All caught up? Great! Let’s keep going.
The photos and measurements I’m going to be showing in this week’s post were taken 1 month post-delivery – or 3 weeks after I assessed my starting point. And to be honest, even though I knew I wanted to find a way to lose the baby weight quickly and document my journey for you to follow, I forgot just how exhausting the first few weeks with a newborn are. Not only in the lack of sleep, but the constant care and attention, the soreness from breastfeeding (more on that in my breastfeeding posts – the first of which you can find here), and on top of that, chasing after a highly energetic toddler (which I didn’t have to deal with last time!).
So even though I mentioned in last week’s post that I was giving myself one week to rest up and be kind to myself before really trying to lose the weight, in reality I found that I needed more than a week.
Did I feel guilty about not trying to get the weight off sooner? Yes. But I’m learning that the older I get, the more I have to truly listen to my body and what it needs. And what it needed in those first few weeks was rest.
Here’s a reminder of where I was 1-week post-partum:
Starting weight 152.4 lbs.
Here’s where I am at 4 weeks post-partum. These photos and measurements were taken on April 24, 2019.
- Weight: 146.1 lbs. (I had lost 6.3 lbs. in 3 weeks.)
- Body fat percentage: 34.0%
- Chest measurement (biggest part): 39 inches
- Waist measurement (smallest part): 32 ¾ inches
- Hip measurement (biggest part): 40 ¾ inches
- Right thigh measurement (biggest part): 24 ¼ inches
In three weeks I had lost another 6.3 lbs. Not a huge weight loss, but respectable, and the scale was still moving in the right direction.
What I’ve learned over the years is that I can find a way to justify almost anything – good or bad. So given my history of yo-yo weight loss, I had to be very careful with the results I saw for these past three weeks.
What do I mean by that?
Well, I had lost 6.3 lbs! Yay! And what did I do that caused that weight loss? Not much. I rested. But even though rest is essential to weight loss, it’s not the only thing that’s going to get me to where I need to be.
Wait a minute…. did I just say that rest is essential to weight loss? I did! And here’s a few reasons why:
#1: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body tends to overproduce certain hormones in response (like ghrelin). This hormone is directly related to feeling hungry. Feeling hungry generally causes you to eat more and likely take in more calories than you need. So you can infer that sleeping well and resting enough will decrease the level of this hormone, and therefore help you be less hungry, leading to weight loss.
#2: When you don’t sleep enough, you feel low on energy. And when we feel low on energy, what do we do to compensate? Drink caffeinated drinks, sugary beverages, or eat foods to give us a quick burst of energy. But often these are not the most nutritious foods, and the energy burst is temporary. So we compensate the crash by doing it again, and again, and again…..you get the picture. So you can infer that sleeping well and resting enough will cause you to have more energy, and therefore you may not rely as much on those high sugar, low nutrition solutions.
#3: Another downside of lack of energy when not sleeping enough is that you don’t feel like you have enough energy to exercise. And we all know that exercise is a part of successful weight loss, as well as just being healthy for your body in general.
#4: When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain will have a harder time making decisions. And who wants to put a lot of thought into what you are eating? So when you are tired, you probably won’t make the best choices for your food that day, and will end up picking things that are more likely to put the pounds on instead of take them off. And you may even end up mindlessly eating more than you need because you aren’t as tuned into your body’s signals. So you can infer that sleeping well and getting enough rest will cause you to make better food choices. And what you eat has an enormous impact on your health and your weight.
In fact, some of the studies I’ve read have gone so far to say that “sleep is the key to being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts”. Some research in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that when two groups of dieters were placed on different sleep schedules (one with enough sleep, one without), the group that slept enough lost half of their weight from fat. Conversely, the group that did not sleep enough had fat loss that was only 50% of what the sleeping group had – even though they were eating the same diet. The sleep deprived group also felt hungrier, were less satisfied after eating, and lacked energy for exercise than the group that slept better.
I now know that sleep is important. And I know that I did NOT prioritize sleep in the early days of Matthew’s life, which might be why I was so hungry ALL THE TIME. And since I was so hungry, I ate, and I know I didn’t eat the best things. I struggled to lose the baby weight with Matthew and held onto almost every pound for a good two years of his life. This time with Emma is different – I’m taking the time to get the rest I know that I need. I’m prioritizing it over the laundry, the dishes, house cleaning and even exercise. And I’m losing weight and already feeling better than I did before.
Is resting the only thing that’s going to lose all the baby weight? No. But it’s a super important component. So I’m going to be adding in one thing at a time (I’m too busy to change everything all at once!) and seeing what effect it has on my body before trying the next change. I’m also going to give myself enough time to turn this new thing into a lifelong habit before starting something else, so I don’t get distracted on the basics of good health and weight loss.
So for three weeks my focus has been on sleep and a consistent bedtime. And it’s been the most relaxing 6 lbs I’ve ever lost!
Stay tuned for Part 4 in this series, which will be coming in the next few weeks.
All the best,
P.S. If you want to follow along on this series of posts, the best way to make sure you don’t miss any updates is to enter your email address in the blue box below. Each new post in the series will automatically be sent to your inbox when I release it!
P.P.S. You can check out my health disclaimer if you have questions.