I’ve met so many women you’d never guess were actually battling depression inside because outwardly, they look normal, sometimes even have a happy countenance. Since I started this blog from the experience of gaining weight mostly due to depression, I thought it’d be good to offer at least one person’s thoughts on the topic.
Most women, men too, even though this is a girly blog, have weight issues when depressed. Sometimes losing weight, but more often than not, it’s gaining weight that tends to happen when you’re depressed. I know for myself, it’s happened both ways depending on the kind of depression.
Losing-weight depression – becoming emaciated –
I don’t think this is common for most women, and I don’t know enough of the male experience to say whether or not it’s common for men, but some people do actually tend to lose weight when depressed. The only time I’ve ever experienced this type of depression where you lose all appetite for food and get very thin was when my parents rejected me for wanting to marry my husband, kicked me out, took my car so I had no transportation, and sent me an email telling me I was officially “estranged.” I’d never heard of the word before, and it was devastating. Luckily, even through the depression, our love flourished as I was forced to depend completely on him for almost everything. I had a job, but no way to get there really as our bus system is pretty bad down here. The only things I did on my own was manage my budget with the earnings I made, buy things I needed out of that, and keep up with my college classes and coursework. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t even get out of bed in the middle of the day to get to class due to losing all motivation. I was the type who loved my classes and made mostly all A’s, so skipping class was something I didn’t do. My sweet man pretty much forced me to go to counseling and it helped immensely to get better. But I remember distinctly feeling as though my body was wasting away. There was no motivation to eat and just barely enough motivation to go to counseling. A huge part of my soul believes it was my husband’s love that got me through that trial.
Gaining-weight depression – emotional eating –
I’m not a psychologist by any means, so take all this with a huge cup of salt lol. I’m generally an optimistic person, probably because of my faith in God, but I do believe in degrees of depression and that even sometimes, it can be a spiritual thing going on. I know some Christians seem to think depression cannot exist or that it’s the person’s fault, but I do think it’s much more complicated than that. Yes, of course it can be the person’s fault. We all sin and do and say things we regret, and (pardon my horrible psycho-analysis lol) if we internalize that anger and shame, it can cause us to feel “depressed” long enough for the length of time needed to be categorized as a clinical depression.
I think gaining weight can be a different kind of emotional response than becoming emaciated, but this is all just me guessing here. When I’ve gained weight with depression, it was I think because I was trying to repress the pain and go on living instead of really facing it head on and dealing with it (emotionally or spiritually dealing with it). Holding on to those negative emotions, keeping them underneath the surface, stuffing them down inside, I think doing all that can cause “emotional eating.” You eat because it temporarily feels good and alleviates those disturbing or painful feelings and strong emotions you wish weren’t there. Eating becomes an addiction to varying degrees depending on the person, just like any other addiction that springs from self-medicating.
So… now that you’ve gotten my take on depression, if you’re feeling this way and wanting to lose weight, it is going to be hard 😦 It is not easy to take care of yourself when “taking care of yourself” is literally the last thing you want to do. Whether it’s eating more than you should, or making sure you’re properly nourished, both problems will take confronting what is going on underneath the surface so that you can heal and move on with life. There will always be times when a person feels down or has a bad day or week even. But depression last longer (you can look up the keys here), and usually takes more action on your part to move beyond.
I’ll write more on exercising when depressed soon I hope 🙂
My husband took this picture without me knowing 🙂 my body is still not exactly where I want it to be (so much loss of muscle and probably still some fat to lose), but it does make me happy that my body is relatively back to normal. I feel strong and full of energy, and am so proud of what it can do so soon after having our 3rd baby. It’s like a celebration! ❤
Going on a beach vacation and celebrating our 10th anniversary this early postpartum was a little difficult, but thankfully the difficulty wasn’t so much because I was “out of shape,” but just due to having such a little baby. We’re a very active, athletic family… so being out of shape really lessens the quality of my life as I’m not able to keep up or do the things I want to do.
But why is getting back in shape after having a baby important? Obviously, it may not be important to everyone, but to the majority of women out there who eventually do want to get their bodies back, it seems like it is.
I think it’s relatively normal for Western women to disregard their fitness while pregnant, not really understanding (or caring at the moment) how hard it will be to lose that weight, or to get the skin to go back in, after the baby is out. And then once it’s a few months or a year postpartum, they start to realize how hard they made it for themselves and live with regret.
