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10 No BS Tips to Lose the Baby Weight

10 No BS tips to lose the baby weightI’ll be honest – I hate the phrase “losing the baby weight”, it makes my skin crawl. I do not want to be another blogger who makes women feel like there’s something wrong with them if they haven’t lost every pound of pregnancy by 6 weeks out, or even 6 months out. I’m 16 MONTHS out and haven’t lost every pound.

There are lots of “gurus” out there who claim that if you do exactly what they did to lose the baby weight, you will have the exact results they have. In fact, they may even unknowingly cause you to feel guilty, assuming that those who did not get their same results must be doing something wrong, or are lazy, or have “no excuses”. But that is not how bodies and hormones and metabolism work, EVER, but ESPECIALLY after having a baby. Add nursing into the equation and you’ve really got a wild card (read more about breastfeeding and fat loss here).

However, so many of my coaching clients say “I just don’t feel like myself.” I have felt this way and I am so empathetic to feeling like life has changed SO drastically, why does my body have to be so different too? I hate that women are so hard on themselves and I REALLY hate that there is this crazy pressure to look like we never had a baby.

In the year after this fourth baby was born, I tried everything that worked for me in cutting fat pre-pregnancy, and have learned that either because of hormones or aging, those same techniques are not working. What IS working is a) changing my mental state about post-pregnancy bodies, and b) eating more than I think I need. I’ve detailed these lessons I’ve learned in the 10 steps below.


1. Eat well and exercise during pregnancy.

If you eat a healthy, balanced diet and continue exercising during your pregnancy, science says you will likely lose the majority of your baby weight pretty soon after birth. Staying in shape during pregnancy sets the stage for a faster postpartum recovery, although it isn’t a guarantee. Even if you’re not making big gains or improving strength, you’re maintaining your previous level of fitness, and you’re also bridging your habits from pre-pregnancy to postpartum so that you don’t lose them. Grab my Fit To Be Pregnant Ebook here.

2. Give yourself a full year to recover.

Relax and take a deep breath. You JUST HAD A BABY. You formed another human being and then birthed that child into the world, and now you may be feeding that child from your body. You now have a whole new person in your home, a new sleep schedule (if you’re lucky, you’ll sleep at all), and your relationship with your partner will take new shape as well. This is a major, major event in your life. Give yourself an entire year to just do your best and adjust to it, whatever form that takes. Don’t put any added pressure on yourself – anything you do should be from a place of self-love and self-care. If running that marathon by 6 months postpartum is what is going to make you feel good about yourself and training for it won’t push you over the edge, then that is what you should do. If waiting until your baby is older and has a more regular schedule is what you can handle, then do that. You’re the only one who knows what you can handle.

3. Eat ENOUGH calories.

Not eating enough calories sends your body the signal to reserve the fat on your body, which of course, is the exact opposite of what you want. This is especially true if you are nursing, and your body wants those fat reserves for the baby. Eat enough calories and your body leaves “danger” mode, giving the signals to drop the fat as the energy demand increases.

Eating enough calories also means cravings and binges will cease (low calorie diets always end in a jar of Nutella for me), you’ll have the energy you need to function as a new mom, and you’ll feel great.

If you don’t want to count calories, eat whole foods as often as possible, and eat when you are hungry. I recommend the book Intuitive Eating for anyone not wanting to count calories – this was a life changing book for me.

4. Don’t overdo exercise.

So many women who are trying to lose weight jump into exercise full force, burning themselves out and overtraining until they start to experience negative effects (lowered energy levels, depression and anxiety, insomnia, irritability, hormone changes). I was in top shape when I became pregnant, worked out through my entire pregnancy, and it still took me 5 months to work back up to my pre-pregnancy exercise routine, and another 6 months until I reached the level I had previously been at. In reality, most adults only need 2-3 strength training sessions (or HIIT, etc) per week, and can add additional cardio as needed or to stay active. This can be walking, running, biking, anything that you enjoy.

5. Eat 80-90% whole foods.

Your diet should always consist of:

  • around 100 grams of protein (or .8g per pound of bodyweight) and 4-5 servings of vegetables a day, including leafy greens
  • 80-90% whole foods (lean meat, fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, dairy, nuts and seeds)
  • 10-20% of food you enjoy – anything! Make it fun or you won’t stick with it.

