Posted by: Ingrid | November 4, 2009

Post-baby weight loss: Part 1

I feel like this post should have some sort of disclaimer that this is from the perspective of someone who has been body and weight conscious for a long time and had (has?) some unrealistic expectations of both weight gain during pregnancy and loss afterward.  I don’t want it to sound as if I’m obliviously complaining about being so close to my original weight so soon after being pregnant.  This is just my experience and the thoughts (good or bad) that accompanied it.  I didn’t know going into this that you really could feel and look normal again (even though people told me you could) after having a baby.  To all the people who told me that, you were right.

There’s the disclaimer, for what it’s worth.

So at twelve weeks, I figure it’s time to address the whole post-baby weight loss.  I know, you were all wondering when I’d get around to that, right?  Especially since I feel like I was trying to figure how to get the pregnancy weight off before I even gained it (Oh wait, that’s because I was…).  I have to say that I don’t regret at all keeping close tabs on my weight and measurements, partly because I’m neurotic about that, but partly because I think what our bodies do for us and in spite of us during pregnancy is fascinating.  If I could go back a year and talk to my newly pregnant self I think I’d tell me to not stress out as much about how much I gained per week, that it would all even out eventually, and that someday soon my body would feel quite normal again.  Of course my pregnant self would have brushed me off and burst into tears, but it would be worth a try.

So all you pregnant women out there, don’t stress out, okay?  And don’t compare yourself to every other pregnant woman out there either.  If I had a quarter for all the times I googled “weight gain at X weeks” I’d be rich.  It didn’t help much either, because there was the whole range of weights that women were at and my body could care less about the info on google.  It would do what it wanted thankyouverymuch.  It didn’t matter how many stories I heard about how many pounds people gained (a friend of mine wasn’t able to run during her pregnancy and gained 16 pounds and lost it all in a week – how is that fair?) none of those stories were good for anything except anecdotal information.

Now I know that articles like this advocate the whole nine months on, nine months off, philosophy.  And for what it’s worth, my doctor told me at 6 weeks postpartum that breastfeeding keeps an additional 6-7 pounds on you, for about a year.  So in light of all of this helpful information I figured I would be back to normal in, I don’t know, maybe six weeks at the most.  Because I’m fairly rational like that.

A note to all the still pregnant women.  Let go of all of your post-baby weight loss fantasies now, it will be much easier in the long run.

I did not, and I spent nearly nine months gaining weight and wondering just how quickly my body would lose it.  I’m not kidding about fantasies either.  I spent the nine months when I could have visualized, when I would have been allowed to visualize, in great detail, the ice cream sundae I wanted to eat, thinking about if somehow I would gain weight while pregnant and then never lose it.  Kingdoms may rise and fall but God forbid I not lose the pregnancy pounds.  Isn’t funny when we realize how seriously we take things that just aren’t that serious at all?

I have to admit that it was somewhat disorienting finishing up my first 6 weeks postpartum and having to learn to live with myself not quite back to normal.  Six weeks seemed like such a long time I thought by the end I would be my old self and all things pregnancy related would have passed.

Or not.

Those pesky fantasies that I kept sequestered in the back of my mind were so well concealed that I didn’t really realize they were there I found myself very disappointed.  Who knew that in the back of my head I secretly hoped that I would give birth, immediately drop all 22 pounds of pregnancy weight, and then drop another 15 pounds while not exercising and eating at least 2500 calories a day.  Of course this all would happen in the first six weeks and I would say to people around me, “I had no idea it would all be this easy.”  Yeah, that is seriously what I hoped postpartum life would look like.

It was not like that at all.  In fact, I think I liked my two weeks postpartum self better that I liked the me at seven weeks.  I liked my stomach better.  I liked how quickly I was within just s few pounds of 129.  And then… nothing.  Not a thing.  I exercised and ate balanced diet and could not get closer than 3-5 pounds away.  Talk about frustrating, aggravating and discouraging.  I was sure I’d be one of those people who would drop all the weight but be unable to fit in my clothes.  Instead, I could fit into all my clothes within a week but couldn’t for the life of me get the last few pounds off.  I knew that was a possibility with breastfeeding that my body would hold onto a little bit of the weight, but it just seemed wrong on so many levels to eat less, run 10 miles, and not see any changes.  Oh, cruel universe.  My body’s seeming inability to lose the weight also coincided with our move to Michigan, which immediately made me think that just by moving to the state of delicious casseroles I would somehow never lose the weight.  All I had to do was think of a casserole topped with Ritz crackers and butter and those pounds would be permanently on my body.  I am so rational, aren’t I?

Well, my worries were unfounded.  I sort of stopped stressing out and kept eating well and at exactly eleven weeks postpartum found myself back at my pre-pregnancy weight, doing my first tempo workout (4 miles at a 7:45 pace) since I’d found out we were pregnant last November. I came home from that run finally feeling normal.  At twelve weeks I’m a few pounds below where I started and feeling like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  The pounds really do come off!  Maybe I’ll come back and read this next time around, just to remind myself.

(Pregnant ladies, please please please let go of all expectations right now….)

So there you have one person’s experience of the fun postpartum weight loss roller coaster ride.  Now the question is, as a runner, where to go next…



  1. Thanks for sharing! I’m 11 days away from inducement, and I read your blog regularly over the last few months and your number crunching was amazing. My only track is my weight at each doctor’s appointment, and I, too, have dreams of what I will look like post-delivery. I haven’t been able to run, swim or lift weights the last 5 weeks unfortunately due to modified bed rest, so my worries are even more compounded now! For motivation, I’m trying to plan my 2010 race schedule!

  2. Thanks for this post – I am not pregnant (yet), but this is one of my biggest fears. I have always been active and kept roughly the same weight since college – I just really have no idea what to expect! Your post helped understand some of that. Everyone keeps saying, “Oh, with you it’ll drop right off.” But they’re not me 🙂 You have the right approach – eat healthy, get back into the training – love it!

  3. I really appreciate you being so candid and open about your body image and weight concerns. I don’t have any kids yet, but I sometimes get so concerned about how I will feel about my body during and after a pregnancy. I have enough issues right now as it is.
    So happy for you that your runs are going well and you’re feeling good about where you’re at a mere 12 weeks postpartum. You’re amazing…a 7:45 tempo run 3 months after having a baby!
    By the way, while there may be nothing about a Pyrex dish full of noodles and cheese that screams, “healthy,” (especially to a SoCal girl) there is nothing more delicious than a good, Midwestern casserole for dinner after spending a few hours out in the cold on a long run. It’ll warm you all the way to your bones. 🙂

  4. I am 29 weeks and also have many of the weight expectations you had so this was great to hear. The whole pregnancy weight gain is just overwhelming, everyone has an opionion on what is right for me. I think the key is to let go of the fixation on a number and listen to your body.

    Oh and welcome to the midwest, home of the casserole:-)

  5. I think you and I both should bookmark this and read it when we are pregnant again 🙂 I already have a list of “My next pregnancy will not include…” Which includes mostly all expectations about running and weight gain.

    I agree with Diana that your candidness is refreshing. After your disclaimer in the beginning, I was prepared for much worse, but I found you to be very positive and thought your outlook on it all (in a nutshell) is very healthy 🙂

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