I got the following question from a reader in regard to weight loss, that I thought was an important topic to consider. I know that Jessica would also appreciate your thoughts on this topic as well!( I have included pictures of some of the nutrient rich food that we eat that also helps maintain a trim figure)
I had a question. I have been doing the nourishing traditions eating for over two years now. I had 4 pregnancies in three years and have been at 240lbs for over 5 years now. I am 5’9 and at my smallest, I was a size 14 and 180lbs. I have not been able to lose the weight. One thing is I have three preschoolers, so it’s hard to make diet and exercise a priority. Another is I know I don’t eat perfect, but I eat a lot better than most. Do know how I can lose weight while still eating NT?
Things I currently do now are:
make whole wheat sourdough bread
soak grains and legumes
use lots of butter and virgin coconut oil, with occasional use of vegetable oil/olive oil if in a pinch.
I make kefir and kombucha, buttermilk and did make yogurt till my culture died.
We eat whole grains and mostly natural sweeteners. I do drink 1 cup organic coffee with creamer and iced tea. I have allowed more sugar to creep in our diet, but plan to cut it down majorly this week.
Thank you for the question, Jessica. It sounds like you have your hands full, so I am keeping that in mind with any advice I give. 🙂 I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me, and other resources. I am, by no means, an expert in this area, so consider this advice as from one mom to another. And I should add that many people do find it helpful to go to a skilled naturopath . But ones that aren’t on the opposite side of the health food debate are hard to find, and some can cause as much harm as good. So I only recommend that route if you are able to find one that is truly skilled, experienced, and on the same page as you in regard to what’s healthy food and what’s not.
Consider What Wonderful Things Your Body has Done
Having said that, as I have thought about what you shared, I have realized that your body has done a lot with all of the close pregnancies and caring for your little ones. I haven’t had as many children as you, but our first, Faith Felicity (who passed away at two months) and Elena were very close pregnancies. I got pregnant with Elena three months after Faith was born.
I know from experience that when you get pregnant so close after giving birth, you haven’t even had time for your body to get “back to normal”. This gives you unique things to consider. For example, it could be possible that you are having a hard time with weight because it is your body’s way of handling all of the “stress” of pregnancies. I have friends who naturally carry more weight when they are nursing and it seems that their bodies do that to insure they can “keep up”. I don’t know if you are nursing or not, but just the close pregnancies alone could be a possible reason your body is holding on to weight. If this is the case, don’t let it discourage you. You can still lose weight, you just may need to give yourself a little grace if it doesn’t happen as fast you would like.
Consider Your Nutritional Needs
The other thought I had was that any “dieting” you try must be done very carefully. Your body has been doing some wonderful yet hard things by growing and nurturing babies. It’s no easy task and it takes a huge effort. Pregnancies, especially close ones, can deplete you of essential nutrients. For example, I made sure I ate a lot of iron rich food with my second pregnancy, because I knew that a mother with close pregnancies could more easily become anemic. So there may be certain food items you may especially want to eat to replenish you body’s supply. By the way, it’s great that you already do so many nourishing food practices! I think you are on the right track.
Another thing to consider, if you are breastfeeding, is not making extreme changes to your diet all at once, because it could cause you to detox and those toxins will go through your breast milk to your baby.
Concentrate On Nutrient Rich Food
My advice to you would be to concentrate on getting the most nutrition you can (especially concentrating on food that contains nutrients that may have been used up while pregnant), without wasting calories on nutritionally inferior food. You can check out the Weston Price Foundation and read scores of articles on some of the most healthy food to eat. Here is a link, from there with some very simple, but very important things to include in your diet as a pregnant/nursing mom. I should add that many people have found that eating a balanced “Nourishing Traditions Style” diet has been very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. So don’t worry about having to choose between eating nutrient high food, and losing weight.
But if you really want to get serious help in this area, I would read Eat Fat, Lose Fat, by Sally Fallon, and Mary Enig. This book will help you find balance in getting a high amount of nutrient rich food, and lose weight at the same time. I was able to get a copy at the library (I have actually gotten it there several times, and plan on buying it).
But here are a few more tips to consider.
Avoid sugar forming food as much as possible
This is the biggest down fall for most of us. Like you mentioned, sugar (or other sweeteners) is easy to sneak into our diets. While it doesn’t add a whole lot of nutrients it does add a lot of calories. Beyond just sweet things, avoiding excessivecarbs is also very important. We do need carbs and I am not advocating an entire meat and veggies diet. But moderation is key. Along these same lines, try to eat in a way that keeps your blood sugar even. I do this just because it helps me feel better! But keeping a level blood sugar helps us stay full longer (and eat less). It’s also a very healthy practice and has other benefits as well. I find eating adequate amounts of healthy fat helps my blood sugar stay even. Eat Fat, Lose Fat, can give further encouragement in this area.
Watch out for Nuts and Olive Oil
These are nutrient rich foods, but they are very fattening. Seek moderation and add other healthy fats in (like you already do). As you already know, coconut oil is one of the best fats for weight loss.
And I mean a lot! Filling up on healthy vegetables paired with healthy fats and protein, is a very satisfying way to get a lot of nutrition and and still lose weight. The more veggies the better. Just try to improve in this area, and fill up on a lot of veggies served with healthy fats, and weight loss should follow!
Involve your Kids in Your Exercise program
You have responsibilities with your kids that make exercise hard to fit in. Others have made it possible to have a husband or friend watch their little ones while they work out at the gym. I personally, so far, have found it easier to do if I involve Elena. My solution has been taking long walks, pushing her in a stroller. She loves it, I get my heart rate up, and it’s a cheap and easy way to get exercise and fresh air. This may be more tricky with so many little ones, though there are options with the many strollers out there. Exercise videos would be another option. My only caution is exercise until it gives you better energy through the day, but don’t tire yourself out with it. You need all the energy you can get to keep up with your kiddos!
Stress will make your body hold on to weight, so relax! Try to have a 20 minute break every day where you are able to relax and do something you enjoy. That may be quite difficult with all your little ones, but it really does help reduce stress.
While there are certainly other tips we could talk about, I think that those are some of the most important ones (at least for me). All of us are a little different- we have different needs and sensitivities. You may have to experiment a little to find what works best for you, so don’t get discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t give the results you want.
What I personally love about the Nourishing Traditions and Eat Fat, Lose Fat books is that they focus on regaining health, as well as losing weight. So as you concentrate on cooking nutrient rich food, you are also serving your family by giving them what they need to be healthy, while improving your own weight.
Does anyone else want to share with Jessica what has been helpful to you? I know that she would appreciate your feedback!
Disclaimer: This is just one mom’s advice to another. Always carefully consider any advice, and consult your health provider. Thanks!