Post Pregnancy Hypothyroidism Weight Loss Journey: Before & After Photos!

I never, ever imagined that the day would come where I would be sitting here to share with you my weight loss journey…. Mainly because I never thought I would actually lose the weight in the first place! 😅 I’ve been battling steady weight gain since my thyroid became underactive in my early 20’s. Prior to that, I was always what society would refer to as “skinny” (believe me I had a million other “flaws” to make up for it! 😂). I was doing my Kundalini Yoga everyday, had a six-pack, and felt very comfortable in my body. Of course, I still doubted myself because as a skinny, petite woman of 5ft tall, I always felt that my breasts weren’t big enough because I’ve always been well endowed in the butt region (even at 95 pounds!), but my breasts were always on the small side. No matter what we have, we always manage to find flaws and criticize ourselves! The one aspect of my body shape that I always appreciated is that I have an hourglass figure, meaning my waist goes in and my measurements are proportionate to exemplify the female form while still being shapely and curvey. After pregnancy, I lost any form of hourglass figure I once had, even when I was at my heaviest before the conception of my son. I really, truly had lost hope of ever getting back into shape and of feeling good about myself in any real way.

This is why I wanted to share my journey with you, in the hopes that I can inspire you to never give up on yourself, wherever you may be in your weight loss journey!

Weight Loss Journey

All of this is to preface that I slowly started packing on the pounds after my hypothyroidism diagnosis at the age of 23. Every doctor I saw swore that as long as I was taking my medication and that my numbers looked good according to my blood work, my weight gain was not associated with my thyroid issues. I complained that despite being on medication, I was still chronically tired and had a whole host of other hypothyroid symptoms. Long story short, no one, and I mean NO ONE listened to me in the medical field and I was on my own. This is when I became really interested in studying nutrition while I was in grad school attaining my masters degree in counseling. I read dozens upon dozens of books on nutrition, diets for hypothyroidism, the Tone it Up nutrition plan, vegan diets, paleo, keto diets, intermittent fasting, eating small portions throughout the day, etc. I essentially went to bed hungry almost every single day for nearly a decade and STILL gained weight steadily.

This is when I upped my exercise game. I knew Kundalini Yoga was great for my muscles, my chronic back pain, and for my soul on a spiritual level, but I needed cardio to actually lose weight. I did tons and tons of walking throughout the day going from my full time job to my internship to my grad school campus, which was huge, and I had to walk everywhere all day long. I purchased fitness trackers to track my steps and I was walking miles a day every single day. I parked the car as far away as possible, always took the stairs in buildings (while carrying books and bags that weighed a ton). I added cardio ON TOP of all of these little efforts and never, ever did I lose a single pound. In fact, certain forms of cardio, particularly high intensity, HIIT, running/jogging, etc. actually made me gain MORE weight.

I remember trying P90X, a program that both men and women swore by, and by the 6th week, i was up 10 pounds and couldn’t even zip up my boots over my inflated calf muscles from all of the water weight my body was clinging to for dear life. Running did the same exact thing to me. The Tone it UP workout series failed me, as well, and this is what i was doing in an effort to look as good as possible for my wedding in 2013. I never did actually lose any weight for that damn wedding… I remember how sore my calf muscles were throughout my ENTIRE honeymoon week because I did a jog the day before my wedding. I was ALWAYS sore from exercising and never saw any results from any of it. To say that I was frustrated doesn’t even convey the heart of it.

Certain forms of workouts that incorporate Fusion style cardio were my groove, so this is when I found Ellen Barrett & Jessica Smith workouts, which I highly recommend for the variety they offer and their overall positive demeaners: they’re both such beautiful women inside and out! However, doing their workouts never made me actually lose weight. They did, however, help to reshape my body so that the weight that I had was evenly distributed, tighter, and went to the “right places” (my breasts and butt as well as my stomach, face, arms, and legs). One of the most frustrating aspects of gaining weight for me is that I gain weight EVERYWHERE, so the second I gain 5 pounds, you can immediately see it in my face: my face gets rounder, my double chin gets more apparent. Others can gain a ton of weight in their stomachs or thighs/butt but still maintain a very thin face and just carry their weight a lot better than I ever could.

