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Doing It All: 10 ways having a baby made me thin

February 15th 2015 / Emma Bartley / 2 comments


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Smug alert: Emma Bartley weighs half a stone less than before she got pregnant. But from lack of booze to a constant soft-play cold, this is not a diet anyone wants to go on...

This was meant to be a piece about how hypnotherapy changed my life - or at least my body. Regular readers (hi, Mum) will remember that six weeks ago I started an online course called Lose That Weight Now, which involved listening to a recording from the hypnotherapist Sue Smith every day and doing a range of exercises such as figuring out when and why I overeat.

I still think this course was pretty good, and I’m consistently weighing in at 1kg (2lb) less than before I started. But I basically gave up at Exercise Seven, when Sue asks you to make a recording of your own to challenge your negative thoughts about losing weight. Who would do this? As a journalist, I can hardly even bear to transcribe interviews because the sound of my voice asking questions makes me cringe so much. So the likelihood of me walking around listening to myself going, “I CAN lose weight because Krispy Kremes DO NOT mean more to me than life itself” was slimmer than I’ll ever be.

Hypnotherapy has helped to put healthy eating to the front of my mind, though. I’ve been more aware of trying to find healthy options. I can recognise when I’m reaching for sugar because I’m stressed out, and try to have a cup of tea instead. (I don’t always do it.) So although 1kg isn’t much, I reckon it’ll stay off.

What gives me confidence is that I’ve done it before. This isn’t something I admit to many people, but I’m actually about about 3kg (half a stone!) lighter than I was before I had the baby. You’re not allowed to hate me, though, because this is how I did it...

Ten ways to lose the baby weight without trying

1) Breastfeed

People thought I kept breastfeeding through 17 bouts of mastitis because I wanted to give my kid antibodies or whatever. Actually, it was because I was eating about 1,000 extra calories a day while still watching the scales drop. Sometimes I’d use the self-service checkout at the supermarket in case the checkout lady thought I was bulimic: BEEP chocolate muffins… BEEP multipack of crisps… BEEP 1kg block of cheese.

2) Carry a 3-10kg sandbell everywhere you go

As an added incentive, make sure that the sandbell screams every time you put it down (this part really gets your heart rate going).

3) Be stroke-inducingly busy

I thought I was busy before I became a (working) mum, but now I literally don’t have a moment to myself from 7am until 7pm when she goes to bed. At which point I empty the nappy bin, put the washing on, tidy away the toys and serve up dinner. And there’s always something else to sort out, isn’t there? Birthday cards, shopping orders, looking for childcare, buying a house. Idle snacking is a thing of the past; I run off pure adrenaline.

4) Be poor

In financial terms you’re better off going to the bank, taking out all the money you have and throwing it into a river than having a baby. At least you’d be able to make more without having to pay a massive chunk of your earnings for childcare. Not to mention about £40 every two weeks on shoes. But on the plus side, I haven’t been into Pret in over a year because I’m too worried my card will be rejected while buying a croissant.

5) Be constantly ill

What fashion-magazine-reading woman doesn’t want to look gaunt and unwell? But now you don’t have to be Lily Cole to get the look: simply take your child to the local soft play, aka germ warehouse. It’ll come back with a violent sickness bug, or some revolting three-month cold that’ll knock half a stone off you. I actually lost weight this Christmas because my body was so full of mucus, there was no room for turkey or chocolate. Whoop!

6) Ditch the desk

Seen all this stuff in the news about how a sedentary lifestyle will kill you? Not a problem when your work consists of pushing a pram around. (I’m back in the office now but reckon my undignified sprint back to the childminder’s for 5.30pm, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough playing loudly in my head, must be the equivalent of HIIT.)

7) Stop drinking

God, I love drinking. It’s one of my hobbies. I drink when I’m happy, I drink when I’m sad, I drink with friends and occasionally, when my husband is out and there’s a blissful three-hour window where no one wants anything from me, alone. Pregnancy and breastfeeding really shattered my capacity for it, though - after all that time off, I’m smashed after two drinks and get hiccups after three. Which is shaming, but on the plus side it’s dramatically reduced my calorie intake.

8) Decide your kid can’t have any sugar until it’s 18

Then try eating a biscuit in front of it and see what happens. My husband and I have taken to eating cookies furtively, turning our backs to sneak a bite while our daughter’s not looking. (You’ve got to keep the excitement going somehow.)

9) Have, suddenly, three extra meals to prepare per day

Sometimes I go downstairs to make myself lunch during my toddler’s nap and realise that I loathe the very sight of my kitchen utensils and would rather go hungry.

10) Worry ALL THE TIME

Does my kid weigh the right amount? Can she do everything she’s supposed to do at this age? OK but why can’t she walk yet, that kid over there is walking? Where did she get that cup, that is not her cup, whose cup is it please say not the kid over there generating the Niagara Falls of snot? Here you go, Niagara Falls Mum, sorry about that. Am I ruining her life by working? Does she see enough of me? Does she spend enough time with other kids? Is she happy? Is she spoilt? Can she tell that I’m constantly, cripplingly anxious? Who knows - but all this mental energy has to be burning some calories, right?

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