Help me keep the baby weight off!
July 30, 2010 1:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm 25 weeks pregnant, and so far in this pregnancy, I've lost thirty-one pounds, going from 275 to 244. Help me brainstorm ways to maintain this weight loss after the baby gets here.

First off, my midwife is not particularly concerned about this weight loss. I did this in my last pregnancy too, though I gained a lot of it back in the third trimester, coincidentally about when I learned that the local pizza joint would deliver ice cream. I continued to lose weight while I was exclusively nursing, down to about 55 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, but as soon as we started introducing solids, it allll came back on, and brought along 15 new friends.

There are some things that are different in this pregnancy. First, my hypothyroidism is finally well controlled; that got into the clinically normal range literally one month before I conceived this baby. Second, due to a grey-area glucose test, I'm on a carbohydrate-modified diet. I actually had begun restricting sugar even before the GTT, though, because I'm also off my antidepressants and I find that I can get about 70% of the way to normal just by avoiding sugar.

It's much, much easier for me to control my sugar intake for mood reasons than it is for health reasons. For whatever reason, "If I eat this, I will want to kill the whole world in three hours" is more meaningful than "If I eat this, I will be incrementally fatter for the rest of my life." And, indeed, I'm making a plan to stay off my antidepressants. . . but NOT during the immediate post-partum period, because that's not the time to be toughing anything out.

My husband and I have already come up with the idea of spending the cash on a month's worth of personal training for the month we start solids with the little one. But my worries are that during the insatiable nursing hunger, I'll slip back into old, bad habits, which will be way harder to break with a newborn around. It'll be winter, when it's always harder for me to eat well, and the inertia of getting a 4 year old and a 6 month old to the gym sounds like it might be rough.

I have only in my life ever lost significant amounts of weight while pregnant. When I'm pregnant, eating sounds like kind of a drag and a pain in the ass, and it's much easier for me to stick to healthy foods. But I have to say, I do like the idea of keeping all this weight off long-term. How can I maintain this momentum during the immediate post-partum period, where everything is all hoppitamoppita in every possible way, and beyond?
posted by KathrynT to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing I can think of (since I've never been pregnant myself) is that you can try being more aware of what is in the house. For example, when I started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, all foods that are illegal (and its a long list) were purged from my house and given to my carb loving family. That way, when I'm home, I'm not likely to end up eating something high sugar or with grains or corn just because it is there. This would likely take some commitment from the others in your household though. I've got it easier since I live solo right now. Maybe having food that is only for others in a separate cupboard will limit your desire to snack on the foods you know aren't the best for you.

I'm not sure what it is about pregnancy for you that makes it more of a drag to eat (nausea perhaps?) but if its something behavioral you can try continuing it postpartum. Recruiting your partner and friends to try it with you will likely make it easier to continue. And don't forget to allow yourself a treat every once and a while, or you're going to get frustrated and give up trying altogether. One bowl of ice cream does not a failed diet make.

I feel your pain though, I feel remarkably better when I avoid sugar, but in the short term its just so good its hard to say no, even if in the long run I'll kick myself for it.
posted by gilsonal at 2:17 PM on July 30, 2010

Maybe your husband would be willing to help you through that time by making sure there are delicious, healthy things ready for you to eat whenever you feel like reaching for a snack, so that eating well is easier than eating stuff that's bad for you. Once you're in the groove of having 2 kids, and you feel more like you're on sturdy ground as far as eating habits, he can back off. You could make a list of things you'd like to have on hand at all times, both snack foods and ingredients for easy recipes.
posted by lakeroon at 2:26 PM on July 30, 2010

I know it seems like it'll be tough to get to the gym with your kids, but I would recommend looking for a gym with a good daycare. I started going to the gym when my son was about 3 months old, and having the hour of baby-free time every day was a really good motivator for me. I also had PPD, and I really NEEDED that Me Time to feel better.