I started reading a lot about metabolism in women. One of the most frustrating aspects of men is that  that a lot of them will never admit that hormones play a role in how we hold onto our weight, gain weight, and lose weight. Women’s bodies fluctuate every single week of every month of the year to prepare our bodies for menstruation. That’s not even taking into account aging, pregnancy, post pregnancy, perimenopause, & menopause. You’ll always see memes with jokes about how a married couple goes on a diet together and the husband immediately sheds 30 pounds while the wife sheds maybe 10 and then just stagnates while the husband continues to lose more and more and more while they’re both making the SAME EXACT diet and lifestyle changes. It is in fact EASIER for men to lose weight than women, hands down. But, I don’t mean to say this to discourage you… It’s definitely harder for us (you’re not crazy for feeling that way), but it’s not impossible!

I read two books (Ellen Barrett’s 28 Days Lighter book & Alissa Viti’s WomanCode) that spoke about how for women, in particular, it’s incredibly important for us to tune into our bodies to listen to what our bodies need at the time. For the most part, women do really well with moderate cardio with short bursts of higher intensity here and here (on some days more than others, during some weeks more than others). Super high intensity cardio will not yield a better result for most women. I made the same mistake myself. I thought if I jumped into a running plan or the P90X program with full force, I would see dramatic results because of how much I was killing myself. When, in fact, the opposite happened! My body basically went into fight or flight mode, my cortisol (the stress hormone) levels were skyrocketing, and when this happens, metabolism slows down to a screeching halt, we hold onto weight, and we feel crappier than ever before. And HUNGRIER.

This is when the psychological aspect of eating comes into play. We feel super tired after a high intensity workout, our body thinks we just ran away from a predator & escaped within an inch of our lives, all of our internal energy is pushed towards staying and recovering from fight or flight mode, so metabolism is at a complete standstill, and we’re super hungry. We know we need to eat, but we have to keep it low carb, right? Protein smoothie just isn’t cutting it, though… Let’s have an apple and 6 almonds. This is when I would start to resent food and people who could literally eat whatever they wanted and stay super thin! To top it all off, I was a wellness coach with all of this immense knowledge on nutrition, diet, & lifetsyle, yet I was chubby! I watched most of what I ate and exercised 6 days a week while maintaining 60 hours a week of work on top of grad school and yet, I was still chubby! It killed me, it really did.. It just felt so unfair. So, of course, clients looked at me and thought to themselves, “well…can I really trust what she’s saying?”. Of course, I’ll never know what they thought and then my career came to a complete halt when I became pregnant with my son in 2016.

Pregnancy

Oh, yeah, I was big…. I was not one of those pregnant, beautiful beyond words, glowing from within type of women. Nope. Not me….😜

Doctors told me it would be difficult for me to get pregnant due to my hypothyroidism…  At this point, I was the heaviest I had ever been. My starting weight prior to hypothyroidism at the age of 22 when I was regularly working out and had gained muscle, was 105 pounds. Remember, I’m only 5ft tall, so 105 pounds is actually the ideal weight for my height or is within the ideal weight range of 100-125 pounds for a woman of 5ft. (the rule of thumb for weight is 5ft is 100 pounds and then you add an extra 5 pounds for each inch of height that you are to get to your “ideal weight”, which usually has a range of about 25 pounds depending on bone size). At this point, I weighed 146 pounds. I had gained a total of 41 pounds over the course of about 8 years of dieting and exercising regularly. I can’t even imagine what I would have been had I not been exercising and eating right.