Giving your body the nutrients from whole foods will help stave off hunger, will make your metabolism more efficient, and will give you the energy you need to be a new mom.

But that 20% is important too. Being too extreme in any direction is not healthy or sustainable. Just make it fit into your weekly calorie budget and you will still lose weight.

If you need help with these steps or creating your own plan, I can help you.

6. Do not slash calories; cut in 50 calorie increments.

If you’re like most of the world, you think that to lose weight, you have to slash calories. But slashing calories rarely works and if it does work, the results are temporary. I know all of us want to get our bodies back like, yesterday, but slashing calories is actually counterproductive. If you’re eating at more than a 15% deficit, ESPECIALLY after childbirth when hormones are fluctuating, your body will likely go into starvation danger mode, holding onto whatever fat is on your body for energy reserves. Your metabolism will downgrade, making it less effective. You won’t have any room left to cut calories when you hit the inevitable plateau. You will also be more likely to binge-eat, have more cravings, and feel like you’re struggling all the time. Who needs that, especially right after having a baby?

Start by finding your maintenance calories. Use this calculator, then choose the recommended 15% deficit. If you are nursing (at least every 3-4 hours), add 500 calories to this number (or use our Breastfeeding Calorie Calculator). This number is probably shockingly high to you, but please trust me and START here. You will be amazed at the energy you feel, and if you’re nursing, your milk supply will be safe. You won’t feel hungry and have the urge to binge nearly as much. Next, every week that you don’t lose weight or inches, lower your daily calorie intake by 50 calories, no more than 100, in the form of fat or starchy carbs. This is a slower approach, but the most effective and permanent way to lose fat.


7. Eat a balance of protein, fat and carbs. No extreme diets.

Again, anything extreme is NOT sustainable. Think of your diet as a pendulum – if you swing it really high in one direction, it will inevitably swing back with just as much velocity in the other direction, at some point. Deprivation never leads to anything good.

Thanks to popular diets and celebrity testimonials, you might look at a certain food group as “the devil”. It sometimes feels empowering to have a food group to blame for your weight loss issues. But I promise, it only boils down to calorie balance and food quality (mostly whole foods), and creating a small, sustainable deficit. I am currently losing the last few pounds of pregnancy weight by eating 50% carbs, 25% fat and 25% protein. I used to believe that starches and dairy were off-limits if I wanted to be lean, and I’m just now realizing how much grief I caused myself.

9 Month Postpartum Update - Fit To Be Pregnant

Here I am at 9 months postpartum, and *gasp* eating 50% of my calories from carbs. Even starchy ones!

8. Use other methods besides the scale to measure progress.

I have been a size 8 and 125 pounds, and I have been a size 2 and 135 pounds. How is that possible? Weight is not an accurate measurement of fat. Lean body mass increases when you begin a workout program or increase workouts, eat certain foods, put on muscle, or have hormone fluctuations. It’s all about body composition, which is why if you’re going to weigh yourself, you should also take tape measurements or body fat measurements (pick up a pair of body fat calipers here). Take pictures of yourself and notice how your clothes are fitting. Recently, over the course of 1 month, my weight stayed exactly the same, but my body fat decreased by two full pounds. I know this because I took body fat measurements. The two pounds of lost fat was offset by a two pound increase in lean mass (I had just started running long distances and was likely holding on to glycogen/water). The scale is not the whole story, so don’t let it upset you.

9. Relax and focus on your health.

Looking good is a by-product of fitness and nutrition, but it is NOT an instant gratification. You won’t look in the mirror the day after you begin a new fitness routine and see outward changes, and that sucks because the inward changes are infinite and immediate. Internally, you are what you eat RIGHT NOW (not yesterday or last year), and you also reap the benefits of exercise immediately. You will feel better, your body functions will improve and begin working just as they should, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll be preventing future illness. And these are just the physical changes. Mental health is also immediately improved – confidence, strength, and a natural high that combats anxiety and depression.

