Baby Weight

My master’s thesis at Baylor University was on Postpartum Obesity.  Before ever even planning for children, I was terrified of not losing the baby weight. The idea of my body ballooning and then deflating was daunting, especially because I was entering a career in which my body is my “equipment.”

The research I found was clear:

If you gain more than the recommended 20 to 25 pounds during pregnancy, or if you don’t lose the extra weight within six months of delivery, you are statistically likely to carry an extra 20 pounds, 10 years later. If you are overweight to begin with, that number is even higher. The six-month window for losing pregnancy weight seems to be critical. (Reichman, Today Health)

There’s debate about the recommended amount of weight gain. I believe 20-35 pounds is more accurate.


As a new or new-again mom, you’ve got a lot against you when it comes to weight loss.

-Sleep deprivation. This causes hormonal imbalances (of ghrelin and leptin) that can actually make you gain weight.

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-Stress. Case in point: U.S. interrogators blast the sound of crying babies to “break” Iraqi prisoners. As stress increases, so does the stress hormone cortisol, which inflates the sugar levels in your bloodstream.


-Super nice people bring you meals. I don’t know about you, but if dessert is provided, I eat it. And my friends are all such dang good cooks. 😉

-Recovery. If you had a rough delivery or if you have c-sections like me, your recovery time is six weeks minimum. Sometimes moms are in physical pain all six of those weeks. Who wants to exercise when you’re miserable?

-Selflessness. This time is not about you. It’s about the new addition to your family. You’re giving of yourself by the moment, and it’s easy to feel guilty taking “mommy time.”


I thought it might be helpful to share my experience with postpartum weight loss. Keep in mind that I exercise for a living…so it’s not fair, really. It will be much more difficult to fit in workouts (though NOT impossible) if you aren’t in the fitness industry.

My story:

I gained 28 pounds with Finn. Bed rest for first 4 months and able to do light exercise for last 5 months. Lost all but 3 pounds…3 pounds that weren’t necessary to lose.

I gained 37 pounds with Paisley. Vigorous exercise throughout pregnancy–including running for first 5 months and weight lifting and teaching spinning until the week before her delivery. I’ve lost 22 of those pounds to date (2 months).

My body is very different the second time around. I’m sure this isn’t the case for every mom, but it has been for me. I’ve got cellulite in places I never thought possible. My ribs expanded and my stomach is not deflating as quickly as it did with Finn. My wedding ring is snug.

My Method of Weight Loss:

1. Walk! Walk fast, walk hills. Get moving! This is something you can do with baby and it’s relatively pain-free.

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2. Limit carbs and desserts/sweets of any kind. I only allow them on the weekend. And now that I’m not eating dairy or caffeine, desserts aren’t as much fun anymore anyway.

3. Use a calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It!. I don’t normally count calories, but when I’m trying to lose baby weight, it’s very helpful.

4. Once cleared from your doc, get uncomfortable. Work out hard. Sweat. Spike your heart rate. You’ll have to work twice as hard as you did pre-baby to see the same results.

I ran stadiums with a few clients this morning. Whew! Out. Of. Shape.

I ran stadiums with a few clients this morning. Whew! Out. Of. Shape.

Use the intense workouts to rid yourself of stress and frustration. It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel from a brisk walk as opposed to a cat nap. Or use the investment of your sweet new baby as motivation.

Cycling has been easy on my stomach.

Cycling has been easy on my stomach.

I work out 6 days/week. Teaching TRX, Spinning, and Kickboxing. Walking hills daily, occasionally running…thank you, colicky baby Paisley! 😉 I’m not doing abdominal exercises yet, however. A stitch popped a couple weeks ago and it just doesn’t feel right yet.

5. Hire a trainer. They will track your progress with measurements other than the scale. I hired my boss and friend, Angie, to train me after both babies. She motivates me and I don’t have to think, I just do. I’ve had the privilege of training at least a dozen women postpartum and helped them reach their pre-baby goals…some even became fitter than before baby!

