6.17.2009

Postpartum Weight Loss with Real Food

A reader recently wrote me to ask for tips on Postpartum weight loss. As I was replying to her, I realized the response had promise as a blog post, knowing that there are probably others out there with the same question!

After the birth of my first child more than four years ago, I really struggled to lose the weight. I gained an enormous amount of weight (nearly 70 pounds, and my daughter was only 5 pounds, 6 oz!). Since these days the midwives don't worry about how much weight you gain (and rightly so, in most cases!), no one waved a red flag.

As it turned out, I had a defective placenta and an umbilical chord abnormality known as "single umbilical artery". Due to the nature of my pregnancy (a hands-off, home birth midwifery that ended with a crash, 2-weeks-overdue C-section in the hospital) I had no idea of this abnormality beforehand. The theory is that there was a lack of nutrients going to my baby throughout the pregnancy resulting in my weight gain and Kirsten's lack thereof. So while my body kept telling me to eat for my baby's sake, my baby got only a portion of what was meant for her. This has lead to lots of *interesting* "complications" with my daughter's health. I know I haven't blogged a whole lot about my daughter's health issues (other than the food sensitivities) and it's simply because it's a novel. I can't even intro a postpartum weight loss topic without having to devote several paragraphs to set the stage.....there's a lot there. I promise to write more about my daughter's healing journey soon.

So my normally 126 lb frame had an extra 40 pounds for months and months after the birth of my daughter, and since I had never been that size, I literally didn't know what to do. I was an emotional wreck given the traumatic, near-death nature of my daughter's birth. I was struggling to supply her breastmilk and working very hard to build my supply. I couldn't fit into any of my "normal clothes" and had to buy a whole new set of everything for my new frame. My marriage was suffering because of all the transition and trauma.

On top of all of this, my body was malnourished from a poor pregnancy and pre-pregnancy diet. Oftentimes, when trauma to the body occurs (as in an unexpected, emergency C-section) the body undergoes so much stress that many other chronic issues begin to unfold. Food intolerance, hair loss, fatigue, depression, etc. were all affects I experienced.

I also had a horrible case of candida and the carb cravings were out of this world. I would beg my husband to run to the store to pick up an apple pie and eat half of it in one sitting. I remember craving and eating store-bought cake several times a week, and looking forward to any event that might have cake (and unfortunately, there were lots).

After several months, a very blunt acquaintance of mine asked if I was struggling to lose weight. Uh, yeah. Sort of. Had I ever heard of coconut oil for weight loss? No, coconut oil? How could eating fat make you lose weight?

Well, the journey was on, and I began to research everything I could about coconut, which lead me to nourishing traditions, seasonal/local eating, whole food nutrition, juicing, and raw milk. The rest is history, but suffice to say I got back into a size 4 and back to my 126 pounds....just in time for pregancy #2!!! Isn't that how it works?

But thankfully, after encorporating the following principes, the weight fell off much quicker the second time around!

DISCLAIMER: This weight loss regimen started well after my daughter was eating solid foods (after 12+ months). While I was still lactating, her primary nourishment came from whole foods. Thus this weight loss regimen did not affect the nutrition of my breastmilk. If you are nursing and trying to lose weight, please make sure that you are not short-changing the nutrition of your breastmilk. Most of these tips are totally compatable with nursing, but if you have any concerns see a certified lactation specialist!

*Take Coconut oil (1-2 TBS 20 min. before each meal. Antiviral, antifungal, and very healing. Also helps boost a sluggish metabolism, which is the key to loosing weight).

*Watch the Carbs. Eat no more than 1 serving of grains per day, and make sure they are whole grains, preferably gluten-free. If you are sedentary, you might consider foregoing the grains as they are high in carbs. Instead, get your carbs from fresh fruit and veggies. Eat about 1/2 a plate worth of veggies at each meal and 1/4 plate of grassfed or pasture-raised meat . The other 1/4 could be a grain or a starch (like potato). Go easy on starches for weight loss. I personally eat no grains and find that I have much more energy and the clothes fit much looser!

*NOTE: If you are nursing, you can increase your grain consumption if you find that eating grains helps your milk supply. Quinoa and oatmeal, when properly prepared (i.e. soaked in 1 TBS of lemon juice or whey for 12 hours before cooking), are known to stimulate milk supply. Just keep portion control in mind, as it's easy to fill up on grains, and with their high carbohydate count, anything that is not burned off within about 24 hours gets stored as fat.

