The New Me

My body may never be the same—but that's OK.

Progress report at 1 year

Starting weight: 165 lbs.

final weight: 152 lbs.

I remember those first few days ... and weeks ... and months home with baby Truman, now 20 months old, feeling like, "Man, I just gave birth! A huge weight has been lifted from me! So why for the love of God am I still so fat?"

Kind friends and well-meaning strangers did their best to soothe my anxiety (I was pretty vocal about it). "You'll bounce back!" they promised. "The weight will come right off if you breastfeed! You'll be back in pre-baby clothes in no time!"

That wasn't the case for me, and I suspect for most mothers without personal chefs, full-time trainers and careers that depend largely on being slim. Finally, a trainer who was helping me with an abdominal machine a few weeks ago gave it to me straight. "Don't get your hopes up too high about getting your old shape back," she counseled. "Few women are exactly the same after giving birth."

Now, that might sound like a downer to you, but I felt weirdly uplifted by this news. My old form had been transformed. I'd been focusing on beating my body back into the exact size and shape it had been, pre-baby—to no avail. I realized I needed to let go of the past and focus on making this body—the one I've got right now—as healthy and strong and fit as it can possibly be.

"Plateau" is not necessarily a bad word

If you've been reading this column or my blog at fitpregnancy.com, you may already know that I've reached a plateau at about 150 pounds. This seems to be my body's post-baby set point, easily maintainable with moderate exercise and moderate snacking. That's the best I can do right now, which means I'm about 10 pounds from where I'd like to be. But you want to know the truth? That's the story of my entire life, and it hasn't been such a bad ride.

My stay-fit tips for new moms

After a year of working through various eating and exercise plans, here are some realistic habits I've adopted that might be helpful for you, too:

• Get to the gym at least twice a week, for the mental break if nothing else. At my local gym, there are lots of other mommies that I like, so it's a nice social time for me, too.

• Walk with your baby in a carrier or a stroller whenever possible. It's refreshing for both of you to get outdoors.

• Work out at home at least once or twice a week to give your day an energy boost. I do a Tae Bo DVD or LaReine Chabut's workout for new moms (visit fitpregnancy.com/weightlossdiary for a slideshow of the moves). Truman loves to play on the exercise ball, and thinks it's hilarious to watch me do abdominal exercises. (It probably is.)

• Make your ab work—even plain, old crunches—a priority.

• Limit bread to three slices a day.

• Have a cup of hot tea after dinner to discourage snacking.

• Always eat breakfast, even when your little one is flinging yogurt in your face.

• Try to limit your nighttime snacking to 200 calories or so.

And that's all she wrote. Thanks for accompanying me on this journey! And good luck to you on yours.

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