Well, to my complete and utter surprise, Gavin was conceived after the first attempt, which I never expected at the time! A week after Gavin’s conception, my breasts were tender, swollen, and twice their usual size (amazingly, they NEVER went back down! Who knew?!). My pregnancy was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever endured physically and psychologically. I was horribly nauseous for the majority of the pregnancy, I had a hematoma in my uterus that hemorrhaged at 8 weeks and was placed on bed rest for 2 months… I then had SPD that started at 15 weeks, which meant that it felt like I was being stabbed in my pelvic bones every time I walked or moved..at all. I couldn’t eat, walk, sleep, or move in any way without being uncomfortable and in immense pain. i became the least active I had ever been in my entire life due to this. I tried doing prenatal yoga (ie: the most BORING workouts imaginable), but I just became so depressed, I never stuck with it and my doctor was useless with helping me address any of the issues that came up along the way. I lost some weight during the first trimester, probably from my metabolism speeding up during pregnancy, and the fact that I hardly ate anything without throwing it up right after. I didn’t start gaining weight until the 20th week or so. By the end of my pregnancy, I had PUPPS (a rash that forms inside stretch marks that itches like you would never believe and only goes away after the birth of the child), I had developed pre-ecclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) and was induced at 36.5 weeks. I was in full labor for 26 hours before the doctor broke my water, discovered that my son had a prolapsed umbilical cord, and immediately rushed me in for an emergency c-section (with his hand still inside of me to hold onto my son’s cord so that his weight wouldn’t press up against it and cut off his oxygen). This was my worst nightmare….the nightmare that I hoped with everything I had in me I would never have to endure. But, alas, it was my lot in life to have a difficult pregnancy, a brutal, long labor, and a traumatic birth experience 🤔. All in all, it ended in my precious baby boy, alive and in the NICU. But, that’s another story altogether. We’re here to talk about weight today…

Me on 11/2/16 Induction Day

At my last checkup the day before I was induced, I weighed 169 pounds (my starting weight at my first appointment was 144), so I had gained a total of 25 pounds. Not bad, right?? Well, when I left the hospital after having given birth to my tiny son, I left weighing 166 pounds… I now weighed the most I had ever weighed in my life, a grand total of 61 pounds heavier than my “ideal weight”. I literally looked as though I still had a baby inside of me! My feet were so swollen from the c-section that I couldn’t fit into any of my shoes. ANY OF THEM. My feet actually jiggled when I moved! So, now I started thinking, if I wasn’t able to lose the weight before, how could I possibly lose the weight now? To keep another long story short, my son was born without the ability to open his eyes and we spent the first few months of his life taking him to eye specialists and doctor appointments to prevent him from becoming fully blind. My efforts to lose weight were not a priority for me. After my son’s first eye surgery at 3 months old, I started trying to see different endocrinologists to help stabilize my hormones and get me back on track. I was taking more thyroid medication than ever before in order to maintain these “normal numbers” in my blood work, despite feeling awful physically. My son was born in November of 2016. By April of 2017, I was down to 155 and was hovering there.

This is my BEFORE photo taken June 2017

My weight was 155

I literally never thought my actual ab muscles would ever go back in! At this point, I had been exercising regularly again for months, was put on diet pills prescribed by my psychotic endocrinologist who refused to listen to me about my symptoms, but was happy to prescribe an amphetamine! 🤦‍♀️ All that did was make me incredibly anxious and agitated beyond recognition. It was supposed to give me “energy” to exercise and be active, while suppressing my appetite so that I would eat “less”. I wasn’t eating a lot to begin with, but no one ever believes that when you say it and are overweight. I had a newborn with special needs, the last thing I was doing was binge eating or excessively eating anything! I was lucky to get two solid meals in a day and yes, we can go into the “I put my body into starvation mode” argument, which means when we eat too little, our bodies think we’re literally starving, and it slows down our metabolisms to hold onto any excess weight in an effort to keep us alive until we can regain access to food. The body is incredibly smart! Anyways, I quickly tossed the pills that made me bat shit crazy with my anxiety at record highs. 👍

