When I was a month away from having my first baby, I was desperate to find out how the weight would come off. Does it come off all at one time? Does it take weeks? Months? There was nothing I could find online and my doctor would just tell me 15-20lbs ‘should’ come off after birth. But like…when?
After going through many weight loss and gain phases I knew normally it would take months or even years, but I have never had a baby before so how was I to know how my body would shed the weight? Everything I saw online were women going back to pre-pregnancy weight in weeks, sometimes DAYS! I was getting very discouraged, because I had a feeling that wasn’t realistic, but I hadn’t seen any ‘real’ pp progress.
Not to say others were ‘fake’, I just knew that wouldn’t be how my body responded. So, I made it a point to track my pp progress, the ups and downs with parenting a newborn, and trying to mesh my health and fitness lifestyle into that. This post is going to be longer, but I want to share my pp journey, because I feel like so many women see women postpartum, ‘snapback’, to their pre-pregnancy weight or even achieve their weight-loss goals in a year.
How was I supposed to know when my body was done ‘shedding’ that postpartum weight? How would I get started from that point when I had an inconsistent sleeping schedule? Or even just inconsistent days? When should I put myself in a caloric deficit? Do I maintain weight before trying to lose? This was a whole new world for me and my body and that’s what I am sharing with you today! *Note: none of these images are edited, have filters, etc. Some may differ due to lighting, but I tried to get the same pose/angle, so you can see as real results as possible. I am ‘flexing’ or engaging muscles in all pictures as well, because that’s how I do.
Pre-pregnancy: weight was 122-124lbs after many deficit/surplus phases and some body recomposition phases (over a 4 year period). I say this, because my body was in the ‘healthiest’ position it could’ve been in, but it didn’t start like that, so I knew even just ‘losing’ all the weight gained during pregnancy my body’s ‘shape’ would be different.
This was a couple of days before the big day: I was weighing anywhere between 163-165lbs. So, I had roughly gained about 40lbs during my pregnancy. I had stretch marks on both of my legs (inside, outside, back, and top), all over my glutes, and on one side of my stomach (where she tended to stay). The ones on my stomach didn’t show up until the last 2 weeks, but all my others started showing up in my second trimester and they freaking hurt so damn bad. I could literally feel my skin tearing, they itched, it wasn’t fun. I had the Linea Nigra, which was the dark line that runs down the middle of your belly when pregnant (normally caused by hormones). And morning sickness throughout the whole pregnancy, so it wasn’t very fun for me😂.
2 weeks pp: This is where the fun begins. I had a ‘pregnant’ belly for the first week and then the 2nd week it went down to this. I had weighed about 156-158lbs, so not much ‘weight’ was lost at this point, but my belly started to go back down. I was SUPER ‘squishy’, no abdominal control (couldn’t contract abs-will mention why this is important later), my back was still hurting when bending over, but I was starting to be able to move around fine since giving birth.
1 month pp: not much changed. I weighed about 150-153lbs. Started to focus on my eating habits throughout the day as I wasn’t eating much due to exhaustion and not getting alot of movement. I started with drinking more water and eating every 3-4 hours when the baby would be napping. This lighting showed my stretch marks well. They were very red and still felt ‘raw’. Also want to mention I didn’t put any lotions, oils, or creams on any of my stretch marks, because I didn’t really care if they were there or not and I am lazy when it comes to that stuff anyways, so it would’ve been short lived😂.
2 months pp: this is when I started to feel the weight coming off. I weighed about 142-145lbs. So, technically I hit my ‘15-20lbs’ weight-loss postpartum here. I could move around much better. I started to feel the effects of what my pregnant belly did to my core. I was eating more consistently and getting about 10 mins of walking outside daily. I had been released from doctor to start exercising, but by the end of this month I realized something was not functioning right with my core and after doing a diastasis recti test I ended up having 4-5 finger width separation, 2-3 knuckle deep tension from the top of my ribs to below my navel, and no pressure when contracting my abdominal muscles. Other than those factors, I was still experiencing horrible back pain, what felt like stabs in my abdominals if I moved too quickly or got up from laying down, and accompanied coning in my abdominals. I had diastasis recti.
3 months pp: my weight loss started to slowly creep down and I was consistently staying around 140lbs. My body was definitely shedding some fat vs. weight. I knew this was my new weight loss set point, because I didn’t ‘feel’ the weight coming off as easily and the scale reflected that. I had started bodyweight exercises 3-4x’s a week. I started back at my full time job, so I was getting more steps in. However, at this point I decided I needed to find my new ‘maintenance calories’ and eat those consistently for at least 6-8 weeks to see how my body would respond. My workouts were about 30-35mins and I was going to the gym to establish some type of routine between work and raising a baby. I loved that I did this and I know not everyone has this luxury, but if you can make time for the gym do it, because I was able to get it done more consistently vs. at home and it was a nice break away from the chaos of everyday life😆.
