Three years ago, I gained 44 pounds during pregnancy. I'm 5'2" (translation: short). I weighed 184 pounds right before I gave birth. Sixteen more pounds and I would have hit 200, classifying me as obese. Hormonal changes, exhaustion, and the way my body had transformed all contributed to me developing postpartum depression (PPD). In my eyes, my curves had become lumps and I was always swollen. None of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit me anymore. One day, in a raging fit, I threw out my entire wardrobe. I didn't look like Kate Middleton, who had Prince George three months before I had my son. Three months post pregnancy, the Duchess of Cambridge looked super slim.
I also disliked Maria Kang, her perfect post-pregnancy mommy bod, and her catchphrase that taunted new mommies with "What's your excuse?"
My "excuse?" Let's see! Five times a day, I had to pump milk for my baby boy, Phil. I changed about eight diapers a day. Slept about maybe two hours at a time, for a total of less than six hours. Worried about losing my job. (Eventually, I was laid off from that job.) Had to do chores. Was tired to the core and oh, I was suffering from PPD.
In truth, I made no efforts to lose weight. Slowly, the weight did drop, thanks to pumping breastmilk five times a day, allowing me to expend about 400 to 600 calories a day. Stress also killed my appetite. Within a year, I dropped 24 pounds. But then, my weight remained stagnant around 160 for the next two years.
Now, flash forward to October 2016, three years after I gave birth to Phil. I no longer have PPD, and I've opted to work part-time versus full time. I feel like my old self again and have renewed energy. I've been able to adapt some healthy habits to help me lose weight.
Today I'm 30 pounds lighter, and I'm dropping weight fast.
Last week alone, I lost six pounds. My weight continues to drop, and I'm not dieting or doing a crazy amount of exercises. I've adopted new eating habits, and they're working phenomenally! Here's what I've been doing this week:
1. Eating slower. By taking smaller bites of my food and chewing longer and slower, I've been able to feel fuller even when I'm eating less.
2. Eating smaller portions. We all know that the portions served in America are preposterous. My rule of thumb is that during any meal, I will only eat a portion of food that would fit on the palm of my hand. If I have a huge craving for junkfood, I'll just eat a little of it, like five potato chips versus the entire bag, two spoons of ice cream versus a cup of it, and a bite or two of a cake versus the entire slice.
3. Cutting out meat. I've been trying to become a pescatarian for the longest (one who won't eat meat but will still eat seafood). For the past few months, I've been cutting beef, pork, lamb, and chicken from my diet, eating more veggies, fruits and grains. This week, I haven't had any beef, pork, lamb, and only a little bit of chicken.
4. Replacing one meal a day with Soylent 2.0: http://amzn.to/2dIXY4a. Soylent 2.0 is a 400-calorie vegan food that contains minerals and nutrients. It comes in a bottle, is pre-made and tastes like Cheerios blended in vanilla soy milk. (Check out my full review of Soylent here: http://www.philandmama.com/adventures/2016/8/4/100-honest-review-soylent-the-meal-replacer)
5. Drinking more water. I've never liked drinking sodas or juices. I mainly drink unsweetened tea, coffee without sugar, and lots of water. By drinking water before eating, I feel fuller and generally will eat less.
6. Planking. I'm a horrible doctor of physical therapy; I'll admit it. I barely exercise. I do, however, plank every day and walk at least ten blocks.
7. Fasting intermittently. Every now and then, I skip at least two meals a day. There is new evidence in the literature saying that intermittent fasting can be good for your health and metabolism. In addition, it may not be harmful to one's health (Patterson et al., 2015). Patterson et al. (2015) suggested that intermittent fasting "may be a promising approach to lose weight" and may "improve health at the population level."
There is also literature showing how caloric restriction may be beneficial in fighting cancer, but further studies and research are needed (Thomas et al., 2010).
8. Taking cold showers. Every day, I take a two-minute cold shower, after my full shower with warm water. You may have heard of how beneficial cold showers (or Scottish showers) are from Tim Ferriss and Tony Robbins. Van der Lans et al. (2013) proposed that "frequent cold exposures might be an acceptable and economic manner to increase energy expenditure and may contribute to counteracting the current obesity epidemic." Cold showers may increase brown adipose tissue (BAT), otherwise known as brown fat, in the body. Brown fat helps keep us warm, and expend energy.
9. Massaging my lymphatics. Every night before I sleep, I perform self manual lymphatic drainage on my belly and thighs. As a certified lymphedema therapist, I believe wholeheartedly that manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is beneficial for most people, and not just for people with lymphedema; however, there are certain contraindications and precautions to MLD, and so I'm unable to safely teach it to others through this article.
I'm loving my new healthy habits, but I will have to warn you... every now and then, I'm HANGRY as heck, irritable and annoyed because I'm hungry. I'm hungry as I'm writing this, but at the same time, I feel just fine after eating my smaller meals. I imagine this is how our ancestors felt as they went on days without eating as food sources were scarce.
I'm energetic. I don't feel bloated anymore after my meals. I'm spending less money on food, and when I eat, I appreciate and savour every bite. I make better food choices, and am able to portion my meals well, without using calorie calculators or signing up for Weight Watchers. My skin and hormonal acne have also improved!
It takes a lot of willpower to eat smaller portions when food is abundant and readily available. When I first tried taking a cold shower for two minutes, I yelped and almost jumped out of the tub.
All this that I'm doing, is it safe?
Other than feeling hangry, intermittently, I feel fine! My body mass index (BMI) is dropping, even though I'm still considered overweight (154 pounds, 5'2: BMI: 28.2). I will get my blood work results soon; I'll update this article to reflect my lab values.
I don't encourage new mommies to obsess about losing weight. To slim down has always been a goal of mine. Given my family's history of cardiac disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol, I'm also doing this for my health. In addition, I'm just offering some insights to show you what has been working out amazingly for me. I welcome you to try these new habits at your own discretion.
Go at your own pace. Set realistic goals. Don't compare yourself to others, and don't feel like you need or have excuses. As long as you're not harming yourself, do as you please, mommies (and daddies) out there!
This is a lifestyle that I've adopted; it's intense and not for everyone. I won't judge you, so please don't judge me for owning my body.
*as of October 13th, 2016 I am 152 pounds-that's 32 pounds lost three years post pregnancy. My weight continues to drop steadily. I feel energetic, I've been quickly healthy, and my libido has increased for some strange reason. Okay, TMI!
Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., LaCroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., . . . Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent fasting and human metabolic health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1203-1212.
Thomas, 2., J A, Antonelli, J. A., Lloyd, J. C., Masko, E. M., Poulton, S. H., Phillips, T. E., . . . Freedland, S. J. (2010). Effect of intermittent fasting on prostate cancer tumor growth in a mouse model. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, 13(4), 350-355. doi:10.1038/pcan.2010.24
Vosselman, M. J., H E J Vijgen, Boris R M Kingma, Brans, B., & D van Marken Lichtenbelt. (2014). Frequent extreme cold exposure and brown fat and cold-induced thermogenesis: A study in a monozygotic twin: E101653. PLoS One, 9(7) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101653