So what is the “secret” to having a fit postpartum? What is the secret to having a pretty good body almost right after you have your baby?
The simple answer?
That’s it. And it’s the truth. 🙂 The more “in shape” you are, the stronger you are and yes, even “thinner” you are while you’re pregnant, normal weight gain aside of course, the fitter, stronger, and even thinner you’ll be postpartum.
If you stay active and only gain what you and the baby actually need, you won’t have pounds of excess fat and weight to lose afterward.
I’m lucky to be in a fitness group right now where I’ve seen many ladies go through pregnancy and come out extremely fit and strong and capable. They not only don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything they want, they don’t even use pregnancy as an excuse to stop lifting weights!! Or to stop running and working out fairly hard! It’s amazing to watch these women conquer the usual setbacks of pregnancy with hard work and discipline. Very inspiring and motivating ❤ 🙂
Will pregnancy set you back some? Definitely, in those first weeks, doctors don’t want you to workout again until cleared for a reason – because your body really is still healing. But they also tell you right after you have the baby (the next day in my experiences with all our 3 kids), to start walking like you’re planning to do a walk-a-thon in a month lol!
Walking IS exercising, and they want you doing that 24 hours after having a c-section!
Why? Because they know for a fact that it helps you heal faster if you gently exercise those muscles and it keeps your blood flowing which also aids in a faster healing.
We were created to move, and its really no different during and after pregnancy. Hence the more fit and strong you are during pregnancy, the better (and easier!!) it will be for you afterward.
So take care of yourself during your pregnancy! You’ll never regret making healthy choices that make it easier for you when you have your baby 😉
It’s already hard having a newborn, but being overweight or weak and fat make it a lot harder. Be good to yourself, and keep your body in shape.
I’m pleasantly surprised how much traction this “staying fit” throughout life – even during and especially after having children – is gaining in our culture. It’s still a somewhat taboo topic that seems to inflame many people wanting to deny that weight and healthy body size matters, but it makes me happy to see more people writing about it in a positive way.
Here is an article with a title I couldn’t have picked better myself (so elated!!):
This is undeniably true, and yet, sadly, we just are not “allowed” to talk about this – or write about this – without people being offended at the simple truth. Men are visual and love to see their wives looking sexy and thin. Being fit and in shape makes them less likely to feel tempted all the time by other women, or to look at porn even, according to my husband!
Give the article a click, it’s a good, balanced read.
So yes, I agree, staying fit for your husband truly IS one of the “best gifts” you can give him. 😉
This is one of the healthiest sides that is also conveniently easy to make and delicious enough your kids will eat it!
We try to do sweet potato fries also, which taste incredible! But the mash is a good side dish for normal meals of chicken and vegetables, etc.
Here is the recipe I made tonight:
I wanted to talk some more about the official postpartum workout I chose to do this time. I really didn’t do any kind of specific immediate postpartum workout with our first baby 7 years ago, or with our second just 2 1/2 years ago. I did “workout,”my husband even trained me at the gym and did workouts with me at home, but nothing this well-structured for helping your body to go back to normal after being pregnant for 9 months. Tracy has moves especially designed to get your muscles to come back to skin and to get that flap of skin (where the belly left) to disappear. They are remarkable and get results fast.
Our bodies really take a beating during pregnancy, everything seems to move around – your hips, your pelvic muscles, your abs, and even your spine apparently along with sometimes your ribs. It is just insane! Tracy mentions these things in the video and gives actual specific workout moves/techniques that are supposed to make everything go back to normal. It really works according to women who have done it and stuck with it. And I’m amazed how incredible it feels – it’s hard but in a good way, I can actually feel my abs waking up and responding better each time.
Since I’m still kind of in a fog of sleep deprivation and it’s hard to write thoughts out well, here are some easy-to-read bullet points about the workout dvd you need to know:
And the best thing of all??? The endorphins and sense of feeling so accomplished and happy after you’ve completed another workout. It’s simply taking care of yourself. Like brushing your teeth, except the work and difficulty gives you a sense of healthy pride for persevering through the pain or desire to give up. And spiritually it makes me more thankful to God for my health and strength He’s given me. It makes me feel like I’m being a better steward of this body He’s given me instead of neglecting it.
Get it and enjoy it!