*Exercise regularly. I loved to "run/walk" and felt that I really slimmed down when I started this. Walk for 5 mins., sprint for 1 min, repeat (vary the times as needed). Short, intense bursts of energy burn calories without wiping you out. I did this while pushing a stroller, so no need for a gym or day-care! I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the T-Tapp program, which I discovered after the birth of my #2. It's intense, and a little tricky to learn at first, but SOOO worth it. I slimmed down really quick doing these simple exercises post-partum, in time to fit into a bridesmaid's dress 3 months later!

*Chill: Try to de-stress whenever possible. Pregancy is really tough on the adrenals and many other parts of the body, and stress does NOT help, in fact your body goes into fat-storing mode when your cortisol levels are elevated. I found that adrenal support really helped me (I suggest finding a practitioner who does muscle-testing, which pinpoints exactly which supplement will help support your adrenals; the same things don't work for everyone).

*Portion Control: Eat a nourishing diet but control your portions! Don't short change your milk supply, of course, but don't eat empty foods (like the cakes and pies I was eating!!!) because they just stick to your hips. Lactation is not the time to restrict calories, but focus on maximizing the nutrition for each calorie you consume!

*Drink kombucha. It's mineral-rich, full of B-vitamins, and is very satiating as a snack. If I'm getting hungry in the afternoon, I always go for kombucha to see if that satisfies me first. If not, then I know my body needs a snack.

*Stock Up: Keep your house stocked with nutrient-dense snacks such as crispy nuts, coconut bark, my homemade "Lara" bars, green popcorn, raw cheese, and plenty of fresh veggies (I love to eat celery and almond butter or celery with a delicious herb-cheese dip). Hard-boiled eggs, nitrate-free lunchmeats, and smoothies are all great for meals on the go, as well. Forget the box of wheat thins!

*Menu Plan: I suggest figuring out a weekly menu plan and doing some big "once a week" cooking, perhaps on Saturday and/or Sunday if time is a premium (as it always is with a new baby!). Enlist well-meaning friends who want to bring meals to instead help you out one Saturday and help you prepare a week's worth of snacks and simple meals. We've found that writing and sticking to a meal plan has helped us resist the urge to go out to eat (which is always less healthy and more calorie-dense!)

*Take notes: I also suggest keeping a food journal. Write down EVERYTHING that crosses your lips and how much. Jot down any notes each day about how you feel. Studies show that folks who keep food journals tend to control their portions better and lose weight!

The picture to the right was taken when my daughter was 19 months old; the time when I finally lost my weight and got my health back under control. Even though I became pregnant within weeks of the picture being taken, I gained a lot less and lost most of the weight within 3 months, and nearly all of it by 6 months. Of course the "C-section belly flab" is probably something to deal with forever, I am continuing to shape and tone my "problem areas" with regular T-Tapp exercises!


What are your postpartum weight loss tips/success stories?

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday and Works for me Wednesday!

32 comments:

Alana said...

Ya reckon that advice would work even if one's youngest baby is turning ten this summer and one is about to turn 40?

I've never been able to get my weight below a certain rather high-ish weight(25 pounds more than my recommended top weight) since my second dd was born, 13 years ago. And believe me, I've tried!

Of course I'm fairly new to the NT style of eating. Sure hope it helps. Nothing else has, including low carb.

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Hi Alana,

Great question; I'm pretty convinced that every "body" has different reasons why they can't loose the weight. I think it's really unique to each individual.

I think the tips outlined will basically help anyone who's trying to loose weight, but there certainly can be nutritional deficiencies at the heart of the matter that can inhibit weight loss.

Cortisol levels (stress hormones) can also play a role.

I do REALLY reccommend Teresa Tapp's book Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes....it's the best book on health & exercise that I've read. And while I do think it can be tough to learn the exercises at first, I really do believe it's worth all the effort because her program delivers life-changing results.

I am not paid to say any of that stuff either, btw!!!

I think the NT way of eating can be very helpful, as well as the Garden of Eating (paleo or paleo + raw dairy)way of eating.

Sally Fallons Eat Fat, Lose Fat book is also a great guide for NT-centered weight loss. I should have included that in my post!

newlyweds said...

Great tips, and so very true for weight loss!

Alana said...

I've been reading the eat fat to loose fat. It's scary, but probably true.

I do feel healthier and more energetic than I have in decades, now that I'm doing NT eating.

You look fabulous, by the way.

Shannon said...

Great information, especially for me because I am still working on losing those pregnancy pounds.

A couple question for you...
*how do you take your coconut oil?
*how much fruit do you eat now that you're off of grains?

Looking forward to your new site's launch!

Cheeseslave said...

What a fantastic post! I used to be -- just like you -- around 125 pounds. I have had trouble losing the last 10-15 pounds after I gave birth... but I'm not too worried about it since I'm planning to have another child next year. But I will bookmark this page and follow your advice after the next baby comes (AFTER he is at least a year old).

