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February 22, 2011

On losing the prego weight

Because I’m spending this week in my swim suit on the beach (ack!), I thought I’d do a little post on the dreaded post-pregnancy weight loss. Mostly just to give the rest of you who are still struggling with it a little moral support. It can be rough on the old ego, that’s for sure.

So before and even shortly after Dashiell was born, I was just CERTAIN that I’d be back to my normal size four months after he was born. Pre-pregnancy I wore a size 4 dress. So in planning for my bridesmaid dress last June (4 months postpartum), I figured I’d be easily into a size 6. After all, I like to exercise, and I’d be deep in breastfeeding! Yes! Breastfeeding! The miracle weight loss tactic!

(What I’d love to be wearing this spring, now that I’m almost back to normal and can begin to dream that I might wear fashionable clothes again. Vanessa Jackman, via Pretty Mommy)

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. I’m convinced they tell you that breastfeeding helps you lose weight as part of secret plan to get more women to breastfeed. Which btw, I’m completely fine with. But magic cure-all for the extra LBs I was toting around – um, no. For that wedding I had to order a size 10 dress. It sucked. Not because of the size itself so much. More because of how many sizes UP it was from what I considered my “normal” size to be.

At 6 months we went on family vaycay to Yosemite, and looking at pictures when we got home was yet another depressing moment. I was still hideously fat (IMO). I gave up Stacy’s pita chips, which I think helped a little. But I also just tried to remind myself that it took me 10 months to gain 28 pounds and it would probably take about that long to lose them all again.

At 8 months, same. To be fair I wasn’t actively trying to lose weight. I was running a few days a week. Maybe going to a core class twice a month. Mostly just doing what moms do: hanging with their baby, trying to keep the house from looking like a hovel, and fitting in work here and there. And I kept telling myself that it wasn’t my job to be skinny! It was my job to take care of my baby and finally start to catch up on 6 months without sleep. In fact I looked at skinny people and thought, god, they have nothing better to do than fit into their skinny jeans! HOW SELFISH AND SHALLOW. (We tell ourselves what we can to get by, you know?)

By 9 months Dashiell was eating more food and nursing less and things actually started to change. My postpartum clothes were finally too big. My pre-baby clothes started to almost fit again. By 10 months I was feeling pretty good actually. And now, exactly one year later I’m miraculously and by no real effort on my part, 5 pounds under my pre-prego weight.

So the moral? Give yourself a break. If you’re not a Hollywood personality with a celebrity trainer and nutritionist, and especially if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, it’s going to take some time to get back to your old bod. Your body might insist on hanging on to the extra 5 pounds because it needs insurance while you continue to nurse full time. And even when you hit the number you’re looking for, your body is just going to be different. But remember to celebrate that! It was you baby’s home for almost 10 months, it supported him/her through the first year of life, and it’s a pretty amazing little temple when you think about it like that.

And while I wouldn’t recommend intermittent exercise and little attention to calorie intake as a reliable weight loss plan, it eventually worked for me. But it took 12 f-ing months. Most importantly, the entire experience has given me such a better perspective on food and exercise and just generally being more conscious of what’s important in my life right now. ie. NOT my jeans size.

So you pretty ladies out there who’ve recently had babies, set reasonable expectations for yourself! My friend Becca wrote a great, very real post about this same thing. Growing and birthing and raising a child takes a toll on your body, and in time you’ll be able to focus on yourself again.

At least a little. Maybe.

In the meantime, treat yourself to a cookie after you put the baby to bed. And if you have to choose between getting an extra hour of sleep and going on a run, sometimes the extra sleep for you is going to be far more beneficial to the entire family than burning a few hundred calories.

I still want to give away all of my clothes btw. Even though I fit into them, I do not want to wear them. I am a different person, after all! I am satisfying myself with online window shopping and reckless cart abandonment for now. You know what I’m saying.