This past month has flown by for us with a busy schedule for just having a newborn. I’m so excited to be getting back to normal – both physically and energy-wise – pregnancy is just extremely unpleasant for me. I’ve said before, I LOVE feeling the baby move, playing music for them inside the womb, and of course, when they finally come out… but I really hate being pregnant, and I love that feeling right after the baby comes out (either that night or the next morning) where there’s like this heavy weight literally lifted off of you. I felt that again this time, and it was so welcome!!!
As far as stats go, my “theory” about my body basically losing 20-25 lbs in those first two weeks was upheld for the 3rd time! I’m not sure the exact number because of how much the weight fluctuates a little at the very end of pregnancy due to fluid, but I know for sure it was somewhere between 20-25 pounds that melted off in those first two weeks again.
BUT this pregnancy postpartum had a strange hiccup – while I was still in the hospital, my foot, then leg, then both legs started swelling up immensely. It was actually a little scary. I called my doctor right away and she thought it was possibly the anesthesia used. Once I got home, the swelling didn’t go away and even traveled to my lower abdomen and stomach – making me look about 6 months pregnant again. Just so strange and I’d never had that happen before with the other two. If you google “postpartum swelling,” it appears to be something that happens sometimes – not uncommon even – and doctors just typically tell you to drink lots of water and go for walks. From what I read from other women’s experience with it, it can go on for months! I was already walking and drinking tons of fluid – I was moving around so much while still at the hospital that multiple people, including my own doctor, were shocked and thought I *wasn’t* the patient they were supposed to look at 😛 But the swelling just got worse. My milk supply had already came in full throttle (lol) and she was drinking so much I had an over-abundance, so I decided it was worth the risk to take a very very small dose of a diuretic (OTC). It was getting so bad that my maternity clothes (especially the shorts) were not even fitting anymore.
**If this swelling thing is happening to you, make sure you know the risks in taking a diuretic – it can either diminish your milk supply, making you dry up completely, or even pass to the baby and make them dehydrated if you make a mistake.
I’ve studied these things in depth and knew to only take a very small dose – about 1/4 of what was recommended on the instructions, so I felt pretty confident in what I was doing. Doctors won’t prescribe you a diuretic for months sometimes and will just keep telling you the swelling will go away on it’s own. For me, it worked well to make the swelling completely go away within just a couple of days… it didn’t affect my milk supply at all – but again, I knew to wait until it was really established and flowing well.
My doctor, who is truly a conservative doctor when it comes to these things, surprised me and actually cleared me for exercise at my 4 weeks appointment. I was so excited, we were already going for walks and even low intensity hikes within that second week postpartum, but right after I was cleared I started up my postpartum workout program.
This is what I’m doing 4 times a week right now, it is incredible and I can already feel it doing wonders for my body:
Tracy Anderson’s Post Pregnancy DVD – you can find it for super cheap online! And it is a gold mine of perfect workouts to get your body back. I seriously cannot admonish you enough to get this dvd if you are wanting a better postpartum body. Or even if you’re a man with a daughter who may have babies someday… this dvd has been unavailable before, so since it’s so cheap right now, I suggest you get it and save it for her.
Tracy suggests doing this dvd RIGHT AFTER you’re cleared for exercise, and to do it 4-6 times a week. It is HARD and she talks you through it all, educating you on what your muscles are going through after pregnancy and why sometimes it takes longer for them to work after you’ve had the baby.
There are some exercises you may not be able to do during the first few times you try it, I couldn’t believe how my body literally wouldn’t respond at all to a couple of the workout exercises on that first day, then miraculously during the second day, it was a little better, and then by the third and fourth time, I was able to do them much better.
Nothing this woman creates is easy, and this dvd is no exception! But I love how much **slower** the exercises go, it very relaxing to do them after the kids are asleep and have the lights low. She suggests doing it with your baby in front of you, and I did that a couple of times and it was great.
You have to find time to workout even when you have kids, and there’s no better time to figure out a good routine of what works for your household (in supporting mommy working out) than when your baby is still little. Our older boys are already used to my husband and I working out, they even join in sometimes. Make it a priority if it’s important to you, but don’t let it stress you out if you have to stop and try again at another time – like when your two year old is NOT tantruming.
I’ve found throughout the years of working out with my kids either awake or sleeping, is that if you show them it’s fun and important to you, and tell them you’re taking care of yourself so you can have more fun with them and be a stronger mom, they’ll appreciate it. Even my two-year old is usually *not* tantruming, he usually plays around me and I can tease him with tickles or kisses as I’m doing the mat workout.
