Ep. 197: Postpartum Body Confidence

By: Cassy Joy
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On today's episode, I'm talking with listener Katie about navigating postpartum body confidence.

We're back with our 197th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 197 Sponsors and Featured Partners

  • Nutritional Therapy Association – The NTA trains and certifies Nutritional Therapy Practitioners and Consultants with a nutritional foundation that emphasizes the body’s innate intelligence and bio-individuality, because they know that a “one size fits all” approach to nutrition does not exist.  Head HERE to learn more about becoming a NTP/NTC through this incredible program!

Episode 197 transcript

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And today we’re back. It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, but this was a really wonderful opportunity to chat with a lovely listener and reader.

I would love to introduce you to Katie. She hails from Indianapolis; I almost said Minneapolis.

Katie: Indianapolis.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Indianapolis. And we’re going to do a reverse interview. So the way that these interviews work is Katie has written in with a wonderful question, or set of questions, and instead of politely answering her via email, {laughs} I asked her if she would come on the podcast and we could have a conversation because I really think that what we might talk about today would resonate with a lot of folks. So welcome to the show, Katie.

Katie: Thank you for having me! I’m so excited to be here.

Cassy Joy: Thank you so much for making the time to come on. I know you’ve got a lot going on right now. So we will cut into it. Do you mind sharing a little bit more about yourself with all of our listeners? And then we can get into the discussion and maybe some questions you’ve got.

Katie: Sure. I’m a 34-year-old first time mom. I have a son named Clay who is about 10.5-months old. I live in Indianapolis with my husband of 2.5 years, Chris. And our two dogs; our two puppy children. I worked for Target Headquarters up in Minneapolis for about 7 years out of college, and I moved back to Indi, where I’m from, to work for a small digital marketing start up for the last four to five years. And after having my baby, I transitioned to working part time.

And I definitely wrote in with a question that I thought could, like you said, resonate with some of your other listeners. But after having my baby, essentially I’m struggling with what I think is a weight loss plateau. But along with that, some body image and confidence issues. I do definitely want to start with this is not the world’s biggest problem. And I totally recognize that. I feel beyond blessed in my life. But this has been kind of a mental struggle for me. Being tired postpartum, period.

I know a lot of people are dealing with a lot more serious things going on, or possibly even infertility, or other issues like that. So I don’t want to downplay any of those with nutrition or weight loss conversation. But it’s definitely been something that I’ve struggled mentally with that I wanted to reach out and see if you had any advice on.

Cassy Joy: I’m glad you reached out. And I’m glad you kind of started the conversation by addressing that. Because I think that folks who are blessed with healthy babies, healthy pregnancies, it’s an incredible blessing. And that also doesn’t make your experiences less than. Or less worthy than. In whatever state you're in. So I think that’s really wonderful, and I’m glad that we are having this conversation.

Tell me a little bit more about yourself, your pregnancy, your journey in the last 10 months. Are you still breastfeeding? Or if not, did you? Just kind of some of those things that might play into our conversation.

Katie: Yeah. So I was very lucky with my pregnancy in terms of; it was a very healthy pregnancy. I was able to stay active. I didn’t experience too much morning sickness or all day sickness that some people do. But I did gain about 45 pounds. I think my body; I didn’t change how I ate too drastically I definitely allowed myself more bread and grains than I normally do.

I did a Whole30 about 5 or 6 years ago, and since then have eaten kind of paleo-ish since then. So I feel like I made healthy choices during my pregnancy and my body carried a lot of fluid. I had a bigger baby, that did come about 3.5 weeks early. He was impatient, just like his mother. And so we did have some feeding issues to start. He just didn’t transfer enough.

So I nursed and pumped for the first two months, and then I moved to exclusively pumping until about 7 months postpartum, when I weaned.

Cassy Joy: Perfect. Ok, super helpful. And before baby, and before that last Whole30, what was your journey with health and wellness like?

Katie: I’ve always been pretty active. I grew up playing volleyball. I played varsity volleyball in high school, and remained active. I really do love working out; it’s not a burden to me. So I try to do some resistance training, some cardio. Kind of a mix in there.

