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If you haven’t seen my posts on Instagram, on Sunday May 2nd we welcomed our adorable son Roman into the world. As I write this, he’s not quite three weeks old but I’m out of the fog enough to be thinking about postpartum healing, postpartum weight loss and generally getting back to feeling good in my skin.
After two back-to-back pregnancies and two c-sections less than 14 months apart, I can definitely say that physically I’m not feeling my best. Of course, it’s not just about weight loss and I’m genuinely not in a rush to lose the baby weight (times two). I am, however, eager to feel my best and there’s a lot that goes into it.
I recently shared on the podcast that I’m going to be going through the 12 Weeks to Transformation and I’ve invited you to join me – I’ll be sharing the day-in and day-out process with those who are on that journey with me – but I wanted to share my general approach here on the blog.
First, let’s get on the same page about my starting point:
- I’ve had two pregnancies in 2 years plus two c-sections less than 14 months apart
- My first born, Dagny, died unexpectedly at just 14 days old making grief and emotional well-being a massive priority on this journey
- Walking will be my only form of exercise until at least 6 weeks post-op
- Balancing my hormones naturally is a greater priority (for me) than weight loss
- I’m exclusively breastfeeing (which plays into nutrition and weight loss)
I’m going to break down my postpartum approach into a few separate categories: mental health, nutrition, supplementation and movement.
Postpartum Mental Health
This most recent pregnancy coincided with the most challenging time of my life. Our daughter died traumatically and unexpectedly as 14 days old and I found out I was pregnant again exactly 6 months after she was born. Not only have I been navigated the rough waters of grief, but I knew that bringing home a new baby would be loaded. On the one hand, I’m tremendously grateful for Roman. I’m able to appreciate every second with him in a way I don’t think I’d be able to if not for having lost Dagny. Even when he’s up all night or having a total meltdown, I’m acutely aware of the fact that those moments are gifts I’d give anything to experience with Dagny. I know a long life isn’t guaranteed for either of us, and that makes it easy to love and cherish the good moments and the tough ones.
On the other hand, when I sat on the couch with Roman for the first time, holding him where I held his sister, I had an epic meltdown. I cried hysterically on the way to his first pediatrican appointment and when it hit me that I’d never take pictures of him with his sister. My heart drops every time someone asks me, “Is this your first?” This is a beautiful season and also a painful one.
For those reasons (as well as the normal hormonal upheaval that comes postpartum and guaranteed sleep deprivation), my mental health is a top priority when it comes to my focus on health at this time.
I shared this on social media and it might seem a little silly, but one thing that’s helping me a lot is the song “Keeping Score” by Dan + Shay. If you haven’t heard it, definitely take a listen. I play it a half dozen times or more each day, generally when I’m nursing baby Ro, and lyrics help me get my head in the right place.
Someday we’re gonna blink twice
Say it happens like that
How much money we saved up
For the time that we gave up
Well, it’ll all just be mathI know I’m only human
Don’t know how many sunsets I got left
And I don’t wanna ruin
This moment by wondering what comes nextI just want to love you
Like it’s all I’m living for
Hold you close, enjoy you more
And spend a little less time keeping score
Sometimes I’ll catch my mind drifting to what a disaster the kitchen is or how I’m going to find time to write this blog or what I can do to make sure my next book is a big success. But you know what? It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I stay present in these moments with my family. If the emails wait another day or the dishes pile up in the sink, that’s perfectly okay. With the right perspective, those things won’t stress me out or overwhelm me, I just have to keep choosing that perspective, and this song helps me do just that. I don’t want to ruin these moments by wondering what comes next.
How I’m thinking matters most. It matters more than how I’m eating, it matters more than if I showered, it matters more than getting things done or fitting in time for exercise.
However, a very close second is nutrition and I’ll tell you why: if I eat well, I feel better. If I don’t eat well, I feel worse. It’s easy to make excuses like I’ll start tomorrow, this one thing won’t hurt or I need the extra calories for breastfeeding but at the end of the day it’s really quite simple. I’m happier when I eat well. I enjoy life more when I eat better. I am in a better mood when I eat better. I’m more confident, more energized and more likely to be social when I eat well.
Postpartum Weight Loss
Weight loss is only one of a hundred or more reasons to eat well. As I’ve shared on the podcast, I hadn’t lost the “baby weight” from my first pregnancy when I found out just a few months later that I was pregnant again. Though I didn’t gain as much weight with my second pregnancy as I did with my first, I’m still heavier than I’ve been in years and it just doesn’t feel great. I don’t have a time frame for this postpartum weight loss, but I am still looking to feel as great as possible and every choice is an opportunity to create that improvement.
I’ll be sharing the daily details with those who are going through the 12 Weeks to Transformation with me, but for now, I want to share what it looks like at a high level.
Do you hate wasting time wondering what you’ll eat for your next meal as much as I do? Frankly, as an entrepreneur with a newborn, I just don’t have time for it. For that reason, the only meal decision I have to make is dinner because I keep breakfast and lunch basically the same every single day. It makes grocery shopping easier, it makes asking for help easier, it makes eating healthy easier and it eliminates most of the food decision-making.
