When our bodies feel under attack internally and externally, it can be hard to lose the mommy pooch. Here are 5 steps to help you!
by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a mom of four daughters and the owner of the lifestyle parenting media company Atomic Mommy. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life.
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Do you suffer from post-pregnancy, mommy pooch? In case you’re not sure what I’m referencing, it’s that unsightly tire-sized amount of body fat that hangs where your baby used to be.
Do you look at every one, every where, and feel as though your mom bod can’t seem to lose body fat the way others can? I know exactly how you feel!
After pushing out four babies, my body basically said “F*CK OFF, I’M NOT LOSING ANYMORE BODY FAT FOR YOU!”
How I Lost the Mommy Pooch
Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I gave birth to my fourth daughter weighing 196 pounds. I was only 5 foot, 2 inches tall. If you can picture a pregnant minion who was tan instead of yellow, that was me!
I hated my reflection in the mirror. So much so, that I used to cry when looking at my body. My weight loss hit a huge wall, six months after giving birth. I had managed to drop twenty pounds but the scale stopped showing me lower numbers. The worst part was that my body fat percentage hadn’t shrunk at all.
I didn’t understand what the issue was until I remembered I was also suffering from Hashimoto’s. I went in search of a new Endocrinologist who would treat my symptoms and help me as a person.
Not only did she listen to my symptoms, she also listened to what wasn’t working for my weight loss. She heard my nutrition issues, she listened to my needs as a mother and as a wife. She gave me recommendations for a Gynecologist and Psychiatrist to help me get out of my own head.
Up until that point, I had never had a doctor treat me like a person. Long story short, between all three doctors, I found that I had Hashimoto’s Hyperthyroidism, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and a bad case of Body Dysmorphia.
Here’s a basic rundown of the symptoms that I go through from each described ailment. Maybe this list will help you, too.
- With Hashimoto’s I suffer from low levels of energy, can’t lose body fat, can’t sweat right, dry skin, loss of hair, puffy face, edema in the limbs, high’s and low’s in my mood, brain fog, brittle nails, and much, much more. Hashimoto’s doesn’t allow the body to metabolize food the right way. Often times, I experience insulin resistance which also makes it hard to lose weight.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) causes ovaries to be attacked by cysts that grow on the outside of my ovaries. This can cause a woman to go infertile, although in my case, PCOS didn’t fully affect my fertility until after my fourth daughter was born. This syndrome can cause high levels of the male hormone androgen which causes acne and facial hair. On top of that, this syndrome also doesn’t help with weight loss. It causes inflammation, excess insulin, and mood instabilities.
- Body Dysmorphia is when a person only focuses on the flaws of their appearance. In my case, after giving birth to my fourth daughter, all I saw was the big belly. I couldn’t see passed it. I felt I looked huge. Pictures of myself didn’t help because when others would say I lost weight, I would only see “the fat Kim”.
Now, when you combine all 3 of those issues, you can see how losing weight would be near impossible. And it was! From 2016 to 2017, I was so depressed about my appearance I avoided all social contact including with family members. I was embarrassed.
By the end of 2017, I started to learn as much as I could about my conditions. Every thing I learned I brought to my Endocrinologist. She helped me through the nutrition issues and the thyroid issues. She even helped me regulate the PCOS.
I changed my eating habits, I had the right doses of my medications, and armed with that, I began a new exercise regimen.
It wasn’t an easy journey, but it was well worth it!
It took me two years to drop from 196 to 142 pounds. I’m proud to say that I have maintained that weight off for over two years.
These days I don’t get anxious about a gain of ten pounds or even 15 pounds. Now, I accept it as part of my disorders and since I’m armed with the right tools, I know what to do every time I have a flare-up.
Below are the 5 steps that I personally used to help with my weight loss. They are not tricks and they may not work for every one. And if you do have serious health issues, talk to your doctor first before trying anything I suggest.
5 Steps to Help Lose that Mommy Pooch
#1 Change your eating habits.
No, you don’t need to be on a strict diet. Changing your diet means changing what you put into your body, and that includes what supplements you put into your body. And you’re probably thinking that supplements are expensive, but if you use sites offering things like Nucific coupons, you may be able to find coupons for some of the supplements you need.
Now, as far as the bad foods you put in your body–you need to reduce those and eventually, eliminate them completely. I was a sucker for chocolates like Kit-Kat’s and Snickers, plus I needed my morning coffee’s and afternoon Pepsi.
So, the first step I took was changing the kind of chocolate I ate. I went from milk chocolate to dark. My morning coffee was always light and sweet, so I changed that too. I switched from normal milk to using sugar free coconut milk and limited myself to using a measured 2 teaspoons of sugar in each cup. The hardest part was limiting my consumption of Pepsi. I genuinely dropped from 7 days a week to just allowing myself one cup per week.