As far as eating well, I've found that not keeping junk food around makes it a lot easier to avoid it, especially with a newborn around. The last thing I want to do is go through the hassle of getting the kid in the car to drive to the store for ice cream. The healthy eating choice is a lot easier to make while you're in the grocery store. Go there with a list that includes only vegetables, fruit, meat, and other staples (milk, eggs, whatever), and skip the junk food aisles entirely. I find now that I don't even notice the junk food that the grocery store really wants me to buy. And of course, think of your mood, if that motivates you. If thinking, "Eating this will make me unhappy," then remember that whenever you're tempted to eat a ton of junk.
posted by lexicakes at 2:29 PM on July 30, 2010

Until recently, I just could not lose weight. Nothing I did worked. I was frustrated and angry at myself and I would go out to eat and have too much and feel bad about myself and then I would refuse to go to certain restaurants which made my husband unhappy and it was a viscious cycle.

Recently I started a couch to 5k program and weight watchers and I've lost ten pounds in ten weeks and it's been fantastic. The online WW is only $16 a month and totally worth it. I've learned a number of things that have really been helpful. 1) I was eating things I thought were healthy that really weren't. Salads are the best example of this. I would go to a restaurant and feel frustrated and order a salad as the default healthy option. But the salad was loaded with bacon and fatty dressing and you get the picture. Turns out there are a lot of things on the menu that have fewer calories if you take the time and look. (2) I can cook things that are delicious and healthy and not feel deprived. (3) Even when dieting and losing weight, I can still eat the food I really like such pizza and beer and ice cream, I just have to eat in moderation. Depriving myself completely of foods was self-defeating. (4) Exercise is your friend because it allows you to eat a little more without gaining weight.

I really, really like weight watchers because it teaches you to control your portions, to eat in moderation, and you can eat a healthy diet and maintain it for your life (unlike other fad diets).

One thing you could do to exercise after the baby comes is to get a job stroller, I understand that you may not be able to jog right away, but you can certainly walk or power walk for thirty minutes to an hour and the outing will probably be a good mental health break as well.
posted by bananafish at 2:44 PM on July 30, 2010

For what it's worth, you don't have to start your baby on solid foods at six months. That's just the minimum age. Most of the world breastfeeds their kids for one and a half to two and a half years, and while I know that's a pain to do (I went about fifteen months with my first, though not exclusively), maybe you could just stick with the mommy-milk for a few months longer this time? And then even once you start foods, continue with before-bed feedings or something like that for a while longer?

Every extra month of breastmilk (and its antibodies and hormones and even stem cells) that you can give is really good for the baby, even if it's only part-time -- and if for no other reason, it also delays the onset of horrific stinky diapers, since breastmilk-fed baby diapers pretty much don't smell at all.

So if you don't mind the extra time and effort, and if you say it does such an awesome job of stablizing your weight, then why ask "what do I do when I stop breastfeeding" and why not just stick with a bit longer?
posted by Asparagirl at 3:09 PM on July 30, 2010

This question is fascinating to me as I, too, am in the lose-weight-while-pregnant club. A week after my son was born, I weighed 40 pounds LESS than I did when I got pregnant with him, and it was probably something similar after my daughter (our first child) was born. With this pregnancy, I'm at 16 weeks, and I've lost about 15 pounds so far. In my case, it is purely nausea and vomiting, though not as badly as with either previous pregnancy, when I needed medication and IV fluids. My starting weights were similar to yours in all three cases.

In both prior cases, I regained the weight within about six months. Part of it was that I kept eating like I had when I was pregnant; because of the nausea and vomiting, my doctor encouraged me to eat whatever struck my fancy - ice cream, red meat, whatever, in whatever quantities I wanted. But I didn't stop after the baby was born, because everyone said that breastfeeding helps to drop weight. Ha! Not in my case, and I nursed my kids for 2.5 years and 2 years, respectively, starting them on solids between 7 and 9 months.