At least six days a week breakfast is a protein smoothie. Fear not – if you’ve ever had a nasty protein shake, that’s not what I mean! I’ve tried just about every protein powder and ready-to-drink protein beverage under the sun and most of them SUCK. I won’t go near them with a ten foot pole! Plus, one of my primary food rules is eat foods you love that love you back. If I don’t enjoy it to the point that I look forward to consuming it, it’s off the list and out of the running! This protein smoothie is something I really enjoy and look forward to. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t drink it. Here’s what it looks like most of the time:
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Frozen cauliflower rice (no, you can’t taste it) I add this because it makes the drink cold and it adds nutrients, volume and creaminess. Do make sure you have a high quality blender so that it blends perfectly smooth and creamy
- Plant protein (this is the one I use because it tastes amazing, blends well, is very low sugar/carbs and is super clean – no junk fillers, no artificial flavors/colors/sweeteners, etc)
- 1/4 banana
- Greens powder or seed fiber (I typically rotate these using one on one day and the other the next)
It keeps me full until my next meal – I never feel the need to snack between my smoothie and lunch which is also super important to me. Any breakfast option that leaves me feeling hungry after an hour or two or not an option for me!
Lunch is either my “famous” cabbage salad bowl or a traditional green salad. No wimpy salads here! I LOAD UP on the veggies. We’re talking at least 3 cups of veggies.
The cabbage salad bowl is usually:
- shredded raw red and green cabbage
- 1-2 slices bacon (crumbled)
- 1/2 avocado
- a sprinkle of goat cheese
- 2 eggs (sometimes hardboiled, sometimes over-medium)
There’s no need (for me) for dressing because the avocado, goat cheese and egg mix up to add a lot of moisure. I mix everything together with my Oxo Salad Chopper (this and my blender are my most-used kitchen tools!)
If I have a regular salad, it’s only a little difference. Instead of using raw cabbage, I’ll use any organic greens. Do you want to know one of my healthy-eating hacks? I’ve found that growing my own veggies makes me want to eat better. It’s a lot like how getting new workout clothes can make you want to workout. You can grow your own veggies easily no matter the time of year! I always have sprouts growing inside (it’s super easy – you can read about it here) and lately I’ve become obsessed with my GreenStalk planter for outside where I’m growing a variety of greens plus tomatoes, herbs, peppers and cucumbers. I reached out to GreenStalk and they gave me a discount code for you! The code PRIMAL will save you $10!
With a regular salad, I’ll toss in a handful of homegrown sprouts!
That leaves dinner as the only daily decision and we have a short list of favorites that we rotate between based on what we’re in the mood for (having this short list of favorites also really helps with the grocery shopping)! Here are our current favorites:
- Burrito bowls made with cauliflower rice
- Shepards pie with cauliflower instead of potato
- Bunless burgers
- Steaks with a side of broccoli or brussels sprouts
- Grilled chicken thighs
- Beanless chili
- Spaghetti squash with ground meat and tomato sauce
Some of you might be wondering about snacks. One of my goals with meal selection is to choose things that fill me up so I’m not always hunting for a snack. With that said, some days I’m hungrier than others or I just want a little something after dinner. On hand for snacks we keep:
- almonds or pistachios
- cheese slices
- frozen fruit (I got really into frozen peaches and frozen grapes when I was pregnant)
- if I really want a treat I’ll pop some popcorn
- Halo Top ice cream
Let me first say that supplementation is completely unique to each individual and their goals. While I’m happy to share what I’m currently taking, keep in mind that it works for me because of my goals and priorities. You might need something all together different. Right now, my biggest priorities are hormone balance, stress management, nutrient diversity for me and the quality of my breast milk, fertility and weight loss. I’ll start seed cycling at about one month postpartum but because I’m not there yet, I haven’t included it in this list. Here’s what I’m currently taking.
- Vitamin D
- Energy/metabolism (I drink this 2x/day)
- Omega 3
- Probiotics for digestion/immunity
- Probiotics for hormones/mental health
- Greens powder
- Seed fiber blend
- Mood/stress management (and this one too)
For the first two weeks after my c-section, I followed doctors’ orders and stayed on the couch most of time. Getting up and down to do things around the house and take care of baby Roman was about all there was. Right at the two week mark, I went for a 1.5 mile walk. Since then, my exercise has been limited to walking around the yard but I’m planning to take baby to the water for walks along the canal more regularly. Now that we’re about at the 3-week mark, here is the very simple standard I’ve set for myself:
Walk at least 1 mile with baby every day.
That can be on the treadmill, around the yard or down at the canal, but that’s the standard I’m committed to keeping.
Once I hit the 6 week mark post c-esction, I won’t be rushing back to CrossFit. I’m not sure what it will look like yet, but I’m eager to get back to weight lifting even just here at the house as soon as my body is ready. Weight lifting is such an important part of health and weight management! For now, it’s just a daily walk but I’ll be sharing how exercise evolves with those going through the 12 Weeks to Transformation with me!
If you want or need a little positive peer pressure around your goals as we go into the summer, I’d love for you to join me! You can learn more or get started right here.