My Postpartum Weight Loss Journey

gaining weight while pregnant
1 week postpartum

Gaining weight during pregnancy—and then trying to lose weight after baby—is an emotional rollercoaster for so many women, and perhaps especially for those of us with lifelong issues with food. At my first OB appointment, my doctor told me I should aim to gain 25-30 pounds over the course of my pregnancy, which seemed reasonable enough to me. The only tricky part—I was already 20 pounds above my happy weight (that weight range where I feel confident and energetic, where I’m not bingeing and my clothes fit). It was the beginning of January 2018 at that first appointment. Daniel and I had gotten married at the end of that previous September and waited a few weeks before hopping a plane to Hawaii for our honeymoon, which was a blissful two weeks long and full of incredible food. We got home just before Halloween, just in time for me to break in our new kitchen with all the holiday baking I could possibly do. We were in full-on merry mode, eating our way through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—hence the 20-pound gain.

postpartum weight gain
1 month postpartum

So sure, I was starting at a higher weight than I might have liked, but what could I do? I had no intention to reel it in or restrict or “get back on track.” I was on a new track, nourishing my baby. And maybe that simple fact—that I couldn’t diet and so there was no looming restriction—was what made it easy to accept reality.

My only aim was to eat as wide a variety of wholesome foods as possible while also honoring the many, many cravings coming at me daily. So what did that jargon mean? It meant that I tried my best, which landed me about a mile away from perfection but y’know, in the neighborhood.

All in all, I gained 48 pounds during my pregnancy. More than I intended, but a number I was pretty comfortable with, considering all the challenges that pregnancy throws at you…and as potentially annoying as it sounds, I loved being pregnant. I felt fairly comfortable physically up until my last few weeks, so I was able to stay reasonably active in day-to-day life. I walked every day, cleaned my house non-stop (scrubbing inside and under cabinets was became a hobby), organized and then reorganized, and dabbled in DIY landscaping (which, yup, looked extremely DIY). I tried to find a middle ground between providing my baby with good, solid nutrition and a wide range of nutrients while also not causing myself too much stress in an attempt to be perfect at it. And of course, I wasn’t always quite the model of balance and moderation. Two of my strongest cravings were for Indian food and fried chicken sandwiches with mayo and pickles, and there’s an Indian restaurant nearby with a killer lunchtime buffet and a great deli up the street that makes an outstanding chicken cutlet sub, if that can illuminate my pregnancy eating for you.

losing weight after baby
3 months postpartum

And now, here’s where things went off the rails. You might expect weight gain during pregnancy, but you probably don’t expect the weight gain afterward. On one of my first few days home after having James, I stepped on the scale out of curiosity and noticed I’d lost 20 pounds. Huh, I thought, surprised, only not pleasantly surprised like you might think—I was too tired to be pleased with myself. I had no plans to begin losing weight anytime soon and in our first week home, food was the last thing on my mind. I ate quick, convenient meals when I could, at all hours of the day and night, but noticed that nothing I ate seemed to taste like much of anything. Sweets, though, gave me fast energy. Every time I walked by the kitchen, I’d grab something—a cookie, a piece of candy—and momentarily it gave me a hit of optimism, like I wasn’t always going to feel as exhausted and rundown as I was. Looking back now, I understand that I was caught in the fog of either the baby blues or postpartum depression. I still don’t entirely know which it was because the whole experience of birthing a human being, getting to know that little person, learning to care for him, all the while feeling tremendously blessed and overwhelmed by new motherhood…is itself a massive, transformative, life-altering shift that could of course never be easy no matter how sunny and optimistic your natural disposition.