But I would say my food choices didn’t necessarily get better until that Whole30. I definitely lost a lot of weight with that first Whole30. I always felt like growing up I was little overweight. Nothing drastic, but chubby enough to feel a little self-conscious about it compared to a lot of my friends. And with the Whole30, I lost at least 15 or 20 pounds. And it felt almost; not effortless, because you do have to be pretty disciplined. But I felt like I was fueling my body with really good food, and making healthy choices. And I was able to maintain the majority of that weight loss up until my husband and I started trying for a baby, and I went off birth control.

I had kind of an opposite experience of what I think some people do when they get off birth control. I feel like some people lose weight, where I immediately gained like 10 or 15 pounds while we were trying to get pregnant.

So I do feel like based on my past, I have been very self-conscious. I did gain a lot of confidence when I lost a lot of weight. And so I know that’s part of the reason I’ve had some more mental struggles with the weight postpartum.

Cassy Joy: That makes a lot of sense. Ok, I’m absorbing all of this. And walk me through what usually the foods that wind up on your plate today. And some of your wellness activities. Whether it’s personal care or fitness.

Katie: Yeah, so in terms of a typical day. I did do a period after I weaned of trying intermittent fasting. And have recently stopped that. I think it was stressing out my body a little bit too much. So I have been having a smoothie in the morning. Which I feel like almost a whole new person now that I’m eating breakfast again. I’ve always been a breakfast eater. So I’ve been doing a smoothie with some Vital Proteins collagen, and some grains, and some healthy fats.

But usually I might have eggs with some veggies. Always usually half of an avocado to go along with that. For lunch, I try to have a big salad. A lot of roasted veggies. Especially in Indi, in the winter, I want those warm comfort meals.

And then my husband is a physician, so for dinner and with our baby, trying to make things easy, so I’ve been trying to do meals in the Instant Pot, either from a Whole30 cookbook, from your blog. I make your squeaky clean chicken and roasted veggies all the time. It’s a big hit in the house.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Good.

Katie: So, yeah. Try to get a lot of veggies in. Plenty of healthy fat. And then from a fitness perspective; I try to do probably three or four bike rides on the Peloton a week. So try to get some cardio in. And then probably in the last 2-ish months, I’ve been trying to do more resistance training and less HITT workouts. I did a lot of HITT at home workouts just because I could do them at home. And now I’m getting more into the flow of going to the gym and doing more weights.

Cassy Joy: Ok. That’s really good to know. So how many rest days would you say you’re really getting a week?

Katie: I do struggle with rest days in terms of taking them. But I’ve been really making a point to do at least one a week. Usually on Sunday or Monday.

Cassy Joy: Ok. And what is sleep looking like right now?

Katie: Sleep, I feel very blessed. We’ve had a good sleeper on our hands.

Cassy Joy: Oh, good!

Katie: So Clay, my son has slept through the night for a while now. I can’t say that I don’t have that; I wake up a lot, still, even if he’s not awake. I don’t know if that’s just from those first couple of months of waking up with him. Usually I do have to take melatonin. I also think the hormonal changes from weaning; I think those are passed, but I really struggled when I weaned with sleep. I was taking either Unisom or melatonin. But now I’m probably taking melatonin twice a week. But we try to get in bed around by 9:30-10, and I usually get up around 5:45 or 6.

Cassy Joy: OK. So about 8 hours of rest.

Katie: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Ok wonderful. And where are you at on water intake? Is it something you think you do really well with? Or something that could improve upon?

Katie: I think I do pretty well with water. I have tried a few times to get up to that gallon mark, and I struggle getting that much water. But I think I drink probably more water than an average person.

Cassy Joy: Ok perfect. My nutritional perspective is; a gallon is too much.