7. Find a pair of jeans or pants that you’d like to fit into again. Not from high school. From before baby. And try them on every week or so to track your progress. Jeans don’t lie.

8. Flood yourself with water. Especially if you’re breast feeding. Buy a nice water bottle (I like glass ones!).

9. Speaking of breast feeding, do it if you can. Aside from the benefits to baby, you’ll burn at least 500 calories/day. Release yourself of any guilt if you can’t or choose not to. No judgment.

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10. Give yourself grace. This is by far my hardest step. I feel pressure to become fit again almost immediately–probably because of my job and probably because I’m type-A. This is unrealistic. Set realistic goals. Mine are: 1) Lose the weight in 6 months (Christmas Day exactly!) . 2) Fit into old jeans when it’s cold enough to wear jeans. October? 2) Be back to “normal,” if not stronger/fitter by Paisley’s first birthday.

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Hiking at about 4 weeks.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask questions; I’d love to help. I consider it my calling.


9 thoughts on “Baby Weight

  1. Enjoyed reading this. I, too, have seen a big difference in losing my baby weight this time around. I know a lot of it probably has to do with the fact that I carried Nova for 42 weeks (cellulite and stretch marks I never could’ve imagined!) and that she wouldn’t breastfeed. I gained around 35 with her (but I also started about 5 lbs. heavier with her than with Duke). Right now, I’ve got 5 lbs. left from pregnancy, but really 10 lbs. overall that I’d like to lose to feel “normal” again. Although not consistent yet, I am back to running. My stomach needs some serious attention though. Any awesome tips besides sit ups and planks would certainly be welcome. 🙂

    • There’s a saying in the fitness industry: “Abs are created in the kitchen.” A cleaner, unprocessed diet seems to be one of the biggest players in the stomach. Also I’ve found sprints to be beneficial in trimming the midsection. Think about the twist involved in an all-out-sprint as opposed to running/jogging for distance. Mix up your runs and sometimes walk (say, 2 min.), jog 5 min and sprint (fast!!!) for a minute. Repeat… Planks tend to be more beneficial for mommy tummies. The transverse abdominus is the “girdle” muscle behind the six pack that sucks everything back in. It’s used during laughing, coughing, planking and stabilizing. Find a good plank routine on Pinterest or YouTube. If you can’t find one, let me know and I’ll search for you! Hope this helps, Claire. Sounds like you’ve done a fantastic job already!

  2. Thanks so much for this! As a soon-to-be first-time mom this has been on my brain…especially as a marathoner. Grace. That is the one to work on for sure.

  3. This was an interesting read, especially the research you included. As a fellow Type A perfectionist who spent 16 years in the ballet world, I can be a bit hard on myself when I don’t snap back into shape right away. At least that’s how I felt after babies #1 and #2. Now, seven months after baby #3, I think I’ve finally learned to give myself the appropriate amount of grace in context. Instead of beating myself up that it is taking me longer to get rid of those last 6lbs, I’ve finally allowed myself to just chill. I know I’ll get there. I always do. I am too much of a perfectionist not to. 😉 It’s just the time frame adjustment. Right in this moment with three kids four and under and a hubby who sometimes works long and weird hours, sometimes the choice between the gym and resting with my family is an easy one to make. Family. Rest. I just keep reminding myself that even one or two trips to the gym in a week is better than no trips, even if I was used to doing so much more. I remind myself that I will blink, and suddenly things will be more stable with the baby, thusly I’ll have more free time/actual energy to pick gym over falling asleep on the carpet while the three crazies play around me. Giving myself grace and being patient with my specific circumstances is not my strong suit. But I’m learning. Thanks for the motivational post!

    • Great thoughts, Erin. Absolutely it’s important to balance and prioritize. If your health is on the line, I believe it’s important to take care of yourself first so you’re around to take care of your kids. If it’s merely the last 5-10 lbs of aesthetic weight loss, then family first. 🙂

  4. I found your site a few months ago via blog hopping from mutual friends. I love the way you think and write; many of your posts have brought me to tears. I think it’s kind of one of those “someone else feels/thinks this too?” things.