And so I ate, more and more each day until I was full-on bingeing every night in a sort of last supper attempt, promising myself that I’d stop tomorrow and begin eating healthier. Remember when I told you I had lost 20 pounds immediately postpartum? Well I gained those right back, plus 15 extra!, in just under two month’s time. It was astonishingly easy to do, but I didn’t feel good. Eating constantly made me feel—surprise!—heavy and lethargic. Every part of me ached, especially my back, which I threw out several times while lifting James. I didn’t think it was possible, but the sugar roller coaster I was riding was leaving me even more exhausted. I weighed 80-some-odd pounds more than my comfortable weight and I felt it. And as overwhelming as the mere thought of change can be when you recognize how far away you are from where you want to be, I was ready.

losing weight after baby
4 months postpartum

Diet

On November first of 2018, I started by eliminating the easy, empty calories—like the maple pecan flavor syrup that I’d been adding to my iced coffees at Dunkin Donuts, and going back to basics with regular, structured meals. I aimed to eat three healthy meals a day with one snack in the evening. I’ve never been much of a snacker or the type to eat many small meals. I’ve always preferred to eat a few bigger meals. The food varied, mostly based on what I made for dinner because I usually ate leftovers for lunch, but my emphasis was always eating as many whole, single ingredient foods as I could. We ate a lot of chicken stir fries made with veggies and canned beans because it was super easy to make and buy in bulk. Daniel made some crock pot meals like his famous barbacoa (which I’m pretty sure is just him throwing whatever ingredients he can find in the cabinet into a crock pot with some cholula hot sauce). I ate a lot of hard boiled eggs for breakfast because they were easy to prepare ahead of time. At night before bed, my favorite thing to eat was a big bowl of oatmeal with a banana. It was warm and filling and I knew I wouldn’t go to bed hungry.

5 months postpartum

Exercise

I’ve never been someone who liked exercise. I wish I was the person who fell in love with the gym or couldn’t start their day without a run. But I just can’t stick to an exercise routine. This is an area where motherhood really benefited me because even though I don’t “exercise,” I am very active. When James was very small, I used to walk him around the neighborhood in the stroller. I was constantly carrying him around and rocking and dancing with him. Then when he became mobile, I feel like I am more active than when I used to run several miles on a treadmill. I get down on the floor with him and play his favorite game which is me chasing him while speed crawling. I am constantly bending, lifting, playing, cleaning, and moving. And everywhere I go, I carry a crazy cute 27-pound weight with me. Taking care of a toddler is physical work and I genuinely think I get enough activity just from parenting.

weight loss after baby
6 months postpartum
losing weight post baby
8 months postpartum
losing weight postpartum
10 months postpartum
11 months postpartum

Mindset

The most positive aspect of my postpartum experience has been how little I got hung up on my weight. For my entire life, food was the most important thing on my mind. I was obsessed with eating or thinking about what I was going to eat. All of a sudden, I had something in my life that completely took over my mind. My changes in priority meant I wasn’t so focused on myself, and that’s a good thing.

James nourishes a part of me that I have historically filled with food. Taking care of him makes me mindful of all the ways I need to take care of myself. When you’re a new parent, you’re forced to stop wasting time–watching tv, scrolling social media–and with the little free time you do have, you get really clear about what you truly need to not only survive, but to thrive. I was able to see what was really important for me and develop a positive routine. I don’t have time to obsess over food, or spend an afternoon binge eating. And it isn’t limited to food either. For me, it’s essential that I have an hour at night to shower, do my skincare routine, apply lotion, listen to a podcast, and go to bed early.

12 months postpartum

My Body

By James’ first birthday back in September, I had lost 80 pounds. I felt the best I had in ages—strong and energetic and balanced. I wasn’t so tired all the time, like I had been for those first four or five months postpartum. My old clothes fit once again. But make no mistake—my bare body (under those clothes) does not look like a model’s, and it never has, not even at my thinnest. It’s squishy and soft and dimpled and, well, covered in stretch marks. Because I was big for decades, I had a lot of excess skin leftover after I lost 135 pounds 12 years ago. I had some of that skin removed through surgery, from my belly and my thighs, but honestly the thigh skin removal never worked and the skin on my belly has lost all elasticity. The flesh on my thighs is saggy and deflated-looking, wobbly like a turkey neck. Physically, pregnancy didn’t quite help any of this, what with the ballooning size and all, but I really don’t mind. I’ll never have the figure of a swimsuit model—and that’s OK! I’ve spent 34 years in this one body, and maybe that’s just enough time to learn to accept that all of its scars are just memories of all that it’s done for me.

