Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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How I lost the baby weight (fast) without dieting

Disclaimer/update: It was much harder after the second baby. Here's that post.

Otto will be one year old this week! I definitely have struggled to write this post because it is an emotional topic for me and a lot of people, but I figure now is kind of the last chance I have and I think it is valuable to share.

If you're like I was and concerned about keeping on weight after pregnancy, working on body image issues, trying to eat well and work out... you may enjoy reading about my experience!

How I "lost the baby weight" (fast!) without dieting


My body and mind went through a huge transformation with my pregnancy and postpartum. The body part is obvious, but since I have struggled with body image and wanting to lose weight for most of my life, it took a huge mental shift (that is still affecting me) to not worry about weight gain for 9 months. I knew I was supposed to gain weight, and I needed to eat the best foods I could.

I stopped worrying about counting macros, weighing myself feeling bummed I didn’t make progress in my workouts. (Thank goodness, because pregnancy and postpartum are we not the time to cut calories/diet or try to make performance gains. I felt so gross during the first trimester that it was a struggle to do 10 minutes of yoga, and I had an aversion to meat for a while!)

I should say, too, that when I got pregnant I was at the lowest weight and strongest muscle I have been ever, looking pretty lean after lots of home (scaled) CrossFit and higher intensity workouts, and playing around with macros. 148 lbs and with some great muscle definition in my arms. (Oh, I'm 5'6.5".)
I had just found out I was pregnant in this photo. Strongest I've felt and looked!

Immediately postpartum

It was so freeing to stop worrying, and thankfully (luckily? And also due to healthy habits), I gained right on track by the end of my pregnancy (exactly 30 lbs) and was back to my pre-pregnancy jeans within 2-3 weeks after delivering. (Point is, I think a lot of that weight was swelling/water weight.) I got back down to that pre-pregnancy weight quickly... my low of 148. I don't weight myself regularly so I'm not sure when I hit that point, but I'm guessing it was within 2-3 months. I know that is crazy! I think my mom said it took her a 9 months or a year after having me. I will share more about why I think I lost the weight so fast...

But, when I looked in the mirror, I saw weak, skinny arms and no butt, since I had taken a year off from working out! (I have gained 2-3 lbs since then, but am also working out again finally, so maybe some of it is muscle. :P)
Barely pregnant, 40 weeks pregnant, 2 weeks postpartum (ignore my hair and messy apartment!)

I feel uncomfortable writing this post because I don’t want to play into the culture that tells women they have to lose weight to be happy. But, I know that despite working on self love for a long time, I was still really worried about what would happen to me after having a baby. I really enjoyed reading posts like this, so I hope it is helpful for you and yet also does not encourage are judge mental culture.

How I lost the baby weight

So, how did I do it?

By halfway through my pregnancy, I was already really swollen. My belly didn’t pop out until 20+ weeks, but but by 40 weeks I was super puffy in my face, hands, ankles, and feet and could only wear a couple pairs of shoes! Then, I delivered my 8 lbs. 15 oz. baby, and immediately felt so much lighter! (Duh.)

I had been able to eat normally for the second two trimesters of pregnancy, so I was already back to eating mostly real food, relatively balanced meals. Now, post baby and breast-feeding around the clock literally, I was hungrier than I had been while pregnant! I ate two breakfasts, lots of snacks, including one after dinner, and for the first few weeks I even kept dried apricots & peanut butter plus protein bars in my nightstand which I ate while feeding the baby every 2 to 3 hours overnight.

I still wasn’t able to work out again regularly… Not only was I busy taking care of a baby, but the low back issues I’ve had for a long time were WAY worse than ever. I started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist who gave me progressive exercises I could do, and limited myself to those for several months. (Now, I can move around normally but I still have to be very careful of my back and make sure to use my core muscles when lifting things, including baby.)

All of this is to say… How did I lose the baby weight in 2-3 months while snacking on calorie-dense foods in the middle of the night, sitting around my apartment all the time, and waking up every 2-4 hours?? Here's my theory.

