Postpartum weight loss (round 4)

photo-304It’s food week here on the blog, and today I’m writing about my current relationship with the topic. I had a baby 10 weeks ago, and I’m trying to lose the baby weight. Well, sort of trying. Because the truth is that I have a lot of other stuff going on in my life. I am not willing to devote precious mental space to elaborate meal planning or a diet’s prescribed meals. I will happily exercise daily, but I’m not going to make life less pleasant (or nursing harder) by strictly limiting calories. I’m also not going to do anything like cut out carbs because you know what? I like carbs. I’m happier when I eat carbs. Especially the ones in chocolate.

I know the implications of this for weight loss, thanks to postpartum weight loss round 3. Rounds number 1 and 2 were effortless. Indeed, after baby #2 I started training for the Big Sur marathon while nursing exclusively. I ate like crazy and still got down close to 120 lbs (my wedding weight was 125, for reference. I’m 5’5”).

Then I stopped running 35 miles per week and stopped nursing. I ate less, but perhaps not as much less as I should have. I also got older. Being in one’s 30s turns out to be metabolically different from being 20-something. My weight crept up to about 130. Then I got pregnant with baby #3. I got into the high-150s with the pregnancy, and when the quick weight loss settled, I was at 142. It took six months of slow, grinding it out weight loss to get back into the high 120s. Long time blog readers likely recall my posts about this topic. My weight fluctuated around 130 for the next 2 years. I got it down to 126, but it also went as high as 134. It was right around 130 when I got pregnant with baby #4. My first weigh in at the OB’s was 131.5. I topped out at 155, and after the quick weight loss, was at 139. My lowest weigh-ins since have been 134.5.

It is easy to get frustrated with this process of gradual weight loss. It’s accomplished by little tweaks. I try to fill up on vegetables. A big plate of broccoli takes up a lot of space but doesn’t have a lot of calories. I try to snack less, especially at night. I go for one glass of wine (Ok, maybe 1.5) rather than two. I eat moderate treats (like the 100-calorie varieties) rather than the giant bowl of Ben & Jerry’s I’d prefer. I try not to get discouraged. This is the upside of having done this before. I know what gradual weight loss looks like. Weight in general fluctuates a lot, and so losing half a pound a week, or even half a pound every other week, looks like nothing for a really, really long time. I try to weigh myself at the same time (first thing in the morning, or sometimes after exercising if I need motivation). Every week or two I see a new low. The old low starts appearing more frequently. Eventually I stop seeing a number as a high, but I can be at 134.5 one day, and 137 on another, which feels like seeing 5 weeks of hard work disappear overnight. I get why people give up. I get why people like fad diets that at least give you some quick jump start to weight loss. It is hard to see the same numbers, or even slightly higher numbers, day after day for weeks.

However, this time around, I know it will happen over time. I also care a lot less about the velocity of the process. Heck, I did a photo shoot for a national magazine less than 8 weeks after giving birth! The clothes were kind of drape-y. Also, I have discovered Spanx. Spanx means I can wear my dresses. My jeans all fit, too, so there turns out to be more flexibility in what my weight can be than I might have thought, which makes sense. Five pounds and change spread over one’s entire body is not that much. I’d like to get back to 125, and maybe I will, but 130 may also be a reasonable goal for my mom-of-four, thirty-something self. I’m pretty sure I can get there in a couple months of grinding things out as I go.

Have you ever lost weight? How did you do it?

A side note: If my BMI is within a normal range, and my clothes fit, it’s a reasonable question of why I care what the scale says. I think this is part of my larger philosophy that what gets measured gets done, and numbers keep me accountable. I know I’m reasonably active, but the Fitbit pushes me to do a little bit more. I try to eat healthfully, but I can also “forget” how many candy bars I’m eating if I’m not vigilant. Keeping time logs reminds me that I do get me-time, and I do sleep, and I shouldn’t feel too woe-is-me about these things. As long as I don’t change my feelings about myself based on the number on the scale, I think tracking my weight is OK as a step toward the goal of being light enough to run faster in the half-marathons I have coming up.

Photo: This little dude is gaining weight faster than I’m losing it!

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