  1. Liz said on February 22, 2011

    Delurking after waaay too long to say thank you for this post! My little daughter was born three months ago and I feel the exactly the same way that you write about feeling! And breastfeeding, while I love doing it, totally does not equal magic weight loss! I’m trying to be easy on myself but it is hard when your body changes so drastically during a year! Thank you…at least I know I’m not alone!

  2. celia said on February 22, 2011

    oh no. we’re going to hawaii when the baby is 4 months old and i, too, was under the impression i’d be back to “normal” by then. :/

  3. jamie said on February 22, 2011

    *lalalalalalalala* plugging my ears not listening to you.

    hello i am trying not to think about this yet. ;)

  4. Robin said on February 22, 2011

    Thank you for this post! What a fabulously encouraging piece that so many women can benefit from. I can’t wait to tweet a link. I love your blog and loved this encouragement. Women need to give themselves a break more often that we tend to allow :)

  5. sally mae said on February 22, 2011

    love it!!!! I don’t even have a child yet, but still feel like I can relate to the inevitable circumstances. Sleep is super important, and amen for reckless cart abandonment!

  6. nicole b. said on February 22, 2011

    I’m not a mama (so I fall into the category of selfish and shallow, ha), but I appreciate this post so much. It’s important for women to take their health seriously and make time for themselves. I love my exercise routine, because it’s all mine. It only takes 45 min. out of my day, and I feel so strong, capable and accomplished afterwards. Good stuff.

  7. blake said on February 22, 2011

    Great, wonderful post! I’m sure lots of mamas out there need to hear just this. I too was amazed about the truth (at least for you and me) about weight and breastfeeding: during, my body wanted to keep some weight on (it’s only logical, right?), and then as nursing gradually came to a close, the weight started to fall off. Not really what they tell you in books, etc — but so helpful to understand now. Just give yourselves time and kindness :)

  8. martha said on February 22, 2011

    I am a first time mother of a 6 week old. I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I have gained weight and I don’t like it. Exercising is at the front of my mind but is last on my list when i have a free hour. I don’t like thinking about it as much as I do. The thought of going back to work in a few weeks stresses me out for many reasons but the fact that one of them is ‘what will i wear?’ annoys me. It feels selfish. But it’s honest. This is hard and I thank you for writing about it.

  9. bigBANG studio said on February 22, 2011

    Oh I love you, Kristina. You’re only chicer and more feminine having gone through the past twelve months, and yes: it is important to eat healthily, exercise, and get sleep, but the *most* important thing? Being a good mama to that darling baby. And on that front, you amazing woman, you are clearly doing a dynamo job. Well done, lady. xo

  10. raena said on February 22, 2011

    i LOVE this post! i’m not a mom nor do i plan to be anytime soon, but this is so great and i love hearing this perspective. i’m kind of a fitness freak/gym rat and am sure that if i do get pregnant one day, the weight gain will bother me, but you are right – remember what you’re doing with your body. something completely awesome!

  11. Heather said on February 22, 2011

    I am not a mother, nor do I want to be anytime soon, but I am struggling with losing weight after losing my mother to cancer. This is such an inspirational post because it reminds all of us that we sometimes need to enjoy what we have and not just focus on what we want. Thank you so so so much for posting and sharing this with us!

  12. Alison said on February 22, 2011

    Thank you for posting this. As I hit 20 weeks this wknd, I had another low moment of… ‘is this getting out of control?’ And then when I read your words, that the body/temple is baby’s home, I feel so much better about it. Thank you. It really made my Tuesday a whole lot better.

  13. alma said on February 22, 2011

    My sweet little boy turns six months next week. I haven’t gotten on a scale since my six weeks postpartum visit, but none of my pre-pregnancy clothes come close to fitting. And I loved my clothes. I too thought breastfeeding would magically melt away the pounds. Love love this post, thank you so much.

  14. Jennifer said on February 22, 2011

    Thank you for this! I’m five months post-baby and feel like breast-feeding has turned me into a hungry, hungry hippo. I’m happy to do it though and I know I’ll get my body back eventually. It’s nice to know there are others out there who didn’t lose it all at once as well.