tl;dr - even though this current crop isn't the result of the healthiest weight loss plan ever (my husband calls it "pregnancy starvation" among other non-pretty things), and I'm pretty fat-positive, I wouldn't mind keeping this few pounds off. It's an interesting position to be in, eh? I've been thinking about it a lot, and I'm just going to shoot for the portion-size, don't eat like I'm growing another human being anymore, and see what that gets me.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:41 PM on July 30, 2010

It's "cheating" but with the possible negative side effects of being overweight, possibly a valid approach: some forms of prescription amphetamine were originally marketed for weight loss. I take Adderall / mixed amphetamine salts (the generic) for ADD and I end up losing weight without even trying. I know it's also prescribed for treatment-resistant depression and I thought my doctor told me it was sometimes prescribed specifically for weight control but with a quick Google I'm not finding hard evidence of that.

It increases your heart rate and blood pressure so you probably wouldn't want it if you have cardiac problems and I don't know if it would get into the milk if you're nursing. I am not a doctor and all that.
posted by XMLicious at 4:59 PM on July 30, 2010

I don't recommend either drugs or your personal trainer plan.

You need a long term plan for life changes that you can maintain, and getting a personal trainer for a month won't give you that. You should look at things that you realistically can change in your life that you want to change, and move towards that, like the idea of being a member of a gym with childcare, or going for walks/taking the stairs, or making realistic dietary changes like changing to skim milk, cutting out soda, changing from ice cream to eating Greek yogurt with a bit of honey, whatever it is that will float your boat.

Remember, it's not just the threat of being incrementally fatter. You've got a grey area glucose test right now. Believe me, you don't want diabetes, and you could be on the path towards it. Diabetes is a terrible (and also just plan annoying and inconvenient) disease. Also you are going to want to set a good example healthwise for your children since kids these days tend towards junk food and inactivity (and sadly, diabetes!) already. I urge you to continue on this path of really making the commitment to make the changes in your life to be healthier. For energy, happiness, and lots of other reasons, you won't regret it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Treehorn+bunny, that's part of the thing -- I've already made a lot of those changes. I don't drink caloric beverages, I eat waaaaay less ice cream than I used to, &c. I'm not going to cut fat out of my diet because my experiences have shown that I can't restrict both carbs and fat and maintain that, and after talking to my doctor, she recommended that I restrict carbs over fat hands down. (My father is diabetic, I know EXACTLY what you mean.)

The personal trainer is more to help me get into a routine of going to the gym. The sad fact is that with a newborn in November and December, I'm not going to be doing a lot of walking outside, and as a stay-at-home-mom, I just don't go to places with stairs that often. My gym does offer child care.

I know I need to continue on this path; the problem is that the period immediately post-partum is SO disruptive, I need to make a plan to avoid being, well, disrupted. For example, my nutritional needs are going to increase radically; making enough milk to nurse a baby costs five to eight hundred calories a DAY, at a minimum. Last time I was exclusively nursing, I ate five meals a day, three of which were macaroni and cheese, and I lost a pound a week. But that doesn't last forever. Perhaps I need to research calorie-dense low-GI meals so I can get the calories I need without getting used to eating carbs again.
posted by KathrynT at 7:33 PM on July 30, 2010

First off, my midwife is not particularly concerned about this weight loss.

You mentioned your midwife in this regard, but not the doctor. What did the doctor you referenced in your most recent comment say regarding losing a bit more than a pound per week while pregnant for the 1st/2nd trimester?

How many calories are you consuming per day now?

If you're losing weight because you cant keep up your weight while eating all the calories necessary for fetal growth, thats one thing. But if you are losing mad weight because you just aren't eating because of nausea or loss of appetite, thats a totally different issue; you might have enough reserves to keep you going, but not the proper nutrients necessary for proper fetal development.

Good luck and congratulations on the pregnancy.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:07 PM on July 30, 2010

"the inertia of getting a 4 year old and a 6 month old to the gym sounds like it might be rough." "My gym does offer child care. "

Personally, the way I get off my butt and go to the gym is to remind myself over and over that THE GYM HAS CHILD CARE and I get an hour where nobody is hanging on me making adorable, adorable demands and refusing to let me go to the bathroom.