12 months postpartum

It’s true what they say about the miracle of childbirth, about how it gives you a new appreciation of your body. I couldn’t have said this two years ago, but today I look at my body with much more kindness, more understanding, and far more gratitude.

how I lost weight after baby

I’d love to hear from you—How was your postpartum weight journey?

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36 thoughts on “My Postpartum Weight Loss Journey

  1. Maryellen Loiacono

    Wow, I can’t believe the amazing transformation. Same beautiful girl just a different shape. Great job Andrea, stunning inside and out! Love your sidekick James, look at his amazing transformation through all this time. He is too precious.

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Congratulations on your beautiful boy as well as your transformation back to your pre-pregnancy weight. I have been reading your blog & your book and love your story. I think you’re a great inspiration! I’m inching down toward my lowest weight as an adult – down about 120 lbs and feeling so much healthier!

    Reply
  3. Shannon

    I can relate to the weight gain after pregnancy. In addition to a newborn I also had some other added personal stresses and I gained 40lbs in under 6 months after I came home from the hospital. (I ate super healthy and lost 30lbs during my pregnancy, not on purpose) My new baby needed to be held 24 hours a day. No matter what we did she would sleep or be content on her own at all. I quit my job to stay at home, and when my husband went back to work I would put my baby in the car seat and hit a drive through for lunch every day while she slept in the car seat. Unless I had a visitor it was the only time I got to have my hands free to eat a meal without holding a baby. My husband would pick up takeout on his way home from work because it was too hard to prepare meals. Eventually it just became a habit. We slept in shifts and I ate sweets all night to help me stay awake during my turn. My daughter is 11 months old now and people tell me I’m lucky to have such an easy baby. I’m 2 lbs away from the weight I was when I came home from the hospital (but with 65 more to go).i wouldnt change those first few months of all day snuggling for anything.

    Reply
  4. Theodora

    You look gorgeous no matter what and not a mom so nothing to add about postpartum weight gain/loss, but I’m definitely feeling uncomfortable in my own skin and this post is such a good reminder of what a journey it truly is and that it doesn’t happen overnight.

    Reply
  5. Hanna

    I’m really happy for you – you look happy and healthy! This makes it all seem very easy, though. My kids are 15 months and 2.5 years and I am still 10 lbs above my pre pregnancy weight. It’s taken me 5 months to lose 15 lbs on ww. And you just… ate healthy meals and lost 80 lbs? I don’t mean to diminish it, I am so impressed, but what am I doing wrong?

    Reply
    1. Kim

      This is a great transformation story, though I agree not to diminish it but you really lost 80 lbs eating healthy? I’m 19 months postpartum and still have 8 lbs to lose. I lost 30 something but I probably didn’t and could barely even bring myself to start losing weight till over a year postpartum then when I finally did start losing weight actively it took a fair amount of restriction. And even so still I’m struggling to lose the last ten lbs. – and this after 1.5 years!

      Reply
      1. Sarah Sorek

        Agree! I know it’s totally personal, but I’d love to hear a more detailed break down of how you turned your eating around. Beautiful post, beautiful writing – as always.

        Reply
        1. Riley Allison

          Hi Andie,

          For years I have enjoyed your blog and while I’ve been too shy to comment, your post hits home for a variety of reasons. I’ve struggled since having twins and I feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. I want to have energy for my kids and to tackle everything else in life, Including feeling good in my skin but I cannot seem to keep the weight off. How do you stay on track? Is there a particular plan you’ve turned too. Forgive me for all the questions, I realize you’re a busy lady but had to ask. Proud of you for all you’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish and thank you for inspiring others!

