Read my one year postpartum body update to get a real, no-bull example of the ups and downs that come with postpartum fitness!
As some of you remember, I shared my postpartum body stats at eight weeks postpartum in March 2018. (Find the post here.)
I considered eight weeks postpartum my “starting” point because after my second c-section, I wasn’t cleared to exercise until that eight-week point. Plus, had I taken my pictures and measurements sooner, things would be vastly skewed by fluid, nursing, the super-stretched belly, and so-on.
So for the sake of this post, I am sharing my one-year postpartum update in March of 2019, rather than on my son’s birthday. I hope that makes sense! 🙂
How I’m Tracking Postpartum Body Progress
Eight weeks after having my son, I took my “before” pics and also went to have an InBody Scan. This is a total-body scan that gives me way more intel than the scale. It tells me about my muscle mass, my BMI, body fat percentage, water retention, and more. Even more helpful, it tells me exactly how my weight is distributed, down to how many pounds of fat there are on each body part.
Knowing these details can help you understand why you shouldn’t always trust the scale, as well as why you should definitely celebrate those non-scale victories we all love.
Anyway, I had my first InBody Scan done at MaxMuscle on March 20th, 2018. This was my starting point, and I was very excited to get to work at the time.
Where My Postpartum Journey Started
I had my first of two babies in April of 2014. To keep the story short, I ended up gaining around 45 pounds during my pregnancy. This was a lot, I knew, but I was pretty convinced that I could lose the weight quickly after giving birth.
I hate pregnancy, as some know, because I have pretty rough ones. While I haven’t had “high-risk” pregnancies, both of my pregnancies have involved hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) in the first two trimesters. Then by the third trimester I am SPENT and can’t do much but eat and lay around.
The result is a pretty inactive pregnancy in which I lose a ton of muscle mass while putting on fat and water weight.
Anyway, after giving birth to my daughter in 2014, my postpartum body did return to “normal” despite my c-section, pretty quickly. I dropped back down to the 130s, which is where I started, within a few weeks.
Postpartum Depression Is Real
However, I struggled with becoming a mother far more than I ever imagined I would. I sucked at breastfeeding. I sucked at suddenly being this stay-at-home mom. (If you know a new mom, help her out in one of these ways, please!)
The guilt of not being a “natural” as a mother coupled with the hormonal swings were crazy! Add in a history of depression that started when I was just 13 years old, and you have the perfect recipe for postpartum depression.
My postpartum depression was so severe that it lasted until my daughter was well past one year old. This is when I went to go get help. I’ll spare you all of the details (you can read about how I coped with depression and more in this post) but know this: I regained all of the baby weight!
In the time that I was sitting at home loathing myself, I climbed up to at least 175 lbs.
This might be fine if I were 5’8,” but I am barely 5’4.”
The point is that I was reallllly unhealthy – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
However, I went out of my way to regain control of my life, even though I knew I didn’t want any other babies any time soon. I made a point to wait a pretty good amount of time before having baby #2, which was in January of 2018. (That makes my kids almost 4 years apart.)
Naturally Fighting My Demons
After quite some time taking anti-depressants, I felt the need to find a healthier alternative. I hated relying on drugs. So I started working out again – I even hired my own personal trainer.
This is when things started to click for me.
Every day that I exercised, my mind seemed clearer, my emotions more positive.
On the days that I didn’t exercise, it was obvious to my husband. I was more negative, as I felt less accomplished (and the endorphins were missing).
During this time I was learning how to blog, but I was writing on my little mom blog (find out how I was using it to make money in this post). Eventually I gave myself an ultimatum – if I was going to blog at all, it needed to be about health & fitness. This way I could keep learning about fitness, nutrition, and mental health, but more importantly, I would be held accountable for my own journey.
Around this time, I decided to further my commitment to my own health by becoming a personal trainer. Even though I’d never imagined a career in fitness or even really participated in sports as a child (dance and cheer only), I hoped to help other moms get through tough times with exercise.
So, fast forward to now. I’m a NASM certified personal trainer, mom of two, fitness blogger, and I’m still overweight. LOL.
More on that in a second.
With baby number two, things were a little bit healthier. Although I started my pregnancy at a much higher weight (163 ish), I gained just 20 pounds total, stepping in at 183 lbs on the day I went in for my scheduled c-section. I credit my “normal” gain to the fact that I lost 10 pounds in the first trimester simply from puking all day every day. Yey me.
(Read my tips for easier c-section recovery after two of them in this post.)
One Year Postpartum Body Update
My postpartum body with baby #2 acted similar to how it did with baby #1. I quickly lost all of the weight. Actually, I got as low as 156 lbs with baby boy. However, I was better at breastfeeding and smarter about food. I also started working out pretty quickly after having him (at 8 weeks) because I’d managed to exercise a little more during this pregnancy.
