Exercise & Weight Loss While Breastfeeding

safe weight loss while breastfeeding

Getting Back to Pre-Pregnancy Weight

I was really eager to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight and size as soon as possible after my son was born. I think that breastfeeding ultimately made my weight loss easier because I was burning so many extra calories. In fact, I returned to my pre-preggo weight without following any diet or exercise program. (Beyond walking a lot, I didn’t exercise at all – read about it here).

breastfeeding and weight loss dietThe trouble with getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight was that the number on the scale might have been the same, but my body was not the same as pre-pregnancy. I wasn’t quite the same shape. I felt flabby and lethargic. So, I embarked on an exercise and diet program (BBG) and learned a few things about exercising while breastfeeding along the way.

Weight Loss While Breastfeeding

Before you read on I’d like to remind you I am not a healthcare professional – these are personal tips from my own experience and I strongly advise professional advice if you have any questions or concerns when trying to lose weight postpartum. 

safe breastfeeding weight loss

My tips for exercise and weight loss while breastfeeding:

1)   It can be hard to do high impact activities when your breasts are full.

Some of my breastfeeding friends can go for a run without pumping or nursing first and not have a problem. I’m not particularly large-breasted, but I find it incredibly uncomfortable to do any high-impact cardio unless I have pumped or nursed immediately beforehand, even while wearing super-supportive exercise bras.

To avoid the full breast problem while exercising, I would often nurse my son before naps and then workout while he was sleeping.  I also wound up storing a manual pump in my gym bag to make sure I could be comfortable for high impact workouts.

Whether you empty your breasts before a workout or not, remember to make sure you have a well-fitting and very supportive bra. This is important not only for comfort but also to avoid issues like clogged ducts due to pressure from bra that doesn’t fit properly.  

2)   Very intense workouts may temporarily impact your milk supply.

This is a scary one! I did a really intense high intensity interval training session and then tried to nurse my son about 20 minutes later. Although it had been about 3 hours since he last nursed, I couldn’t seem to produce any milk! I had not fully cooled down and I was maybe a little dehydrated, so I attribute the temporary lack of milk to the combination of a really intense workout and not enough water. In the moment, it was really frightening because I had never had a supply problem before.

I have since heard anecdotally from other moms that they have had this same problem, but a bit of research online didn’t yield much information. After fully cooling down and ensuring I was very well hydrated, my milk did return. Since then I haven’t tried nursing immediately after an HIIT session but I also do shorter sessions because of the lingering fear of impacting my milk supply.  

safe weight loss while breastfeeding

3) You will be really hungry – and you need to eat enough!

The hunger I felt post-workout was like no hunger I’d experienced before! A 30 minute cardio session left me starving. This is pretty normal – my body was burning extra calories to produce milk. The important thing is to eat enough to make sure your body can still produce milk while you stay healthy.

On days I didn’t eat enough I would feel exhausted. No amount of coffee could get me going, and regardless of how healthy the food I ate was, if I didn’t consume enough calories I really dragged all day long. Restricting calories too much while breastfeeding is not healthy – I felt like crap and my milk supply suffered for it.

4)   You will be really thirsty – stay hydrated to maintain your milk supply.

Every breastfeeding mom knows how thirsty she gets without exercising at all. Add in a little sweat and you feel like you can drink a river! Staying hydrated becomes even more important if you are an exercising and breastfeeding mom so you can produce sufficient milk.

Do remember, though, that the advice on hydration is to drink to thirst. You don’t need to drink excessive amounts if you don’t feel thirsty. I fell into this trap early on and I was running to the bathroom more than once an hour. As long as you drink to thirst your supply will be fine. Based on what I pumped, over-hydrating did not translate to more breast milk.

If you are trying to lose weight, I strongly recommend avoiding high calorie drinks and focus on water as your main source of hydration. If plain water is boring, add a twist of lemon, or make up a pitcher and soak some cucumber, or mint leaves, or lemon, or anything you like to make drinking water more enjoyable so you aren’t drinking empty calories from soda, juice, or sports drinks.

And remember…

You gained weight slowly over the course of your pregnancy and the weight loss will also happen slowly. Crash dieting isn’t healthy while breastfeeding – you are sustaining a tiny human with your breastmilk and you want to maintain adequate supply!  

