Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fit for a Mom

I wrote about my struggle with my post-pregnancy weight ages ago. What sparked that post off was a comment from an aunt who saw my monthly photos of Ayaan and asked if I was expecting again. Well, the same aunt visited us this week and her much more palatable and immensely quotable quote from this encounter was:

“Ayaan, your mom is looking like a sex bomb”

Quite obviously, a lot has changed since that last post – and it’s not my aunt’s levels of diplomacy since she did comment on the fact that my walls were looking grubby, that Ayaan was so thin and that my wardrobe for the upcoming wedding was too simple…

Overall, I have to say that I am blessed with pretty good genes in the weight area. Other than the pregnancy and breastfeeding era, I have always fallen within the recommended weight range for a person of my height. And it’s never been hard – I’ve always had a healthy appetite and outside of compulsory school sports, haven’t been anywhere near what you would term as a fitness freak.

But pregnancy changed all that, albeit temporarily. I put on a whopping 15 kilos (against a recommended 12) when I was pregnant and was still holding on to 10 of those a year into motherhood. And while I pretended that I was okay with the excess weight, I now realise that it did affect my life in somewhat insidious ways.

None of my old clothes fit me any more and I didn’t replenish my wardrobe beyond what was absolutely necessary. Buying clothes in a larger size was too depressing and somewhere lurked a foolish hope that that weight would magically disappear one morning. And from there, it was just one short, easy step to being downright frumpy – I would tie my hair back rather than bother with styling it, didn’t wear earring till my ear holes almost closed up and manicures and pedicures were things of the past. It was like I had just given up and sacrificed my femininity at the altar of motherhood (a tad overdramatic I agree but I like the sound of it, don’t you?)

Well, most of the weight did finally go and most of the pre-maternity clothes do fit (with the exception of the skinny jeans and such like). But in the end, it was none of the ambitious things I planned in that old post that contributed to the weight loss – the walk in the park never saw the light of day, the GM diet had zero impact and the gym membership lapsed without me so much as even thinking of going there.

In nutshell, I made no focussed effort to lose the weight but it went anyway. What helped I think was:

  • My hectic life as a working mom – for some sense of it, read this post from last year. Life is a bit more relaxed now since Ayaan gets up later, we don’t do the morning walk thing and I don’t have to carry him around as much – but otherwise, it’s still much the same. But overall, I think the level of activity on an average day in my life did a lot to help me shed some of that excess baggage.
  • The weight loss actually started just after I stopped breastfeeding. I know the dominant logic is that breastfeeding makes you lose weight but in my case it worked the other way. My appetite went from healthy to voracious in those days and the fact that I was at home all day with easy access to a fridge didn’t help either. Even when I went back to work, the scales didn’t budge till Ayaan was weaned. But in less than a year after that, I was fitting into my old clothes again.
  • I didn’t diet but I made one tiny change to my eating habits. I cut down the size of my dinner. I read somewhere that dinner should be the lightest meal of the day and I thought that that was the least I could do.

Having got back a semblance of my old shape, I have to admit that I got a bit complacent and kept postponing the moment when I would get off my behind and start actively doing something to get back to previous levels of fitness. Finally, it was a really interesting fitness class and the persistence of a friend who wanted me to join up that finally pushed into taking action. A couple of weeks ago, we joined up at a class where we do a high intensity workout involving weights, squats, crunches and kickboxing thrice a week.

It's early days yet but I’ve been quite regular and I have a good feeling about lasting this time round. The big difference between this and the gym is that the class is like a group exercise and therefore a lot more fun than the monotonous gym workout. And more importantly, I am doing it with a friend and we push each other to wake up and make it for class in the mornings.

Another investment I have made in my health is taking on the nutritional consultation that they offer at the same place for a period of three months. It’s been quite an eye-opener. While I am only 2 kilos over the ideal weight for my height, my body fat percentage is not so well under control. Really fit and athletic women have about 18% body fat but anything under 25% is considered healthy. Mine is 32.2%!!! To get this under control, just exercise is not going to be enough – I need to alter my eating habits in a manner that can be sustainable. Here are some of the things I have been told I need to do:

  • Avoid long gaps between meals. This means that I have to eat something every 2-3 hours.
  • Increase the amount of raw food in my diet. This means starting the day with three servings of fruits and having a bowl of salad a couple of hours before dinner.
  • Avoid processed food (and that includes bread and branded breakfast cereals)
  • Avoid fried food, sweets, aerated drinks and fruit juices
  • Cut down oil to a maximum of 2 tsps per day.
  • Eat non-vegetarian food only three times a week and even then, no red meat
  • No eggs or milk for breakfast

While I am quite confident about sticking to the exercise class, I am less confident about the making these dietary changes in the long term. The big challenges are going to be keeping shorter gaps between meals/ snacks on weekdays, sticking to some semblance of this eating plan while I am travelling and getting my oil-happy maid to cook within the oil limit. The rest of the diet restrictions are quite doable (minus the odd binges) except the bread one – I love bread!

