10 SURPRISING THINGS I GAINED BY LOSING THE POSTPARTUM WEIGHT
Pregnancies made me ravenous. Once the morning sickness passed, it was like a food switch turned on and everything was absolutely mouthwatering and tasted amazing. My poor scotsman would protect his food with one arm while he ate with the other, lest his roaming pregnant wife came a calling...
Needless to say, I gained an ambitious amount of weight throughout many of my pregnancies. 65 pounds was my highest weight gain - I am 5'4" on my tallest day...
Gaining the weight and watching my baby bump grow steadily were some of the happiest days of my life.
Trying and failing epically, countless times, to drop the excess weight were some of the most depressing and unhappiest days of my life.
After many failed weight loss attempts, I tried to resign myself to my new body and pretend that the extra weight didn't bother me. It didn't work. I felt pretty bad about myself and the quality of my life was definitely suffering. My vanity took a beating, too. I poured all of my energies into making my babies absolutely gorgeous from head to toe while I looked like I hadn't glimpsed at myself in a mirror since giving birth. It was bad.
When I finally lost the postpartum weight for the first time, I was surprised to find that it did so much more than boost my vanity.
Here are the 10 Surprising Things I Gained by Losing the Postpartum Pounds
1. More Energy. My knees no longer ached when I climbed the stairs. I could stroll and walk with my kiddos without breaking a sweat or huffing and puffing. I had a bounce in my step that I had lost and it made me feel years younger and energized! I had no idea how much energy I was expending and wasting, every day, just by hauling around all that excess weight from point A to point B.
2. Healthier Skin. I can't say it enough. Drink. More. Water. Girlfriend. And by "water", I don't mean "coffee". Although I drank impressive amounts of coffee in the early years (and still do) since becoming a mama, water is your skin's best friend. My skin absolutely glowed once I started drinking more water! The dullness, red splotches, and large pores decreased as I drank more water, sweated daily, and breathed big gulps of air in my bid for better fitness. In addition, I started taking better care of my skin as I began seeing improvements (facial masks, night creams, gentle scrubs and soothing toners...)
I am fast approaching my 46th birthday (watch for that post, dear friends...) and healthy skin is no longer something to take for granted. At my age, beautiful skin must be conjured using the dark arts, night creams, and water, water, water. Especially if you are a nursing mom. Mercy - all that suckling saps the moisture from your skin and leaves it feeling like a lizard's hide.
Drinking all the extra water helped keep the hunger at bay and gave me something to reach for whenever my hands itched to put something in my mouth. Lemons, limes, blueberries, strawberries, and fresh sliced cucumbers are great additions if you want to jazz up your water.
3. Better Sleep. New moms do not get much sleep and there's really no way to get around that, short of getting a night nurse, but I noticed that my quality of sleep improved drastically once I began losing the baby weight. There are a couple of reasons for this: (1) I was exercising regularly and that simultaneously wore me out and energized me so that I slept like a baby (2) because I almost always worked out at the same time, every day, I was following a more regimented sleep schedule and that helped to regulate my sleeping.
4. Mental Health. I suffered PPD (postpartum depression) after giving birth to all of my babies (that's for another post...). It was devastating and soul-crushing to suffer through it alone and as I struggled in other areas of my life, like weight loss failure, the PPD symptoms were compounded.
The daily routine of exercise, the release of endorphins, and progress towards an important personal goal all helped in alleviating the debilitating effects and symptoms of my PPD to a great extent.
5. Time for Me. Self-care is a much neglected aspect of motherhood and I am as guilty as the next mom of forgetting that I too am a person - worthy of attention and investment. My workout time came to be my quiet time just for me and I looked forward to the prospect of doing something for myself on a regular basis.
It felt good to feel good, again.
My daily exercise time (usually 10pm-12am) was my time and I usually got to do my thing, undisturbed. Afterwards, I would take an unhurried shower and use as much hot water as I wanted! Then I'd lather up in my favorite floral scented lotion and revel in the peace and quiet of a late night. The next morning, I would wake up a little thinner, a little toner, and a little closer to my personal fitness goals. That all made me very happy and a happy me made for a happier wife and mom. What a win-win!
6. Elevated Self-Confidence. Dropping the postpartum pounds for some new mommies "ain't no thing" and, like a boss, they get back to their pre-baby physique fairly quickly. That has never been my weight loss story. My story has always been filled with countless false starts, epic fails, many months and even years before I reached my pre-baby fitness goals.
In other words, dropping the postpartum weight, putting in the work, and being consistent were super challenging for me and there were many times when I thought I could not do it. It was difficult to accept that maybe succeeding in this area of my life was beyond me - I felt defeated...
So when I finally conquered the post pregnancy pounds and regained my healthier, fitter, self, I felt a renewed confidence in what I could accomplish and do. After the first weight loss, it started a chain reaction of many more postpartum weight loss successes after each pregnancy. And with each success, my confidence was boosted and I felt that I could succeed in other areas of my life as well.
7. Greater Mental Clarity. I don't know about you but whenever I start a weight-loss/workout regimen, my senses seem to sharpen and I feel clearer in my ability to think and focus within days of starting a new program. I think it comes from switching to fueling my body with cleaner foods and plain old magic water. I believe that all of the processed unfoods and non-water beverages bog down my ability to think clearly and keep me from enjoying greater levels of happiness, joy, and positivity.
The excess weight caused knee pains, back aches, stiff joints, and depression.
The weight loss alleviated all of those symptoms and gifted me with more energy, joy, and a positive mindset towards a better quality of life.
8, Better Sex. When I am more comfortable in my own skin, happier overall, and better rested, the sex is definitely better. A half dozen babies. That's all I gotta say...
9. New Friends. I am definitely more extroverted when I feel confident about myself and have a higher level of energy. It is easier to reach out to new people when I feel good about myself and it's way easier to get involved in activities when I have greater amounts of energy and fewer physical limitations.
After losing the postpartum weight, I started getting involved in more groups, introducing myself to new people, and I even joined a German speaking club and made new friends! No. 9 was a real bonus that I hadn't expected when I first began my weight loss journey. I've met some awesome people that I'm thankful for.
10. More Freedom. Now that I have conquered losing the baby weight multiple times, I no longer limit my thinking about what I can do. For me and for many moms, the obstacles to losing the baby weight are many. So when I cleared all of my own personal obstacles and accomplished my post baby weight loss and fitness goals, I believed that I could do anything else that I put my mind to. Why not?!
I have greater, more expansive freedom in my thinking about the things that I want to pursue and a greater confidence that I can indeed overcome all of the obstacles and work positively towards reaching my goals.
Successful postpartum weight loss did so much more than I could have imagined when I first started my journey 15 years ago, with baby #1. I made new friends, joined new groups, survived the debilitating effects of PPD, started new projects, had plenty more beautiful babies, began homeschooling, and much more!
With renewed confidence, more energy and bigger thinking, I say, 'YES', more often nowadays instead of, "um, no... I don't think I can do that...."
The most surprising thing I gained from losing the weight after Baby #6 was this cool and very fun blog, themomzoo.
Thanks for stopping by my little mom zoo. Have an awesome day, mama!