          Reply
  6. Haley

    You are beautiful inside & out. So inspiring. I can tell how you much you love being a momma. You radiate . Did you count calories as well as trying to eat more Whole Foods?

    Reply
  7. Stacey

    I would never imagine that my daughter would be 14 months and I’d still be working on my Weight loss. Life is so different now but your post was inspiring and motivating. My daughter is the absolute best and my husband and I are so in love with her. I’m learning to be kind to myself and appreciate this wonderful life.

    Reply
  8. Lucy

    This is exactly what I needed to read today!
    12 weeks postpartum and 35 pounds above my happy weight! The number on the scale means nothing in comparison to feeling heavy, and tired.
    Just gotten out my paper and sharpie and meal planned some sensible and easy to prepare meals (with some wiggle room for occasional treats!)
    You’re such an inspiration for real life Mama weight loss.

    Reply
  9. lisa

    Andie, your grace & pure beauty inside is so radiant and even more so when you become a mommy. Now girl,…on the outside! Whew! you are looking good Mama! You have inspired me since I read your very first book about your journey with weight loss. I fell off track a few years back and gained half the weight I lost with sleeve surgery (50 lbs). Lots of emotional eating. Somewhere, I lost my way. I read all your recipes and I just pray my brain will kick into “healthy” once again. James is a beautiful blessing. Savor every moment. xxx

    Reply
  10. Amanda Morey

    This is a great post and beautiful writing. My girls are 2 and 4 and my post partum weight loss journey is still ongoing. I lost my mom unexpectedly when my youngest was 7 months. I didn’t know it then, but it triggered a binge eating disorder that had been lurking in the shadows.
    This past year I sought treatment for it and are working on finding balance in my life. Your sentence about how taking care of James reminded you to do self care too really resonated with me.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  11. Lindsey

    You make motherhood look so rewarding, Andie. It’s so inspiring to me! I have a lot of anxiety, and sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out to be a mother. But your posts always remind me of all the joy that comes along with the stress :)

    On an unrelated note, have you ever done a post about your skincare routine? I think it’s such a great way to take care of yourself and am always curious about other people’s products!

    Reply
    1. Kersten

      You are cut out to be a mother! It might not look like the vision you’ve held, but you are doing it… you’re a mom.

      Reply
    2. Robin

      Lindsey, I just had to respond to you. I, too, suffer from crippling anxiety, and this made me very nervous to become a mother. Now, I have a beautiful 15-month old son, and I can’t believe I ever worried so much (See: Anxiety, LOL). Much like Andie said, having my baby to focus on allows me to channel that anxious energy into something that is fulfilling and pure good. It also helps to remember that all the stressful phases are temporary as babies are always evolving! You will be an incredible mother… you’re already thinking about your children’s well-being! XO

      Reply
  12. Aneesa

    Thanks for sharing your story, Andie! You articulate the complexities of losing and gaining weight so beautifully—especially around the complicated issue of pregnancy and post-partum. So nice to read something and know that you and all the others in the comments section share some of the same feelings that I had/have!

    Reply
  13. Kim Broderick

    When I start down the road of my old habit eating, I have to step back and remember what I did to get where I am now. I remember my original WW leader telling us that we thought we were cured and could manage it all on our own. Which, or course, is the mindset that brings me to a higher than I like weight. I always think that if I try hard enough I can be one of the normal folks about food and eating – but the reality is I think about food more than the average person does. And that is me!

    I am so happy for you and your new family!

    Reply
  14. E. S.

    I’m not a mom and so although I’m very happy for you (it seems like being a mother suits you!) I’ve had trouble relating to some of your recent posts. This one definitely resonated with me. It took me about 4 1/2 years to lose 110 pounds, then I kept it off for a year, and four weeks ago I had surgery to remove the excess skin I had. Your book really helped me about halfway through my journey when I was really stuck and I’ve kept an eye on your website ever since. It’s great to see how you’re loving yourself since that will only help you love your family even more. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  15. Laurence Nolan

    You look happy and wonderful. I am so happy all went so well with pregnancy and postpartum. Bless you and your family. How is your mother. I rally enjoyed the posts when she was losing weight!

