It's human nature. You get pregnant, and somewhere deep inside, hiding in the background of your mind, you wonder if you will ever physically be the same.
Well, here is the answer. No.
Shedding pounds is a full time job. And P.S. — the skin changes, forever.
I think losing weight is like dating. The more you try, sometimes the harder it gets. The more I think about what I eat, the more I want to eat. It's an evil cycle. Then, mix in some hormones post pregnancy, and the Girl Scout selling Samoas at your door can send you into a downward spiral.
I've had people look at me and say, "You're built to be thin." WRONG. In college I was a solid 25 pounds heavier than I am now. I didn't drink my freshman 15, I ate it in frozen yogurt while socializing in the dining hall. I have to work at my health just like anything else.
So first, let's talk food.
My grandma, Mumu, always said, "If I don't know what it is, then you shouldn't eat it."
Would she know a tomato? Check.
Would she know a pop tart? No. (Except this was my favorite treat along with two episodes of "Saved by the Bell" after school every day, so we will let it slide.)
Losing baby weight meant eating real things. I stuck to the outside aisles of the grocery store for foods my body could process. I swapped spray butter for real butter. I tried to avoid sugar, which turned me into a crazy woman for a while.
I worked out even though I wanted to work the remote and binge watch TV. Some days were wins, others a total fail, but I started over every day.
But the true moment came a good year after our first child was born. I was sharing my wedding veil with my sister in law. And there it was, my wedding dress. Do I try it on? Will it fit? I just stared at that box.
That night my husband came home only to get one of the best gut laughs of his life. There I was, sitting on the couch with my wedding dress fanned out for show.
I did it. The hard work paid off...
...Just in time to get pregnant again.
I thought it was easier to lose the weight after the second baby because there is ZERO time for relaxation. You are in survival mode hoping to get a shower. Sitting on the couch to flip through a magazine is as difficult as climbing Mount Everest at this stage.
By round three, I knew what worked for my body. Trial and error phases were over. But there's a big catch. My abs hated me. Three big boys did some serious damage in the center of my stomach. And my belly button just wouldn't go back in.
I had an umbilical hernia. Not only did I want to fix it, I needed to for actual medical reasons. Let me be clear, this wasn't a mommy makeover, it was putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. That was painful enough.
I feel great now. Not perfect. Not flab free. Not two piece ready. But I'm happy.
At the end of the day, I have pants of all sizes in my closet. Small, big, and everything in between. And the only person who cared about that size was me.
Own it and love who you are. Fight to be your best and then look back and love yourself. Size is the number with which society measures us. Forget all that. Put your shoulders back, chin up, and radiate with all the good things in your life; no one can question that beauty.
Remember to always check in with your OB so you know when it's safe to begin working out - typically six weeks after birth.
So here is what worked for me.
I gave myself free reign for 2 weeks post pregnancy to eat literally anything and everything. I think you need it to get your milk in, settle hormones and frankly just enjoy the experience.
For food, I logged every. Single. Bite of food on the free app, MyFitnessPal. One handful of Goldfish®, a taste of mac and cheese and a bit of peanut butter and jelly add up. Fast.
I worked out 5 days a week. Two days of weights, 3 days of walking for a full hour to just burn fat. In my opinion it takes 5 day of working out to lose it and two days to maintain it.
You gotta fight through plateaus. If you're stuck, your body needs a change. Change when you work out, what you do, the types of foods you eat and when. Your body is bored, so shake it up.
Eat the second you wake up. It revs the metabolism. Even if it is one bite, you're telling your body, let's go and start burning now!
- Start with protein daily. I put egg whites in a muffin pan along with spinach and turkey sausage and cook it every Sunday. Then each morning, I just reheat two of them so I can eat well despite running around to get three kids out the door.
- Watch the clock. You've gotta eat every 3 hours no matter what. I don't care if the only thing in sight is a donut. Eat it. Getting your metabolism on cruise control matters more than the extra 200 calories you don't want.
- Drink up. The more water, the less fat. Obviously, I am oversimplifying this. But when I do weigh-ins, if the percentage of my water weight is up, my fat is down and vice versa. I guzzle 120 ounces daily. And sometimes that requires forced drinking. I mean literally chugging water.
- When you fail — embrace it. Then bounce back. Just because you ate your kid's leftover pizza doesn't mean it's time to throw in the towel for ice cream, too. Indulge on that one thing and move on!
- Find your failures. I failed daily at 2 p.m. My exhaustion kicked in and I craved sugar. So now, almost daily around 2, I have some kind of chocolate ZonePerfect® bar, even half of a Snickers® to shut down the sugar monster that lives inside of me.
- Anything counts. You don't have to give an hour to a workout. Ten minutes is better than no minutes. Baby steps turn into big changes.
- Finally, give yourself a break. Don't restrict, but limit. Just like you pick your battles with your kids, pick your moments to go all out with your food.
Shelly Slater has interviewed celebrities from Jimmy Kimmel to Laura Bush, and yet that's not her hardest work. As the mom of three boys, she's hoping to raise true gentlemen into this ever-changing world. Training for boy-and-mom boot camp by day and throwing dance parties on her bed at night, Shelly loves sleep more than ice cream. Join her in the trial-and-error craziness of raising kids.
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