My hour to myself involves the stupid-ass treadmill, but it's still AN HOUR TO MYSELF.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The doctor is similarly unconcerned. She said she might be if I hadn't done this same thing in my last pregnancy, but that clearly ended well. Apart from folic acid for neural tube closure, which happens really, really early on, prenatal nutrition is actually a much bigger deal for mom than for baby; my system will prioritize Yertle's health over my own, giving him iron from my blood and calcium from my bones if it has to. (Given the quality and variety of food I'm eating, I don't think it will have to.)

I have no idea how many calories I'm consuming per day; I'm certainly neither hungry nor nauseous. I do eat three solid meals + two snacks every day.

One thing I'm doing right now that is really, really good is eating vegetables with every single meal, including breakfast. (Like, breakfast is a hardboiled egg, 1-2 ounces of cheese, maybe some ry-krisp, and two 6" zucchini.) That's a lot easier to do when I have a CSA share to get through every week and enough sleep to be able to tell the pointy end of a knife from the holdy end, though. Any ideas on how to keep up that level of veg consumption?
posted by KathrynT at 9:19 PM on July 30, 2010

Popping back into this thread, because...

I thought my doctor told me [meth derivatives, like Adderall] was sometimes prescribed specifically for weight control but with a quick Google I'm not finding hard evidence of that.

Well, they were, but they were pulled off the market in the late 1970's or early 1980's as weight loss supplements since they were so very, very addictive and damaging, even to patients who were taking them "correctly" and under a doctor's care. My aunt was prescribed a version of meth as a weight loss supplement at that time, by a doctor, and it turned her into a decades-long meth addict, complete with the classic dental problems and, eventually, insanity. When the pills were made illegal, she just turned to the street stuff. She went through rehab several times at some excellent treatment centers and never managed to shake it. Her addiction finally killed her a few years ago.

tl;dr: Please do not use actually advocate using meth, whether legal or illegal, to keep the weight off. Especially when the OP is pregnant and/or nursing a child. *facepalm*
posted by Asparagirl at 11:10 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, I know that happened back thirty and forty years ago but I'm pretty sure my doctor would have been talking about what's happening in 2010 and not giving me a history lesson. If you want to bring up more scary stuff from history, I believe that the Nazis gave amphetamines to Third Reich soldiers during WWII. Nazi drugs!!!

I don't think that the modern legal manufactured stuff is anywhere near the dosage of what was given out in the 70's when those new weight loss drugs were based on it and they didn't know it was addictive, much less is it at the level of crystal meth on the street today. I mean, kids grow up taking this stuff from elementary school all the way to high school graduation but I haven't heard of that being connected to using crystal meth or any drug later in life. Tens of thousands or probably hundreds of thousands of college students take illicit Adderall and Ritalin and other amphetamines all the time and I haven't heard of this being a gateway to crystal meth addiction.

It was when I was a kid in the early 90's that prescription rates began to spike and they got concerned about possible long term effects and said "We need to do studies on this!" and they did, there are tons you can look at. (Unfortunately I didn't get prescribed it until much more recently.)

Because the tolerance gradually builds up every few months I stop taking it cold turkey and go without for a few weeks to get rid of my tolerance, so that I can drop down my dosage and start again. I don't experience withdrawal effects or anything, nothing even as bad as a caffeine addict going without coffee (though I don't drink coffee anymore because the Adderall provides the same effect). Other times I decide I want to save pills to make a month's prescription last longer, or feel lower distractability when I get up in the morning, or if I'm not working I might not need it, so I just don't take it that day (the prescription is "take as needed".) This can turn into a whole week without it if I'm on vacation but I don't feel a craving for it or any desire to take it.

It makes your mouth slightly dry but I just drink water a bit more regularly and in 4-5 years of taking it I have had no dental problems. The last time I went to the dentist I didn't even have any new cavities. I Googled for info and found this paper by the Children's Hospital of Buffalo, NY saying that an unspecified amphetamine caused a small amount of swelling of the gums, though unfortunately it doesn't say what the duration of the study was. I also found a bunch of forums with new Adderall users going "OMG am I going to get meth mouth!?1!" and other people sedately saying no, you're not.