Looking for healthy, lactation-boosting snacks? Check out my some of my lactation recipes!

green lactation smoothie lactation granola bars recipe very berry lactation smoothie no bake lactation energy balls

Continue Reading

BBG Progress Update – Stalled at Week 10

lose baby weight with bbg

 

lose baby weight with bbgBBG – I’m Stuck at Week 10

I love the BBG program, but I’ve been stalled at Week 10 for almost two months now (I completed week 9 on September 3). Each Monday I tell myself I’m going to get back to it, and every week I have creative new excuses.

Ok, the excuses aren’t even that creative, it’s just life stuff. Since early September when I started taking this break I’ve been sick twice and my son has been sick 3 times. We also had family visiting for a while and we took a trip to Macau.

I have been exercising when I can and I *almost* managed to get through week 10 in early October, but I didn’t make it through in the end. I’m going to try not to make any more excuses and just be honest here… Week 10 is HARD!

I had last looked at my progress in week 8 – abs were flattening out nicely, plus I felt a heck of a lot stronger and more energized. Read about my initial BBG experience and see photos here.

A Look at My Progress

Now, I’ll share my progress today. Below are my pre-BBG and week 8 progress photos, along with a shot from this morning.

lose baby weight with bbg

I wasn’t looking forward to donning a bikini to take these photos, but you know what? I’m really happy with the result! While I haven’t been following the BBG program for a while now, I have squeezed in cardio when I can, along with the *very* occasional resistance session. 

I’m Happy with this Progress!

I’m really encouraged by my photos today because they made me realize something important – I’ve adapted to the healthy lifestyle encouraged by BBG. I eat wholesome and healthy meals, and exercise when I can. Before I started BBG a lot of junk food had crept into my diet and I feel fantastic now that I’ve stopped eating so much junk.

While I still want to finish round 1 and then do it all over again before round 2, I’m really happy to see that my lifestyle overall has changed for the better and now I’m a happier and healthier me.

Goal: Finish BBG Round 1 by the End of 2016

So, let me write out my goal here – finish BBG round 1 by the end of December. Sounds easy, but I don’t want to set up myself up for failure seeing as I haven’t managed to knock out the last 3 weeks in a period of almost 2 months. This way I can kick off 2017 with BBG 1, round 2!

Have you ever fallen into a rut or stalled out in a workout program? Share your experience in the comments below!

Continue Reading

Getting Fit: BBG After Pregnancy

lose baby weight bbg

lose baby weight with bbg
How to Lose Baby Weight – Part 2 – BBG

A year after my son was born I knew it was time to take action to get fit! I had lost my baby weight and could wear my pre-prego clothes, but I felt flabby and uncomfortable. Women on instagram with awesome abs kept talking about something called BBG. Eventually I realized BBG stands for Bikini Body Guide, an exercise and diet program designed by Kayla Itsines.

I’m an ‘older’ mom (35 years) and I don’t feel compelled to wear bikinis, so I hesitated at first. But, BBG really appealed to me because: 1) I could do it without joining a gym 2) I was already walking a lot with my son and that counts as a workout 3) BBG’s nutrition aspect of well balanced healthy meals fit what I was (mostly) already eating 4) It is a 12 week program, which felt like an amount of time I could commit to 5) The circuit training workouts are only 28 minutes long. 

BBG After Pregnancy 

I took the BBG plunge 9 weeks ago and I haven’t looked back since.  Of course, the first thing I did was create an instagram account like all the other cool bbg girls (I’m letsfindmyabs).

bbg after pregnancy

I saw results within the first two weeks of starting BBG. I think this was because I cleaned up my diet and stopped eating anything that wasn’t a whole grain, and added in more protein. Also, I hadn’t been working out at all so there was a lot of room for change in my appearance. 

lose baby weight bbg

What’s it Like? 

I workout 6 days a week, and the exercise fits into my daily life much better than you’d expect. 3 days a week are “LISS” or low intensity steady state, so this is often a nice walk carrying my son (who I think adds to the workout since it means I’m carrying a 20 pound weight). The other 3 days are circuit training, which I can do at home and squeeze in during naps or while my son is playing. The only tricky thing is fitting in HIIT (high intensity interval training). I should also be doing this 2-3 times a week but I’ll admit it isn’t happening right now – I’ll make time for it soon!

Staying Motivated

There are hundreds of amazing BBG before and after pictures on instagram that keep me motivated. I’ve lost some flab around my abs and I feel a little stronger, but the truth is, a lot of days I’m not giving my all in the workouts. Yes, I’m making an effort, but my little one sleeps like crap so I’m often tired. Plus, the workouts are HARD! I can’t do any of them without modifications… like, pushups?!? I have worked up to a grand total of ONE real push up so far.

bbg after pregnancy

Final Thoughts

Working on my pushups is just part of the process of getting back into shape. I know dramatic results will take hard work. Once I finish the 12 weeks of BBG I plan on starting over again. Doing BBG over again won’t be any easier since I use so many modifications in the workouts, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!   