  1. Clean eating throughout pregnancy and postpartum. While I never limited myself, I always made relatively good food choices. No processed/white sugar, no gluten, no dairy, very few processed foods in general, no soda, no heavily sweetened coffees, homemade whatever wherever possible, grassfed beef when possible, not too much fruit, relatively low carb but still eating potatoes, rice, clean carbs whenever I wanted. No alcohol, obviously--pregnancy and since. These days I have a drink every couple months, I guess. Treats/snacks are dried fruit, more protein bars (Costco/Kirkland has a clean one, or RX Bars), very dark chocolate. We eat out once every 2 weeks, I think, on average.
  2. Breastfeeding. My supply has never been massive, but I am sure that breastfeeding was why I was extra hungry and taking an extra calories but not gaining weight. I’m still breastfeeding now, I think as much as ever! (I don’t mind it, but the pumping is getting really old...)
  3. ...??? I think that’s it. I wish I could say getting great sleep and working out regularly contributed, but I was not doing well with either of those for a long time!

Disclaimer/update again: I just have to add that it was not this easy after the second baby! Post on that coming someday soon I hope.

Since I have a background in extreme diets for health's sake (with the added benefit of weight loss, for my body image issues anyway)--most recently "mostly Paleo"--my diet now does not feel at all restrictive. (You can read about my recovery from raw veganism here.) I also sometimes worry my diet is not actually that healthy, like when I eat Trader Joe's low-sugar peanut butter protein granola as a snack (one of my few processed food "treats"). But, I've realized based on some recent social media interactions that my diet is actually VERY clean. Through many attempts at weight loss and many ups and downs, I've learned that diet is the biggest factor, hands-down, in weight loss and health in general. Working out is great, but to lose pounds of fat, most people have to cut the greasy processed carbs and sugar and up the protein. (Weight loss aside, my diet affects my digestion and hormones which are other issues I struggled with pre-health journey.)

"Getting my body back" after baby

There is another piece to postpartum body besides weight loss. I'm actually almost a size down from my pre-baby jeans... how did I get my body back? Well, first, that is the dumbest phrase ever. My body didn’t go anywhere. It has been right here, surpassing my expectations and doing amazing things for me and my baby for the past year and 9 months. However, I have not been strength training like I used to and so it does not look the same. That’s just how it goes. I have been focusing on other priorities, so I don’t have the same expectations and goals for how my arms and butt look.
"9 months in, 9 months out"--9 months postpartum, just barely starting to be able to work out regularly again, and not doing it enough or in a way to see results. But it's okay!

I do wish I could spend more time working out, and I feel jealous of the moms I see on Instagram fitting in time for themselves at the gym! But, I also know I choose to spend my time on other things. I don't have/want to spend the money on a gym with childcare, so I'm limited to times at home when Jason is able to watch the baby, or when Otto is asleep. I do work out at home, in our drafty garage gym or on the living room floor, but not regularly and not with a goal in mind.

I hope sometime soon to get on a strength training program and track my progress like I used to. Or, even just get into a routine where working out is easier to fit in. (I also am still struggling with back and knee pain, and need to keep up my physical therapy and scaled workout--so I am limited in the workouts and gyms I can do.)

Until then, I LOVE my body for everything it has done for me. I'm grateful that I had an easy time "losing the baby weight." Do I wish I looked different naked? Yeah, kind of, but a) it is possible to love your body while wanting it to look or perform differently (--Molly Galbraith), and b) I'm not working out like Juli Bauer, so of course I don't look like her!!!!! We hold ourselves to these standards that are sometimes not literally impossible, but are other people's actual goals. If you do CrossFit and Orange Theory 5+ days/week and eat super clean, you will get buffer and leaner. If you don't, don't feel bad about yourself!!! (This helps me, anyway. Again this is personal so I'm not telling you what to do, just what I have learned for myself.)

I don't think that having a baby means your body is ruined (or even that changed) forever, which was one of my fears/unknowns. Right now, my priorities include "balance;" taking care of my wonderful 1-year-old; being good at my job; working on our kitchen, bathroom, and other big projects this year; supporting Jason in his last year of physical therapy school... I DO need some time for myself in there and am also trying to improve my self-care in lots of ways--even basic stuff like getting haircuts regularly, that sort of thing. Working out and eating well feel good to me! I hope to do them more, but have to balance them with all my other important goals!

(This baby is just the greatest.)

Okay, this was a long post. It's emotional. I really hope I haven't offended... this is just my experience, and what I believe has helped me. We all have our own challenges and strengths. Pregnancy is an insane experience and we are all different--but it is not something to be afraid of. Love to all of you struggling or worrying about this!!

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