Katie: OK, that’s good. {laughs} Because I really struggle with that.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. No, I think that’s too much. I think you wind up actually flushing and diluting, and not a great way. Unless you’re a 250-pound man lifting a lot of weights and working outside in the summer. {laughs} Then maybe that amount of water makes sense. I usually go by; it’s a really rough starting point, but you take your weight in pounds, divide by 2, and then that’s how many ounces of water to start with in a day. So let’s say hypothetically you're 160 pounds, divide that by two, that would be 80 ounces of water a day.

Katie: Ok. So I think I get at least that.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, that’s wonderful. I just wanted to ask. Because if you were like; oh, nope. I know I’m chronically dehydrated. Then that would be a totally different working point. Ok, wonderful, and then just two more questions for you. How are you doing on caffeine and alcohol?

Katie: Great question. {laughs} I definitely drink caffeine. I have two to three cups of coffee in the morning. I try to stick to two, but sometimes, you know, you need a little extra.

Cassy Joy: I hear you. I had three today! {laughs}

Katie: Yeah. Sometimes it’s a three-coffee day. And in terms of alcohol; I did do a January Whole30, so I was very strict with myself with the alcohol. So no alcohol there. Since then, I probably have on Friday or Saturday a drink or two.

Cassy Joy: Ok. But not like 3 glasses of wine a not.

Katie: No, no.

Cassy Joy: Which, I’m not judging people who do. I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row. Ok, this is so interesting. And this is kind of a; I really wanted to bring you on the podcast because, and I think you may have said this in your note. But we are in very similar seasons of life. You know, Grayson is 13 months now, so we’re three months ahead of you. We were not sleeping {laughs} until she was 11 months old.

Katie: Oh, that’s a long time.

Cassy Joy: That’s a long time. And so I guess my conversation from here out, for folks listening. The intention of this is not to be prescriptive, but more just kind of talk around it. Talk about my personal experiences. And then of course I have my informed bias based on what I know about the body and things like that. But, not necessarily meant to be official or prescriptive.

So. I think this is really fascinating. And I’m going to say a lot of stuff, Katie, that I’m sure you already know.

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Cassy Joy: I’m going to say a lot of stuff, Katie, that I’m sure you already know. And I’m sure you're going to be very well versed. You're going to nod your head, and you're going to say, I know that I know that I know that. But sometimes, it really helps; especially in this season, to have somebody else say it. There’s something about it.

Katie: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: I was actually chatting with my team; we just went to lunch. And I was asking if they had heard of Logo therapy. Have you heard of Logo therapy, Katie?

Katie: Logo therapy?

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Katie: No, I have not.

Cassy Joy: It’s not out there a whole lot, but it’s pretty interesting and it’s worth looking into. And I’m going to butcher it if I try to describe it. Because I essentially just took the 2% of takeaways that I found relevant, and that’s what I think of when I think about it.

Katie: That’s ok.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. But it’s having something that you identify with that is outside of your body, outside of your head. It’s another person. It’s a thing. It’s a symbol. It’s something that represents you in a way. And ideally a healthy you. A healthy kind of, gosh, a goal. It represents a goal that you might be achieving. A balance. A perspective that you really value. A part of yourself that you think; gosh. When I am my healthiest, I feel like this thing represents me well.

So from a business perspective, and Logo therapy-wise, I think there are certain business owners out there that in a lot of ways I identify with. I know my personality is very similar to some of these business owners, and it’s helpful watching how they talk about their business and how they go through the ups and the downs. Because our personalities are very similar. I say the good stuff and the bad stuff. {laughs} And I see how they persevere through those things. And it’s just helpful to have that external thing that you identify with.

So, boil that down to motherhood. Postpartum motherhood. I think that what we go through is this mis-ID’d, or misappropriated logo that we’re still trying to apply ourselves to. Because who we were as women before we had a baby; before we got pregnant; before we even thought about getting pregnant. Right? What we identified then as the healthiest forms of ourselves would be inappropriate right now.

And even if we’re not talking about our bodies; let’s take that off the table. If we’re just talking about our mindset, and our outlook, and our positivity, and our attitudes. The healthiest form, and how we achieve that healthy form before baby is totally different now with baby. Right? Because our motivations are different. Our demands are different. It only makes sense that the person or the figure that we identify with as being who we want to be and who we think represents a healthy form of ourselves, to get ourselves out of our head. It’s going to look different today than it did maybe three years ago.

