Weight Loss After a Baby – What is Best For You?

Apple and tape measureHow many women do you know that have some issue with their bodies after having a baby? I haven’t found any concrete statistics (and if you have, please share – I’d love to see them) but my intuition tells me that I’m not the only one struggling with getting my body (and my thoughts about my body) back into shape after having a baby.

Well, I have a confession to make; I have been focussed on wanting to lose weight since I was in my mid twenties (so it wasn’t just the pregnancies) and I have to admit it’s all become a bit tiring. Admittedly back when I first met my husband, it was only 5kg (about 11 lbs) that I wanted to lose and over the last 12 years through two pregnancies and the stress of losing a child, it’s slowly crept up. I have been so focussed on the weight that I wanted to get rid of that I ended up with more of exactly what I didn’t want. My one saving grace is that I’m tall and I have great proportions, so the weight is evenly distributed – having said that though, I still want to be a size 12 again (I’m currently an Aussie size 18).

I don’t think you can go disliking the way you are and wanting to change for this length of time without discovering some things about yourself and the way you tick. What I have learnt about myself over these years is that I hate dieting or being forced to eat according to someone else’s food ideas. Some people wanting to lose weight are perpetual dieters, always looking for the next big thing in the latest women’s magazine. I have been able to change my day to day eating for differing periods of time on a few occasions according to what someone else told me was healthy and worked for them, only to fall back into my regular habits. Changing what you eat because someone else says you should doesn’t usually work very well. You really need to have a clear reason that resonates with you in terms of creating long lasting change.

Because I didn’t think it was eating that was my problem (I’m not a pack of Tim Tams a night kind of girl), I was searching for other reasons as to why I had this weight gain (emotional & hormonal imbalances) and my solution has usually leaned toward the exercise option. Now that I look back though, exercising for weight loss wasn’t sustainable (I thought it was torturous and I was planning to stop when I got to my ideal weight) and every time a personal trainer asks me to monitor what I’m eating (writing a food diary for a week) I just want to puke.

Side note: I don’t see the point of me writing down what I am eating – I already know the “right” things I should be eating, so during that week of writing, I would eat the “right” things but then go back to my regular eating after the monitoring period is over (not that my regular eating is bad, it could do with a little improvement just like most people’s). Ideally, you would want to have someone else monitoring what you eat without you knowing it – that is the only way to get an accurate reflection of current eating patterns.

What I’ve also noticed is that when I exercise because I want to lose weight, I make some progress, but then the results seem to get even further away from me and the motivation wanes very quickly and I think this quote from Esther Hicks (Abraham) sums it up beautifully – I didn’t have the inspiration from within:

Inspiration comes forth from within. It’s what the light burning within you is about, as opposed to motivation, which is doing it because if you don’t do it, there will be negative repercussions. Motivation is making myself do something that I don’t really want to do. Inspiration is having the clear picture of what I am wanting — and letting Universal forces come into play to get the outcome.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Spokane, WA on Wednesday, July 7th, 1999

The “Get Back into Shape” Plan

I decided during my second pregnancy that I needed a plan once I had the baby to get to my size 12 body.

During my first pregnancy I had some issues with my pelvis and particularly the pubis symphysis joint (see a full explanation here). This pain started in the third trimester and a course of Bowen treatments made a huge difference.

During my second pregnancy, the pubis symphysis pain started earlier in the pregnancy, so I started the Bowen treatments again but not soon enough, so the pain did get to a point where I couldn’t walk long distances. Each Bowen appointment I had relieved the tension in my hips and pelvis, but the underlying weakness remained and the pain wasn’t completely eliminated but it was stabilised so it didn’t get any worse.

While everyone around me was super impressed that I had a four hour labour and gave birth at home, I ended up having to go to hospital briefly to have the placenta removed. I don’t know why the placenta didn’t want to come out – perhaps emotional aspects surrounding the death of my first child and the fear of the same thing happening with this baby. At the hospital I couldn’t relax because the pain in my pelvis was excruciating and as much as I am against drugs, I ended up having a general anaesthetic so the placenta could be removed. I was told later that the placenta came out quite easily once I was fully relaxed – no surprise there. After giving birth, it took about a week before I could actually walk on my own & getting in and out of the shower over the bath was a nightmare.

So I decided to come up with plan for getting back into shape – nothing like extreme pain to motivate you into getting strong again. Briefly, this plan consisted of working my way up to walking 30 min every day, then adding in a couple of pilates sessions per week to strengthen my core, then moving on to strength/weight training to increase strength and lean muscle and burn the fat away. And I wanted to be back to at least a size 14 by Christmas 2008. Well, if that had all been successful, this post would have had a different title

Looking back now I can see the mistakes I made that meant I didn’t achieve my results:

  1. I didn’t write my plan down, it was all in my head,
  2. I didn’t write my milestones and goals down either,
  3. I was swayed by what I read about “the right way” to lose weight rather than listening to my own body.

Over the last 4 months I have been working with a personal trainer to beat this body of mine into submission, to make up for lost time not exercising much last year and get back to a shape and size that I’m happy with again.

Well I have discovered that forcing myself to do something I don’t really want to do, does not create the results I want. For years now, various people (my husband, my homeopath, my NLP training partners and some work colleagues) have been telling me that until my head is in the right space, no amount of physical work would create the change I was looking for. As an NLP practitioner myself, I know this on a conscious level – that conscious change doesn’t create results – it’s changes on the unconscious level that create the spectacular results.

On some occasions I didn’t do any exercise other than the occasional walk or yoga class because I knew my head wasn’t in the right place, so what was the point of doing any serious exercise – it wasn’t going to have lasting change. I really thought though that this year when I started with a new personal trainer, the results were going to be amazing and permanent. After a two week holiday in Byron Bay recently where I walked on the beach every day for over an hour without feeling tortured (in fact I loved it and wish I could have stayed) I decided to give up on the personal training for now.

Get so fixated on what you want, that you drown out any vibration or reverberation that has anything to do with what you do not want.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Boston, MA on Saturday, October 2nd, 2004

After I read this quote, it really did hit me that when I do personal training, I am more focussed on weight loss and the negative aspects of my body, when what I really want is to be healthy and strong. I’ve also realised that the path to health for me doesn’t necessarily lie in full-on personal training sessions.

So what do I think is going to do it for me? Well I have noticed that in my life in general I have become more forceful and less flexible / go with the flow – I have been trying to make things happen rather than allowing them to evolve, so perhaps a physical focus of relaxation, increased flexibility and internal strength rather than external brute strength is a better path for me right now and will help my mind shift to that relaxed and flexible place too. It’s sort of a case of the chicken and the egg – what comes first, the physical flexibility or the mental flexibility? Well for now and the foreseeable future, mediation, yoga and pilates is how I am choosing to move towards a healthier body both physically and mentally.

Do you have to think specific positive thoughts about your body in order for your body to be the way you want it to be? No. But you have to not think the specific negative thoughts. If you could never again think about your body and, instead, just think pleasant thoughts — your body would reclaim its place of Well-being.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Orlando, FL on Sunday, January 10th, 1999

Are you doing what’s working for you? Share your thoughts and inspire someone else to follow their path 🙂

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About Helena

Helena is a stay at home Mum to one funny, intelligent and very curious little boy. Helena & her husband are working towards creating a location independent lifestyle that will enable their family to homeschool, travel and experience the world together.

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