    Reply
  16. Carol Anne O'Shea

    Just look lovely Andy. I think its a great attitude to accept your body with its loose skin etc. You look beautiful and i think its important to focus on how our body took care of us when we weren’t taking care of it. How it created a beautiful little boy. I think its healthy to focus on the good things rather than perfection. Maybe perfection is a body that weathers the storms, (our weight gain) produces our children and still keeps going xx

    Reply
  17. Megan OToole

    Thank you for this post. I remember (13 years ago) doing all the ‘right’ things toget back to my healthy-ish weight after my second child was born. I just kept gaining-finally my mom suggested that I get some bloodwork done-turned out my thyroid was off the charts (in a bad way that is). I also suffered from depression and needed meds and therapy.i guess what I’m saying is motherhood is more complicated than I imagined and your post just reaffirms what took me a very long time to accept and to not compare myself w the other new moms who appeared to be killing it as a mom. But Andi… as I read this all I was taken aback w how totally and completely beautiful you are-omg- your hair and face are crazy pretty. I know that sounds very superficial-but it’s not really. I already felt like I knew you from “It Was Me All Along”- I took in your message so much that I never considered your outer self as your thoughts, moral compasses, wit and overall kick-ass personality shone thru so much to me. As a mom, I know others tend to compliment the heck out of our beautiful kids-so I just wanted to share my compliment to you. ❤️

    Reply
  18. Megan OToole

    Thank you for this post. I remember (13 years ago) doing all the ‘right’ things toget back to my healthy-ish weight after my second child was born. I just kept gaining-finally my mom suggested that I get some bloodwork done-turned out my thyroid was off the charts (in a bad way that is). I also suffered from depression and needed meds and therapy.i guess what I’m saying is motherhood is more complicated than I imagined and your post just reaffirms what took me a very long time to accept and to not compare myself w the other new moms who appeared to be killing it as a mom. But Andi… as I read this all I was taken aback w how totally and completely beautiful you are-omg- your hair and face are crazy pretty. I know that sounds very superficial-but it’s not really. I already felt like I knew you from “It Was Me All Along”- I took in your message so much that I never considered your outer self as your thoughts, moral compasses, wit and overall kick-ass personality shone thru so much to me. As a mom, I know others tend to compliment the heck out of our beautiful kids, so I just wanted to share my compliment to you. ❤️ PS I hope no one that reads this is mad or offended by this- I realize it’s a weird comment and I truly mean it in the best way. I’m not a strong writer so conveying this eloquently isn’t easy!

    Reply
  19. Judy Caywood

    I don’t know that I have anything to add to what everyone else has said but I loved your approach of dropping foods that held you back and eating healthy consciously. I also like that instead of demanding you exercise which is such a guilt trip so many take on, you add more exercise naturally to your day. A coach I had once told me this is the key and I believe it. Congratulations Andie. I’m very happy for you.

    Reply
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  21. Jessica

    Andie – thank you so much for this post. You are such an inspiration and you have the most adorable little boy. I’ve been going through a tough time the past year or so, and I am at full pregnancy weight now (without the baby). I need to lose about 60 lb. In addition to the 3 meals and a snack, and getting rid of empty calories, did you do any calorie counting? You’ve mentioned in the past that this method worked for you. I’m having a hard time with consistency but I really need to get healthy.

    Reply
  22. Kate

    Thanks for this post! I lost over 50lbs within two weeks of giving birth and was shocked to find myself below my pre-pregnancy weight that quickly, especially since I was basically living on fast food and Halloween candy while my daughter was in the NICU and then those early stressful days after she came home. I kept up that eating pattern in the weeks following and discovered this morning that I’ve gained 15lbs in the last four weeks. Yikes. This was encouraging to read and a good reminder to care for ourselves as well as we care for these sweet babies.

    Reply
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