Now, that’s also going to be true. This is where I get into the stuff that you already know. And I am going to have some practical tips for you. So don’t think it’s all going to be woo-woo. {laughs} But when we get into; when we take that same principle and we apply it to, now, our physical bodies. We have to know that the target has moved. Right? The physical target has moved. And again, I know you know this. But our hips are different. Our ribs are different. Goodness, gracious.

I have jumpsuits and dresses. And I’m sure every postpartum mama out there is going to nod along; shoes, right, for Pete’s sake, that don’t fit anymore. And it’s not like; my feet are not puffy. They’re not puffy; my ribcage does not have a whole lot of extra fluff on it. It’s just bones. But I cannot zip up these dresses anymore. And it’s just because my ribs have expanded. And maybe slowly, over time. I’m 13 months postpartum. But maybe slowly over time they might continually go down. But not a whole lot.

So our bodies are different. We can see that mechanically and physically they are different based on our bone structure. And we have to wrap our heads around the fact that those things we can see. Our hormones and all of the things we can’t see are also very different. And like I said, the target has moved. The logo of what is; what represents really healthy us, has also moved.

And I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves postpartum is we have to go through the motions. Because for so long we’re just surviving. And we’re just trying to figure out life again. And I don’t want a 7-month pregnant mama listening to this and now adding this to her list of things she’s got to accomplish before baby gets here, is; what does the new her look like. Just don’t worry about it. {laughs} Cross that bridge 14 months from now.

But I think that’s got to be a part of the conversation, knowing that healthy is going to be a little bit different. And that might mean we hang onto an extra 15 pounds. That might be what it is. Even if we’re eating as healthy as possible. Let’s say you repeat those 30 days that you did; you repeat the workouts, the sleep, the water, and the food. Verbatim. You replicate it identically. It’s still not going to be the same for your body the way you are today for a lot of reasons. And I think just talking about it is the way to be ok with it.

Katie: Yeah. I think, Cassy, you have hit the nail on the head. Because I think all of the changes you go through postpartum, and trying to transition to being a mom and your identity as a wife still, or going to work. All of those different changes in your life, plus all of the hormonal changes. A big part of me, I just want to feel like myself again. And part of that is sitting in my old clothes. But you're exactly right; trying to remember that the target is no longer myself from two years ago. It’s just that I’m a different person now, and that’s good, and that’s ok. But I might need to go shopping. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Yes! That precedes, and I want to prioritize that above the other things I was going to give you. The practical advice is for sure go shopping. Sit down with your husband and talk about a budget. But I think it is so important to go grab clothes that you feel amazing in. That fit you now. And really celebrate who you are now.

And I get this. Because before, two years ago, we knew that we could change. We knew that; oh, let’s say we had a whole lot of inflammation we were hanging onto but we were also eating a lot of fast food, a lot of pizza, too much beer. I wasn’t working out. I knew I could get healthy and my body would change. Right? So I wasn’t going to, at that point, I’m not going to go and invest on a really nice pair of jeans. I’m not going to do that.

But we think; I’ll do that when I clean up and I get healthy again. And I think what we’ve done now postpartum; we’re well. We’re healthy. We’re doing good things. We’re taking good care of our bodies. We’re taking good care of our families. But we’re still holding those nice pair of jeans, just to use it as an example, as a carrot for our body changing. But we’ve already made the healthy changes. So it’s like this unachievable carrot at the end of the stick we’re never going to get that just makes us feel bad about ourselves.

I’m wearing a pair of jeans right now that I probably would not have bought if I had not gone to a store. And of course, the sales people. Whatever. They’ve got their own agendas. But this guy; I’m such an easy target. But he’s like; oh these jeans were made for you. They look so good on you. I was like; what, really? They’re kind of nice. I don’t know. And he was like, no you deserve these jeans! Because I had talked about my baby and all the things we’re doing. He’s like; you deserve a nice pair of jeans. It’s like; you know what? I do.

