How to Lose the Baby Fat. For REAL.

Caroline Borg Eriksen, 4 days after having a baby
Caroline Borg Eriksen, 4 days after having a baby

Post pregnancy pictures are all the rave these days.  Maria Kang, mother of three sons aged 3 and under, started a huge controversy when she stood next to her babies looking svelte with the caption, “What’s your excuse?”  But that was nothing compared to the selfie posted by Norwegian fitness blogger, Caroline Berg Eriksen, showing off her completely beach-ready body four days after giving birth to her daughter.

There are player haters out there, by why go there?  Shoot, if I looked that good four days after having a baby I’d have the picture permanently tattooed on my left ass cheek.  Caroline said in an interview that she took the picture in part because she kept being told that pregnancy would change her body and she wanted to prove it didn’t have to.  So if you are a very fit woman and are considering having a baby, but are afraid you won’t get your body back, you can look at those ladies for inspiration.

But…  I’m writing this post for a different crowd, the 98% of us who did not “bounce back” four days after giving birth.  Case in point, this is what I looked like after having my second baby.

Me and my daughter after having my son
Me and my daughter after having my son – 2009

Unlike Caroline, my body changed a whole lot.  When I was pregnant I had that cute bubble belly.  After the baby the bubble deflated and my stomach skin was saggy.  Also, even months (years) after the resident baby departed my womb, I still looked mildly pregnant.  Seriously, some people are apple-shaped; others are pear-shaped; my shape? Bun-in-the-oven.  My feet grew half a size, but fortunately that was only with the first baby.  I’m glad I do not have clown feet as a result of motherhood.  I also got skin tags and my hair got darker.

And I’d still choose to have my babies again, because they are wonderful little people, and beyond changing me physically, they’ve made me a better person.  Motherhood rocks.

Baby fat does not.

My clothes didn’t fit, my balance was off, and I didn’t like the way I looked.  Photos were avoided, unless I held a baby in front of me to cover my girth, and none of my go-to fad diets worked anymore.  *Sigh*

I rode the “I’m a mommy!” excuse till my son was 2 1/2 years old.  But when my doctor told me I was borderline obese (right around the same time my marriage was struggling, business was failing, and 20th high school reunion was coming up,) I decided to try something radical:  I entered a bodybuilding competition.  Because when you’re pushing 40 and borderline obese, is there really a better time to enter a bikini competition?

2012 - with my family (Caroline Poe Photography)
2012 – with my family (Caroline Poe Photography)

Long story short, I lost 50 lbs. in 5 months and have been healthy ever since.   Why?  Because through bodybuilding I discovered the Secret to Being Thin, which I will share with you today. Why?  Because I think my baby fat experience is probably similar to a lot of women’s, and if I can get healthy, truly anyone can, and I want every woman to be healthy and meet her own fitness goals, in her own time frame.

Here is the diet I used to drop from size 12 to size 5:  The Bikini Diet.  As with anything, talk to your doctor before trying out any of the information listed here.  The diet was designed specifically for me and my bodybuilding goals, so it may not be right for you or your goals, but it is a good example of what clean eating looks like.

3 Rules for How to Lose the Baby Fat

Being at a healthy weight, in my opinion, is 90% about the food you eat and 10% about exercise.  I wish it were reversed, because I love to exercise and I hate eating fish, but life is not fair.

Rule #1:  Eat Clean

Eat your veggies!
Eat your veggies!
  1. Eating Clean means eating whole, unprocessed foods.  The trick here is to shop the perimeter of the store, in the produce and meat aisles, and avoid the middles aisles where the “fat free” crackers live.
  2. Balance your nutrients.  Each day you should eat a nice balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, and healthy fats.  Protein samples:  chicken, lean turkey (97% lean), tilapia, egg whites.  Once a week you can go crazy and have some bison meat or salmon.  Carbohydrate samples:  Old fashioned oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa.  Vegetable samples:  Spinach, asparagus, green beans, green peppers.  Healthy fat samples:  Avocado, extra virgin olive oil.

    Cook ahead!
    Cook ahead!
  3. Measure, measure, measure.  Portions are so huge in restaurants and TV dinners, it kind of makes your concept of portion size a little off.  Get a meat scale (it’s about $20) and weigh your meat after you cook it.  When you are making your carbohydrates, measure them before you cook them (i.e. – 1/2 cup oatmeal is measured dry.)  And then cook ahead and store in your fridge or freezer so you don’t have to think about it.
  4. Eat 6 times per day.  Think of your metabolism as a fireplace.  If you throw a heavy log in there three times a day (the way most of us eat) it’s hard to get the fire started.  But if you put in smaller bundles of kindling 6 times a day you get the fire started faster and it stays steady all day long.

Rule #2:  Exercise

I had been a runner before having kids, but knew nothing about strength training, so I hired a personal trainer.  I highly recommend hiring someone who knows what they are doing because if your form is wrong you can injure yourself, and where’s the fun in that?  Also, personal trainers are great at holding you accountable.

  1. Cardio, Cardio, Cardio.  I’m not talking about walking here.  This should be exercise where you sweat for at least 30 minutes.  I used the Stair Master and treadmill machines.  If that’s not your thing, try something you like that you can stick with, like Zumba or spin classes.
  2. Strength training.  Cardio will burn off the fat; strength training will reshape your muscles so they look like they are supposed to look.  Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat, so that’s a bonus too.

Rule #3:  Increase your Mental Strength

Lisa Traugott - Muscular Development Online Magazine
Lisa Traugott – Muscular Development Online Magazine
  1. You have to want it.  You have to want your pre-pregnancy jeans more than the cupcake offered to you at work.  Keep your goals in mind so it becomes easier to say ‘no’ in tempting situations.
  2. Choose a goal that is fun.  Saying, “I’m going to be fit forever, just ’cause,” didn’t work for me.  Having a specific date for the bodybuilding competition kept me motivated to eat clean and train hard, and I discovered that I love this sport!  I’m now on an all women’s bodybuilding team called Mel’s Machines and I’m training for my 4th competition.  Here’s a picture from my show this past June (I dyed my hair red and wore extensions for it).
  3. This is a lifestyle choice.  Avoid yo-yo dieting with fad diets or “cleanse” diets that promise to shed 10 pounds in three days.  It took longer than 3 days to put the weight on, it will take longer than 3 days to take it off.  Unless you’re Norwegian.  Make a choice to be healthy and then stick with it.

Hope this helps!  Remember, this isn’t a competition with anyone other than yourself.  Get healthy at your own pace, and smile at your baby every single day.  Also, if you want to share your own success story, send me a picture, I might end up posting it on my blog to inspire other fit-mamas-in-the-making.

Lisa ;) (c) 2013 Lisa Traugott.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.




2 thoughts on “How to Lose the Baby Fat. For REAL.

  1. I like to read posts like these because I too was one of those moms which did not bounce back at all. I just kept gaining weight 5 years after having my first, then my second and only 3 years after my second child was born, I made that life changing decision to change. You are absolutely right. You have to WANT it.

    1. Congrats on making the lifestyle change. 🙂
      It seems like these days it’s a race to see how soon after the delivery you can wear a bikini. I think it’s important to let women know that “better late than never” is an option too.

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