Thoughts on Losing Baby Weight

Every new mom gets frustrated with losing baby weight. I'm not a dietician, but I am a mom who's had to lose the weight... twice. Here's what worked for me.
This was me – 41 weeks pregnant with baby #2

You’ve just had a baby – congratulations! As if that precious little bundle with the button nose isn’t gift enough, mother nature gives us moms a little extra. And that little extra is slathered around our midsections. It’s pillowing our now expanded hips. It’s welled up in a bust-line that has reached epic cup sizes we didn’t even know existed until now. And at some point, we all get frustrated with that little extra and start the process of losing baby weight.

I’ll start with a general disclaimer, I’m not a dietician, personal trainer, or doctor. I’m just a mom who has had kids and therefore has faced the daunting task of losing baby weight… twice. I’m going to share some things that worked for me and then you can chime in too with what has worked (or not worked) for you.

When I was pregnant with a toddler at home, I just stopped caring about what we ate. We had Chinese take-out several nights a week. My toddler ate chicken nuggets more than I care to admit. Food came to our house almost exclusively from a delivery vehicle, a take-out window, or a drive through. We were the picture of unhealthy American eating.

Once I had the baby, two things were clear: 1). I needed to start the process of losing the baby weight and 2). I needed to overhaul my family’s diet. I didn’t want my kid eating chicken nuggets every night – I wanted her to enjoy a wide range of foods. I wanted my husband and I to set a better example for her, because now she was old enough to point at our Chinese takeout and say “I want some of that.”

Here’s what I did:

Cook Healthy Meals at Home: I know, earth-shattering advice, huh? I always said I was too busy to cook, but while I was on maternity leave I discovered the Skinny Taste website and found lots of dishes that were simple and quick to make. I started cooking more and my family responded favorably. I realized I could have a great meal that was also healthy and not feel deprived. Some of my favorites from Gina Holmolka (author of Skinny Taste) are the chicken avocado soup, the zucchini boat enchiladas, and the buffalo chicken lettuce wraps. I can have each of these meals on the table in 30 minutes or less and they are delicious (tip: I cook chicken in the crock pot on weekends so I have some on hand to make in dishes like this during the week).

 Hold Myself Accountable: I started using the My Fitness Pal app to track my calories. I’m a snacker, especially at night once the kids go to bed. It was eye opening to me to see just how many calories I was consuming outside of meals. And when I learned what was in my favorite Starbucks drink (even the “skinny” version) – wow…just wow! Tracking what I ate honestly and consistently let me see areas where I could make better choices and see meaningful results. I still allow myself treats and rewards (I’ll never break up with Starbucks altogether), but I make accommodations the rest of the day to allow for those exceptions.

Grocery Shop Smart: In an effort to remove processed foods and junk foods from our diet, I cleaned all the junk out of our pantry and didn’t allow it back in. I’ve started reading labels more and avoiding putting things in my cart that I don’t want to put in my mouth. I still love to snack (especially at night), but when my only options for snacks are healthy ones – I make better choices. Currently our favorite late night snack is frozen grapes.

Have Specific Goals: My friend Steve is a personal trainer. He told me once that the hardest clients he has are the ones with vague goals like “lose weight” or “tone up.” He said those clients rarely see success because they can’t define for themselves what success is – and he can’t motivate them because he doesn’t know where they want to be. He said the best success comes when a client walks in and says “I have my reunion in 5 months and I want to weigh X” or “I want to fit into these jeans again.” That really resonated with me.

I have a nice professional work wardrobe I’ve put together over the years, so rather than march to a number on the scale, I picked several pieces in my closet that hadn’t fit in years and decided I wanted to wear those clothes again. I tried them on every month and though they didn’t fit the first few times, I was motivated to see that I was getting closer.

And losing the baby weight isn’t the only result here. My husband has lost weight, too. We have broken up with our Chinese takeout place for good. We make our own whole-wheat pizza at home instead of calling a pizza chain for delivery. My once chicken nugget addicted toddler now enjoys cauliflower, shrimp, hummus, olives, broccoli, and her favorite is zucchini. We eat real food and it tastes great.

That said, every woman’s journey losing baby weight is different. These are the things that worked for me. What about you? Who has some good tips or suggestions to share about losing the baby weight? Or what about some tips for maintaining weight after losing baby weight? I’m all ears!

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12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Losing Baby Weight

  1. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things, Stephanie. So where’s the “after” pic? We need to see you in one of those cute work outfits 🙂

    1. Yes, an after pick would be great! Thank you so much for talking about post pregnancy weight loss. I personally seem to have been battling with my body weight all my life, even as a kid I was always a little on the chubby side. However as an adult things changed for worse as I gained all the more excess weight especially after my first pregnancy.