Focusing on your appearance is setting yourself up for failure. It’s normal to think about it, but let it go when it enters your mind and shift your focus back to how you feel.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to start looking at your body in a completely new light. This body brought you your baby, it’s stronger than you ever imagined. Try gratitude and everything will change for you.

10. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Another way to set yourself up for failure is to compare yourself to others. The problem with this is that we’re comparing our behind the scenes selves to the “best self” that others are putting online, on tv, for photoshoots, etc. The truth is that no two lives are the same even though they may appear to be. No one knows what it’s like to be you, no one has your body or your brain or the same family and friends. Our DNA is different, our circumstances are different. You can strive to be the best version of yourself but you also need to remember that you are enough, right now, no matter what.

I could have run my half marathon last month and come home and thought about all the people I know who run full marathons and completely wiped out my own sense of accomplishment. F- that. I worked hard to get there and I deserved to be proud of myself, and so do you.

I hope these No BS tips helped you feel better about your postpartum journey and give you guidance for your future.

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  1. Chelsea Simpson

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    This is the most sensible, mentally healthy thing I have ever read about losing the baby weight, and I’ve read alot! I’m so frustrated after 6 months but I think after reading this that I am going to try to increase my calories. I mean it can’t hurt at this point right? Deanna you should consider coming out of retirement for coaching ๐Ÿ™‚ I just love your site.

  2. Deanna Schober

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Ha ha Chelsea, a plan to coach again is in the works!

  3. Rebecca L

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    I am so guilty of being too hard on myself after having my baby. Thanks for the reminder of what I’ve been through, it really puts it in perspective. I’m 5 months postpartum and can’t seem to drop those last few pounds but I’m sure with some patience and following your advice it will come off.

  4. Deanna Schober

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I’m glad it helps- hang in there Rebecca and just keep taking care of yourself from a place of self-love and you can’t fail!

  5. MistyJ

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I’m one of those who is too scared to eat higher calories. It just doesn’t make sense in my head. But what I’m doing isn’t working either. I used the calorie calculator and came up with 1950 calories per day!! That just seems so high to me, how do you recommend I eat that much without eating all day?

  6. Deanna Schober

    June 9th, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Hey Misty – you’d be surprised at how easy it is to reach that number when you allow yourself to eat a balance of fat, protein and carbs. Here’s a sample of my daily diet when I was at 1950 calories:
    breakfast โ€“ protein shake w/ whey, spinach, berries, flaxseed (pre-workout) 2 egg โ€œmuffinsโ€ with 2 eggs, 3T egg whites, broccoli and 1T Cheddar, english muffin w/ cream cheese and jam (post-workout)
    Lunch โ€“1/2 serving pineapple chicken curry, brown rice (1 cup), apple
    snack (3pm) clif bar
    Dinner (6:00pm) โ€“ homemade french dip sandwich on whole wheat bun, watermelon
    snack (8:00pm) โ€“oats, pb, honey, skim milk
    Fat 46.9g 21.4%
    Carbohydrates 284.3g 57.7%
    Fiber 33.7g
    Protein 103g 20.9%

    Total Calories consumed: 1926

  7. Liz H.

    June 9th, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you for this! I’ve still got 4 more months until my baby is born, but the healthy thinking you present here is applicable both before and after birth. I’m the sort of person who does exactly what you describe whenever I try to lose weight – I tend to deprive myself, and then get discouraged and over-compensate. Such an unhealthy mindset! Your article reminds me to be gentle with myself, and to love myself regardless of whether I’m slowly building my weight for the baby or if I’m feeding him and healing after birth. Thank you.

  8. Deanna Schober

    June 11th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Liz, you’re exactly right! It’s applicable for every part of life. The best thing about my journey thus far is realizing that the only thing that ever sticks for me is self-care from a place of self-love. It’s taken such a long time to learn but it’s such a peaceful place to be ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck to you!!