  15. Deepali said on February 22, 2011

    This post is so true! Although I lost all my pre-prego weight after baby one (currently expecting baby 2) things just shifted around so clothes fit different and I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out, but you know what? It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, you just have to be happy. I love and cherish everything that brought me here with my son and even with the second one so whatever happens to my body along the way, I’m just going to deal.

  16. katie said on February 22, 2011

    i guess i’m one of the lucky ones, as breastfeeding has helped me to lose all of my baby weight and then some. my little one will be 4 months next week and i’m 3 lbs less than my pre-prego weight; however, my body doesn’t look the same. everyone’s body and experience is different and it’s true that we shouldn;t be so hard on ourselves. for me, the key was to exercise and eat healthy during my pregnancy and that helped my body to be in a better position to quickly lose the 28 lbs i gained.

    yes, we need to give ourselves some slack, but also don;t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat poorly and gain too much excess weight, which is a common mistake.

    thanks for posting this!

  17. tiffany said on February 22, 2011

    Thank you for this post!! I really needed it. After my first baby, I was lucky to loss all the baby weight fairly quickly (I gained 25 pounds). I was breastfeeding exclusively for 1 year… however, after my second child (8 months ago), still breastfeeding exclusively, I’m not losing 20 pounds of baby weight that fast… I’m having a hard time accepting it but I know taking care of our baby is more important than losing that weight.

  18. Jillian Clark said on February 22, 2011

    Thanks Kristina this really helps. I also loved Becca story it actually made me laugh out loud, which it what I needed.

    With Liam now almost 3 months old I’ve been feeling a bit depressed about the weight thinking I should be MUCH smaller by now and why the heck can I still not fit into my jeans. ahhh!

    It’s nice to hear all of your stories to know I’m not alone in this battle. OK I guess I can weight a few more months to see if things turn around. In the meantime, I’ll have a cookie with that…HA! : )

  19. Suzanne said on February 22, 2011

    If I’m tired but also feel guilty about not exercising, I’ll always opt for the nap first, because then I’ll actually have the energy for the exercise afterwards.

  20. Sara E. Cotner said on February 22, 2011

    Aaahhh! Such a moving post! I am 41-weeks pregnant today, and I just recently started scheming about all the ways to look amazing in five months (I’m going to a wedding). I started thinking about boot camp classes and diet regimes and then I was like, “Wait a second. You don’t need a crazy plan, you need a healthy lifestyle!”

    We’ll see whether I’m even able to achieve a healthy lifestyle, since the first thing I want to eat after the birth is cupcakes!

  21. Jen said on February 22, 2011

    Really all I want to say is THANK YOU. I needed that.

  22. Sandra said on February 22, 2011

    Hi Kristina
    I recently discovered your blog and I love it!!, but this post is just the best thing I’ve read since i had my son who is 9 months now, I felt like i was reading my own journal, I too thought I would loose the weight right away with breastfeeding!!! yeah right! I had the destintion wedding to attend… and I have 5 pounds to go crazy! so dido!! to your post, and thank-you for the inspiration

  23. Lael said on February 22, 2011

    A million thank yous, I found this post inspiring and very relevant as I have a four month old! I gained 70 lbs during my pregnancy – going from a size 4/6 to a 16! I breastfeed exclusively and the weight is starting to come off, but I am no where near where I thought that I would be at this point. I love your blog and this post made me love it even more!

  24. Kelsey said on February 22, 2011

    This is such a great post!

  25. Rebecca Brams said on February 22, 2011

    When my first baby was 3 months old and not with me at Trader Joe’s, a woman let me go ahead of her in line — “Pregnant ladies first!” she said. My response? “How about a new mama with a 3-month-old at home?” and sailed past her. Now that my second baby is 4 months old, I can say that it’s taking even longer to lose weight the second time around. I gain a lot of weight when I’m pregnant, even though in “normal” life I’m a size 4/6. But I am starting to see some downward momentum, even if just a teeny bit at a time. Thanks for the shout-out to my post about this, Kristina. My strategy for now: have patience & a plan.