What it Takes to Lose Weight

It’s a simple equation right? What comes in must be less than what goes out in order to lose weight. So, if the average person needs about 2,000 calories a day to MAINTAIN his or her weight, a person who wants to LOSE weight needs to reduce their caloric intake in order to achieve a caloric deficit that leads to weight loss. it takes 3500 excess calories to gain ONE pound of weight. To steadily lose weight of 1 or 2 pounds a week, a person has to reduce 500-1000 calories a day. This can be done through diet and/or exercise. The exercise that makes a person lose the most weight is cardio because cardio burns the most calories. INTENSE cardio, like I mentioned previously, may look good in theory, but in actuality has the opposite effect for me and many other women. Particularly women with hormonal imbalances, which is pretty much every single woman post pregnancy. So, MODERATE cardio is your sweet spot to effectively burn additional calories to get you in that caloric deficit that you need in order to shed pounds. It’s incredibly HARD to lose weight. It seems so simple when it’s broken down. Calories in vs calories out, add in exercise and BAM, why isn’t everyone in America able to effectively lose weight if it’s so damn simple? Well, because it’s really not that simple. Weight and weight loss is so multifaceted and there is simply NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL for anyone no matter what is being sold to you! This blog post is simply my journey and what I found that worked for me after nearly a decade of NO RESULTS WHATSOEVER!

Yoga is simply not enough….

This painful realization saddened me to no avail… Even Kundalini Yoga, which is technically more cardio than traditional yoga, and is purported to burn up to 600 calories an hour (which, I’m sorry, is a bunch of BULL), is just not enough to lose excess weight that’s lingering. Yoga is phenomenal for re-shaping the body and pulling everything in to make our bodies tighter and stronger, but the actual fat cells aren’t shrinking… I wanted to add this in because I see a lot of Yogis make this mistake because I made this mistake time and time again. I hear a lot of yogis say “it’s muscle I’ve gained” after they’ve gained 30-40 pounds. That’s not muscle…..Muscle doesn’t jiggle! Some of it is muscle, I’m sure, but there’s still fat that needs to be addressed because excess fat is not just about asthetics and fulfilling this unrealistic “model body type” that’s deemed acceptable by the media. Excess weight is incredibly unhealthy in a myriad of ways. It’s not just unhealthy physically, but psychologically, as well as on many different levels. I’m not advocating that you strive to lose weight to fulfill some unrealistic notion of bodily perfection on a surface level. I’m advocating that you try to lose weight because you’ll FEEL SO MUCH BETTER and you’ll be literally keeping your heart, lungs, brain, and soul happy & in a balanced state. Balance is always what we want to achieve. The goal is not to be SKINNY, it’s to be HEALTHY. 

Cardio

I knew I had to up my cardio game, which is something that wasn’t easy at all for me because I had no energy to begin with and I absolutely loathed cardio. In an effort to try something i might actually enjoy, I started doing CIZE, which is a workout series with Shaun T., the creator of the well-known INSANITY workout series. CIZE is a dance-inspired workout program that is supposed to actually teach real choreographed dance moves and burn major calories at the same time. Although, I didn’t enjoy the music at all or most of the dance moves (I’m not a hip hop, pop, kinda gal….I’m a progressive rock/alternative kinda gal). I stuck with it and did the full 4 or 5 week program. I even bought special shoes for these workouts because all that jumping around KILLED MY KNEES. I actually injured my one knee and had to stop working out to let it heal for a while. CIZE taught me a few things…  Even though I knew I would never stick with it long term because it just wasn’t for me in terms of the overall style, it did however teach me that I actually LOVE dancing! Now this was a total shock to me because I’ve always been one of those shy, introverted people that hated going to clubs and being expected to dance in front of other people. It just made me so uncomfortable that I associated dancing with negative emotions, when in actuality, I really, truly enjoy dancing, as long as no one else is in the room! 😊 When I finished the final CIZE workout with the SIA song Chandelier, I was literally in tears from all of the welled up emotion that was stifled inside of me. Finishing that choreographed dance sequence (it was also the longest and hardest of all of the workouts that you lead up to throughout the course) brought all of my emotions to the surface and allowed me to deal with them in a constructive way. It was an outlet I didn’t even realize was available to me. CIZE also taught me that incorporating moderate cardio 6 days a week for about 45 minutes a day WILL LEAD TO WEIGHT LOSS. 