Just don’t expect perfection… be flexible and ready to give up if it’s clear your kids aren’t having it at that time. I’ve found working out after they’re asleep is more relaxing and I’m able to focus better anyway 🙂
I don’t believe I’ve had diastasis recti, but I’ve known a couple of friends who have that were plagued by it for months. It is not fun to have delivered your baby 6 months ago, and yet have a bulge as though you’re still 6 months pregnant!
But you don’t have to live like that, there is real help out there and exercise techniques that will pull your stomach in and even close the gap between your ab muscles.
This woman’s workout video is perfect, and I’m amazed she still has a 2-finger gap even though she looks incredible. It just goes to show how hard it is to get back to normal sometimes.
It’s not easy. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
If you want a good body after it growing huge with pregnancy, it’s something you really have to work for.
Just like anything good in life.
This woman’s video is GREAT for some important tips to try out when losing the baby weight after pregnancy. She goes over pretty much everything I’ve done or tried at least once and it worked for her personally (and me too), but she does mention that this may not work for everyone. It really is true that some people respond better or not at all to some tweaks in their diet or exercise routines – basically, you have to do the research for your own body type (it’s out there! I’ll post some on things like that after the baby) and figure out what you should even be eating for your genes etc.
Once she was past the healing phase, she ran and did other things that **worked for her body.** One of these I saw in her video is the “Barre Method,” it’s basically what I’ve done before using Ballet Beautiful or even Tracy Anderson’s Method. Those workouts are extremely hard and not for the faint-hearted! But the results are beyond fantastic, I mean, you’re doing the same workouts the Victoria’s Secret Angels do when you do the Barre Method or Tracy’s Method (which is barre, pilates, and dance for 30 minutes straight). Many women’s bodies respond very fast to barre-type workouts as well, so it may be good to try it out. If you’re completely new to working out though, try something less hard at first like a Jillian Michael’s 20 minute workout video – it will still be hard but it’s so short it’s over before you know it. That’s how I lost the weight with the first baby. It took longer with JM’s 20 minute workouts, but it was doable and didn’t kill my motivation and my husband even did it with me to encourage me!!
2 . Use a Belly Bandit after having your baby
So Ashley recommends using one of the belly bands (specifically bellybandit) to kind of squeeze everything in again. I do think these work, although I only used it with my first baby. With the second baby, I used compression panties (weird I know, but they had the somewhat same affect).
With our first baby, even though I gained 45 lbs compared to only 23 lbs with the second, I was still pretty active – walking all the time and for long distances on our college campus, going up tons and tons of stairs because we worked for our apartment agency we were living at during that time. Basically, I gained quite a bit, but I was also very active which seemed to help my body be stronger. When my doctor did my c-section, he was so surprised that my abs were that good that he took the time to sew up every layer. Apparently that’s not normal, as even the nurse who was attending the surgery told me during recovery that she’d never seen him do that before, and that I “looked really good in there.” :O great, but yuck!
After I recovered for a day he came by to see me again to check in on how I was doing, and he brought me a belly wrap, telling me it would help shrink the uterus back to size and compress everything out. It did seem to help quite a bit and I was so grateful!
This time I’m thinking of getting another band like she mentions in her video, or going full-out this time and wearing a corset like this:
I figure if I’m going to do a wrap or band again, better to be serious about it – and from the reviews, this one is extremely intense – but again, it seems to really work!
3. Breastfeed if you can
I’m not so sure about this anymore – whether it helps or hinders women to lose the baby weight. I’ve known quite a few moms that have sworn that breastfeeding caused them to keep the weight on – but some of them also admitted that they were still ravenous and ate all the time as if they were still pregnant. For me personally, breastfeeding did seem to cause me to slim down fast – or it was the fluid. The strange thing is that breastfeeding really does seem to make you hungrier, and I did eat more than usual even though I was burning so many calories my body still looked amazing. So when I stopped breastfeeding, I gained a bit of weight almost immediately due to probably not altering my eating habits that had been set for a year. I was also grieving my dad at the same time and going through depression – those also contributed to the lack of exercise and lack of eating healthy (I just didn’t care anymore). But being so used to being able to eat anything while breastfeeding is something to be aware of – you may have to alter your food intake after you stop.