    I let out the biggest sigh after reading this. I had two kids in two years, and while I know plenty of people do that and bounce back, my body has struggled. I have a master’s in nutrition and taught sports nutrition for a university (I’m still no expert by any means), so I am semi “in the know.” But I’ve had a rough go of it this second time around.

    After I had first baby, I left the hospital weighing less than before I was pregnant. Not sure how that happened. My second baby had a crazy case of colic and I went into a serious mental/spiritual funk the first four months or so. I also only dropped 15 pounds (I gained 30 with both babies) after delivery. Then I put on 5 more because my screaming darling made me want to cry in my closet and eat fudsicles 😉 One day I woke up out of the fog and started running. I ran 4-5 miles a day for three months. Didn’t lose one.single.pound. Got discouraged and slowed it down. I tried the 30-day shred dvd based on a friend’s rec. I didn’t care for it (would rather run!) but I did notice my clothes getting looser.

    I eventually put myself on a low glycemic diet (um, I have a serious sugar addiction, so this was torture) and lost a mere 10 lbs over 6 months. I’m a much happier person with sweets in my life, so I eat low-ish glycemic, pretty clean, and eat something fun on the weekends. With the two toddlers now, I have to get up around 5 to put in one sweaty hour on the treadmill in the morning (five days a week). I still haven’t seen weight loss. I’m starting to wonder if this is it, my new size for life. My brain tells me (I used to preach this to students) I need to start lifting/strength training to help my body burn calories more efficiently.

    I am so sorry this is the freakin’ longest comment ever. I guess this is my question. Have you had any clients with a similar experience? Will strength training change the game for me? I don’t get a lot of time to spend on fitness…so I usually choose cardio, and just watching what I eat. It’s so hard to not get discouraged after a year of effort and very little change. Even harder to not be so critical of my “new self” when I have sweet little toddler girl eyes watching and listening to my every word.

    Sorry again this was so long! I love your blog!

    • Hi Misti! Thanks for following! Ugh…colic is maddening, isn’t it?! I can’t imagine having two so close together. I bet that was so difficult.

      There are a few things to try when nothing else is working and variety is basically the name of the game.
      1) Don’t eat the same things every day. Your body can develop allergies to them that cause you to gain/maintain weight. You know this as a nutritionist. Eat a wide variety of foods. Of course, eat a large breakfast.
      2) Perhaps you’re not eating enough calories? Starvation mode.
      3) Metabolic training! This mixes strength training (lift weights that cause fatigue. light weights will not help you lose weight/fat) with cardio intervals. Lift/strength train for about 3 different exercises or about 5 minutes and then do a cardio burst for about 2 min (jump rope, jacks, squat jumps, sprint, cycle, row, skaters, tuck jumps, burpees, front kicks, mountain climbers…). Repeat until you’ve hit every muscle twice. The cardio bursts should make you breathless.
      4) HIIT training. A form of metabolic training…this is High Intensity Interval Training. The research shows that you can get the same or better results from a high intensity (taking you breathless) workout that is shorter…about 20 minutes…as a moderately difficult endurance workout of about 60 minutes. This is great news for busy moms. Give yourself 20 minutes where you kick your own butt and I think you’ll see results. Use the long workouts (like runs) for mental and spiritual therapy.
      5) Jump. Something about jumping/impact helps release cellulite.
      6) Get your hormone levels checked. Sometimes womens’ hormones never return to normal after kids. If this is the case, a natural supplement could help stabilize your levels and help you drop those pounds.
      7) Hire a good trainer…even for a month. Tell them you want accountability and you want to work hard!

      Don’t give in yet! I’d love to know if any of these help over time!

      • Thanks so much for the advice. I’m definitely going to research this and give it a shot! You’ve at least motivated me to press on. And yes, the mind-bending colic. You’re in the trenches now, but there are baby belly laughs around the corner.

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