Meet Amanda Rose. In the past, she used to do cardio to keep fit, but after giving birth to her first child, she discovered that everything had changed.
Amanda couldn't simply hop on an elliptical and go on a calorie-restrictive diet to drop the baby weight as fast as possible without compromising her daughter's milk supply. She was also confronted with the challenges of setting up and sticking to a dietary and fitness routine around the baby's schedule and her dwindling energy levels. To reach her health goals, she realized she'd have to try something different.
After doing her research, embracing weight training and, perhaps above all, having patience with herself, Amanda has lost more than 60 pounds in just a few months. Check out how her success story can help you stay on track with your fitness goals. You can do it.
How much weight have you lost and how long has it taken you?
I have lost a little over 60 pounds in 9 months.
When did you decide it was time to lose weight? Did you start with diet, exercise or both?
I had just had a baby and I really wanted to lose my baby weight. My wedding 8 months after the birth of my daughter so I had a date to work toward! I started watching my intake first and then added exercise as soon as my doctor cleared me.
How difficult was it to start a routine and stick with it?
A routine with a newborn is a difficult thing! I am lucky that I have a very supportive partner and a gym with daycare, so the logistics were easy. The energy, however, was a little harder to come by. I tried not to be too hard on myself. If my daughter had a particularly rough night, I would try to at least get a walk in the next day, or I have a Jillian Michaels video that I can do in my living room during naptime.
Did you make changes to your diet? If so, what were they?
I did, but I had to be very careful because I was still establishing my milk supply. I normally would have thrown myself onto a very calorie restrictive diet to lose as much weight as quickly as possible. Since this tactic would have likely left me unable to feed my daughter, I had to cut calories very slowly. I found my Total Daily Energy Expenditure and started cutting calories until I started losing weight, while keeping an eye on my milk supply. As far as what I eat, I try to make healthy choices every day, like lean meats, lots of veggies and whole grains. I don't believe in depriving myself, however, so if I really want a cookie or a piece of chocolate, I have it. I still log it, I try to stay within my calorie limit, but in the end, life is too short to not eat cookies. I just try not to eat them often.
What type of exercise do you do now? How is your current routine different from what you've done in the past?
I used to be a total cardio bunny. I could spend hours in dance aerobics classes or on the elliptical. While doing all of my research on the best way to lose baby weight, I discovered the benefits of weightlifting. As women, we are taught to use light weights so we don't "get bulky." I found a great community of women who do power-lifting and other forms of weight training and I got enlightened to the wonderful things lifting heavy amounts of weight can do for your figure. I currently take a few classes at my gym that focus on High Intensity Interval Training and weightlifting, and I also do the Strong Lifts 5x5 program. The difference in my strength, my health and my confidence are noticeable and welcome.
How would you describe your diet? Do you feel it's been a help or a hindrance? Are there foods you avoid now?
I'm an equal opportunity consumer. The only things I don't eat are mushrooms because gross.
After especially intense workouts, do you find that you are hungrier than usual? Does this pose a challenge in terms of portions you consume?
There are certainly times when I am ravenous after especially hard workouts. I try to listen to my body as much as I can and make good choices in the food I do eat. Again, I log everything and if I go over my calorie goal for a day, especially a day when I've hit it hard at the gym, I don't worry. A couple hundred calories are not going to make or break my goals.
Do you snack before you work out, after or both? What's your go-to snack?
I try not to work out on an empty stomach. I love grapes and cheese before a workout (or anytime, really. There's never a bad time for cheese.) After a workout, chocolate milk.
Do you keep a diary or use a fitness app, step counter or anything of the sort to track calories/activity?
I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories. But I use custom setting for the caloric intake. The app would have me eating 1200 calories a day, which is much too low for me and most people. I eat 1800 calories a day. I wear a FitBit Surge, which is a step counter, heart rate monitor, GPS, and workout tracker. I use Plant Nanny to track my water intake.
What would you recommend to new moms who want to get back in shape?
My biggest advice is to give yourself a break. You will see some women who are in their pre-pregnancy pants on the way home from the hospital. It's completely normal for you to still be in all of your maternity pants. I mean, I'd love to still wear my maternity pants. Those elastic waistbands are comfortable! Start slowly, don't push yourself too hard and listen to your body. You've done this amazing thing, creating a life basically out of thin air, and nothing about you is ever going to be exactly the same. Understand that your role in the world has changed and you are now going to be teaching a tiny human lessons on how they view their bodies and other peoples' bodies. Teach strength over skinny. Make your health a priority. I highly recommend weight training to help get your figure back. Take a walk with your baby. I wear my daughter in an ErgoBaby and walk between 5 and 10 miles a day when it's nice out. Short workout routines, like Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, are great for naptime workouts that can be done in your living room.