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  • Writer's pictureEmma Tierson

Weight Loss After Pregnancy: A Journey, Not A Battle



Thinking about weight during and after pregnancy can be scary. We've all heard stories of those who were never able to lose the weight and those who seemed to drop the pounds immediately. From my personal experience, weight loss after pregnancy is a journey, not a battle. It's not something you win or lose. It's navigating your recently changed body, seeing how this new you interacts with old habits. Then changing those habits when necessary.




Details about myself that are important to keep in mind


I am a 4'8" woman. I'm begging whoever is reading this to just keep that in mind. The numbers that you see below are not at all what a person of average height should be aiming at for weight loss. Sharing this information on my journey is something I've been hesitant to do. My entire life if I say I want to lose weight and happen to name a number, the person I'm talking to will say I'm good the way I am....even if my doctor considers me overweight. The numbers on the scale have a different meaning to every individual, and that is something very important to note. For myself, a healthy weight range can be anywhere from about 83-115 lbs. It depends on if you're looking at a BMI chart (which is often misleading in what a healthy weight range should be), or weight in general.



Weight Before Pregnancy


From about 2017-2019 my journey with my weight consisted of working out intensely for about 4 sessions, 2 times a year. I was anywhere from 115-124, eating whatever I wanted, drinking more than I had ever before, and all in all living my best gluttonous life. I didn't love that I weighed a bit more than I should...but, as you may know from all of my recipes, I LOVE FOOD. So having a bit more to grab onto around the middle was a fine trade-off for trying a new restaurant or recipe. Right before I found out I was pregnant I had reached my highest weight yet of 126 lbs.



Weight During Pregnancy


Gaining weight throughout pregnancy was not a sight I enjoyed seeing in the mirror. The weight gathered in unflattering ways. I grew so quickly some days that stretch marks would appear overnight and they were relentless. I now look at models and I want to cry. And then I look at maternity models and I start crying again because at least that model is closer to what I now look like. If a model has stretch marks, I'm bawling my eyes out with joy.

Well..anyway. Gaining weight so quickly put a damper on my self-esteem. By January, the month Warren was due, my weight reached a max of 146lbs.


Weight After Pregnancy


It is true what they say, breastfeeding (or pumping) will help you lose weight. Within about a month's time, I had dropped down to my pre-pregnancy weight of 126 lbs. During those three months, I ate a lot. You need to eat between 1800-2200 calories a day if you're feeding your child breastmilk. Before I was pregnant I ate around 1250 calories a day, so this was a massive jump up in food consumption. I attempted to eat healthier food. And I drank A TON OF WATER. Like 12 cups of water a day or MORE. I was also taking vitamins, not drinking alcohol In general I was being healthy but not being active. I attribute my drop in weight to be from pumping, Warren not being in my womb, and my body's "water weight" from bleeding for 6+ weeks straight.



I had wanted to document my journey on Instagram...but when the time came to start exercising I just couldn't do it. I'm camera shy, I don't enjoy editing videos, my phone is cheap so the camera sucks...it would have been a flop just due to my attitude. So I documented everything using my Samsung Health app instead.


My goal for my weight loss journey was to try and get below 110 lbs. I was 95-105 lbs throughout high school and college and wanted to try and get as close to that as possible. It took until the very end of June, but I did end up meeting my goal.



Losing the Weight


I have always loved cycling.


When I was a teenager, I would spend my summer days riding my bike around the block. It was 2.2 miles total, and I would normally do a few laps a day. It was something fun to do, it took my mind of any drama going on, and I was out and about in nature, in short, it was bliss.


More than just my childhood memories, I favor cycling over other exercises because of its many positive qualities. It is a lower impact sport. It's possible to burn 400-750+ calories an hour. I find that it tones the areas that I collect fat (thighs, hips, glutes) more directly than other means of exercising. And just to say it...I hate running. I'm bad at it. I'm really slow. I jog at a walking pace and I can't run for more than 3 minutes straight. My ankles always roll, which causes major setbacks. People say that running burns more calories than cycling...but because I'm so slow that is just not true for me. And although running does overall tone better, it never accentuates my features. So when I was thinking about what I wanted to do for exercise (also taking into account that I don't have a gym membership), cycling was a no brainer.