Anyway, wish me luck! Here’s hoping this is more successful than my previous attempt. I just re-read that last post and realised how confident and enthusiastic I sounded about my plans and look how that turned out... :-(


  1. Congrats!! You are at least on the way of achieving the goal.

    I totally am with you on the breastfeeding myth. Most of the women hold on their body fat because that is the storage house !! Weaning was magic for me too. I kind of reached my goal and now I am back to gaining weight as I am expecting again.

    But this time I know how to deal with the whole issue :)

  2. Anonymous10:26 am

    Your Nutrition Expert is conning you!! Look for the "healthy" morning cereals - and you get a whole range of them - they have a ton of vitamins and the whole grain ones contain a lot of dietary Fiber! Spot on about the light dinner - make sure you eat 3 hours before you sleep. Fruits to work are great too! Bananas and apples are very convenient for munching at work - Hire me...I'll work for 50% less than your nutrition expert!

  3. I know there are a whole wide range of nutrition philosophies out there--I could have cared less about any of them until my third pregnancy, when a variety of circumstances MADE me care. The philosophy I now subscribe to is that of eating "traditional, whole foods"--and this includes eggs and non-pasteurized milk. Protein for breakfast will make it last longer. In fact, there are certain vitamins (such as A, D, and K) that are only easily assimable by the human body from animal fats and proteins.

    About avoiding breakfast cereals and processed foods and juices--good things to avoid. (With respect to your previous anonymous commenter) breakfast cereals have all been "extruded", and are not in a form that is easy for the body to digest and absorb nutrition from. The only cereals we eat are hot porridges made from whole grains that have been soaked overnight to neutralize phytates (a natural substance in whole grains that can block nutrient absorption).

    I know it seems a bit "counter-to-common-wisdom", but if you think that eating whole, natural foods makes sense, check out The Weston A. Price Foundation. (P.S. --My body lost weight while pregnant with Jabin on this diet. Within months after he was born, I had hit a weight I hadn't seen since high school. It really works.)

    Good luck on your new "healthful" endeavours!

  4. Good luck and I'm a lot like you as in, I don't exercise a whole lot but manage to stay within the prescribed limits. Fitness woefully is another matter altogether !

  5. Hi Rohini,
    Am the same way - lost weight like crazy when nursing tapered off...and really lost weight when I stopped nursing...only to get pregnant again and am nursing now. So depressing I tell you that most of my old clothes (that used to be loose on me then) don't fit me.
    Anyways - good luck. If you manage to keep up that diet, I would be amazed! It calls for serious changes - no branded cereals - that would be tough for me!

  6. Awe inspiring- no such luck for me-
    i remain lazy and plump- and i do not even like chocolates/ sweets/ aerated drinks etc!!

  7. Varsha4:31 pm

    Hey, I absolutely love your blog!
    Do u mind giviing the details of ur classess (address & contact no.)M wanting to knock off a couple of kgs as well and have made several unsuccessful attempts to go gymmming. These classes sound exciting!

  8. You said MAID!

    *Closes her eyes in shock*

    I've had a personal trainer ever since The Bhablet was born. He doesn't let me eat or sleep any more than I absolutely have to (and sometimes not that) so yeah, I lost a lot of the weight. Still flabby around the tummy areas but I'm sure when he starts to run he'll take care of that too.

    This is not the nicest way to get back in shape but it's pretty effective. This and doing your own housework when possible.

  9. Really? No milk for breakfast? I couldn't go without that at all. I have to have milk for breakfast! And somehow the suggestion of no-milk sounds counter-intuitive. Milk fills you up, has a lot of nutrients. Of course, I am talking about skim milk and not whole milk. Egg-whites instead of whole eggs should be healthy, no? I am wondering what is the reasoning behind no milk-no eggs directive (no offense meant whatsoever - just wondering).

    Am in the same boat. No. I am in a BIGGER boat! Just today I decided to cut down on my portion size and include more fruit in my diet (I do eat at least one fruit). I need to be careful at dinner time because that is when I am famished and tend to overeat. We usually eat dinner at 7:30 pm but these days since my parents are here and they are not used to early dinner, our dinner time had been pushed back to 9 pm or so. That is why, come dinner time I am just raring to eat ANYTHING!

  10. [Manchus] From all accounts, second time's the charm, :)

    [Anon] How much? ;) And on the cereals, see Scrapnqueen's comment.

    [Talena] Thanks for your take. Actually, in India eating whole, natural foods is pretty much part of our diet - I think I must think through the no protein at breakfast that she has recommended though - I used to have milk, bread and toast earlier but she says it is too early in the morning to be having all of that...

