Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Help: I Can't Lose This Baby Weight!

I had my first child 8 months ago and gained 33 pounds while pregnant. I am 5"4" and had a pre-pregnancy weight of 113 pounds. A week after I delivered, I had lost 20 pounds. Now, 8 months later, I am still at the same weight of 126 pounds! I cannot seem to lose anymore weight. My body has changed and slimmed down and I am wearing size 2's, but the number on the scale has remained the same. I am extremely frustrated. I am exclusively breastfeeding and recently added baby foods. I feel that my body is just really working against me and is comfortable at this weight, which I am totally not! I keep going back and forth about whether I should be eating more so I am not in starvation mode or eating less because calories in has to be less than calories out. I do exercise daily, also. I walk between 4 and 5 miles a day at a 15 minute mile pace and also do strength training and yoga. I am just frustrated and exhausted from thinking about it. I'd love to know what you recommend. --Stacey A.

Dear Stacey,

I can certainly appreciate your frustration. However, it sounds like you are unhappy because of the number on the scale, and not because of how you look and feel If you have "slimmed down" to a size 2, I'm not sure I can understand why the number on the scale is so important to you. It might be something for you to think about.

Consider that your body composition has changed as well, so scale may show you weigh more than you did before, even though you are the same size you were pre-pregnancy. If you're doing strength training and more walking than before, you very well may have put on muscle weight and that's just what the scale is reflecting.

I have received many letters like yours recently, and I'm sure you are well aware that breastfeeding women should not be on a low calorie diet. You didn't mention your present calorie level, but right now you are burning about 2200 calories for your height and weight PLUS 500 calories per day breastfeeding PLUS about 500 calories per day from your walking--that's over 3000 calories a day! If you are following a 2200 calorie diet then, theoretically, you can lose a pound a week. Certainly you should not be eating less than that to try to lose weight at this point.

Perhaps it is the case, as you suggested, that you are eating too little and your body is trying to compensate by going in to starvation mode. It wouldn't hurt to try increasing your calorie level if you've been eating less than 2000 per day.

I've also known many women who just can't get the weight off the first year, but find it suddenly comes off some time in the second year.

My advice to you is to concentrate on eating healthy and enjoying your baby ;)
Don't ruin this special time developing an unhealthy obsession with the number on the scale. If you find this issue continues to frustrate and exhaust you I would definitely consider speaking to a professional counselor who can help you through this time and get you back to feeling great about yourself--for your baby's sake as well as your own.

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