So I think I would prioritize that. Go set aside a little budget. Grab yourself something nice that celebrates your body right now. I would say that’s step number one. And the other couple of pieces I have for you are; are you open to some nutrition tweaking, or do you feel really good about where you are?

Katie: Oh, I would love any advice on nutrition.

Cassy Joy: Ok. So I think that just; and this is probably grossly inappropriate because I’m not actually looking at a food log. In the nutrition consulting world, what I would really need from you to give you a really solid piece of information and feedback is let’s journal for two weeks, maybe even four weeks, and then sit down and review it together. That would be a really responsible way to do this. And if anybody listening; or even you, Katie, want that kind of an in-depth perspective, then definitely seek out a one-on-one nutritionist.

Having said that; cleared that out of the air. That’s not what we’re going to get into today. Some high level things; for breakfast. Something that has always helped me. And I really think it’s great. Thinking about hormones throughout the day. And setting up our bodies to where we have what we need when we need them in terms of nutrients and in terms of energy cycles and sleep cycles and awake cycles.

The Standard American; what you described is not Standard American Diet. But the template of what we usually follow is a very polite breakfast; like a continental style. Very small. I’ll just have an English muffin. Half of an English muffin with some jam. A lot of people would be like; sure, that’s breakfast. Or they skip it altogether. Lunch is usually very light, like maybe a salad with some grilled chicken. The roasted veggies are awesome, that’s a great add. And then dinner is usually the largest meal of the day.

And nutritionally, if we really want to support our bodies with, again, getting the best nutrients when our body really needs it, we need to flip that model on its head. And think about having; this is going to turn our meal prep and our grocery shopping and all of those things on its head, also. So it might be a lot to wrap our head around.

But think about eating; oh my gosh. I used to work for a doctor who used to say; she wants you to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper. And what I’m really getting at is I really want you to have protein; it doesn’t have to be eggs. Even if it’s roasted chicken from the night before dusted in a little cinnamon, so it feels a little breakfast-y. But get a really good serving of protein in the morning. Maybe get some healthy starches. Your smoothie sounds like it probably has a little bit of that, so that’s great.

The collagen peptides are good, but it’s not the same kind of protein that your body can make use of right then for energy that you're maybe thinking of. Collagen peptides are more of a bonus nutrient, right? And then some vegetables. The fat is really good. I think half of an avocado is great, especially for mama’s who are still breastfeeding or are pregnant. We definitely need that. That might be an area where you can alternate maybe every other day have the half of an avocado. And just kind of see how your body responds. Because we’re going to really fill your plate, and I would almost rather you have all the chicken, the veggies, and maybe half the amount of fat. Because you're going to be really full.

Lunch still sounds really great. I wouldn’t be shy about adding maybe some fruit to that. All kinds of fruit; tropical, berries, citrus, you name it. All kinds of fruit are really, really great for postpartum and pregnancy and any women listening that are trying to get pregnant. Our bodies really need and can make really good use of fruit for healthy hormones. So try to get a good healthy serving of fresh fruit a day.

And then dinner also sounds really good. So I think everything else is great. Breakfast is the only one I would tweak.

Katie: OK. That’s helpful.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. Well this has been such a good chat! Thank you for taking the time, Katie.

Katie: Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Cassy Joy: Yes, it’s been my pleasure. Everybody listening, if you have more questions or you want to expand on this conversation, head on over to www.FedandFit.com. We have a full transcript of the show, as well as a comment section. You can leave a comment and we can chit chat there. But Katie, it really means a lot. Thank you for coming on and sharing your story, indulging my endless musings about logos and protein for breakfast. {laughs}

Katie: Yeah, I need to do some Googling now on logo therapy. I’m excited to learn more.

Cassy Joy: It’s pretty fascinating. Anybody who actually knows what it is probably is like; Cassy does not know what logo therapy is. {laughing}

Katie: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: But that’s my takeaway on it. Anyway. Thank you so much, Katie, I really appreciate it. For everybody else listening; thanks so much. We’ll be back again next week.

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