I knew a thing or two about weight loss since it has been at the forefront of my life for the last 9 years. With 4 babies under my belt, returning to a slim shape was and is priority. After I had Emmaleigh, I waited expectantly for the weight to just "fall off." I heard that breastfeeding is supposed to burn the fat like crazy and I didn't think I would have to work for the weight loss. I grew up hearing stories of how my mom was skinnier AFTER she had the baby than before she got married. I hoped for her genes. But when my baby was 6 month old and I still had 30 pounds to lose, I was discouraged.
Thus began the dreaded life of dieting. My main approach was move more, eat less. It worked really well for me when I actually moved more and ate less, like A LOT of cardio and a very reduced calorie diet (1,400 calories was my normal weight loss zone). When I didn't exert myself 100% or had a few off-the-wagon kind of days, my weight would go up. So I would have a lot of "lose 2 pounds, gain back 1" months. It was discouraging and it took me 18 months to finally lose the weight after baby #1.
Thankfully I could maintain my weightloss between pregnancies by staying active and eating wisely, but the same cycle continued after trying to lose weight after baby #2, #3, and #4. Gaining about 50 pounds per pregnancy came on quickly, but came off ridiculously slow. I felt like I was chiseling each and every pound off. I was so deprived and hungry. Also, reducing calories in my "eat less" approach made my milk supply plumit. Every. Single. Time.
So that led me to baby #4 and those pesky 25 extra pounds, size 14 pants and a very desperate view of myself. I was really uncomfortable in my skin, I hated looking in the mirror and avoided the camera (the "before" pictures below in the meadow were taken on a fieldtrip with fellow photographers and I wasn't happy about how I looked). I was discouraged, but determined I wouldn't live my whole life hating my body.
I knew if I jumped into the cardio route and reduced my calories, I could lose the weight slowly but surely, but I would essentially be giving up on nursing. Maybe not such a bad idea for any of my other babies who loved bottle feeding and easily weaned. But Tommy wouldn't even be in the same room with a bottle, a picky little guy. He had severe milk allergies so I would have to give him soy formula and that is a whole other argument for another day.
The perfect timing for my next adventure in weight loss was when a friend introduced me to Trim Healthy Mama right before Christmas 2012. This friend was breastfeeding her baby and I knew she had constant milk supply issues in the past and she told me, "This plan will actually INCREASE your supply while you lose weight. Oh, and balance your hormones so you feel human, and you'll be able to feed your whole family without suffering yourself."
Her recommendation was enough for me, I got the book online. I devoured its 640 pages and everything the authors said clicked with me. They took science, explained it in a way I could understand, gave credit to the Creator, and also gave practical advice on how to actually make it work for the whole family.
The authors are sisters and come at the topic of nutrition in a refreshing way. They are smart and sassy and make healthy living seem easy. They even disagree about some stuff, like about packaged convenience foods, fast food, and Earth Milk (a controversial -- because it isn't very tasty -- recipe). I found their perspectives and banter very refreshing! Most thing I've read about diet in the past said, "Do it exactly like this or it won't work." These ladies, Pearl and Serene, give multiple ways to make the plan fit my normal life.
And you know what? It really did fit my life. I started January 1, 2013 and lost 5 pounds in the first week doing the Fuel Cycle (that they don't recommend starting until at least week 3). My body had some rough symptoms getting off sugar so close to the holidays, but tiredness, headaches, and some strange sweating were bearable as I saw the numbers on the scale moving DOWN for the first time in months (I was 8 months post pregnancy at this point). Amazingly, my milk supply never dropped and I was able to completely avoid dairy to keep Tommy happy. After the first week, my energy level went up and the strange symptoms disappeared. My body loves living without refined white sugar.
Losing so much in the first week was absolutely motivating. I continued to lose about 1-2 pounds a week. My goal of losing a total of 25 pounds by April 16th, Tommy's first birthday, was actually feeling attainable. I did it, and honestly, it was the easiest weight I've ever lost. I added up how much weight I've gained during pregnancies and lost in total and it is 180 pounds! I've calorie counted, followed Weight Watchers, tried many exercise routes, and all left me tired and defeated if I didn't do it perfectly. Trim Healthy Mama is a sustainable lifestyle that I am still following and loving a year later. How I wish THM was around 9 years ago! I know I would not have gained so much weight and I could have easily gone back to my healthy body after pregnancies instead of the constant weight loss fight I experienced.
August 2012 (before) August 2013 (after with my wonderful husband)
Photo credits: Jill VanWell
It has been a year since I started THM and I am happily maintaining a healthy weight since mid April of 2013. Many probably want to know what exactly that weight is, but throwing out numbers tends to confuse instead of encourage. I'm tall, my weight doesn't look the same on someone else. That's okay. We're all on a journey to take the best care of our bodies that we can. With THM, I feel like I finally have the knowledge to do just that.