PS: You are gorgeous! Really!

Our growing family said...

Great info! Great job on loosing the weight too...that is still hard work!!
I just looked at the T-Tapp stuff...it's kind of pricey...is there one or two things you would suggest? I would really love to tone up!
Thanks!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Alana,

More energy was one of the first things I noticed as well when transitioning to this diet!

Hang in there! You'll reach your goals!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Shannon:

Great questions (I should have clarified in the post!)

I take my coconut oil in different ways. I like the taste of it, so often I'd just take it off the spoon.

I also drink it in hot tea (just add 1 TBS to your morning tea).

If I really need help getting it down, then I make "coconut candies" (from the Eat Fat Lose Fat book) or coconut bark (there's a link on my site to my recipe in the labels).

As for fruit, I have maybe 1-2 servings per day. Since eliminatng grains, I found that I crave carbs much less than before. I think of fruit as a dessert or a treat. Also, since i strive to eat seasonally (as I know you do as well) I try to let the seasons guide my fruit consumption. This time of year I'm apt to be eating much more fruits, but then again I'm a lot more active in the summer!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Ann Marie,

You are too sweet! Thanks for the feedback; this post will be here for you whenever you need it!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Our Growing Family,

T-Tapp is a bit pricey. I just bought the book "Fit and Fabulous" (I found it used at our local bookstore, Powell's) and that's all I use! No videos or anything. You might even be able to get it from your local library (ours had it) and learn that way!

If you look on her website, there are some free videos and instructions.

Her "Hoe Downs" are a great move to learn because it's a real "carb-buster". I do it after I eat a meal higher in carbs and it's great for toning the core abs.

I also think her "Half Frogs" are amazing and they really target the baby-belly flab. Both of those should be online because that's where I originally learned them!

Good luck!

Betsy said...

To the person (and there's probably more than one) who looked at T-Tapp and thought it was pricey: I thought the same. I finally bought the book anyway. First, I found on the website a place to enter you name for a drawing. They draw 3 times a month (you have to enter each time), and you get one free workout and you can add one for half price. I won first try!

Also, once you've bought one, there are discounts ALL the time. I've gotten several more DVDs and I haven't paid full price for anything. They have a discount section in the store, too. If you buy the book, there's a 30% off coupon in it.

No connection, just a happy user. This is the first home exercise program I've ever stuck to for more than a few days - and at 58, I've tried lots, lol.

Helenrr said...

Awesome post Carrie, and so true. We eat very little in the way of carbs. compared to many-mostly reserved for dinner (small servings)-the men eat sandwiches but I opt for whole grain cracker breads at lunch and whole grain cereal at breakfast. The yogurt/kombuchu works great too...Of course we eat tons of seasonal veggies and fruit. Luckily we live in an area that grows tons :)
I am going to follow up on the T-Tap and Coconut oil!
Hope all is well,
Aunt Helen

Christine said...

Thank you, Carrie! I was just telling some friends who heard your presentation at the homeschool conference in Washington that I still have 30 pounds to lose. I really appreciate all of the tips and I have been enjoying listening to your presentation and looking over your notes.

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maria said...

Great post! What a journey that is.
I did pretty much the same after I had Matthias and I lost all the weight, weight of 3 pregancies.
Then I fell. I hurt my knee pretty bad and it now seems that one of my knee tendons got detached as well as some nerves damaged because I don't feel anything on one spot. Without exercising (I am in constant pain and the more I try to do, the more it hurts), I don't know how I am going to get back in shape. I started looking into this, but I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey with a possible surgery.
Anyway, I digress. Don't mean to turn this into a pitty party, lol.
I have Tapp's book, and it's great. And the diet recommendations, yes, yes, and yes.

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Maria,

I had no idea about your knee!!! That's awful! I have the name of a great local massage therapist who is a true healer and specializes in tendon work.

I would be happy to put you two in touch as it's well worth it!

Carrie

Rachel M said...

Thank you thank you thank you for this post! It is so timely for me! I appreciate your encouraging words and plan to lose my baby weight following your advice. Just one question: What is your take on coconut flour? Is it a protein, a carb...?? Can I have it with low/no carb? Thanks!! Rachel

Rachel M said...

Betsy -

Where on the T-Tapp website did you find the drawing for a free book? I looked and couldn't find anything...?? Thanks!

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Anneatheart said...

