Postpartum Body Update

>> Monday, October 14, 2013

It's been over a year since I last updated you all about my postpartum fitness and weight. Partially I feel it's just not relevant to speak about my body in terms of "postpartum" anymore -- Ada's nearly two years old and I've moved on with my life. And -- also partially -- I was frustrated with being stalled at 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight no matter how much I was training or eating well.

I know 5 pounds isn't much. Still, I just didn't want to talk about it + generally had accepted the extra weight as new normal. My clothes fit a bit tighter, but athletically, I was still performing well. It sounds trite, but my body image did improve after pregnancy, not necessarily by conscious effort or personal growth. Perhaps by necessity, if that makes any sense.

I have decided to write on this topic again because I've received lots of emails and comments related to "getting back" or the before-baby body. How long it takes. What I did to slim down. What works when nothing else seems to, etc. I usually reply with a response about how I'm not back to normal. That each woman is different, each situation after pregnancy is different, and there's really no magic answer, unfortunately.

I still stand by these words, but in the interest of hope, I'd like to share with you that it took a long 23 months after giving birth -- and 6 months after weaning Ada -- to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. My stretched stomach is finally getting flat, the skin getting tighter again. And the magic solution ended up being TIME.

I never did any hardcore dieting or supremely healthy eating to get back to my weight. I didn't cut out entire food groups with the hope of sliding the scale in my favor. Yes, I trained for half marathons, but didn't do any more exercising than my body was used to before, during, or after pregnancy. In fact, as I read through my posts over the last several years, I'm struck with how lax I've become about fitness these days. Or, maybe to state in better words, how better balanced I've become at incorporating activity into my daily routine.

Balance is a good thing.

I read my pregnancy running posts now and feel a bit shaky about how intensely focused -- hell-bent -- I was on getting in those miles despite morning sickness or exhaustion or whatever else I was feeling at the time. I ran more then than I do now, and I'm pretty sure it's because I was trying to prove a lot to myself and to others. While I'm hoping to gain more discipline as I look to new running goals, at the same time -- I'm racing faster than ever, so something seems to be working if I'm focusing solely on performance.

Sure it's absolutely annoying when it seems like all other women are shrinking back to normal with little effort. Sure it seems sometimes that the breastfeeding + weight loss thing is just a cruel joke or reserved for a privileged few. Sure dieting and lots of exercise might get you back into your jeans faster. But as hard as it is to accept in this culture of constant comparison -- it's really is true: Each woman's body responds differently to the hormones and other jazz associated with pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc.

Time was all that worked for me, along with eating like I always have and exercising moderately and then more intensely at times. Weaning did seem to help. And now that I'm back to "normal" I'm already beginning to think about number 2, so the cycle will continue. At least now I know what to expect and can stop being so hard on myself.

But you, too, should give yourself a break, which I know is easier said than done.

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