  26. jodi said on February 23, 2011

    I have a 4-mos old and have to say this whole “you’ll lose weight while breastfeeding” is crap… besides having a C-section and difficulty producing enough milk after birth – it’s been a rough few months… i hate how i look and granted, i don’t exercise like i used too – my diet isn’t THAT bad… on the other hand, i know it took 9 months to gain this weight but it’s still very discouraging… i have like 4 sizes of clothes in my house… thanks for posting this… :)

  27. Melanie said on February 23, 2011

    ahhhh. sigh. relief. i’m 4 /12 months into carrying the hummingbird and honestly this scares me so much more than labor. that and i’m going to miss the entire scones and half pizzas that i can down pretty easily now:)

  28. Amy K said on February 23, 2011

    I can relate! With my first baby, I lost the baby weight (40 lbs) and then some in 4 months while breastfeeding – did not watch what I ate or excercise one iota. With my second – different story. 8 months later I am still trying to lose the 30 lbs I gained! Most of my jeans fit but it’s definitely not the same. And working full time has left me unmotivated and too tired to work out although I know I need to get back into my pre-baby running/yoga routine.

  29. Liz said on February 23, 2011

    I’m 27 weeks into pregnancy and just bookmarked this post to reread over and over and over after my little one arrives. Thanks for the honesty, detail, and thoughtful words.

  30. Maureen said on February 24, 2011

    This is an awesome post. I often feel like it’s easy for bloggers to create this “perfect life” where everything is beautiful and great all the time. But this is such a refreshingly honest and reassuring bit of personal wisdom. I am 8 months out and these stubborn 5 pounds are driving me nuts. I keep looking to a year (when I’ll wean my daughter) as the time when we’ll both turn a corner. I’ve learned many lessons along the way, however. One being that no one cares about my extra 5 lbs except for me! There is so much more to life. So thanks again for the great reminder.

  31. allison said on February 24, 2011

    great post. i for sure didn’t “bounce” back to normal in 3-4 months but eventually a year later i did. ;) lovely blog you have!

  32. Kristy (Lazar) Hatton said on February 25, 2011

    Amen! I am 7 months out, and I still have 8 pounds left to lose. I gained 65 (gasp!), so I’ve come a long way, but I still find myself standing in my closet, desperately trying to squeeze into my old jeans (they won’t go past my hips). I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I have avoided the mall for months (I used to LOVE to shop) and I keep buying my son clothes he doesn’t need to fulfill my retail fix. As I sit here and eat a box of lemon heads (will I ever stop craving sugar???), I salute you and your honesty…and your new, kick ass bod! I hope to join you when I stop breast feeding around the clock. Thanks, mama for the inspiration!

  33. nanne said on February 27, 2011

    this is a great post!!

    i’m going to give you the older mom scoop on the losing the baby weight issue.

    it’s hard. it’s really, really hard….but it will happen, but it won’t happen overnight for most. (i did have a couple of friends , who we called “genies”–chicks blessed with super power metabolisms & magic genes, who wore their pre-preg jeans home from the hospital. but they were the exception.)

    the hardest part is finding the time & the energy. unless you have a nanny, trying to squeeze in a workout, finding time to prepare a healthy meal is difficult. especially if you work, but even if you don’t work outside the home (and, believe me…having a newborn is a fulltime plus job) it’s still a struggle to find time for yourself.

    and, let’s don’t call trying to be healthy “me time”. it’s very, very important, not only for your physical health, but for your mental stability.

    baby fat is like concrete…it is made to cling to your body & to nourish that little baby fat maker. you have to chip away at it and give it at least 6 months to go away…not to depress anyone, but a realistic goal would be 9 months on , 9 months off.

    i have always been a size 4 and was totally startled when i was not a size four on arrival home from the hospital. excuse me??? a size 10??? me??? wth???

    when i actually had time to think about my new and enlarged body between caring for a colicy baby i was SAD & depressed & feeling totally fuglly!.