Oh my goodness! I am almost shocked here because I could have written this post. I had the same scenario with my oldest daughter. I had just lost 30+lbs on a mostly raw diet when I conceived her. By the 6th month it became apparent that she wasn't growing properly. ( I knew nothing about alternative practitioners at the time and went the doctor route) Upon further inspection via ultrasound I was alerted my daughter had IUGR- intrauterine growth restriction- and that if she didn't grow she would be taken out, even at 31 weeks. Through much prayer, bedrest, eating, and twice weekly ultrasounds and stress tests, we made it to 37 weeks before her heart rate plummeted to 80 and she was born quickly via c-section. The difference here is that my daughter ended up being born with an extremely rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 9. However, I too gained like 60lbs, she was only 4lbs 1oz. I tried and TRIED to breastfeed, but she was too tiny and weak and had to be fed via gavage feeding tube. So I pumped.

Three months after birth I had only lost 13lbs, I craved sweets and breads, and I got pregnant again. I gained another 30lbs, had another c-section, then my health was out the door! So here I am, 5'9, 250lbs with two under two and knew nothing about Nourishing Traditions or probiotics or anything.

When I was pregnant with the third daughter, I learned about NT and probiotics. What a change! It took several months though to implement these changes, but our health was MUCH better. Now I am recovering from my 4th c-section and I'm still 240lbs. I would be thrilled to be 200 and a size 14!!! I want to try what you suggest but, my head is spinning just trying to take care of 4 little girls and our home. (although two kids are in school now) Since our family is bigger, we have to do some grains to stretch the budget.

Anyways, I was just amazed at how similar our stories were, and I'm encouraged to know that weightloss can be achieved through eating traditionally. Thanks!

Jessica

Treatment Shop said...

I read some of your topics and enjoyed reading them. I believe everyone would love them too. Thanks for sharing.

Chris said...

Hi!!
I am so excited to change the way i have been eating and get on a healthier track!
Could you post an example of a day of eating/excercise?
Could you also post sample meals/menu/meal plan?
I have done the "Body for Life" program in the past and had great success-and for me planning out how i will eat/excercise for each day really sets me up for success.
THANK YOU!!
Chris

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Chris,

I would be happy to do that!

Join me over at www.organicthrifty.com which is my "new" blog and you can get all the latest in meal plans, nutrition tips, and resources for living Organic and Thrifty!

Carrie
www.organicthrifty.com

Anonymous said...

sweet!
thank you!!
c

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Bridget said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peggy said...

Hi Carrie! Two years ago, I was struggling with my weight after giving birth to my first kid. I never felt so ugly. I really thought that I was hopeless case! I'm just so blessed to have a supportive husband by my side. Fortunately, my sister, suggested that I try this body wrap. San Jose, where we are currently living have several spas that offer this kind of weight loss treatment. I was surprised that during my first try, I was able to lose a couple of pounds! What’s more, one of the spas in San Jose, skin care treatments are being provided to treat cellulite problem. Oh my! It was a miracle, coz' after a few sessions I was able to see real results.

Carrie, Thanks for sharing your postpartum weight loss experience. You really are inspiring! Thanks again!

Nicole Abele said...

I am going to be using this as a guide to get me started. I am 25 lbs. overweight and don't have any decent excuse (I don't have kids yet) - I just started to gain weight after college and suspect I have packed on an extra 10 lbs since getting married (haven't really weighed myself in several years). I just don't feel like myself. I have dabbled in NT style eating for the past year but am frequently (I mean FREQUENTLY) indulging in sweets and carbs. I've had enough! Thank you so much for posting this - it is EXACTLY the kind of guide I was looking for! Now I just have to see about how to make kombucha, coconut bark, etc... I have more failed experiments from trying to do NT in the past year than I can count... It's a frustrating experience but one that I know will be worth it.

Anonymous said...

Carrie, I love your blog and use your goats milk recipe for my daughter when my milk is out. I also enjoyed reading this one and have a thought for those c-section gals out there. I am a former dancer, ballet teacher and have been in pilates courses and this has worked for me to minimize the c-section pooch.... imagine wrapping (engaging) your abdominals from your spine, around the sides (obliques), and pull (knit, weave, intertwine) together in the front. Then pull it all up under your ribs... (that won't really happen! Just the imagry of it!) You can also think to pull your belly button up. You do NOT want to just pull your navel in to your spine because that in turn pushes your organs down and causes more problems than a pooched tummy!! I have a 7 mo and although I am not down to my goal weight, I do have an almost flat tummy back! Hope this helps!

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I want to now pursue a "positive prevention work" in his family life, so you do not treat the consequences. :))).

Once again thank you and wish prosperity to your site

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if I eat the coconut bark several times a day will that make me gain weight? I tried eating coconut oil directly off the spoon and it's just not going to happen and in tea didn't help either.