    [Poppins] But can you beat 32% of body fat? :)

    [Noon] Branded cereals is easy for me as I don't them very much. The bread is going to be the deal-breaker if at all...

    [Artnavy] Let me stick to it first before you get awe inspired :)

    [Varsha] This is a placed called Mint Fitness in Khar. You can contact them at 022-26482667/ 26480236

    [Sue] Oops! I meant child care service provider, of course. And yes, Ayaan's the most exercise I've ever done in my life!

  11. [Ceekay] Those are some very good questions. I will ask her at my next session in a couple of weeks from now

  12. 32% body fat? I say "HAH!!!". You could NEVER beat mine - but I am not tellin'!!

  13. All the best. I'm trying to lose weight too :( and this is so going to make you feel better - I put on a whopping 23kgs during my pregnancy! And i have 10kg more to lose. So there, you're already doing better than me.
    Eating more often but smaller meals works. Without weights though any exercise regime is insufficient if you want to lose weight fast.
    Squiggles' paediatrician asked me not to have milk as well for a myriad of reasons. Cow's milk apparently is difficult for humans to digest which explains why Indians fart so much :)).

  14. Squiggles mom - you are right--especially pasteurized. It is actually nearly impossible. Goat's milk is much better for humans, but I haven't been able to like it, try as I might. (It doesn't cause the mucous reaction that bovine milk does.)

    I also forgot to mention--unlike so many diets out there--I'm not left feeling hungry all the time, because having protein and "healthy fats" such as butter and coconut oil are highly encouraged. (Most "low-fat diets", besides being unnatural, leave you feeling like you're starving most of the time, which is why they are so difficult to follow. It is not "low-fat" that is important, it is "right-fat.")

    Okay, sorry. Done proselytizing now.

    Hope your diet is off to a good start, Rohini!

  15. no milk for breakfast?!! but why!!
    and let's not even go into the no bread or cereals part. Now that's just crazy talk :P

    But seriously, is bread really no good? Even if it's whole wheat and all? And what about those fortified-with-ten-million-B-vitamins cereals?

  16. good luck!

    i also lost the few lingering kilos after i stopped nursing.

  17. congrats !
    "Buying clothes in a larger size was too depressing and somewhere lurked a foolish hope that that weight would magically disappear one morning." totally agree- my sentiments exactly. finally i had to give up and invest in clothes since my weight loss is particularly slow.
    Wish u all the luck in yours! btw, why dont u try the reliance wheat bread- it is addictive- my dietician says wheat bread is allowd and preferred for the night- take care of the filling though- use left over veggies or some yummy chutneys.
    i did not know abt branded cereals! i have been doing oats & cornflakes for breakfast. strange, even dieticians differ in their opinion!!!

  18. [Ceekay] Nothing makes me happier than knowing I'm not at the bottom of the barrel ;)

    [Squiggles Mom] in my fitness class, we work with weights as well, atleast 50% of the time.

    [Talena] Not so much. Am struggling with the mini meals on working days. And I am craving bread - the other day, someone was eating a sandwich and I almost started sniffing it like a dog!

    [Cerebral non-matter] The fortified stuff is just marketing mumbo jumbo. But I am going to check on the whole wheat bread on my next visit... I am quite happy about the milk though, hate the stuff.

    [Choxbox] Thanks :)

    [Noon] Oh no! Not again! Will come by and pick it up :)

    [Itchy] Well, now I fit into old clothes and have also gone on shopping sprees, so all looking goos. I think oatmeal is better, cornflakes is not.

  19. BOTTOM??? Whatever gave you the idea, Rohini? Fat FLOATS!!



  20. Losing weight post pregnancy was hard even for me. I used to get depressed just seeing my pre pregnancy cloths. But slowly but surely i'm getting there thanks to the Squash I love to play. Gym with a friend is a great idea too. But your diet does seem a bit harder to stick to.I can't do without my milk and cereal at all.I think however it;s the portion size which really makes a difference. I think skimmed milk and the low fat bran cereals should be ok to consume. Talk it over with your nurtitionist. And yes good luck with this!I'm sure you can melt those kilos away soon:)

  21. Good luck with your weight loss plan! I have lost most of my pregnancy weight(courtesy MIL's stay), but there is a couple hugging onto my waist. It really looks like I am 4-5 months pregnant, need to start working on them. Don't know what my body fat levels are.

  22. The trick is replacing all the mirrors in your home with slimming mirrors. Its working for me. I look like a sex bomb to myself.

  23. Awwgawd how many times have I read those same tips on weight loss!! and how many times have I heard the same line"I love bread"......sigh

  24. Best of luck, Ro

    Incidentally,I laughed when you said you put on a
    'whopping' 15 kgs as against the recommended 12 - because I put on 24 kilos against the recommended 14!

