How Long Does It Take To Lose Baby Weight?

Just over a few years ago, I intentionally put on 15lbs to get my period back after secretly struggling with amenorrhea, a lack of periods, for nine years.

You saw my story blow up (hello, People Magazine?!). I stopped running, gained weight, shared my story, and a few months later I was pregnant.

Now, a few years later, I have an amazing baby (wait toddler!) and everything in my world has changed in the most beautiful way. My life is more fulfilled than it has ever been, I am happy, healthy, and (w)hole.

But it doesn’t stop a toxic thought from finding its way into my mind a few times a day:

Why am I not losing weight? 

The “baby weight” that is.

I try to pretend this thought doesn’t come through, and push it out as soon as it rears its ugly head. I want to be able to say that I am totally proud of my new body as a mother. After all, I grew another person inside my body and then pushed her out, now she is surviving and thriving off liquid my body is producing.

The human body is incredible.

I know that. You know that, and I am proud of my body.

You know deep down that your body does not define who you are, your looks do not define who you are.

Yet sometimes, we have a moment of weakness.

Maybe you catch yourself creeping on someone you compare yourself to on Instagram and wonder why things are coming together so well for them and not for you.

Maybe you see a photo of your former self and wonder if you will ever get that back again.

Maybe you saw an unflattering photo or view of yourself right now, and you vow that enough is enough, time to get back in shape.

But then those Reeses Peanut Butter Cups in your cupboard are just calling your name, WHO CARES they say to you, Be Brave. Be Strong. Be YOU! remember! I don’t give a crap what others think of me!

So, you give in to the imaginary voice of those peanut butter cups, and you feel proud of yourself that you were able to stick your middle finger up to society.

No one tells me I need to be skinny to be happy, or skinny to be a fast runner.

A little while later you go to the bathroom or get into your pajamas in the evening, and you catch a glimpse of a belly that is hanging just a little too far over your pants. Or you try to put on a pair of jeans that just will not go over your hips.

Guilt floods your body.

You beat yourself up.

Why am I so weak? Can’t I even resist a stupid chocolate bar? I eat so healthy, so why do I keep sabotaging myself by eating sugar (or chips or ice cream)? Runners diet or no runners diet, if I can’t stop eating these foods, I am never going to get back to where I was. Right, that’s it, from now on, I am going to resist those damn Reeses and I am going to eat super healthy.

Until a friend brings over a plate of cookies, or it is someones birthday at work, or you are celebrating an anniversary.

There are a never-ending stream of temptations, which leaves us feeling doomed, and means we spend a good chunk of our day feeling like crap.

So we enter into this cycle where we go round and round.

Waking up in the morning feeling confident, today is a new day, until a temptation appears or a craving starts. You give in, say eff you to societies need to be skinny, I am going to enjoy my life by having indulgences. You feel strong, brave, confident. Then you see yourself in the mirror, those negative, self sabotaging thoughts come flooding in. You vow that enough is enough, no more treats…until another temptation appears, this time feeling sorry for yourself helps you to give in, why even bother, I am never going to look like INSERT SOMEONE YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO, so I will eat this. Every 2 hours this cycle repeats. As you get undressed to go to bed, you see yourself in the dim light. Ugh. Tomorrow this MUST stop.

Or maybe you make it through the day, feeling strong, brave, and confident that you resisted those temptations all day, but then the evening comes, you feel like you deserve a treat, you reach into the jar of cookies and take one, but one didn’t satisfy the craving, you can have just a little bit more, they are so damn good. And before you know it, the whole jar is gone, and you go to bed feeling overly full and annoyed at yourself that you didn’t even enjoy it that much, it just…happened.

How do I know what is going on in your head?

Because I have been in both of these situations before, and they are a vicious cycle that can be really difficult to get out of. Not so much physically, we aren’t really doing ourselves much harm, but emotionally. Even if you are eating well, getting in enough calories, carbs, fats, and really paying attention to putting good food in the rest of your diet, those thoughts can still come find you.

After I worked with Nancy Clark to recover from my amenorrhea, I was in such a good place with my body. Although most of the time my body didn’t feel amazing, I knew that was because it was working so hard growing a little person inside, but one thing was for sure. My confidence in who I was and how I looked had never been greater.

