Fall has finally arrived here in Nashville and as new residents, we are absolutely loving the seasonality and changing weather. Having moved here last December, this is our first fall in the city. When we arrived in December, the weather was a bit chilly and the trees a bit barren. I honestly didn't know what to make of Nashville. I guess I didn't think the city was that "pretty" per se, even though I loved the overall vibe and charm. But now, having lived here through winter, spring and summer, I realize how lush and green Nashville actually is!
Growing up in Southern California, I wasn't used to the change in the seasons being that it is always 75 degrees and sunny most of the year. After living in Georgetown/DC for the last three years, I got my first taste of seasonal weather. While I had my doubts in the beginning, - especially being a "fair-weather" runner - after I got used to the changes in temperature, I love and look forward to seasonal changes and everything that goes along with it. Nashville is no exception. I can't wait to see what our first fall in music city has in store for us.
With the changing weather comes an entirely different vibe that the city has to offer. Summer is hot and humid, a fun time for water activities and outdoorsy things such as going to the Nashville Zoo or to the YMCA pool. Winter is cold and barren, a fun time to cozy up inside, bundle up for a trip to the Christmas Tree Farm or to Frothy Monkey for hot chocolate. Now that fall is here, we get to start bundling up once again for a new kind of season and experience, one that we haven't had in Nashville thus far.
Along with fun activities and dressing for the changing seasons is the opportunity to experience different seasons of your kids' lives. I love putting a timestamp on fun times in their lives based on the season we are currently experiencing. I am looking forward to having a 7+ month old baby and a 2.5 year old toddler going into the holidays.
Postpartum Weight Loss Journey
While it isn't freezing yet, the warmer more humid weather is starting to calm down. As such, I am starting to wear cozier clothes and am layering more. And thank goodness for that, you guys, because I am still holding onto 15 pounds from pregnancy. Ugh. I know I complain a lot about this, and I'm sure the minute I stop complaining is when I'll lose all the weight (ha!), but for now I'll vent my frustration about these lingering pounds.
So, why am I holding onto pregnancy weight? This is the same question I've been asking myself since I peaked at a 15 pound weight loss around 8 weeks postpartum. I've racked my mind with plausible causes of my weight loss plateau. At first, I thought it was my caffeine intake and possibly my adrenals, then I thought I had a thyroid problem. But no. I also contemplated the fact that I wasn't exercising much, but negated that since I've lost weight before without exercising. I then blamed it on the fact that I eat sweets on occasion and also eat carbs - but no, I've also eaten sweets in moderation and carbohydrates regularly and have lost and maintained my pre-pregnancy weight. I also thought more and more about things that I should be doing to lose weight. Maybe I should cut carbs? Maybe I need to workout more? Maybe I need to stop drinking coffee? And I did. But still nothing. The only plausible cause for my postpartum weight loss plateau was breastfeeding and hormones. Something I thought would never happen to me; was I really the girl who didn't lose weight while breastfeeding? Noooooo. Please, no.
My Pregnancy + Postpartum Weight Loss Story
When I got pregnant with my first, Lincoln, I had 100% committed to breastfeeding. Not only had I heard about the wonders it works for baby, but I also heard about the wonders it works for mama - namely helping with postpartum weight loss. During my pregnancy, I ended up gaining 55+ pounds and was super excited to get my baby into a breastfeeding rhythm stat for one of the many perks: to hopefully start seeing those pounds melt away.
Looking back on my weight loss journey from my first, I'm not sure if breastfeeding was the catalyst, or cause. I did lose all 55+ pounds in about 16 months without a huge, huge effort on my part but who knows if it was because I was breastfeeding. My theory is that I would have lost it at the same rate if I weren't breastfeeding.
To lose the weight with the first baby, I ate healthy (I am already a very healthy eater so I continued doing what I do), but I was enjoying sweets in moderation. I can actually pinpoint drinking wine and eating dessert on the regular, and still managing to lose weight. I will add that I REALLY started losing a lot of weight and fast when I tightened up my diet even more so - around twelve months postpartum - and also started running regularly again. I was running at least 3 to 4 times a week - 3 miles a day.
