my experience with losing weight while breastfeeding

I’m pretty sure a majority of women out there are told that one of the many benefits of breastfeeding is that it’ll help most of them lose weight. The key word there is most.

I’m one of those “unfortunate” ladies who struggles to lose weight postpartum. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that breastfeeding is very important to me, and I wouldn’t jeopardize the nutrition of breastmilk for my daughter in order to lose a few.

Personally, it has taken a lot of effort to lose the amount of weight I have. Initially, I lost about 10 pounds after Madi was born. Since then, I’ve not quite reached another 10 pounds gone–I gained between 40-50 during pregnancy, to paint a picture for you. I have struggled to eat healthy more so than anything–I used to eat VERY healthy before I got pregnant. I think because of that high standard I have from the past, it has been harder for me to get back on the same level. It’s like I feel the pressure even more because I know I can–I did it before!–but I just can’t get back there 😦 It hasn’t been that hard to get into an exercise routine (except with running, but that’s a topic for another day).

I think I have discovered where the root of all my trouble lies. I noticed over the last month or so that my weight would be less on days after a day I didn’t workout. So I could workout Monday, weigh myself Tuesday and I would be the same or even heavier; but if I worked out Sunday, didn’t Monday, and weighed in on Tuesday, I would go down. My problem: I was eating TOO FEW calories! I know that sounds contradictory, but it’s true. Too few calories made my metabolism slow down so I didn’t “overuse” my calories [here]. I didn’t eat enough calories to workout and produce breastmilk and lose weight. While my supply never dropped (which is why I didn’t realize what problem I was having), my body was clinging to every last calorie and fat store it could so that it could do all that. My body expected the calorie burn of a workout, so it clung to the calories it expected to spend. So, when I didn’t workout those days, my body was like, “Hey, maybe she’s done with that nonsense, so I guess we can let her use up a bit of that stored stuff now.”

So, for the last week, I’ve been eating more. On a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, whether I workout or not, every few days the number on the scale goes down a little bit. It’s honestly hard for me to eat 2,000 calories a day and not eat junk–you know, it can be hard to eat a lot of calories from good food (because good food is naturally lower in calories).

I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize this. And I’m still not perfect–but I have managed to not drink any pop in 7 days! I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Oddly enough, throughout the whole “struggle” to lose weight, I’ve felt great about my body. My vanity is in the number on the scale–and the measuring tape (those numbers weren’t going down, either). I don’t know why it has been only after having a baby, but I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more comfortable with my own body (aka, not giving two shits what anyone else thinks about how I look). Perhaps it’s because my mind now knows just what my body is meant to do, so who cares how it looks? Two of my biggest accomplishments in life so far have been my running and the growing-and-nourishing a baby in and out of the womb. Neither of those depend on how I look…

Breastfeeding for many women will help them lose weight. But it’s not true for everyone. That doesn’t mean that you have to give up the breastfeeding, either. It might just take a little more time and attention.

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