I ate what I wanted when I wanted. I ate when I was hungry, stopped when I was full. I didn’t give a crap about what others thought about my food choices when eating out. Whatever I wanted, I had it.

It was glorious.

I was 15+lbs heavier than I had been in probably 10 years, but I felt more confident about my body than I ever had. If you are struggling with amenorrhea, you are probably wondering how that could ever be the case. It was, read my getting your period back post and also this letter I wrote for SELF magazine.

Nancy warned me during my pregnancy that my body took 9 months to get into this situation, and I had better give it 9 months to figure itself out again afterwards. No pressure to get back into shape!

At the time, I shrugged her off, I didn’t need that advice. My mind had changed for good this time. I “got it”. Both Nancy and Renee had really hit home for me, and I was a changed woman.

After I gave birth to Bailey, the next day I could barely believe how flat my stomach was. All the nurses commented on how I looked like I had never even had a baby.

Of course it wasnt defined in any way, and was still protruding, in fact, I really enjoyed pushing into it as it was so squishy and I found that really funny. But it was a monumental difference to the day before…yes, losing a 6lb baby and her temporary home from your stomach can do that 😉

I felt confident and happy, proud of what my body had done, and mentally sound because my new mindset had obviously worked for me, I had the baby weight plus a little extra, just what I needed.

Except the rest of that weight didn’t seem to be coming off as the weeks passed. I reassured myself that I needed time, I was only 1 week, 2 weeks, 4 weeks postpartum, so I could push those thoughts away.

All the while, my hunger was off the charts. I was eating more than Steve, I would barely finish one meal before I was hungry for the next. I felt like I was back in marathon training. A bottomless pit.

I clung desperately to Nancy’s words. If you are hungry, then eat, and I did.

I ate solid meals every time I was hungry, and continued eating when I was full, not when I thought it looked like enough. I was not restricting, I was not holding back, I was still having whatever I wanted when I wanted, but there was one difference; my sweet tooth was back with a vengeance.

Since making those lifestyle changes last year, my sweet tooth had faded away. During pregnancy I felt very, “meh” about sweets. I enjoyed the taste while eating, but I didn’t crave them. At first I thought it was morning sickness, then I thought it was pregnancy, then I thought, “wow, I really have got rid of my sweet tooth by eating enough.”

But now, no matter how much I eat, the cravings are still there, and more often than not, I give in and eat those foods, justifying them by screaming, “I JUST HAD A BABY!! Give yourself a break, and besides you are burning an extra 500 calories a day breastfeeding remember” to myself...yes, yelling that to myself in my mind.

Rather than losing weight, I was gaining it.

How is this possible?! I thought breast-feeding TORCHED baby weight. Why isn’t this working for me?!

Then the comparison trap begins. You start searching for someone you can compare to. Someone who has done what you hoped to do, and you feel terrible about yourself. Your mind goes back to not liking what you see when you look in the mirror.

My friend said she felt like her body was a temple after having a baby, so why do I hate on mine so much?

For comfort, you go back to your indulgences, seeing even trying to lose weight as a lost cause, it will come off when the time is right you tell yourself.

So the time passes, and you either continue to spiral, or you stop. recognize that these thoughts are what is sabotaging you, not the food.

That you are spending all this time thinking about how “bad” you look (when in fact, no one else has even noticed) when you could be freeing up more time to be thinking about more wonderful things, like the fact I was able to have a baby!

Thankfully, motherhood does not allow you much time to dwell on these thoughts, with babies being notorious for needing your attention, and it zaps me right out of it, but if I do not work on this now, these thoughts will continue to fester long after Bailey has grown up…and I will pass them on to her, the last thing I would ever want.

I want her to grow up feeling that she can do anything. That the way she looks does not define who she is, but she is a strong and confident woman (which I have already been telling her) who can chase any dream she wants and make a difference in this world.

You can either choose to do something about it, by going to see a registered dietitian like Nancy, or talking to someone about how you are feeling, accepting that the weight will come off when your body is ready, if it even does need to come off at all. Often we feel like we need to lose those last 5 lbs and I have talked about that before, my message to those of you who do want to lose the last few pounds.