However, as soon as I quit breastfeeding and pumping (I did a combo + formula, if you care) I started to regain some weight. This is normal, since you’re burning less calories to create the milk. But the thing is that when you quit breastfeeding, you go through a whole ‘nother slough of hormonal changes.
Looking back, this, for me, was when things started to go south emotionally/mentally. Look it up, post-weaning depression is also a thing.
Let’s Cut To The Chase
I was initially very excited and motivated with my diet and exercise. I knew without-at-doubt that I was going to go to my one year postpartum body scan looking and feeling great. But it’s not all rainbows and daisies, ladies.
I will do a more in-depth comparison below, but if you look at the pictures, you can see only minor changes. I think maybe my upper back has a little more muscle tone, and my belly has definitely changed. But again, minute overall changes.
Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed in myself. I could have a long list of excuses here, but I don’t. I’m simply bad at being consistent because I’m bad at sticking to my guns when life throws me a curveball.
It’s something I’m working on daily.
The biggest difference is in my belly, for sure. Not only can you see a little bit more muscle tone in the most recent comparison, but the skin has changed a lot. Obviously it takes more than 8 weeks for some of our bellies to recede. This is especially true if you’re on your second + child.
I wish I had a side-view comparison, but hopefully you can gather that my Kanga belly (overhang) has mostly disappeared. My c-section scar is still a bit hard and lumpy, but nothing like before.
InBody Scan Comparison
With my first scan, I didn’t really care what my stats were because I’d just had a baby. I was, however, excited to see that I’d managed to retain great muscle mass during my pregnancy despite everything.
8 Week Postpartum InBody Scan Stats:
Weight: 159.8 lbs
Body Fat %: 33.4
Water Weight: 77.8 lbs
Muscle Mass: 59.5 lbs
One Year PP InBody Scan Stats
Body Fat %: 37.0
Water Weight: 75.8 lbs
Muscle Mass: 57.5
So, I was MOST disappointed about how gaining 5 lbs increased my overall body fat by so much! That just blows my mind. Anyway, I almost cried when I got the scan results. This is just not good! I thought that I’d been busy building muscle, but I’d been gaining fat!
The Most Interesting Finding
Anyway, the most interesting (and confusing) part about this whole comparison is the body part comparison. If you look at the breakdown of fat concentration per body part, you can see that in my first scan, my arms and belly were considered the fattiest.
(I knew this, seeing as I’ve always been self-conscious about my flabby arms, and I’d just had a baby.)
But in my second scan, ALL of those “problem” areas had decreased in FAT. So that means that I’ve gained my fat in other areas, apparently! But that, to me, means that some of the targeted work I did paid off, if a little.
I had focused on strengthening and leaning out my arms and upper body, but in turn neglected my overall weight. I blame that on an inconsistent diet, and maybe a small lack of cardio. But also my muscle mass was still high!
So basically I am a strong mama covered in a nice layer of fat. 🙂
The Truth About The Postpartum Body
I could easily let myself be sad about this. But I know that if I hold onto it, I’ll let it ruin my diet and workouts, too.
The truth is that it CAN take much more than a year to get back to “yourself.” With my daughter, it felt like my overall recovery was more like two years. This is largely because of my depression, but also because you just don’t sleep much during that first year postpartum. My postpartum body needs sleep to think clearly and make healthy decisions!
I’ve said it before, but I so wish I could be one of those moms that “bounces back.” Being in fitness, it is a bit embarrassing to be overweight as a personal trainer. This road hasn’t been easy for me. Pregnancy and the whole “baby thing” is truly an ordeal for me.
However, I’m happy to know that I’m not alone.
I recently discovered a study about the postpartum body that had the following findings:
- 60% of women with babies ages 1-2 years old were still hanging on to some “baby weight” from that toddler!
- 22% of women with 2-3 year olds still had 10+ pounds of “baby weight” to lose
- 87% of women with babies ages 1-2 still felt their bellies hadn’t returned to normal
- 37% of women from the same study felt their hips were wider
- 43% of women gained more than the recommended 35 lbs during pregnancy
- 64% of women said their body image had worsened since having children
- And, among women who gained more than that recommended amount, only 33% were able to lose the baby weight by their baby’s first birthday
- Lastly, women who gained more than the recommended amount were more likely to be hanging on to at least 10 extra pounds on their baby’s second birthday
So statistically, I know that I’m not alone. I knew after having this baby that things would take time. If you’re a new mom wondering what to expect, just expect it to take time!
I don’t give you all of these statistics and my postpartum body results to scare you. Hopefully having more realistic expectations can help you set more realistic postpartum fitness goals and help you to have a healthier mindset. Then perhaps, you’ll enjoy motherhood a little bit more, appreciate what your body has done, and be stronger mentally.
So – there you have it! A real, no-bull look at the postpartum body one year after giving birth.
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