What is moderate cardio? For me, I define moderate cardio as cardio that induces sweat and keeps my heart rate up throughout most of the workout. I can still talk in full sentences, although, I probably would prefer not to talk at all to reserve my energy to carry out the workout. It’s basically ENOUGH without being TOO MUCH. And what that sweet spot is for me may vary for you, depending on where you are in your physical journey and what’s going on internally for you.

This is me in August of 2017

There was definite improvement, overall. My waist was pulled in further, my waist slimmed down by a couple of inches, but I still had a long way to go before I felt confident or in any way, healthy. I was still struggling to fit into all of my old clothes (the clothes for my “biggest” self prior to pregnancy).

(Note*** I also started taking T3 as well as T4 for my daily thyroid medication as of August 2017 after reading up on REVERSE T3 & sick euthryoid syndrome, which greatly affects metabolism in hypothyroid patients)

BELLYFIT

My mom is really into exercising and I actually come from a small family and each person loves exercising in their own way. This is why I strongly advocate that finding a form of workout that truly resonates with you that you actually love and enjoy doing is KEY to long term success. We only stick to things that we connect to on a genuine level. Seeing results is great, but a lot of people manage to lose a ton of weight only to gain it right back simply because they didn’t lose weight by making long-term lifestyle changes that they would be willing to carry out through the thick and thin (no pun intended!). We have to love what we do because life gets tough…. It really does and the last thing we need is another fad diet or workout routine that makes it feel like more of something negative in our lives.

So, my mom is in a forum on videofitness.com where women talk about new workouts or workouts that they’re currently loving, etc. She told me she read about Bellyfit, this workout program designed specifically for women that incorporates 30 minutes of sweat-inducing cardio with 15 minutes of core, strength, and stretching. The 30 minutes of cardio is a truly unique combination of tribal dance, yoga, flowing movements, belly dancing, affirmations, and traditional cardio moves here and there. What I LOVED instantly about Bellyfit is that it was the first kind of moderate, sweat inducing cardio that actually incorporated the mindfulness, spiritual, and uplifting elements of Kundalini Yoga that I’d been missing for so long every time I would try to do less yoga in order to do more cardio. Bellyfit was truly the best of both worlds! And….IT WORKED! Not only did it work just as well as CIZE in terms of results, it worked without causing any injuries or stress to my knees or ankles/joints. BEST OF ALL: I was NEVER SORE! It was unbelievable to me that I could be working out 6 days a week and NEVER be sore. This was a huge issue for me in the past. Whenever I would do my Ellen Barrett or Jessica Smith workouts, I would literally be sore every single day of my life. I thought it was normal! No pain, no gain, right? WRONG. And I’m not saying that I’m not still doing Jessica Smith & Ellen Barrett workouts because I do, now that I’ve reached my goal weight. I just do them here and there in between my Bellyfit days and because Bellyfit has helped my body in so many ways beyond the physical exterior, I get much less sore when I do other forms of workouts.

I recently purchased the pre-sale of the new Season 2 Bellyfit series and part of the pre-sale package was a 15 minute conferance call with the founder and creator of Bellyfit: Alice. My conference call ended up going past the 15 minutes because we just couldn’t stop talking! Alice is everything that I imagined her to be: sweet, warm, genuine, knowledgable, and just a breath of fresh air! She was amazed at my success story and after our call ended, she later asked if I would be open to doing a testimonial for her website. Bellyfit doesn’t promote WEIGHT LOSS like other workout programs do because their emphasis is on finding health and balance within the exquisite female form. And, well, that simply doesn’t sell as well as weight loss marketing tools. For me, weight loss isn’t about looking good (although looking and feeling good about ourselves is always a bonus!). Weight loss is about arriving at our optimal level of health and overall wellness. Our bodies were designed to move and we are the least active we’ve ever been due to our sedentary lifestyles. Our soil is completely depleted of nutrients due to GMOS, global warming, pesticides, etc that were once there to fuel our bodies with sustainable, living food, which means that we have to now work even harder at giving our bodies what they need to stay in balance. The food we have today is simply not the same as the food we had a few decades ago. That’s a whole other topic, as well, but it’s important to note, nonetheless.