4. Get more sleep!
She mentions how she aimed for just 30 minutes extra every night and that really helped her lose the last of the weight as she was so rested. It is so true that being stressed, sleep deprived, or anxious keeps you generally from losing any weight – it can even make you *gain* weight to not sleep enough. Your body produces a hormone called orexin when you’re extremely tired that actually makes you hungrier, causing you to potentially eat too many calories when you don’t need them. I know with our second baby, it was just such a peaceful transition for our family – when I was breastfeeding during the day, it literally felt like I was resting on a cloud – the hormones of breastfeeding are like a high and actually relax you! My husband had to go back to work after only 5 days with that baby, but somehow the transition from 1 to 2 kids wasn’t that difficult.
Because of his police schedule and the danger of his job, I felt it critically important that I be the only one waking up with the baby all night, allowing him to get his much needed sleep and rest. He’d get a full night’s sleep and then let me sleep in for 2-4 hours in morning when he’d watch our kids for me since he went in later. This was only possible because of his weird schedule, but wow did it feel so different from our first when both of us were trying to share baby responsibilities, and he had to be up in the morning as well. This time he’s taking off for a whole month ❤ ❤ ❤ but I’m still planning to exclusively breastfeed during that time, so I’m going to keep the baby all night and he’ll watch her in the morning so I can rest up again. It felt so incredible to both of us last time to handle it this way – why mess with something that’s working?!
5. Drink more water
Definitely! But everyone probably knows this…. If you feel like you’re retaining fluid, drinking more water helps to generally flush it out. I snack on ice and crave it like it’s candy, even when I’m not pregnant. So drinking a few liters of water (has to be iced) a day is normal for me.
6. Try a vegan diet
LOL!!!!! As if!!!! Just kidding 😀 – she is right on one thing, eating more fruits and veggies and less dairy and meats does help most women’s bodies lose weight. She mentions that her body fat pre-vegan was at 23%, versus getting to 15-16% body fat with her vegan diet. I have to say, that’s impressive, but I’ve also seen women get those results from maintaining a mostly keto diet style (opposite vegans for the most part), or even just tracking their macros and carb-cycling (what I’ve done). Macro tracking is just keeping track of the proteins, carbs, and fats you eat every day or even weekly. It’s a little annoying, and shouldn’t be obsessed over, but it does work and the benefit is that you can still eat things that aren’t on a specific diet like “vegan” only foods or “keto” only foods. You have more freedom when you’re tracking the proteins/carbs/fats, and I always do at least one cheat day so that I can eat things I normally wouldn’t eat throughout the week. It really is just whatever works for you.
Hidden Tip!!! Dry Brushing!
She adds in a random tip not numbered that doesn’t go with being vegan that I know of LOL…. She “skin brushes,” otherwise known as “dry brushing.” This really does work for many women, I’ve seen results from women in my fitness group that are mind-blowing how well just simply dry brushing can tighten and firm loose skin (really loose skin!). It is very strange that simply dry brushing your loose skin areas can have that great of an affect.
Another thing that is very much like dry brushing only more intense, is “needling,” or using something called the “derma-roller.” It works by using needles that you literally roll over your loose skin areas creating tiny injuries that cause your body to produce more elastin & collagen in those areas. I remember when they first came out for this type of device for the face (using tinier needles), my husband and I laughed about it because it sounded like a torture device. But you know what?? It actually works! Both for your face and for apparently your tummy! Click here to read just one woman’s response with it. I’ve seen the same results more than a few times with the women in my fitness group. It’s legit.
7. Give it time!
Very true, I thought I’d never lose the weight with the first baby, it was just dragging on and on and on. We were in the gym several days a week at first and then switched to home workouts, and yet it still took a whole year. Just be committed and willing to try new things. And just don’t give up! I’ve often seen it take women a couple of years if not 3 years to get to the place where they want to be with their bodies and there’s no shame in that at all!
Everyone’s body and genetics are different and respond to different things. It is crucial to find out what your particular body and genetic makeup responds to best, but it may take a year or two to even figure that out unfortunately, especially if you weren’t at all athletic to begin with. Starting from scratch like that is hard and you HAVE to give yourself time to try all kinds of things to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s more than worth it though. Every woman I’ve talked to that lost significant amounts of weight even when it took years has said it was the most important decision of her life to keep with it. Being overweight affects everything about you and your life, so it’s no wonder there are so many women who feel as though it completely changed everything for them when they get the results they want.