I highly recommend BBG after pregnancy, but given the intensity of the workouts, make sure you are ready. Of course I waited quite a while before I started and I could have done it sooner, but I would have probably waited at least 6 months. Since I’m not a medical professional I’ll note here that you should consult a professional if you’re hesitating about BBG workouts post-pregnancy.

What type of workouts do you like post-pregnancy? Share your experience in the comments!

Continue Reading

How I Lost My Baby Weight Without Exercising

lose baby weight

How to Lose Baby Weight – Part 1

This is a two-part series about how I lost weight post baby. I lost my baby weight in 5 months without exercising. This made me happy, but I felt kind of… mushy. This piece will talk about the initial weight loss. Eventually, once my son was about a year old, I found the energy to really exercise and selected the BBG program to tone up – find my BBG chronicle here.  

Baby Weight Gain & Loss Graphi

I gained 31 pounds (14kg) in my pregnancy. My son was born on July 18 and I finally got back to my pre-pregnancy weight on December 29. This was a lot slower than I wanted, but I was working full time and didn’t make great efforts to hit the gym or eat less than 5 candy bars a week (hey, being a new parent is stressful!).

Getting back to pre-pregnancy weight was great, but there was a problem… my body wasn’t really the same shape as before I had a baby. I desperately wanted my old clothes to fit as comfortably as they used to. I knew I’d need to actually do some real exercise to get to the body I wanted, but with work and life were in the way.

lose baby weight

Here’s what I did to lose baby weight without exercising:

  1. I breastfed. Some say breastfeeding helps you lose weight and some say the opposite. I strongly believe breastfeeding aided my weight loss because it made me hungry ALL THE TIME. If I made good eating choices I felt like pounds shed themselves naturally as I burned calories to nurse.
  2. I ate really healthy (aside from my candy bar addiction). Without the restrictions on what I could eat during pregnancy, I focused on the cleanest, freshest diet I could. I really believe this diet, packed with fresh veggies and lean protein, made a big difference as I tried to lose weight without exercising. I cut out refined carbs except for on weekends, added protein at breakfast in the form of eggs or greek yogurt, and snacked on fruit and nuts.
  3. I prepped meals in bulk. To facilitate the healthy eating I just mentioned, my husband or I would cook big meals 2-3 mornings a week to eat for lunch and dinner. If we waited to cook after work we were too tired and would default to mac n’ cheese. But in the morning we could roast meat and vegetables while getting ready for work.
  4. I walked. I wasn’t motivated to hit the gym. Instead, I walked to and from work (25 minutes each way) and on weekends I put the baby in the ergo and joined my husband as he walked the dogs. I also carried my son with me on errands. I felt like carrying him automatically made any walking at least a bit of a workout since I was wearing the extra weight.
  5. I slept. No, I didn’t have a unicorn baby that slept through the night. I got home from work at 6:30, nursed baby, had him down by 7:30, ate dinner, got in bed by 9… and stayed there until 7am the next day (my son slept next to me in a bassinet so night feedings were as simple as possible). Was this a ridiculous amount of time in bed? Yes. Did it hinder me doing any chores or general life admin tasks? Yes. But did I feel good? Yes!
  6. I weighed myself weekly. Sure, people will say it’s unhealthy to focus so much on your weight, but it motivated me to see the numbers drop. I also measured my waist each week. The day before I gave birth my waist measured 41 inches (104cm) and after 5 months it measured 30.3 inches (77cm).
  7. I drank water. I was motivated to stay hydrated because I was breastfeeding, but I focused on water only so I wouldn’t add any calories from juice or other beverages. When water was too boring I added a slice of fresh lemon. I also drank a maximum of one cup of coffee a day.
  8. I ate candy. So, I alluded to a nasty candy bar habit above. I couldn’t help it – being a new parent was really stressful for me, and I coped with an almost nightly dose of chocolate. Make no mistake, I don’t think this facilitated my weight loss at all, but I want to point out that I was human and I indulged and still managed to lose my baby weight in a reasonable amount of time.

lose baby weight

Eventually, once my son was a year old I decided it was time to exercise again and I started BBG by Kayla Itsines. I definitely feel better and see visible results. Read about it here.

lose baby weight

lose baby weight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you lose your baby weight? Let me know your comments or tips for success below.

Continue Reading