It has been almost 22 months since I had my last baby and 4 months since I stopped breastfeeding. I’ve finally accepted the fact that the excess baggage that I’ve been carrying is sticking around, and that I actually have to work to get this baby weight off. Dammit!
During my first pregnancy, I gained a whopping 45 lbs. They say it’s normal to gain 25-30 lbs. during pregnancy, and that the smaller you are to begin with, the more you gain. Well, I wasn’t that small to begin with. I’m 5’5 with a pre-pregnancy weight of 137 lbs., have broad shoulders and size 9 feet…not the typical petite Asian (a friend once called me a “mutant Asian”). However, I was in pretty good shape back then. When I was one month pregnant (and unaware of the fact), I was running 3.5 miles around my parents’ neighborhood and “shredding” to Jillian Michaels’ DVD. I pounded the pavement so hard it’s a wonder the baby stayed in my womb.
I continued working out through my pregnancy (though not as hard-core), but I also ate for two with a diet consisting mostly of Frosted Flakes and fried chicken. By the time the baby was born, I was as big as a house (topping out at 183 lbs). Within a year, though, I magically lost all 45 lbs. without even trying (don’t hate me). Seriously, I exercised maybe once or twice a week, still stuffed my face, and one day nine months later, miracle of all miracles, I was able to fit into my size 6 pre-pregnancy jeans again.
I wore those jeans for about a year and then got pregnant with Baby #2. I haven’t been able to fit into those jeans since. I seem to have a 10-pound band of fat around my midsection (and hips and thighs) that has become a permanent fixture on my body. I know 10 lbs. isn’t that bad and not nearly as daunting as wanting to lose, say, 50 lbs. But on my frame, an extra 10 lbs. is obvious and most importantly, I just don’t feel good about it. I can feel the roll of fat spilling over my waistband, and body parts jiggling when I take the kids out on the jogging stroller. Sometimes after a big meal, my tummy protrudes so much I look like I’m 5 months pregnant (luckily no one has asked me if I am – that’s a good sign, at least). The times I feel the worst is when I’m getting dressed to go out for moms’ nights out. I pull those skinny jeans from my closet, hoping that they will glide back on with ease like they did after my first baby. It’s just not happening. I can barely get them over my thighs let alone zipper and button them. In fact, most of my clothes are from my skinnier days and I don’t look good in 90% of them. (What’s up with all those short-cropped t-shirts I used to wear?! I must have been small enough back then for them to cover my gut…definitely not the case now). I refuse to buy new clothes in a bigger size and I’m sick of wearing maternity clothes! (Yes, I still do sometimes.) I feel that I have to lose this baby weight before turning the big 4-0 next year, otherwise it all goes downhill and I succumb to frumpy mom-dom for the rest of my life.
Now that I realize I need to work at losing these last 10 lbs., I am going to employ weight-loss tactics that have worked for me in the past (I read somewhere that this is a good way for permanent weight loss). Although, I had never gained and lost 45 pounds before my first pregnancy, I’ve had my chunky days. In the Peace Corps, I gained 10 pounds the first year (it was a mystery in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan that male Peace Corps volunteers lost weight while female volunteers gained weight. It didn’t have to do so much with the fatty meaty greasy food as it did with emotional and stress eating), and lost it the second year by running and eating lots of beans. In my freshman year of college, I lost 10 pounds from eliminating red meat and fried foods from my diet and taking advantage of my university’s recreational facilities. After grad school, I was the smallest I had ever been as an adult at 132 pounds. At the time, I was dating a superficial Ukrainian dork who encouraged me to lose 10 pounds. I did, but then he wanted to me to lose another 10 pounds. I thought, Screw him! I gained back 5 pounds and dumped him (not only did he want me to lose weight all the time, he would also wear his shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest to show off his chest hair. Ick.).
Anyway, here are the weight-loss methods that have worked for me:
1) Running. There is no quicker way to lose weight than to run (or in my case, jog) even though I hate every minute of it. Back in the day (before having babies), I was able to run 3.5 miles pretty effortlessly. These days, and I don’t know if it’s my age or having children, but my knees, lower back, and ankles scream for mercy every time I run. Listening to an iPod makes it slightly more bearable. This will not be my primary form of exercise in my quest to lose weight – just a couple of times a week at the most.
2) Turbo Jam. One time while living in New Orleans, I came home at 1am after a night of drinking and turned on the t.v. to find this infomercial on. Yes, it’s worthy of an infomercial (a cheesy martial arts and dance workout), but it’s fun, has good music, a charismatic instructor, and it works. I can’t help it – I love Turbo Jam!
3) Meal planning/keeping a food journal. Okay, writing down everything you eat and counting calories is super-tedious, but it makes you mindful of what you are putting into your mouth. Eating the kids’ leftover mac n’ cheese and Halloween candy is not helping me magically lose the baby weight. Neither is the glass of wine I have almost every night. I need to plan my meals ahead of time and stick to them instead of munching on whatever’s around when I’m hungry (usually chicken nuggets and Goldfish crackers).
4) Eliminate bad foods. This is a given, but for me, it works better to eliminate fried foods, junk foods, and sugar entirely. I don’t believe in everything in moderation. After all, everyone’s interpretation of moderation is different (is small fries in moderation?) plus just a taste of cheese can lead to a whole block, or a small piece of chocolate can lead to the whole bar. Of course these bad foods are hard to resist, especially with the holidays coming up. I just need to realize it’s not a free-for-all.
5) Have a goal, timeframe, mantra, or inspiration. In my freshman year of college, I had a picture of Linda Hamilton (of Terminator 2 fame) hanging on my mirror to inspire me. Nowadays moms who are fit and healthy inspire me, whether it’s a celebrity mom* like Gwen Stefani or Jessica Alba or my mom friends who teach Zumba and yoga. I also have the goal of fitting into my skinny jeans again. I plan to run a 5K with some of my mom friends in a month to help me along. It’s easy to fall back to old habits (like this past Monday when I ate a bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s) once I slack on diet or exercise, but an end goal always helps me look ahead instead of giving up.
I think being accountable also helps, which is why I’m laying it all out there, here on my blog. I am starting out at 146 lbs. and want to get down to 137 lbs. so I can fit into my size-6 pre-pregnancy jeans again. I WILL NOT BUY NEW JEANS (my new mantra)! Okay, I’ll keep you posted!
*Recommended Reading: I’m currently reading a book I picked up from the library called “How to Look Hot in a Minivan” by Janice Min, who is the former Editor-in-Chief of US Weekly. She gives great tips on diet, exercise, makeup, hair, and style for new moms, and features a lot of celebrity moms for inspiration. It’s a fun read and very helpful for those moms who don’t want to look like they’ve given up!