5 months pp: life started going! My weight was around 136-138lbs. Baby was going through some growth spurts, so sleep had been even more inconsistent. We started sleep training which helped a ton, but still not much progress towards a consistent schedule. My eating was staying more consistent, but I was still having days of severely under eating or going way over on food from just snacking on calorie dense foods. By this point I had successfully worked myself into a 4 day strength training split and was gaining some strength in the gym. I was doing zero cardio, trying to maintain eating at higher calories (no deficit), and working on building strength. My diastasis wasn’t getting much better as I wasn’t changing how I moved throughout the day (bending over to pick things up, holding baby, etc.) and I hadn’t realized at this point yet, that I needed to be doing more to help it heal.
7 months pp: I was weighing between 134-136lbs. My weight was still coming off slowly, because I wasn’t in a deficit and just allowed my body to do what it wanted. I did start to add in about 10-15 mins of low intensity steady state cardio (walking) 2-3x’s a week to get a base for my cardio. I started to move into heavier weights with my strength training to help facilitate building some muscle while I was at maintenance. My diastasis was slowly closing up on it’s own and the width was around 3 fingers wide and about 2 knuckles deep, but I still had no tension in my core even when engaged. I would still get stabbing pains if moving too quickly and lower back pain that made me feel cripple.
9 months pp: I was weighing between 132-134lbs. Steadily losing fat which meant my weight wasn’t moving much, which was fine with me. At this point, we hit some rough spots with sleep and was causing me to be a little inconsistent with my strength training due to the exhaustion. I took 1-2 weeks off at one point, because of the exhaustion. My nutrition suffered due to under eating.
1 year pp: I was weighing 130-132lbs. I was ecstatic with the progress I made, because I had been so inconsistent making it into the gym for the last 3 months and ending up taking another 2 weeks off towards the end of the prior month to this. Once, I was back in I hit some new PR’S (personal records) postpartum. This is when I noticed my diastasis recti wasn’t healing properly and causing more issues than I had originally thought. I started having back flare ups more often throughout my lifts, urinary incontinence with heavier lifts, and even some leaking through some mobility movements. I pulled back on my lifts to start my journey to healing my Diastasis. I also hired a nutrition coach to handle my macros and adjustments as I was ready to go into a diet phase and between mom life and putting all my extra time into my clients I had no time to give myself the same.
17 months pp: I hadn’t lost any weight up until this point and was still around 130lbs. This was my body’s new setpoint and I knew I was in another plateau. My daughter ended up in the hospital a couple of months after starting with my coach and I ended up taking a week off. Sleep was still inconsistent and I was still waking up 2-3x’s a week around 2a to care for my child. I decided to get my Pre and postnatal certification, so I could start helping myself and other women who were dealing with things similar to what I was trying to navigate through pre/postnatal. I was able to close my DR (diastasis recti) to two fingers wide, two knuckles deep, but started to have more tension. My strength training was more consistent, but was focusing on healing my core vs. strength. I took a 4 week diet break after being in a deficit for 4 months to give my body a break.
21 months pp: I was weighing around 123lbs and had successfully broken through that plateau. After finishing my pre/postnatal certification I went on to a pre/postnatal corrective exercise certification to help correct the postpartum issues I was experiencing along with my DR. I was able to bring more tension to my core and awareness of how I move throughout the day. My strength training was consistent 4x’s a week and with the occasional monthly wake ups my sleep was finally becoming more consistent. I was able to start working my volume back up with my strength and the month prior to this I ended up straining my knee at work. I ended up taking a month off of the gym between that and a busy schedule as it was around the holidays. My nutrition stayed consistent with the occasional no tracking days depending on when and what was going on. I did take two 2-4 week diet breaks between the last 6 months and going into my 2 year.
2 years pp: This is the most current and I am weighing 121-123lbs. I have brought my DR down to one finger wide, ½ knuckle deep, and great tension except right below my belly button (still working on this). Due to injuring my knee I was inconsistent the last 2-3 weeks and will be going to an ortho to check to see what’s still going on. I will probably be taking an additional 4 weeks off (hopefully) to heal and then *hopefully* can start the process of getting back into the gym consistently. My nutrition is moved into a very slight deficit 100-200 cals due to my inactivity and not wanting to reverse completely out as my body doesn’t respond the best to alot of calories at once right now. The goal is to lose another 5-8lbs, reverse out, and start building muscle in the fall.
Concluding: The overall takeaway of this is to take your time. There is no rush. The gym will always be there. The weight loss will come. You will have many skipped days, maybe even have to take a month or two off (like I did and will probably have to again). This doesn’t mean progress is totally lost. It doesn’t mean you have to give up. It means you are human with life happening around you. Taking it one day at a time is the best way to approach this. There were SO MANY times I wanted to stop or questioned what’s the point, because progress was going so SLOW. I kept thinking that ‘If I have done it once, I can do it again’. Even though this whole freaking process was different and new the application was still the same. It just took longer😆. It’s so easy to get discouraged when you see other moms who lose weight no problem and in a short period of time. This is why I wanted to share my journey, because I truly enjoyed this long haul of a journey the last 2 years even with all the ups and downs. The cool thing is, I am not even done and I can’t wait to see how the next 3-4 months turn out (pending my knee recovery😏).