      But in the past year I have lost nearly 30 pounds, after a good friend of mine shared a diet e-newsletter from a diet coach with me, therefore in an effort to give back here is a link to the free newsletter for all women:

  2. Greek yogurt! Quick to throw in my bag and the protein helps keep me full, lots of water, crock pot veggie soup, roasted veggies, running (when I can, impossible to muster the energy if teething baby is not sleeping through the night). It took me almost 2 years to lose the 30+ I put on with my son. I am working on the last 15lbs from my 1 year old daughter. Slow and steady!
    It’s so hard to not get down on yourself when you see headlines like ” How (insert name here) got her body back after 3 months”. You sound like you have a really healthy attitude about your weight and a mother, it is so important. Our children are watching and listening to us. Good job, Mom!

    1. Stephanie Tsales says:

      Greek yogurt is a great suggestion Lynn! I made a whole wheat mac and cheese with it the other day – the yogurt gave the dish a dash of protein and a nice creamy texture. Congrats on your weightloss so far!

  3. My Fitness Pal really helped me, too! I also picked up a Fit Bit, which is great to keep track of busy work days on campus (we might be in the same industry?), but especially for motivating me to stay active when I’m working from my home office. We’re also trying to eat clean more often, but if you can tell me how you got your toddler hooked on cauliflower, I might consider you a hero!

    1. Stephanie Tsales says:

      Jenn – thanks for commenting. I’ve been considering a Fit Bit but wasn’t sure how much it would help me since I’m mostly inactive and sitting all day. But it sounds like you use it to make yourself get up and do something throughout the day – I love that idea!

      As for the cauliflower – our formula to get her to eat anything new is to put it on our plate. She always wants what we have. When she asks for some we tell her she won’t like it – that it’s not for kids. Clearly, this only improves her interest. After holding off for a little while we give her some, then make a big deal out of her eating it (telling her what a big girl she is, etc). With the cauliflower specifically we also showed her how you can take a big piece and break off little “trees” – which she thought was pretty cool.

      Overall it’s a hit or miss strategy – but it works sometimes. Too funny about working in the same (or similar) industry. Feel free to connect with me via linkedin – I love having higher-ed moms in my network!

      1. Lexie Rhyner says:

        I’m in the higher ed industry too! I also just started the daunting task of losing the baby weight and the first thing I did was get a fitbit! I’m a nursing/pumping mom so I track the calories to make sure I am in the sweet spot of being able to produce for my baby girl and being able to some day fit into my work clothes again. The fit bit made a world of difference for me.

  4. Stephanie, I love your advice, and have been following most of yor tips for the last few weeks. I have a stubborn 8 pounds that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, so I think I will need to make time for exercise. Maybe I’ll look into the Fitbit, as someone else shared. Thanks for the tips!

  5. So I wanted to add a comment to this article as a mom of 2 (3 year old and 4 month old), I can definitely relate to how hard it is to lose the weight. I lost the baby weight easily with my first pregnancy but after my second it is definitely harder this time around.

    I dont know if you said this to yourself but I was claiming to the world ” it takes 9 months to gain all this weight, therefore I ‘ll need 9 months to take it off” but weeks after having my youngest and using my first post-partum history, I realized that I was not going to lose the weight as easily as I did the first time. After my post-partum checkup, I did something I had never done in my life-I joined a gym! Initially I felt discouraged seeing fit instructors and gym members but told myself everyone starts somewhere. But after a few weeks I started seeing my clothes fitting better and by fitting better I mean not having to wear my maternity clothes! So the best tip I can give is nothing new but here it is->good eating habits and exercise. Joining a gym is not an option for everyone whether it is due to time or financial constraints but at home exercises are great and 15 to 30 minutes a few times a week is a good way to start and maintain a healthy physique. I think cleaning out the junk food is a great start as if you don’t see the temptation of delicious late night food, you won’t have it. Another tip is meal planning. This is a good habit for getting back to a pre-baby body as it is very important what we put into our bodies as much as the exercise we use to lose the fat. My last tip is to be patient. Like anything in life, everything needs time and practice, which includes getting back to shape after having our precious new little persons.

    Thank you for this article and the others you have written Stephanie. As a returning to work mom, I just discovered this site on the last day of my maternity leave and relate to all your articles (especially the one on how its even harder returning to work the second time around), so once again thank you for the insight. To you and to all the hard working moms, it is reassuring to know that we are not in this alone. The struggle is real on being a woman who is a mom, a professional//career person, wife (or those in a serious romantic relationship), daughter, sibling, and friend, torn between all the roles we have. Take a deep breath, keep calm, and go on!

    1. Stephanie Tsales says:

      Michelle – thank you for chiming in and sharing your tips! Joining a gym is a great idea, and sometimes I find a quick workout alone feels like a luxury instead of a chore because, well, I’m alone. If a gym isn’t do’able there’s also the option of using DVDs and Youtube videos at home – or loading the kids up to take a walk.

      Another resource I forgot about when I was writing this is Weight Watchers. I have a friend who weighs less after having triplets thanks to the support and community at Weight Watchers.

      Overall, there’s no magic pill or quick fix. You hit the nail on the head that the solution centers around nutrition and exercise. And I love your point about being patient with yourself and with the process. It will all come in time if you make healthy choices.

      And thanks for the kind words about our blog – we are so glad you’re here!

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