Don’t change your diet so drastically where you’re missing out on the foods and treats that you love. I used to do that and then I’d gain the weight I lost, right back. Once the weight came back, I’d get depressed and jump back into my bad eating behaviors. Eating is not a reward; it is for survival. We tend to forget that by saying, “I just walked for an hour, I deserve to eat these 4 slices of pizza.”, but you’re only hurting your efforts. Try keeping a food journal on an app or notebook. That helped me to really figure out what it was I was eating every day. You’ll be stunned after the first week of journaling your food habits.
#2 Try to exercise daily.
Doesn’t matter what you’re doing or for how long you do it. Just find a way to move around. I bought myself a FitBit in the beginning. It helped me track my steps. I figured out that my body needed 10,000 steps per day in order to burn enough calories to burn fat. It also helped me to maintain any weight loss I did experience. Once I got used to wearing the FitBit all day, I barely noticed I had it on.
Getting into an exercise routine was tough for me. I am a mother of four and they’re all different ages, so if I wasn’t driving one kid to cheer practice I was taking another to gymnastics. Needless to say, I have had to find unique and non-method ways to induce exercise daily.
Lifting some form of weights was the best form of exercise for me as it kept me burning calories for longer periods of the day. I lugged full laundry baskets up and down 3 flight of stairs, every day. Doing some cardio was a bit harder as I suffered with severe asthma.
Here’s what my daily routine looked like and eventually became habitual. In the mornings, before breakfast, I stood in my kitchen doing jumping jacks. I started light with just one set of 50, gradually moving to 4 sets of 50, twice a day. I used the kitchen counter to hold and do some sumo squats as well as wide-shouldered push ups. After a few weeks of doing this, the exercise routines became easy and it was time to change it up again.
#3 Building more muscle burns fat.
Muscle burns fat and it burns it faster than cardio! That’s a fact. When you build muscle, the muscle continues to burn calories long after you’ve finished the workout. So, you could be sitting down and burning fat all because you started lifting a few weights here and there. But building muscles takes calories and if you eat extra calories it could be stored as body fat.
So, the trick to doing this is finding a happy medium between calorie intake and calorie expulsion. I found the best way to figure out the percentage of each food group I should be consuming, is by using a Macro Calculator. Take a look at what my calculations came out to be when I first started my journey (see photo below).
#4 Use your body weight to exercise.
You don’t need heavy weights to do anything. At 196 pounds, I had all the weight I needed to do all the weight lifting I ever needed to do. So, I started with squats, push-ups and lunges. By using my body weight and not adding any additional weights, I was able to minimize any injuries or strains. Eventually, when the weight started to melt off, I brought in the weights.
Here are the exercises I used with my body weight: jumping jacks, yoga, walking lunges, push-ups, walking up and down stairs, squats, crab walking, sit-ups and crunches. When I added in weights, I used resistance bands. They’re much easier on the joints and muscles.
#5 Remove stress.
Stress helps promote the production of cortisol. Cortisol turns into fat. If something or someone is constantly stressing you out, then you need to figure out the “why” behind it. Why does it stress you out or why does that person stress you out? Removing stress is not easy and I can’t stand when fitness gurus or Psychiatrists start touting stress reduction as if it was super duper easy to do. The stress could be coming from everyday life and it is not all that easy to remove.
In my case, I had too many toxic people in my life. They were relatives and acquaintances who were extra pushy, needy, judgmental, who made nasty racial comments at me, and were constantly criticizing my social media. In addition to all of that, I am the wife of a law enforcement officer. Naturally, the stressors were constantly at my door and I needed to understand the in’s and out’s behind them.
In order to do this, you need to be able to have an honest conversation with yourself. You must learn about the life you are leading and the kind of life you want to live. Become aware of the people you let into your life as well as the value they bring to it. Alleviate the stress of everyday life by finding the joy in other aspects of it. Analyzing the value of the different parts in your life, provides insight into what is truly causing you stress.
Life as a mother can be difficult after giving birth and our bodies are aware of this fact. When our bodies feel under attack internally and externally, it can be harder to lose the mommy pooch in our bellies, let alone any other bodily fat. So you must be keen on starting a new cycle of healthy living, if just to live a happier life. If in the process of using just one or two of the steps mentioned in this article, you happen to lose a bit of body fat, then you’ll feel motivated to find more ways of feeling better about yourself.
Remember, this journey is up to you and with a little bit of help from other moms, you may find a path that works best for you.