    Have lost 14 out of the 24 in the last 2.5 months. The last 10 REFUSES TO BUDGE ( as do I)

    (Traipses off dejectedly to eat some more of that blasted chocolate cake in the fridge)

  25. Hey Rohini - am supposed to be working towards meeting a deadly deadline and not reading blogs but this is a subject so close to my heart and even closer to my cant-fit-into-old-jeans butt :)

    Girl, 15 kilos for the pregnancy is not 'whopping'....just take my word for it (for obvious reasons) ;)

    Sure do hope that losing weight after weaning is true for me too. I am pretty regular with my gym and even a convert to the Baba Ramdev school of Pranayam....but the kilos are refusing to budge!! You don't think its got anything to do with trying to maintain Brittania's bottom line and ruining my own, do you?

    All the best, YOU WILL DO IT THIS TIME...!!

    Positively reinforcing Parul

  26. [Ceekay] LOL!

    [Fuzzylogic] The milk I always hated and am not a big fan of cereals either - it's the bread I'm really missing

    [Anitha] Ya, my extra flab is on the tummy and arms too...

    [Kiran] You can't kid me now that I've seen you... you certainly have no need for slimming mirrors...

    [Sunshine] Deja vu, huh?

    [Y] That'll go when you stop feeding... and 14 kilos off in 2.5 months is pretty damn awe-inspiring

    [Parul] Er... yeah, the biscuits might have something to do with it, unless you meant Britannia butter and cheese, in which case even more so... ;-)

  27. All the best Ro! may the force be with you. i'm still in disgrace with P coz i signed up for a year's membership in FitnessOne (and forked up a tidy sum) and haven't been there since paying up the munny. :)

  28. Hi Rohini,

    I'm glad you've managed to lose some of the weight you'd put on-and if you're sticking to your exercise routine then I guess you'll be truly on your way!
    as for your diet-please don;t skip the milk-its essential calcium and that too more so for can try Nestle Slim-its got almost 0% fat.
    eating small meals is recommende by all but I don't know how you'll manage that given the fact that you're working
    You definitely have my good wishes for looking slim and more importantly feeling good about it.

  29. Erm, I dunno about the 32% but you know what my new excuse now is, to not hit the gym? Anyways it will all come back when (if) I have another baby, so I'll wait until that one is weaned and THEN exercise. :)

  30. Hey, good post. Hit home pretty well :)... With a 5 month old baby, I am now 4 kg away from my pre preg weight ( I had put on 16 kg, lost the 12 in these five months). Now I have to seriously exercise and get back to my pre-preg weight, and actually reduce further. :D

    Thanks for this! Enjoyed reading the rest of your blogs too.

  31. Shruthi, do you mind sharing the secret with us ?:) what say Ro?(dont mint me calling u of my best bud is Rohini and I call her that)....12 kgs in 5 months is like celeb thing u see....Heidi Klum strutted her stuff with flat abs after just 3 weeks of her first son's delivery itseems... :)

    i can never ever do that.....but with your secret out i guess we can do it ....

    i am not even close to my pre-preggers to think that i had a well toned body and an athletic stamina....looks like a dream from my past :)

  32. [Aqua] Been there, done that... hoping to beat it this time around

    [Sharmila] Actually I have mixed opinions on the milk thing. A lot of people say that adults don't need it and also that calcium from milk is very difficult for the body to absorb and retain...

    [Poppins] Actually, more than the weight, it's the utter lack of fitness that is bothering me - a flight of stairs leads me puffing and panting...

    [Shruti] Wow! Seriously, what is your secret... just 4 kgs over is awesome!

    [IBH] Actually, lot of my friends call me Ro too... and don't even talk about those depressing celebrity moms - their instant weight loss bothers on scary

  33. I'm like you. I got back to my pre-pregancy weight a few months after I stopped nursing but the fat % is still high. May be I should try the plan suggested by your dietician. I can do most of the things you listed except the bread part. I'm big on bread( no pun intended)!

  34. i had watched thsi oprah winfrey show ones.
    all about post maternity blues.and how their lives have changed greatly ever since they conceived.and how the growing fat depresses the hell out of them!

  35. umm..i clearly misled you...6 kilos came off on one day when Peanut was born - so that's only 8 kilos off in 2 months.

    and i just discovered i have put on 3 more - am a yo-yo!


    never mind. good luck. to you and me both.

  36. also try drinking 3-4 glasses of water before brushing ur teeth and after waking up. it helps to detox i hear. i do it everyday! good luck!!!

  37. i got back to pre-preg jeans in abt one month after the brat. second time around i got back into them 2 months after... but this time around, my arms look like legs. and for that i need to move my lazy fat ass and do something instead of sitting around hoping it will miraculously melt off.