Because I gained so much weight with my first baby, when I found out I was pregnant with our second, I vowed to watch my diet this time around and also to continue my exercise routine, if I could healthily do so. And I did. I continued exercising and eating healthy all through my pregnancy. I tracked my weight gain and adjusted my diet as such. Ultimately, I still managed to gain 33 pounds (I have no idea how women gain less than this!).
When I delivered V, I dropped 15 pounds as soon as I returned home from the hospital. I was so excited and even posted on our Instagram that I had a goal of dropping ALL of the baby weight by 4 to 5 months postpartum. And guys, I actually thought I could. I maintained my healthy diet and continued to fit in exercise when I could. All in all, I wasn't able to exercise much, but my diet was so healthy that I knew I would drop the weight like I did with my first - at a consistent rate, especially seeing that I only had 15 pounds to go.
Seven months postpartum, here I am and I still have the same FIFTEEN pounds left to lose! Not five, not ten... fifteen. Venting my frustration and trying to find answers, I have talked to a lot of postpartum mamas about this situation. To my chagrin, the majority of women I talk to communicate that they are in the same boat. They too had a hard time losing weight and attribute it to breastfeeding. Praise Jesus. I'm not alone! Also, many of those same women say that this has happened with multiple kids. More proof. On the other hand, there are some women who dropped weight super fast with the first but then had a harder time with the second and third and so on.
Alternative to these women, there are those freakish women who we love to hate that drop the weight super fast, no matter if it's baby number one, two, three or four. Dang, it's good to be you. Take Cate, for instance, and I will let her comment on this, but I believe she has already dropped all of the baby weight. She even encouraged me to do CrossFit to lose the rest of the weight. I love you Cate, but I've tried it, and it doesn't work. Alternatively, it has made me gain weight.
Anyways, these freakish unicorn women who drop weight fast postpartum leave women like me in utter disbelief. I mean, sure, I am happy (kind of) that some of my friends are able to lose the weight quickly without doing much (except breastfeed), but there is also a part of me that is pissed. Why do they lose weight so effortlessly and why do I retain 15 pounds - all things considered (roughly) equal?
A few months ago, I thought I'd up my efforts in the weight loss department and I started reducing my carbs. Bad idea, y'all. Maybe reducing carbs wasn't the entire cause of my reaction, but I ended up with severe tension headaches and intense, intense nausea that ultimately landed me in the ER. The conclusion the doctors made was that it could have been a combination of mental and physical stress, maybe even a bout of postpartum anxiety/depression. More on this another time, but you get the point.
After my stint in the ER, I realized that I needed needed needed to nourish my body - for my sake (first) and for baby's sake (second). It felt like God's way of saying, this is not the time to diet; this is happening for a reason. While the headaches and nausea lingered, I had a difficult time working up any sort of appetite, which is ironic that I wasn't dropping any weight during this time. I digress, anyways, after the ER, I realized that my mental and physical health were far more important than losing weight, and I started prioritizing eating healthy fat and protein in order to nurse myself back to health all while nursing a little baby who needed me.
Little by little, and with the help of several doctors, I started to feel better. At this point, I needed to shift and re-focus my priorities big time. My trip to the ER was a wakeup call that what I was doing was not working and I needed to figure out a life balance rather than always prioritizing my children. With the support of my family, I was able to get back on track and find that better "life balance", if there is such a thing.
To do this, first, I hired a nanny two times a week. This allowed me to run errands and to have some personal time away from the children. Second, I joined Orange Theory Fitness and started attending two classes a week, while also working in my 3 mile runs another two to three times a week. I knew I needed to find some sort of mental release through exercise. I made this a priority, namely for my mental health.
After a few weeks of the nanny coming and starting OTF (Orange Theory Fitness), mentally I started coming back to health and began to feel like myself again. While I was mainly working out for the mental stamina and to help me physically feel better, I thought maybe losing weight would be a side perk from all of the working out I had been doing. A few weeks in, I stepped on the scale and to my horror I had actually gained FOUR pounds, making me heavier than when I left the hospital.
I wish I could tell you that I wasn't disappointed because I was. I felt like I had made huge strides in finding a balance with my life but there was also a big question mark as to what was going on with my postpartum weight loss. Once again, I felt defeated.