Also, I should note that the U.S. military has been prescribing amphetamines regularly to its pilots for decades. This is a very widely used drug that's safe enough that we prescribe it to children in the millions. There aren't people dropping dead or going insane from it all over the place or even having major side affects besides the cardiac stuff (which primarily coincides with patients who already have heart problems) - at least in reading about Adderall regularly for the last five years I've seen nothing. And doctors and therapists and pharmaceutical companies have had fifty years since the drug came on the market to improve the drug itself, the way it's prescribed, and how to monitor the effect on the patient.

KathrynT, if this route interests you this is obviously something to talk with your doctor about. If there's any reason not to she simply won't give you the prescription. Ask her about nursing of course, you would need to do whatever someone with ADHD does when she has a child. But we can be fairly sure that by taking a small controlled dose of 21st century prescription Adderall while being monitored by your physician, you aren't going to end up on the street as a crazy crystal meth addict. Somehow millions and millions of children and adults use it without ending up that way.

Heck, if your kids get diagnosed with ADHD in the future and get prescribed it you'll know exactly what it's like.
posted by XMLicious at 12:37 AM on July 31, 2010

Yeah, I'm not interested in taking amphetamines while pregnant or nursing a baby. I'd rather be fat. Amphetamines pass into breastmilk; newborns sleep little enough as it is, and the last thing I want is to be suppressing the appetite of a being that needs to eat every two to four hours to stay alive.
posted by KathrynT at 12:53 AM on July 31, 2010

I'm currently 25kg under my pre-preg weight. Most was immediately afterwards though - I did gain 3kg while pregnant (1 kilo a week for the last three weeks, all water from high blood pressure) but I just dropped it like a fiend while feeding exclusively. The rate hasn't dropped immensely since we introduced solids BUT my lifestyle is different now.

More vegetables (because lentils and chickpeas are great to bulk up a meal and make it more filling), more vegetable snacks (carrots) and also modelling good eating for baby anachronism. Add in physio that made a huge amount of difference to my daily activities (I can walk up stairs without agony!) and I'm still losing. I am still feeding her overnight though, which I think makes a difference too. But I have gotten used to putting lentils/beans/chickpeas in nearly everything I cook. I try and make sure I've got snacks ready to go. In those early days it was muesli bars and anything I could eat with one hand and half-closed eyes but now it's carrots and hommous.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:36 AM on July 31, 2010

Yeah, I'm not interested in taking amphetamines while pregnant or nursing a baby.

But wait...have you heard of automatic pumpers...there's only one out there that works well enough to keep women wanting to feed their kid breast milk for as long as possible since it's done easily enough.

If you want to know it, me mail me; Im not a damn commercial.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:16 AM on August 1, 2010

. . . yes, I've heard of breast pumps. I nursed my first child until a week shy of her third birthday. I'm not sure how your statement helps answer my question, or even the part that you quoted. Even if I'm pumping, amphetamines still would pass into breastmilk.
posted by KathrynT at 8:12 AM on August 1, 2010

No...I'm not advocating the use of amphetamines at all!

And yeah, they do pass through the milk.

What im saying is, why not use one for as long as possible...or is that already a given?
posted by hal_c_on at 5:36 AM on August 2, 2010

Nursing is awesome, pumping sucks. I mean, for me personally. It's uncomfortable, it's time-consuming, it's time I can't be holding my baby or really doing anything else

The problem is that the baby doesn't go from exclusively nursed to totally weaned; you add solids when the baby is ready for them, and the baby gradually moves his nutritional needs from "mom" to "outside food." The problem for me comes that I have well-established eating patterns by that point, in part because I *do* nurse exclusively for a long time (eight, nine, ten months, in my daughter's case), and I have trouble backing off the 500-800 extra calories a day on the right timetable.
posted by KathrynT at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2010

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