    but the good news is, that time does pass and you can work it off…..btw…those hip bones do expand when you give birth and will go back to a normal size by your child’s first birthday.

    buy a jogging stroller, join a gym that has good childcare, find a cable company that has on demand free exercise programs (this is a great thing i didn’t have), have a friend, family member keep that prescious angel while you go for a walk.

    you can do it!! and it sets a great example for your child to see their parents being active, eating healthy & happy.

    i have just posted a dissertation :)!

    nanne in indiana by way of alabama

  34. elizabeth antonia said on February 28, 2011

    so true. having a baby, nurturing a baby, takes so much of a woman’s life force. it takes time to heal. and i totally believe your body keeps what it needs while you breastfeed. my doc told me that while i was breastfeeding that i could expect to keep the last 5-10 lbs at least of pregnancy weight (i gained 50 lbs. – gulp.)

    2 years after, i can’t even remember having a baby!! things get better!

  35. kristin glass said on February 28, 2011

    Thank you for this post! This is why the internet is so amazing (and blogs, specifically).

    PS-I’m nibbling on one of your buttermilk flaxseed pancakes as I write this. Delicious and so nutritious!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  36. Kristina said on March 1, 2011

    Whoa. So apparently there are lots of women in the same post-prego boat! So glad we can all band together in the whole struggle against the mom body! In a reasonable, non-urgent way, of course.

    You are all making me feel like I am less crazy. Yay.

  37. A Merry Mishap said on March 2, 2011

    So glad to hear someone address this! I breastfed my son until 17 mos and it did NOTHING to help me lose weight. Actually, I still haven’t lost the weight so I know full well how discouraging it is. I feel like the only mom who can’t lose her baby weight. It’s frustrating because I didn’t gain the weight because I had bad eating habits, it was because I was pregnant. I’m not pregnant any more…should be gone by now!
    Thank you though, great & genuine article!

  38. shalini said on March 5, 2011

    So true about how long it actually takes to lose all the weight. My little girl is just over 10 months now and although I am below my pre-preg weight, my shape is so different. Still have a little pooch belly that refuses to go, although I haven’t gone to the gym or worked out or ran at all, and I eat a piece of dessert everyday. But then, life is not all about just devoting yourself to being skinny like a celeb. We are real people and this is a far better way to live.

    Really nice to find your blog.

  39. Marykins said on March 23, 2011

    *sigh* I am very late to this post because I am HORRID at keeping up with my blogs, though I love them so. Anyways – my son is 6 months and I STILL have 8-10 to lose and I feel wretched and fat. I also feel I will never get back to my pre-pregnancy weight! OR have a stomach pooch that does not hang over my waistband.

    I TRY to do power yoga 3-4 times per week (which I love, but it is so hard to get to with a little one) and if one more person lectures me about doing cardio – I’ll scream. I feel like I should join weight watchers because I have never dieted before and prior to being pregnant, and of course, while pregnant I pretty much ate what I wanted within reason. i.e. if I wanted a couple cookies, I had them. Well sadly, when one is trying to lose weight that philosophy is not a good one. So having a meal plan is lost on me and I am so busy with the baby I sort of grab whatever is around anyway.

    It is very frustrating to be so close, yet so far, and look longingly at things like my fantastic leather pants that I am still unable to button and oh they taunt me so! I’m hoping that the remainder of the weight will just disappear with time, but I am getting very doubtful. Reading these comments helped my spirits lift just a little. Thanks so much! and I love love love the blog and gorgeous photos and recipes!

  40. julie said on September 30, 2011

    i am so late to this! just catching up on my reader about a million years later. THANK YOU. this made me take a deep breath and RELAX about everything you mentioned. cheers.

  41. Alexis said on June 10, 2012

    not sure how I just stumbled on this post… it is weird i was in pinterest 2 seconds ago ;)… any way I am 11 months post {second baby … you will see this is an important detail} and I need this encouragement. WTF… we carry them for 9 months, nurse them forever and have to be fat the entire time. talk about character building. hope you are doing great! I have loved all your baby belly photos! oxoxo

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