I know you may be thinking " I know why she isn't losing weight..." I've gone through all of these questions in my mind. I am probably older than I was when I had my first. Yes, but only 22 months older. Or maybe I am eating sweets and such. I know, but I have always been able to afford to eat sweets in moderation and to lose weight; and when I cut them out I still don't lose weight. Or, you're not exercising enough. Okay, sure, I wasn't exercising in the beginning, but now that I have upped my exercise routine I have gained 4 pounds. TRUST ME, I have gone through all of this in my head and have concluded that my personal body is not ready to lose the baby weight for whatever reason... and the only thing that I can readily point to is the breastfeeding and hormones or that it is not my "time" to lose the weight this time around.
Girl, I Feel You
If you are a mama reading this and are struggling with the same, I want you to know that I feel you! If you had heard that breastfeeding helps you lose weight and you are left scratching your head wondering why YOU aren't losing weight, I feel you. In fact, a lot of us women feel you and frankly, I wished the issue of breastfeeding and lack of weight loss was talked about more.
If you talk to your friends and other women who have had kids and multiple kids or start to scour the internet for information, you will find many anecdotal stories of women who have struggled with weight loss while breastfeeding.
I have many theories why this is the case. My biggest theory is the fact that our bodies are smarter and more powerful than we are. Our bodies know that we need to feed a tiny, growing human being and that requires calories, fat and sustenance. Therefore, our bodies produce hormones such as relaxin and oxytocin - that actually make us eat more and slow our metabolic rate. This then creates a fat storage that our body can tap into to produce more and healthier milk. So then why do some of us lose weight and others do not? I have no freaking clue. To hell with this theory! Which brings me to my next theory...
One of my other theories is that this postpartum weight is meant to teach us something. I am a spiritual person and believe that all things that hurt us are meant to ultimately heal us from something bigger. If I am being honest, the weight that I hold onto from having a baby hurts me emotionally. I don't feel quite like myself, I don't have my self-confidence in tact, I can't fit into any of my clothes, I feel self-conscious walking around naked (even in front of myself!), I don't feel 100% while working out because I'm heavier, my ligaments feel sore after a long run - maybe because of the weight retention - maybe from something else - anyways, the list goes on.
And these problems are all first world problems that make me feel vein for having, but they are truthful feelings. I am trying to recognize these feelings, identify them as valid and work through how I can become better because of them - whether that is through patience and grace or something else. And when I find the hindsight to figure out what lesson I am meant to learn, I'll let you know but until then I'll blame it on the hormones!
All in all, I try and remind myself that this is only for a short time and will be moments that I look back on with love and adoration - whether I am a breastfeeding mother or otherwise. As a mama who is pro-breastfeeding, I have had moments in this journey and especially when I went to the ER, when I thought that I wasn't cut out to be breastfeeding my baby at this time. And that is okay, or is something that maybe I need to be okay with. Even more, it has forced me to have grace for women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, and maybe that is my lesson.
Another thing I have been learning is that I need to prioritize myself. Easier said than done. This is something that I have known for awhile, but haven't been prioritizing. I always put my kids needs ahead of my own, whether that is representative in my choice to breastfeed or otherwise. Now that I was put into a position in which I was forced to prioritize myself, I realize how much I need to pay attention to my own needs in order to be a good mom. I also realize that in order to fulfill myself, I must grow and thrive in a way outside of my children.
As we move into fall and as one mama to other mamas, I encourage you to cherish your babies, but also to cherish your Self. You cannot pour from an empty glass, so fill yourself up as much as you can this season. After you are full, come back to your babies and give them your all... (until they drain you again - and then you need to go fill up your cup again - or maybe your wine glass) just kidding! :) but in all seriousness, make this season about balance. Or at least that is something I am personally working on.
Thank you all for following and I can't wait to post some more fun fall activities, decor, outfits, and everything :) and when I find the secret sauce for how to lose weight postpartum while breastfeeding, I'll be sure to share it with you all!
Here are some outfit details, as well. I love love love Sunflower print paired with suede or denim, and because sunflowers bloom through summer and a portion of fall, why not? I had a hard time tracking down this sunflower dress because it is no longer available, but found a close comparison on Revolve.