At the end of February, my parents ordered a training stand for my bike. I live in a third-story apartment, so walking my bike up and down the stairs isn't as fun as cycling in place on my tiny balcony jamming to Megan Thee Stallion on full blast. My cycling began on March 21st, the dots beforehand were just strength exercises and a LOT of ab work. For reference, small circles are 20-30 minute sessions, large circles are 60 minute sessions. I did do toning exercises and stretches after most cycling sessions in March and April. I logged my exercises individually, which is why the "sessions" below have a higher count than how many days I worked out.


My schedule wasn't perfect. It wasn't planned out. When I exercised was based on when I had the time. How long was based on my energy level and if I was able to get to that sweet spot of exercise where you feel like you can continue forever. The 2020 Pandemic also helped me out a bit. If I was sick of being indoors, I cycled. If I needed a 20 minute work break during my telework days, I cycled. If I was feeling the post-partum depression and was able to get myself off of the bed or floor for long enough to make any sort of decisions, I cycled. Having an endorphin release can do wonders for your mind. Any time I was able to cycle, I did.


Speaking of post-partum depression, this is so, so, real. I've struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in middle school therefore, the feelings I experienced during and after pregnancy were not new. I've somewhat learned to 'take them as they come', and just roll through the experience to get to the other side where I can have my emotional freedom back. Whether that means I stare at a wall until the feelings pass or put on an alter ego personality until I can get my own back is dependant on the day. I don't know if that is healthy or not and I'm not saying it works. All I'm saying is that's what I do. The hormones of pregnancy made me feel cyclically depressed, so when it came time to start calling my symptoms post-partum depression, I felt like nothing had changed. I was still experiencing impending doom, feelings of inadequacy, I would just need to lay down and stare at a wall in my catatonic state and ideally be cuddled by my dog or husband. The feelings of post-partum depression were so seamless with the pregnancy depression that I have only just now, after 6+ months, realized that my depression has lessened and my post-partum depression days may be in my past.


Working out post-partum is a strange, almost out of body, experience. Your body has gone through so many changes that it feels foreign. For some reason, no matter how many crunches I do, my belly wrinkles never seem to tighten back to their old self. When I gain weight after indulging in a meal, I can feel the weight gather on my hips. I can't see it, but I can feel the difference. I have been blessed with muscles that seem to bounce back quickly when I work out. This blessing doesn't work in my favor anymore. It shows the areas that refuse to tone and areas of imperfection, such as my gathered skin above my cesarean scar, very plainly. I now tend to lose whatever toned looks I gain through working out quickly. Meaning if I want to have a toned body, I can no longer binge workout for a couple of weeks and be good for months. I have to actually make working out a part of my weekly schedule. And I know, I know. This all sounds superbly narcissistic, but I just KNOW other people have to be feeling the same pain. Growing up is hard and no one prepares you for the cesarean scar 'shelf'. It literally looks like a pocket of fat. The 'shelf' is just skin that, at the time of the surgery was perfectly lined up, but when the body started to heal itself and return to its prior shape, the skin around the scar is just a little bit off. It almost looks like a second tummy or a fat build-up, and it may or may not mean that I will never wear a bodycon dress again. It will now depend on if I have the self-esteem to rock my 'shelf' instead of if I think the dress fits today's aesthetic.



TLDR:

Working out + time = weight loss

Pregnancy changes your body

I have self-esteem issues regarding my image



Product Review


I am NOT a Walmart affiliate, so if you click this link only Walmart will benefit.



This is the indoor bicycle training stand that I used post-pregnancy. I think it is a pretty great product! Its price is $89.99 making it affordable as far as exercise equipment goes. My bike is small, the wheels are either 24 or 26 inches, basically the size of a child's bike. Assembly is pretty easy. One person could manage it but it will go quicker with two people (just to get the bike centered). I've used this product for 4+ months and it has held up in wind and rain just fine. It can get loud when you add resistance, but I've had no complaints from my apartment neighbors so far! All in all, this is a nifty and compact product that is great for cycling when the conditions for street riding are not ideal.


Last Thoughts


This has been a difficult thing to write about. It's taken over a week for me to collect my thoughts on everything and as you have gathered, I'm a bit of a negative Nancy. All in all my goal was met! I'm really proud of that. Working out is not an easy habit to get into. For the past two months, I have taken a break from working out. I wanted to see how my body reacted to eating without working out, and how different food affects me. Eventually, I will be working out regularly once again, but this hard-working momma deserves some food and wine.

Cheers to the future and cheers to all the Momma's out there!

It's hard work and we all deserve a toast.



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