Post-Partum Weight: The Backlash

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Weight has always been a tough subject for me. When I got pregnant with K, I was considered ‘obese’ on most of the BMI charts. Thanks to PCOS and a mild obsession with carbs and processed sugar, my weight hadn’t budged in at least a year. I was told to limit my pregnancy weight gain as much as possible; something that deeply bothered me. I had hoped, that for once in my life, I could ignore that number on the scale and know that any pounds added were because of a baby.

During the first trimester, my morning sickness was truly awful. From week 6 to week 16, I was queasy all day and unable to keep anything down before about 11 am. The vomiting was bad enough that it ruined the enamel on my teeth and I wound up with 7 cavities. So imagine my surprise when I was down by 8 lbs at my 16 week checkup. Months of Weight Watchers didn’t do what morning sickness did for me.

I gained weight slowly but steadily over the rest of my pregnancy, and at 41 weeks I had only put on about 25lbs. I was proud of this  weight gain; it was enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy, but not enough that I wouldn’t be able to lose it afterward. Starting out ‘overweight,’ I had been cautioned about potential risks, and I was grateful to have avoided gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and other things that CAN be associated with large amounts of weight gain.

I was surprised again when I went to my two-week postpartum appointment at the midwives’ office and all twenty five ponds were gone. My body was a completely different shape than before — rather than carrying my weight in my upper body (boobs, stomach), I carried what was left around my middle and hips. Though the weight was gone, none of my clothes fit, and none of the styles I used to wear worked with my new body type. Everything was flabby and floppy, and though I was lighter than I had been pre-pregnancy, I certainly didn’t feel better.

As I nursed around the clock, took K out for walks all spring and summer, and made a conscious effort to get in shape, weight continued to come off. By ten months postpartum, I was down by another 15 lbs, the lightest I’d been since starting to TTC in 2011. I was finally starting to feel good about my body and how my clothes fit.

And then came what I scathingly refer to as The Backlash.

Suddenly, pushing the stroller and being mindful of what I ate wasn’t cutting it anymore. The weight loss first stalled out, and then reversed entirely. When I started back to work in August, the long days of sitting at a desk started catching up to me. Nursing twice per day instead of 4, 6, 8 times left a mark as well. In the scramble to pack a lunch in the mornings, I ended up with a lunchbag full of processed carbs and little protein. Coffee, a nice treat while on maternity leave, became mandatory for functioning, and it was often full of sugar.

Between the hormone shift, a major decrease in nursing, and the return to a sedentary lifestyle, all progress I had made was gone. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around (the start to holiday-binge-eating that seems to be unavoidable at my house), I was back up about 15lbs, and I was feeling truly awful. And when I felt awful, I ate more. Then I felt awful for eating more. So I ate. It was a vicious cycle, and I knew that it had to stop. If I wanted to sustain a second pregnancy any time in the near future,  I knew my body had to be healthy.

I’ve heard from several new moms that this Backlash is a common occurrence. The baby weight all but disappears, and then when you’re least expecting it, piles back on again (often just in time to start trying for the next baby). But just because it’s common doesn’t mean I’m going to sit back and let it happen to me. Thanks to my naturopath, a ton of reading and researching, and a new Fitbit from J, I have an action plan for the new year. I know it’s cliche to jump on the ‘New Year, New You’ bandwagon, and honestly, it just happens to be the timing of this whole thing. I know I want another baby. I know I want to feel more comfortable with my body before we try for another baby. I’d really like my clothes to fit again. And a new year (plus weeks of holiday eating) mean this is the perfect time to start.

Here are five things I’m going to do to get my body back in gear:

1. Take 10,000 steps a day. This doesn’t seem like a lot of activity for those of you who are…well…active. But for me, even sticking with this basic FitBit goal, I’ll be getting more exercise than I have in months.

2. Drink 2L of water daily. I am notoriously bad for going days without drinking water. I could down 4 cups of coffee without blinking, but water is always a struggle. So another goal is to up my water intake; I know I’ll feel better.

3. Get 100g of protein. By focusing on the protein in my meals, I’ll avoid carbs and get the nutrients my body really needs. I’m thinking of Greek yogurt, protein powder smoothies, and plenty of lean meats.

4. Take my supplements. I’ve spent a fortune over the last year on naturopathic consults and supplements, and I have completely stopped taking them. I know that getting back into a routine will help, and my body will thank me for the extra vitamins, minerals, and hormone-balancing help.

5. Cut the sugar. My kitchen table right now is piled high with Christmas baking, gumdrop cake, boxes of chocolates, 3/4 of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and a box of Jelly Bellies. Every single one of these things is tempting me, and every single one of them will just send my insulin-resistant body deeper into a funk. So I’ll have a bite of gumdrop cake, take the chocolates to my neighbour, and save those Jelly Bellies for my next road trip.

Do you have any health-related plans for the New Year? Did you experience the postpartum Backlash?

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