Maybe your body is hanging out at this weight as this is where it wants to be right now, it needs that extra fuel, the extra food to get through a tough period it is trying to work through. The more we fight it, not only is our body now stressing out as we are restricting and going against what it is asking for, but now are minds are in this spinning vortex where our confidence plummets, not just in our bodies, but in who we are as people as the negativity spreads to other areas.

Besides, stress only increases the likelihood that your body will cling to it, so we aren’t doing ourselves any favors.

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Being a mama is HARD, especially when you feel so overwhelmed. If you need a friend, someone to help you rediscover who you are or even just listen. Drop your email below, and I will reach out to you

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So my friends, whether you are postpartum or not, I hope you will join me in trusting your body. Trusting it to tell you what it needs right now.

If you need to eat those extra calories, go ahead and do it. Yes, maybe at this point in your life you will be a few pounds heavier, but this part of your story, this chapter of your book will have some role to play in your life, some lesson to learn, and until you take the time to learn that lesson the way you were meant to, it is going to keep coming back to you.

Think about how quickly time passes. When you see a friend has run a race, they are now taking 2 weeks off, and before you know it, they are tapering for their next race. Time just flies like that, and so others will not notice the way you will.

Rather than living your life in guilt and fear of what others will think, enjoy this time in your life that you can enjoy some extra goodies, but really do that, stop seeing them as guilt, and instead make the choice to have them, take the time to really savor in that flavor, as you might not always be able to have those foods you love…well as often as you are now.

Nancy taught me that we should never really hide ourself from our indulgences, there are no bad foods, they can ALWAYS be in your diet…just maybe not this much 🙂

So enjoy it, and join me in determining your own future, not letting society tell you that you have to “get back” to where you were.

You are not the same person you were then, so why would you want to go back to that person now?

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  • Great post, Tina. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your thoughts!! I’m sure many people will relate.

  • my daughter turned 1 on Saturday, and I can SO relate!! I wasn’t one of those women whose weight just “fell” off… breastfeeding made me ravenous, and my daughter wanted to nurse ALL the time, so I wasn’t sleeping or moving much during the day. I lost mayyyybe 1 pound a month until she was 6 months, and something (hormones?) shifted… I’ve since lost the rest of the baby weight (but, my body is NOT the same- not that it should be!), with returning to running and work.

    Reddit’s breastfeeding forum was a lifesaver in the early months. There are so many women in your same boat!

  • Thank you for sharing this. It’s like I could’ve written this. My body is holding on to the extra 11+ pounds of ‘extra’ baby weight. I’m 8 weeks postpartum and just now lost 1 pound. For those that emotionally struggle with the food/weight emotional balance (like myself) the postpartum period is extra challenging. I find my thoughts bi polar! My sister reminds me that I will never be my old self again. In fact, you’ll be better. <3

  • I can’t tell if you are convincing yourself to lose weight faster or if you are convincing yourself that you don’t need to lose weight. Whichever it is, you’re awfully focused on weight in general. You need to just relax and live life for a few months. Work out on a regular basis, eat both what you want and need, and in a few months everything will start getting back to normal. As long as you don’t have strict performance goals for this year you shouldn’t be overly focused on losing baby weight.

    • Ahhh, I see you got to that by the end of the article. I probably should have finished! Anyway, i’m glad that’s your mindset. Dieting moms often struggle with milk supply and low energy because it’s not healthy!

  • Thank you so much for this.

    I have never had a baby, but I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. No matter what our particular body issues are, it is so helpful to have a real conversation about it, and to know that other people struggle as well. Your podcast is actually the first time I realized that people who I once compared myself to have the same challenges with their own bodies. Your nutrition series has also done wonders for helping me improve my relationship with food/ self-image, and so I sincerely hope in the weeks and months that follow, you take some of your own incredible advice and it helps you reach a happy place as you continue on this journey.

    I don’t really have any advice or anything, but I just wanted to remind you that you are a huge inspiration for so many people, both for your accomplishments and your struggles, but also for your kindness. Please be as kind to yourself as you are to everyone else as you go through this transition. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this, Tina. I haven’t even had my baby yet, and I’m already struggling with my body image and weight gain during this pregnancy. Like you said, some days are great and I feel confident and so thankful that I get to have this privilege of growing a child; other days I’m so hard on myself. Love your reminder that these days are fleeting, my weight doesn’t matter to anyone else, and I shouldn’t let something so trivial suck the joy out of this special time.