Symptoms are an external manifestation of an internal imbalance. Wight gain is just one major symptom.

I went from a size 14 to a size 4-6 and have reached my new ideal weight of about 120 pounds. I’m still within the range for a woman of 5 ft tall (105-125) and I could probably lose a few more pounds if I wanted to be SUPER LEAN and fully clean up my diet, while also exercise 6 days a week on a regular basis, not just in the weight loss effort. I also wanted to note that I made no changes to my diet whatsoever throughout this journey, which is why I’m mainly focusing on my exercise routine. I can go into detail of what my diet consists of and what my philosophy is in another post if you’re interested!

Of course, there are major differences between my body before I was pregnant and at my ideal weight and my post-pregnant body now. As I said before, my breasts are now a D cup (they started as an A cup in my early 20s, moved to a C cup as I gained weight, went into DD at my highest weight, and now leveled out at a D even though I lost so much weight). It’s truly beyond me! My waist and hips are also a bit bigger and are more “womanly” rather than youthful. For the longest time, I could never understand why there was a section for Teen/Young Adult clothing and a Woman’s section. It hadn’t dawned on me that not only do our bodies change, our actual bones re-shape and a 32 year old woman who’s had a baby simply will never have the same overall form as a 21 year old girl. The most important thing to me (on a physical, surface level, of course) was that my measurements were proportionate. So, my hourglass figure that I appreciated way back in the day is back in full force with bigger breasts and bigger hips with one very round, shapely, muscular butt! I actually think my body post-baby is more beautiful in certain ways than my super skinny, body of my youth. I think I’ve also come to appreciate it more for all that it’s underwent and has done for me. I could fixate on all of my flaws until the cows come home, but rather than do that, I’m choosing to be grateful for the gains I’ve made and for following through on ANY exercise regimen. I’m incredibly lucky to have found Bellyfit because it’s a form of workout that I deeply love and enjoy doing. It keeps my chronic back pain at bay, it keeps me centered, and addresses my debilitating levels of anxiety by giving me an outlet to literally sweat out all of my fears and feelings of despair.

Since starting Bellyfit, I’ve purchased all of her workout downloads as well as one DVD set of her ELEMENTS series. My absolute favorite series is the EMBODIED GODDESS program that goes through all of the chakras and each workout has a different focus. i achieved most of my results from alternating the workouts from the Embodied Goddess series, so if you’re tight on cash and want to just start with one series, that would be my suggestion. Plus, it will give you an overall feel for the program and what it has to offer, as well as what sets it apart from every other workout series that’s out there. I’m in no way affiliated with Bellyfit! This is the YouTube video clips of the embodied goddess program: HERE

After Photos: November 2018

I’m wearing the same shirt as in my BEFORE photo and it’s now too big on me! So, these photos don’t show all of the details of the how I can see definition in all of my abs now. The pooch above my C-section scar that I thought would never go away has minimized drastically to almost an indiscernible amount, unless I’m looking for it. My waist isn’t the 24 inches it used to be, but I’m happy with the way it is at 26 inches now.

My 21 year old measurements: 34, 24, 34 Size 0-2

My initial post pregnancy measurements: 40, 31, 40 size 14

My current measurements: 38, 26, 38 size 4-6

There’s always room for improvement and for inner growth on a spiritual level. Opening ourselves to new things is at the heart of finding our way to where we need to be. I hope sharing my journey with you inspires you to persevere, to keep moving forward, and to find your way to the healthiest version of yourself!

Love & Light,

Julie

 

***This post is NOT SPONSORED or affiliated in ANY WAY. All opinions and experiences are genuine and are my own.***

 

 

 

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