Losing It: 30 Day Shred After Pregnancy, Clean Eating and Moral Support

Okay, fitness and healthy living post coming at you. A little backstory:  When I got pregnant with Thomas, I was at my “happy weight”. I gained 22 pounds during my pregnancy and lost 18 of those by my 6 week postpartum checkup. I fluctuated over the next 9 months back to my pre-pregnancy weight and up to that 4 pound above mark, which I was fine with. When Thomas was 8 months old I did the 30 Day Shred every day to tone up and loved the results – I didn’t drastically change my eating (but tried to be conscious of making good choices). When he was 10 months old, a lot of crap happened all at once and I just stopped working out and started eating like crap. When I got pregnant with Nell when Thomas was 15 months old, I was 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. I gained 22 pounds during that pregnancy as well and lost all of them by my 6 week postpartum checkup, and lost the 10 stress pounds by the time she was 6 months old. So, when I got pregnant with Peter, I was back at my “happy” weight. And I fully expected to gain 22 pounds and lose them by my 6 week postpartum check. Ha. Ha. Ha. I gained TWICE what I gained in my previous pregnancies, had a 6 day period where, I kid you not, four people asked me if I was having twins when I about lost my mind (some people just don’t think), and though I was down 20 pounds by my 6 week check-up, I was not feeling great about the fact that I had no clothes that fit and that three people in the first three weeks after Peter was born asked me when I was due. “Um, he’s 3 weeks old.” I didn’t even enjoy watching the back pedaling “Oh, I didn’t even look at you, I just hadn’t heard the baby had been born!” take place. Yeah, right.

So, needless to say, I had some work to do. At 4 weeks postpartum, with my OB’s guidance that I should workout as much as I felt up for, I was down 20 pounds with 25 to go, and started the 30 Day Shred. And I started to feel strong again right away. I love and hate the 30 Day Shred workout – the repetitiveness can get really old, but the workouts are effective and the 25 minute thing is key for a busy mom. I did most of my workouts after T and Nell were in bed and while B was hanging out with Peter, and as Peter started to sleep a bit more and his colic and reflux started to get under control, I was able to workout more during naptimes. And while I definitely felt stronger, and noticed muscle and toning, I didn’t notice any change on the scale, which was frustrating. I felt strong and lost 5 pounds in the first 25 days and a couple inches, but for the work I was putting in, I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to see.

I think, in retrospect I was suffering from a little bit of baby blues all along, but between Peter’s 7th and 9th weeks we had some really tough days over here. Peter’s reflux and colic were bad and he screamed all day every day. And finally, I just started crying in the shower one day. And then I realized why: I love hanging out with my kids. I love playing games with them, getting down on their level and learning with them, but since Peter had been born, all I could do was hold a baby who didn’t feel well. And since my older kids weren’t getting the individual attention they were used to, they were pretty tough, too. And, because I was exhausted and my patience was low, I would snap at them instead of listening to them. It was a vicious cycle. But acknowledging it – to myself and then out loud to B – was what it took to get me back on my feet. B picked up what I couldn’t do when he got home after work – sitting on the floor and playing games with Tom and Nell. I started saying “No” when people asked to come visit when I wasn’t up for company and hoped that people would understand that it wasn’t personal, but it was necessary to my sanity to have some free time. I started taking my mom, mother-in-law and aunt up on their offers to help entertain Thomas and Nell without feeling guilty about it. And I prioritized working out and eating clean (partially to eliminate any trigger foods – other than dairy which I took out of my diet when Peter was 3 weeks old – for Peter but also to reset my body after 9 months of pregnancy. And that – I followed the Whole 30 strictly for 30 days, and am now continuing to eat that way (essentially a slightly stricter Paleo) with the occasional cheat meal – not day.

So, my recap of the 30 day shred: Eating as I normally did and doing the shred, I lost 5 pounds in the first 25 days. I absolutely felt stronger, but I was hoping for more weight loss. As I did the first time around, I loved Level 1, but this time around I really disliked Level 2′s heavy arm work and was better about Level 3′s ab work. However, while I felt stronger, the pounds weren’t melting off. When I started eating clean, I had 5 days left of the shred and lost 7 pounds in those 5 days (honestly, I looked kind of like the before picture until Day 25 when I started my Whole 30). In the last 4 weeks, I’ve lost an additional 8 pounds (only 5 more to go!), started running again, noticed muscles from the 30 Day Shred that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and feel incredibly strong and healthy. I’ve become so much more focused on how I feel than how I look – even clothes that were a little tight when I got pregnant are fitting comfortably now despite the fact that I still have 5 pounds to lose.

30 Day Shred Results

I definitely lost inches doing just the 30 Day Shred and eating as I normally did (I eat pretty clean for my meals, but I had a tendency to snack on un-clean foods), but changing my diet absolutely had the most impact on my results. The 30 Day Shred was a great workout, but this time around, it wasn’t the single answer for me in losing weight. I was doing the 30DS every single day, and I was eating within my calorie limit every single day leading up to the Whole 30, and while I felt stronger, I didn’t see the results I wanted. The picture of me in the coral tank top was the last day of the shred and the 5th day of my Whole 30 – I was already noticing a big change in my body shape just 5 days in – and starting to see those muscles that I’d been building with Jillian over the last 30 days. Because I’m breastfeeding, I’ve still been keeping track of my calories to make sure I’m eating enough on this plan to sustain my milk supply, and I go over my limit most days and still lost 15 pounds.

