We can work [it] out: Part II

Last week in part I I discussed how I would tackle the subject of weight loss between 3 and 12 months post-pregnancy. To summarize my personal experiences from pregnancy and postpartum:

  1. Attending carefully to dietary recommendations during pregnancy with a low fat, high protein, vitamin-rich, and healthy carb diet helped me stay energetic and limited excess weight gain beyond the necessary 15-25 pounds recommended for baby’s health.
  2. Maintaining a safe fitness routine during pregnancy is not only doable but essential.  It helps with endurance during delivery and with my energy and strength postpartum.
  3. Yet another point won for breast feeding.  Initial pregnancy weight disappears before one’s eyes with breastfeeding.

We left off where my progress weightwise after breastfeeding for three months was reaching a plateau. To keep my caloric intake up I was eating plenty of calories, but I was still relying on a lot of “eating out” since my sleeplessness quotient was high and my energy to do most everything else was low.  Having just returned to my twice weekly sessions with our trainer, although the return went smoothly, my abdominal strength was practically nil. I could barely do a few pushups without falling down breathless. Given that I thought my weight loss was at a standstill, I tried on my old prepregnancy clothes from years gone by and promptly put all the stuff that was too small in boxes and gave it all away.

But now I realize I made that move too soon. By makng small but important changes in our household diet, progress was achieved once again. First things first: we eliminated eating out for approximately two weeks, and then in the next months up until now we significantly limited how much we ate out.  In those first weeks we also were very careful as we ate out, counting calories and trying not to exceed 1,000-1,500 calories in a meal out, which although it sounds like a ton of calories, believe me – you run out of calories pretty quickly in the sodium rich, high fat, high carb world of dining out.

And then when we ate at home, we switched around our plates to be dominant in freshly cooked vegetables and high protein low fat meats such as chicken breast, and we really limited our “bad” carbs: including our two guilty favorites, Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan, and white basmati rice. For any Indian both of these are generally essentials, but the way we did it was we ate our curries over greens. And these curries were cooked with less oil, less sauces and more meat and vegetables.

The rest of the diet included calorie counting again – this time using a tool called My Fitness Pal, which allowed me to enter in recipes for the items I cooked.  I kept to a 2500 calorie diet because I was still breast feeding, and because things at work got so busy I ended up eating some naan and rice to compensate for calories I wasn’t having enough of.

Breakfasts included a cereal (mix of Kashi Go Lean and a Trader Joe’s granola cereal) with almond milk or regular milk and fruit.

Snacks between meals: cheese stick and carrots, yogurts (fage 2% with fruit), hard boiled eggs (my new best friend), cut veggies with hummus

Lunch: Lean lunchmeat sandwich with veggies, hummus, mustard, and one slice of cheese on whole wheat bread, paired with a snack or two, maybe a cookie as a treat.

Dinner: Whatever curry I cooked over greens (or rice) that I made for Tanuj. Also maybe a slice of bread or veggies or a big salad. Basically I fill up half the plate with the curry dish and the whole grain, and then the rest of the plate is veggies/fruit! And maybe a hint of blue cheese and nuts or Boursin or something as a treat with the salad!

With this diet remaining consistent over several months, the pounds simply melted away and have now stabilized. I now have room for a piece of cake or some ice cream here and there (my sweet tooth craves these things), but I have found that my body no longer tolerates huge carbo loads which I used to eat.  I used to chow down on cookie after cookie, and now after two cookies I’m done, even to the point that I may have a bad headache and have to avoid them.

Cooking at home became all the more essential once I started the food deliveries from Suburban Organics, which we still get to this day.  I had to learn how to use that Kale and Bok Choy which I previously had no idea how to cook!   And through the selections from Suburban Organics I have really learned how to make my veggies, thanks in no small part to my copy of Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day, a lovely volume on how to cook, store, prep, every veggie you could think of!  Now I augment the delivery produce with organic produce and meats which I buy from Karen Igou at the Delaware Local Food Exchange.

Workouts have remained consistently twice a week for me of cardio and weight lifting.  Laura works with many different methods but I am mostly struck at how we can do so much using the body as the resistance along with a few free weights on hand. I can go through varied workout after workout, week after week, all in the comfort and convenience of my own apartment. And L is right there with me, hanging out as we work out.  This workout strategy is incredibly conducive to momhood!

I had been doing running once or twice a week as well but now working part time and having L at home . . . well it’s made it tough to go running. But I run when I can and I’m continually shocked at how my endurance increases even after I haven’t run for awhile. Hopefully as L grows over the coming months and we settle into new schedules with T’s new job, maybe I’ll be able to run more!

I’d love to keep writing but alas I am terrifically fatigued and need some sleep! So the end result of all of this is that I finally feel healthy and strong most days. I fit into clothes I haven’t fit into since college. All this being said, I am finally growing proud of my mama belly and even though it will never quite get to pre-pregnancy trimness, well, I don’t really care, and I enjoy the comfort of my mom jeans, especially now that they are getting into the smaller sizes! And I’m praying I’m able to keep this up through any pregnancy that hopefully will come in the future!