Post pregnancy snapback is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. However, unlike a box of chocolates, it may not always be sweet. I thought my postpartum snapback would be a breeze because I was athletic prior to pregnancy. I was wrong. So wrong.
Prior to pregnancy, I worked out six days a week doing Pilates, strength training, HIIT and pole dancing. I taught pole three days a week until I was seven months pregnant and continued working out right up until the day I gave birth. I gained 25 lbs, which fell within my doctor’s recommended weight gain range, and lost 15 lbs automatically in my first week postpartum. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was gaining that 25 lbs back plus another 25 lbs over the course of the next few months due to breastfeeding. Yes, you can gain weight during breastfeeding. Most health professionals will tell you that one of the benefits of breastfeeding is that you lose weight due to burning more calories, but they conveniently leave out the fact that some women actually gain, because breastfeeding can make you ravenously hungry and, sometimes, the fat your body stores during this period does not want to part with you.
I am two-and-a-half years postpartum and still struggling to lose that extra weight. I have lost and kept off a whopping 5 lbs, but the rest has been struggle city. However, the more I talk about it, the more I encounter women with similar tales of how they didn’t have the blessed, highly-lauded but often unrealistic snapback experience. I reached out to my network of athletic women to get the truth about what happens when the snapback isn’t instant. Here are their stories.
Caprice Burrell, mom of a 5-year-old
Occupation: Owner of Alter Ego Pole Fitness, Hoboken, NJ
Pre-Pregnancy Fitness Activities: Spin classes, pole dancing, and running
It has been five years since I had my daughter. I gave birth to her via C-section. I can’t tell you how disappointing that was. I was crying when they told me I was going to have to schedule a date for them to take her out because I was supposed to have a natural birth. When you have a C-section you have to wait 12 weeks to work out again. Those four extra weeks took so long that I actually started to work out a week early. I wouldn’t advise anyone else do this though. My first month back was difficult but it got easier as I went along.
Right now at home, I do squats with 20 lb free weights every day; three sets of 10. I also try to make it to the gym at least once a week and I also teach pole classes two-three times a week. It’s very hard to juggle working out at a facility when you have a toddler who is now in kindergarten zapping all of your time and a husband who needs things. So my workouts at home are pretty impulsive because I do it whenever I get a free moment. Using the free weights at home helps a lot because lifting weights boosts your metabolism which helps in losing weight. I also hired a personal trainer a couple times which really helped to get the ball rolling.
Right now I would say my fitness level is a seven compared to being a nine pre-pregnancy and that’s okay. I’m just on my own timeline but I would like to get back to a nine again. I imagined my snapback was gonna go much faster than it actually was, but considering the fact that I had my daughter at 40 years of age I didn’t want to be so hard on myself because at my age your metabolism is much slower anyway.
My advice to any women feeling frustrated is don’t be so hard on yourself. Just like fingerprints, we are all different, so what may work for some women may not work for all. Hire a personal trainer to get the ball rolling if you can. Sometimes all we need if for someone else to push us. It’s okay if your journey takes a little more time, you just have to find the right methods that work for you and your lifestyle. Don’t compare yourself and remember, you have a baby that loves your regardless. Make your snapback journey fun and not a pressurized thing. It’s fun to try new ways to workout! It could also be fun to try different recipes that help you lose weight. Make sure you own plenty of Spanx and girdles, they do wonders for your shape while you’re losing weight. Try to use old-fashioned methods to lose weight (cardio and weights) because the results last way longer, and surround yourself with people who love you and support you no matter what.
Ke’va Ashton, mom of 3, ages 11, 2, and 1
Pre-Pregnancy Fitness Activities: Cycling four times a week, bootcamp two times a week, and yoga once a week.
On a scale from 1-10, I would say I’m an 8 1/2. I feel stronger now than ever. I was always intimidated by weights. I’m no bodybuilder, but I can confidently say I’ve learned to find the weights that I feel comfortable with and I’m always challenging myself, but without pressure.
I learned so much with my first pregnancy. I promised myself I would do things differently if I ever got pregnant again. I wasn’t active with my first pregnancy and basically “ate for two” as I thought I could. Boy was I wrong! I gained 40lbs with my first pregnancy and after I had the baby I held on to that baby weight for years!! Fast forward, years later I finally reached my ideal weight — 160 lbs — through diet and exercise. Once I got pregnant I continued my workout routine using moderation. I remained very active with my second and third pregnancies, although I still gained 30lbs. I continued cycling three-four times a week and doing kettlebell workouts once a week. After my second pregnancy, my snapback seemed easy and I quickly dropped to my starting weight of 160-165 lbs. My snapback process with my third child is taking longer than it did with my second child. I feel it’s really about time and appetite control. I can do the exercise, but for me, it’s all diet. So far I have already lost 20 lbs and have 15 lbs to go.
I wish I had someone to tell me there is no quick fix. Just because you had a baby isn’t an excuse to carry the weight. If you want to lose the weight you have to put the time and effort in. More importantly, you have to watch what you eat. Cut out sugar.
Starrene Rhett Rocque is the author of Bloggers Can’t Be Trusted, and a Brooklyn-based digital content producer who has worked with Hello Beautiful, Teen Vogue, IMAN Cosmetics, Complex and more. She is two years deep into life as a mom.