  9. Emily

    July 2nd, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Hi there, great articles. I just had my 3rd baby three months ago. I’m 5’4″ and weigh a depressing 123 lbs. I have only lost 3 after my initial hospital weight drop, in three months!. I hate this. I’m used to being 108 lbs when not pregnant. Like many women, I used to have an eating disorder, and it’s hard for me to fight that mentality. so after plugging in my stats to your breastfeeding calculator I’m cringing at the huge amount of calories it wants me to eat. My body is used to about 1000-1200 a day and working out. On Saturdays I eat what I want though… I’m not proud of that and wouldn’t tell that to my closest friend. What I’m writing to ask is, I feel like it can’t really be possible to eat that much and be skinny. Is it? I always wonder do women really eat that much and stay thin? I’m used to thinking well maybe they can but I can’t. My metabolism is slow and shot right? I’m scared to try upping my calories. I’m deathly afraid of gaining weight. Actually phobic.

  10. Deanna Schober

    July 3rd, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Emily, congrats on baby #3! It really sounds like you’re still struggling with the mental aspects of weight and unfortunately there is not much I can do to help you in a single comment. Your metabolism might be a little sluggish because of your low calorie intake previously, but that is NOT a permanent thing. You CAN fix your metabolism by reverse dieting. To someone who has struggled with eating disorders, reverse dieting can be scary and counterintuitive. The thing I want so many women to understand is that low calories does NOT always equal fat loss. While it may have worked at one point in your life, it is not a constant. Once you use a low calorie diet to lose fat, you slow your metabolism down because your body will adjust to the lower calories, and then you have nowhere to go. What I would suggest for you is that you slowly INCREASE your calories on a daily basis, 50-100 per day for a week at a time, and watch the scale. If you do this increase with nutritious foods, you will not gain weight. Then once you hit a higher calorie level, say the number you got on the breastfeeding calculator, you can stop increasing. Your body will now be used to that higher number the way it used to be accustomed to the lower number, and you can begin to cut calories again slowly. Read this for more info – How to Repair a Broken Metabolism. I was like you and did not believe that increasing my calories would not make me gain weight, and was literally SHOCKED when it did the OPPOSITE. Not only that, but my need to binge disappeared. And I do not say that lightly. I used to really struggle with wanting those “bad” foods and feeling really emotional about it! But now it’s not even an issue and I am leaner every day on 2000 calories (and no longer nursing). I will also say that the book Intuitive Eating mentioned in the article above would REALLY help you!! It was life-changing for me. Please email me anytime if you need support.

  11. Ginny

    September 26th, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve struggled with trying to find IIFYM advice/experience for breastfeeding. I was not eating enough, and since finding IIFYM 2 weeks ago I’ve been eating more, making more milk, feeing better, and losing inches. This was exactly what I was looking for, and I appreciate the links to the calculators. I also love you mentioned the idea that this baby has brought me a stronger body- it’s so true! (I’m so focused on my mommy tummy and problem areas). I DID work out on my good days while pregnant, and I’m stronger for it (PR’d my jerk, deadlift, and snatch last week- I’m 3 months post-partum), even if the scale numbers are high for me.

  12. Deanna Schober

    September 28th, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I love this so much!!! Congrats on those PR’s!!!

  13. Laura

    March 6th, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    My 4th child will be 2 this April. I still breastfeed him twice a day. I work out about 4 times a day usually about 30 min. Over the last 3 months I’ve been consistent with my workout and prior to this it was offf and on. I mainly do video’s usually Jillian Micheals. My abs are still so weak I do the Moderated version most of the time. I feel like I’m never going to gain my core strength back and los this irritating 10 pounds that will not go away. I weigh 133 and I’m 5 feet 5 inches with a small to medium build. I eat pretty healthy. Oatmeal with nuts and fruit (no sugar), apple and peanut butter or banana for snack, omelet or a salad for lunch, veggies and hummus and maybe my beloved quinoa cookie and I eat whatever I’m making for super which is usually meat and potatoes and veggie or lasagna and salad or pancakes and smoothie or home made pizza. I’m also busy with 2 boys still at home and 2 girls in school. I don’t feel like I’m gaining muscle/strength and I know for a fact that 10 pounds is still there…. help please…

  14. Deanna Schober

    March 22nd, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    You might need to increase protein (multiply your bodyweight times .7, that’s how many grams per day you should get) and you may need to speak with a physiotherapist about rehabbing any possible diastasis recti. Also with 2 hours of working out a day, you may be undereating and your body might be holding on to the fat for nursing.

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