consumed to balance the high day out.
I see moving as two parts. I need to get up and walk throughout the day because I work at a desk and I need to find the time to consistently exercise with high intensity cardio and weights.
Walk more – I’ve been wearing my Fitbit everyday and my goal is 10K steps a day. I try to get to work 20 minutes early and take a ‘coffee walk’ to get my Starbucks fix and do a loop around the cute downtown area. And then I try to find another 20 minutes in the afternoon or during lunch to do the same. I like to either walk with an office mate or listen to podcasts to make it more fun. And when I get home from work I try to go on another walk with Skylar or to the park to run around to get more steps.
I compete weekly in the Fitbit app with my bestie and my sister on steps and it’s fun to the point I’m walking in circles around my living room to get a few more steps in order to win.
Consistently exercise – This is the piece of all of this I’m still struggling with. I can’t seem to figure out where to fit another 30-60 minutes into my schedule. For awhile I was getting up at 5:30 to workout before the munchkin woke up but I’m already short on sleep so that option sucks. And I don’t like to stick her in gym daycare for another hour after I’ve been gone all day at work. And I really struggle to find energy to workout after 7:30 once she’s asleep because I’ve been up since 6 am. So this is my missing piece to a whole fitness picture.
Since December, I have been doing a pretty stellar job of eating healthier food, consuming less calories and walking a lot more then when my weight was plateauing. And I have stayed consistent with my routine. So, as a result, super super slowly the needle on the scale has inched in the right direction. Over about 5 months I lost the 25 pounds of pregnancy weight plus 5 more. I can fit back in pre-baby pants and skirts and tops and that is all super great fantastic. Slow and steady progress.
But, the one piece that is still missing is getting the higher level cardio and weight training into my schedule. While I technically weigh less then before I got pregnant – I also feel a lot squishier/jiggly-er. I want to feel strong again.
So to summarize – week after week, month after month – I did the following:
- Ate better – Ate healthier meals with veggies, whole grains & lean protein. Made sure those things were available by meal planning & meal prepping each week with Plan To Eat app.
- Ate less – Tracked my calories in MyFitnessPal and stayed within 1200-1500 calorie range.
- Moved more – Tracked my steps with Fitbit and tried to hit at least 10K steps each day.
Nothing super revolutionary or especially unique. The single hardest part and what I think made it work this time around was that I was consistent. Every Saturday meal plan. Every Sunday shop and prep. Every Sunday start up workweek Fitbit challenges. And if I screwed any of it up – I’d just get back on track the next day. Over and over and over again.
Ok – hopefully that was useful to somebody out there. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled outfits tomorrow!