Parenting Challenge

Weight Fluctuations

Dealing with weight fluctuations as a mom

Author: Jordan Berardi
Date: September 8, 2023

I’ve dealt with ups and downs with my weight for years. From the second half of high school and into college, the number on the scale was high, despite being an athlete and trying to stay active. After my first year of college, I had my first experience with losing a lot of weight and it felt so good to accomplish something that felt so daunting. I had some minor fluctuations through the rest of undergrad and into graduate school before finally finding an exercise program (CrossFit) and balanced diet that allowed me to stay consistent in my final year of graduate school. I was able to keep up with that routine for the next six years. 

When I got pregnant, I was determined to continue with my normal routine as much as possible.  CrossFit still left my body feeling great through the first trimester and even into some of the second, but at about 20 weeks I started to feel like I couldn’t keep up in the ways my mind wanted to and I was frustrated with having to make so many modifications in my classes. I decided to transition to an exercise program online that I could complete at home in the evenings after work. Prior to this, I had been consistently at the gym five days a week at 6 a.m., getting my workouts in before my work day. Transitioning to the afternoon workouts in my house, without my gym buddies and coaches encouraging me, did not happen as easily as I would have liked.

I began to feel my body really putting on the weight in my third trimester. I started my pregnancy around 170 lbs, but quickly saw 200 lbs come and go, with my final weight being around 220 lbs. My doctor didn’t bat an eye at my 50 lb weight gain; in fact it wasn’t even a topic of conversation at the multitude of appointments I had prior to having my son. Yet my activity levels had changed dramatically; I had stopped working around 36 weeks at which point my greatest physical activity became a few daily walks around the neighborhood with my dogs—a big difference from full time active work and a daily exercise class.

After having my son, I was pleasantly surprised that I was back down to 200 lbs at my first follow up appointment! I really thought to myself “wow, easiest 20 lbs I’ve ever lost! It didn’t even require any diet or exercise!” But that’s where my weight loss stopped. I even found myself putting a few pounds back on as I adjusted to my new life. 

It took a trip back to visit family when my son was three months old to notice how unhappy I was with my body. I was in much bigger clothing that didn’t make me feel good, I was sluggish from a poor diet and poor sleep, and looking at photos of myself from that first trip brought up so much disappointment in myself. I couldn’t see the person that I knew I was inside—the person who loved to be active and who had found a way to stay balanced all those years ago. 

When we were on that trip visiting family, my mom and her best friend were talking about their go-to for weight loss and maintenance: the world of Weight Watchers (now just called WW). For my whole life, I’d heard of my mom going to meetings to “check in” and of the points system that would let her eat whatever she wanted within reason and moderation.  

When we returned back home after that trip, my wife and I sat down and decided we needed to make a change, and we felt inspired by what WW had to offer. We set out to change our ways and I’m happy to report that we both hit some major goals. It meant the world that I could do this with her and have the support I knew I needed. I now consistently maintain a weight of around 175 lbs, just a few more pounds than my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m back to CrossFit and back to playing basketball in a local recreational league, and though I don’t look in the mirror and see my exact self from before I had my son, I see a me that I’m proud of. I know that my body achieved something miraculous in the last two years and I am so grateful for what it gave me and who I’ve become.

Steps to take if you’re struggling with weight fluctuations as a mom

Accept that there's a problem

It feels silly, but the first step is accepting that there is a problem! I was unable to see that, or maybe just too tired to see that, so once I finally saw what I needed to, I was able to make a change.

Speak to your doctor

Most importantly, if you sense a real problem, you must speak to your doctor first. Your primary care doctor or OBGYN can be so helpful in normalizing what is going on. For some people, it can also be helpful to have a conversation with a mental health therapist to dig into the reasons why weight gain/loss can happen.

Figure out a diet that works for you

I found it most helpful to first figure out a diet that worked for me before jumping into vigorous exercise. My body wasn’t ready for much more physical activity aside from long walks, which I also began taking regularly. Weight Watchers is just one of so many options out there. I personally found this option to be extremely manageable and I was grateful that when determining my daily allotted points, the program took into consideration that I was breastfeeding and so would need more food intake to be able to provide nutrition for my son.

Find activities that you enjoy!

Once I began losing weight and my body felt less heavy, I started exercising again in the ways that I always loved. I made sure to return to what I had loved before having my son, because I knew how much joy it brought me and I knew I’d have a greater chance at success if I returned to what made me happy.

The day before delivery, 41 weeks pregnant, around 220 lbs

Feeling much happier, down to around 175 lbswith just diet modifications, before beginning my usual exercise routine.
Advice I would give another parent in this situation:

Don’t beat yourself up if you gain more weight than you’d hoped during your pregnancy. And don’t beat yourself up if you see that you gain less weight than you’d hoped! Your body is growing a human being, which is the most incredible thing in the world, and you have to honor the magic in that.

The most mportant thing is that if you find yourself stuck in a rut after the baby is born, take small steps to achieve your goal. It won’t happen all at once, but small steps every day will get you there in time. The journey is worth the work.

About the Author

Jordan Berardi and Kerin Berger live in West Hollywood, CA with their 15 month old son River.

My favorite thing about being a mom: It feels very hard to choose just one thing! But I suppose I would say my favorite thing is knowing that this kid is MINE. He is amazing, friendly, funny, snuggly, sweet, and gentle, and I am so lucky that we belong to eachother.


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