So, with results like that, it’s hard to go back to eating any other way. Plus? I felt SO SO good during it. I had a Margarita last weekend after the challenge ended and couldn’t sleep that night – I think from sugar – when I had slept like a baby for the entirety of the Whole 30 challenge. My friend Jessica, who runs a motivational fitness challenge group I take part in says something along the lines of it’s 80% what you eat and 20% how you workout, and I couldn’t agree more. I even took pictures of myself in a two piece on Monday and while I’m not going to post pictures of me in my skivvies here, I have to say I was really proud of the way my body looked – but even more importantly, I’m so proud of how healthy and strong I feel!

So now, life after the 30DS and Whole 30. There was a 4 week difference between the middle picture, on the last day of my 30 Day Shred, and the last picture, on the last day of my Whole 30 (which I finished last Friday). As soon as the 30 Day Shred ended, I started the Couch to 5K program. That program has me doing a walk/run hybrid three days a week. Two days a week, I still use the 30DS (and occasionally another video when I just can’t take a day of Jillian) but I alternate through the levels – so on Tuesday I might do Level 3, and on Thursday Level 2, then the next week Level 1 and Level 3 which helps make Jillian more bearable. I do a Yoga DVD or go to Yoga one day a week, and rest one day a week. If I’m feeling up for more or have time on a run day, I add in more cardio or yoga. And I’m starting to feel like an athlete again. I’ve got a month left of the C25K program, but intend to up my cardio a little more in June, too. Now that my Whole 30 is over, I intend to keep eating clean, but allow myself the occasional beer, glass of wine, or dessert (though with dairy out for Peter, there’s not much dessert that appeals to me). I can’t say enough about the Whole 30 – it completely changed the way I approach food, really helped me feel good about myself and my energy during a tough time postpartum, and improved my sleep while I was at it.

*PS – I kind of scoffed at the Whole 30 for a long time, until Claire posted about her experience and results (Part 1 and Part 2). I was pregnant with Peter at the time and filed her posts away to revisit after he was born. Right around the time I’d started my whole 30, Laurel posted that she’d just completed her first one. Her Instagram account has been a huge help to me in coming up with meals for our family and lunches and breakfasts. These two are great resources, check them out! My original 30DS recap is here.

30 Day Shred Review (and life after the shred)

I challenged myself to complete all 30 days (consecutively) of Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred in the month of March.  An April visit to the beach and a really awful picture of me (that I can’t find now) at Jess’s baby shower were the impetus behind the goal.  Originally, B and I were in discussions about purchasing Insanity and working out together everyday. And then we remembered that we don’t work out well together – we’re too competitive and proud when it comes to workouts and personal fitness goals, and not in a healthy competition kind of way.  Translation: B’s goal to gain weight irritates the hell out of my goal to lose weight. So for the sake of our marriage, we workout separately for now. I bought the 30DS years ago – I think before our wedding and would do it on and off, but never for the full 30 days.  So, since I had it on hand, I decided to give it a go.

I loved this challenge and liked the workouts.  Here’s the rundown:

There are 3 levels in the 30 day shred and each is about 25 minutes with warm-up and cool down. You’re supposed to do the workout everyday for 30 days, spending 10 days at each level.  Everything I’ve read led me to the conclusion that if you actually want to see noticeable weight loss and inches lost, you need to do it pretty much daily.  So I did.  I loved level one.  Looked forward to it every day for 10 days.  Level two was heavy on the arms and I loved it a little less.  And level three kicked my a**.  By the last two days of the shred I would have rather run two marathons than spent 20 more minutes on this DVD – but I powered through because I would have been furious with myself if I stopped two days early.

The workouts are heavy on plyometrics – which wasn’t the best for my already injured knee.  But I powered through because I’m stubborn. I broke or severely jammed my toe on day 15 (shower injury, not a workout injury) which made the plank moves in levels 2 and 3 more difficult but doable.  I used 5 pound weights for Levels 1 and 2 and three pound weights for level 3.

I was conscious of eating healthy foods, but I didn’t worry about calories because I’m still nursing and need calories to keep up my milk supply. I had oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, a salad and cottage cheese or a turkey sandwich at home for lunch, a normal dinner and simple snacks if I got hungry mid-day.
My personal results? I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose – since Thomas was born last June I’ve been about 3 pounds above my favorite and pre-pregnancy weight and that hasn’t really bothered me.  What bothered me was my lack of stomach tone.  You know, since my abs were sliced to deliver my child. Not that I ever had visible abs, but I had abs that held in my stomach prior to my c-section.  Not that I’m still bitter about that, or anything (you better believe my next child will be born in a bathtub in Boulder. Because I’m all about extremes). And I thought this workout was fabulous for toning – I felt stronger, slimmer, taller and just more energetic while I was doing it.

In 30 days I lost:
7 pounds
3 inches around my waist
3.25 inches around my hips and chest
and 2.5 inches around my bust

I would call it successful. My clothes fit better and more attractively. I’m not really a before and after picture kinda girl, which I realize isn’t helpful in posts like this.  I’ll do better in the future.  But I did feel comfortable hanging out on the beach in a bikini in Florida.

So life after the 30 Day Shred. I needed a break from Jillian. So I’m doing a hybrid Couch to 5K – I’ve run on and off before, so I don’t need the super slow start that the C25K is championed for, but I also tend to start too quickly and either get injured or burn out.  So I’m starting with the C25K interval training schedule and adding in a day of long(er) straight running.  It’s going pretty well – now that we’re not rushing out the door to daycare three mornings a week, I’ve found that we have time for morning runs again.  But I’m missing the resistance training, so I’m planning to spend May with Jillian’s newest 30 day DVD on top of the running. I’ll take before and afters this time.