  • The weight will come off, but right now your body is rebuilding itself after the pregnancy as well as making milk for Bailey, which is quite a superpower, isn’t it? Hence, the cravings – your body needs super nutrition for its superpowers. Not sure how your sleep is, but chances are that with an infant, it’s not so great. And we all know how sleep deprivation can lead to the munchies. Over time, you will get better sleep, Bailey will nurse less, and your body will no doubt equilibrate back to its normal set-point. Patience can be hard!

  • Hi Tina, this whole article sounded just like my thoughts. I have a 6 month old boy, had HA and had to gain 20lbs to get pregnant, marathon runner, breastfeeding now and give in to all the sweets and eat way more than my husband and still clinging to the baby weight even though i am back to lifting and running (ran through all of pregnancy like you and did 2 marathons oops). I know breastfeeding holds on to the extra fat out needs to make milk for our babies but i don’t get why i can’t resist the cravings. I know i am extra tired and just draining to training and take care of the baby as much as i love him. Nice to know i am not alone or crazy eating the whole pantry haha

  • “How is this possible?! I thought breast-feeding TORCHED baby weight. Why isn’t this working for me?!” Simple–this is all old wives tales. Or, as my primary care bluntly put it, “a myth we tell women to make us breastfeed”. As our pediatrician put it, “Biologically speaking, lactating women should not lose weight.” As my ob/gyn put it, “Some women easily lose weight breast feeding. Some women, it doesn’t make any difference. And some women cannot lose weight at all while breast feeding. If it’s any concilation, it seems to be the smaller women that have the biggest problem.”

    I was suspicious when I saw the calorie numbers–how can we lose weight easily making food for the baby but we should be careful to not over-eat while pregnant and growing and supporting the baby? The calorie estimates for both are the same 300-500 extra calories a day. But, when we’re pregnant, we find advised to “not go too crazy eating for two. After all, 300 calories is just one candy bar!” But, when we’re lactating, suddenly we’re supposed to focus on the upper 500 range (“That’s a pound a week!” Never mind that the 3,500 calories = 1 lb is suspect too).
    Add in that we all know that hormones have a profound impact on weight.

    But still, I was shocked that I could not lose any weight while nursing. I must emphasis **COULD NOT LOSE ANYTHING**. My first pregnancy, I gained 30 lbs. I lost 10 after delivery and the remaining 20 did not budge until I weaned. At all. I did P90X. I took up running for the first time in my life (so at least something good came out of this hellish experience). I calorie counted. I got down to 1500 calories a day while lifting weights and running and nursing and did not lose any fat. But I did lose my milk and had a three day extravaganza of power pumping with my lactation consultant and eating everything in sight to get it back.

    Hence all the doc visits for advice and even a post-partum thyroid check since my personal trainer insisted that I “must be doing something wrong since it’s a scientific fact that nursing makes you lose weight.” I even had ever symptom of an over-active milk supply except weight loss and was ravenously hungry trying to cut calories.

    My primary care assured me said she had the exact same experience during all her pregnancies and that, after her milk dried up, “all the usual tricks will work.” Sure enough, after my supply dried up, I dropped over two pounds a week easily until it stopped on its own at my pre-baby weight. Going into my second, I was ready for this experience and, sure enough, exact same situation (but doing everything “wrong” while nursing to slow my supply so at least I was more comfortable). I got back into working out but didn’t count calories. It made no difference on weight gain or lose and, as soon as I weaned, a modest calorie restriction helped it come off.

    I admit that, if we ever have a third, it’s a bottle baby. First because I found nursing horrible. Second, because, as much as I now know better, I was so sick to death of two years of getting judged by women around me. “Why haven’t you lost it? Aren’t you nursing? It’s science.” No, it’s not.

  • Enjoy the baby and the breastfeeding. Those moments will be gone so quickly and you will miss them terribly. Forget about losing weight for now. All in due time. And for those who say that your body will not be the same, it’s not true. I’ve achieved a much greater fit shape after I had my second child. Yes it took time and we need to be patient to build it a little at a time. It’s not just about cutting sweets, it’s about having a daily routine that involves some sort of physical activity.

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