Losing the Baby Weight: What It Takes

Mom #3

Jeanette Mercedes's Story

5'6.5", 35, mom to Jack, 11 months. Starting weight: 149 lbs. Prepregnancy: 138 lbs. Ultimate goal: 130 lbs. Ending weight: 127 lbs.

"I gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy, and have lost all but the last 10 pounds. I have a very hectic schedule -- I work full time as a lawyer, plus I teach a class twice a week. When I get home, I feed Jack dinner while my husband cooks for us. By the time I get Jack into bed at 9:30, I'm exhausted. Before I had Jack, I used to go work out at a gym, but I have no time now that I have a child. I manage to stay active though, because I'm always on the go."

What her food diary revealed: Jeanette was accustomed to eating three large meals a day. A typical breakfast consisted of a muffin or two bowls of cereal and coffee with three teaspoons of sugar. Lunch was a mixed bag -- she ate out at restaurants, had ham and cheese on a roll at her desk, or ate leftovers from the night before. For dinner, she loved red meat, pork, pasta with meat sauce, and rice.

The Food Plan

Breakfast was scaled down to a bowl of oatmeal and a piece of fruit. Jeanette said the one thing she could not give up was her morning coffee with lots of sugar -- so that became her day's sugary treat. Lunch options consisted of salad with protein, a turkey burger with half the bun, or a ham sandwich on whole wheat (instead of a roll) with one slice of low-fat cheese.

For dinner, Bauer said to cut the rice and pasta to half a cup, preferably using whole wheat pasta or brown rice; and to eat more vegetables. She also suggested substituting ground turkey for hamburger and pork tenderloin for pork chops, and choosing leaner cuts of red meat.

How it went: At first, Jeanette was hungry on the smaller breakfast but she adjusted after a week or so. For dinner, she shops at a local butcher and asks for lean cuts of beef and pork, and she's eating more chicken. Jeanette has never been a big vegetable eater, but she does like broccoli, so she's been eating a lot of that. Initially, she ate brown rice and whole wheat pasta, but gradually cut them out altogether. "Though I cheat occasionally, I make sure I don't do it two days in a row," she says.

Worst moment: "I ate two slices of pizza instead of one. I really regretted it afterward -- it just stayed in my stomach and I felt gross. My body had adjusted to eating less."

Best moment: "I'd been wearing casual clothes to work -- which involved lots of ironing -- because I couldn't fit into my suits. Now I'm back into my old wardrobe, which means I can send things out for dry cleaning instead of ironing!"

The Exercise Plan

Jeanette has great legs. She wanted to tone her upper body so it matched her lower body, so Norcini had her do less cardio and more weight training. "She wanted to do some major toning, so we did more weight, fewer reps," Norcini says.

How it went: "I bought exercise bands and thought I would get up at five in the morning to work out. I did that twice. To make exercise happen, I had to work Jack into the routine. When the weather got nicer, I started going on evening walks with him. After I'd built up a sweat, I'd take Jack out of the stroller and hold him as I pushed it to work my upper body. Sometimes I also ran up and down the stairs in my apartment building, taking two at a time. On vacation, I didn't follow the food plan at all. I ate like a truck driver, but I walked every day, pushing the stroller on the beach."

On Her Own

After dropping nearly 14 pounds with the program, Jeanette set her sights on losing 10 pounds more. So she continued to watch portion sizes and write down everything she ate, and kept up her hour-long walks with Jack every night. Today Jeanette is proud to weigh in at 127 pounds, fully three pounds less than what she weighed 10 years ago.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2005.

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