I can't believe Baby K's already 3 months old! I remember from my first baby how long the newborn days felt but this time around it felt like it's completely flown by (I have to believe it's from the craziness that comes with having 2 kids now!).
The past 12 weeks have been an extreme learning curve as I quickly learned this baby was nothing like my first so it was like I was a first-time mom all over again. I'm still learning and feel like once I have it figured out, another leap hits and I have to figure everything out all over again.
One thing that was really important to me was to get back to macro counting with Stronger U. I had worked with my coach Josette a bit during my pregnancy and it helped keep my weight gain in check, so I was pretty eager to get back to it when I felt ready. I ended up feeling ready earlier than I had planned and signed up when I was 3 weeks postpartum. In this blog post, I'll share with you my experience with Stronger U postpartum and the results of my 12-week session!
Table of Contents
What is Stronger U?
Before I get too far - let's dig into what exactly Stronger U is. Stronger U is nutrition coaching that focuses on using macronutrients (or macros) to help you reach your goals. Macros are made up of protein, carbs and fats and are what make up calories - this is overly simplified, but you get the idea!
I first heard of Stronger U during my Orangetheory days on Reddit. A lot of Reddit members would always recommend Stronger U when it came to losing weight and they had like a cult-like following. I was pretty happy with how things were going for me with Weight Watchers at the time so never really looked into it.
Flash forward a few years and I started seeing Stronger U popping up in my Peloton Reddit communities and facebook groups. This time I had stopped following Weight Watchers and was looking for a program so decided to check them out. I ended up holding off on doing a session because of how expensive they were compared to other programs, and then I ended up finding out I was pregnant so my weight loss journey completely stopped.
However, after a few weeks of being pregnant, I started to realize I was gaining weight way too fast compared to my first pregnancy (I tend to crave all the carbs!). I looked more into Stronger U and decided to give it a shot and did my first session. You can read my whole experience of doing Stronger U while pregnant here, but ultimately this was a great decision and it helped me eat way more balanced and gain weight at a healthy pace.
Starting Stronger U Postpartum
After I had been home with Baby K for about a week, I decided to start tracking on my own my macros with Cronometer just to get an idea of what I was eating and kind of keep it in check. I kind of started going crazy towards the end of my pregnancy when I was so DONE with being pregnant and had developed some bad habits I really needed to address (like eating 3 packs of poptarts in a day...whoops!!).
I also learned after my first baby that I tend to eat a lot when I breastfeed or pump. Like A LOT. I think this is more of a mental thing because I join breastfeeding and pumping facebook groups where members praise different things for helping their milk supply, like lactation cookies, Body Armor and blue gatorade. I had a supply issue with my first so the moment anyone mentions something that might be able to help I jump all over it! Plus add in all the snacks recommended for pumping carts like trail mix, granola bars, etc....the calories can start adding up!
So knowing all this and knowing how with my first I definitely overdid it with the pumping snacks and lactation treats, I decided to sign up for a Stronger U session. My goal for my session was to lose weight, but also to develop healthy habits and get back into the routine of tracking macros. I'm not one of those women that loses weight while I breastfeed so I do need to be mindful of what I eat - as well as be careful to avoid not eating enough and let my supply drop.
Signing Up for Stronger U
After a week of tracking on my own, I decided I was ready to jump back in with Stronger U and signed up again with Josette. I really liked working with Josette during my pregnancy session and was excited to work with her again. She had a way of explaining things to me that really changed my mindset and thinking - like during my pregnancy session I was having a hard time staying within my carbs because of the overnight oats I was making. I loved having them in the morning but found I was still hungry after. She suggested halving the recipe and adding something with protein to the side - like a hard-boiled egg. This was a simple suggestion but was completely mindblowing to me. Why hadn't I thought of that?!! I still get to have my favorite breakfast but it doesn't break my macro bank. Genius!
She's also a mom and Peloton fanatic, as well as a registered dietician so I felt safe working with her and making sure my supply continued to grow and maintain.
Starting the Program
The first week with Stronger U is kind of like a trial week. When I first began with them this week was more of a get used to tracking, see what you're eating and then get into macros. With this session since I had already been tracking and was familiar with the Stronger U app, we jumped right in!
My goal is to lose about 50 lbs, but I'm also exclusively pumping so my macros were set a little higher. I started at 240g carbs, 70g fat and 135g protein, which comes out to 2,130 calories. Now that I had my macros I was ready to go!
Since I had been tracking macros before, it was pretty easy to get my meals to hit my macros. The biggest issue I had initially was controlling my snacking. I did a great job preplanning my macros, and then it was almost a free for all when it came to snack - I'd have a snack, log it and after doing that a few times I'd find myself way over on one macro and under in another.
After a few weeks of doing that Josette and I chatted and came up with the plan that I really needed to start treating my snacks like another meal and preplanning those. So I started doing that and it worked! Since I had my snacks already planned I found I wasn't going over as much anymore and was getting pretty close to my macros every day.
One of the biggest issues I thought I was going to have was pre-planning and pre-tracking. I feel like I barely have time to do any kind of meal prepping, so how would I add macro tracking to the mix?
What really helped me were a few things. One, keeping my meals simple and even buying some freezer meals and premade things. While I love meal prepping and making everything from scratch, I just simply don't have the time right now to do that. I used to feel guilty about this because I write so much about meal prepping and easy recipes - it's almost become part of my identity.
Stronger U has really helped me mentally realize it's ok to use shortcuts and keep things simple. Since starting Stronger U my meals have become way more basic and I'm no longer stressed out thinking I need to have this crazy healthy and complicated meal plan every single week. I'll still cook a recipe (and my definition of cooking nowadays is putting together a sheet pan dinner or crockpot meal), but I do limit myself to only one a week.
I've also started to embrace "boring" meals - like having the same thing every day for breakfast, snacks, lunch, etc. I used to think I had to have new things every day (this goes back to me creating fancy meal plans) and in reality, I don't. It's ok to eat the same thing every day. This has been such a huge mindset change for me and it's been another thing that's helped me be less stressed.
As for tracking and doing my check ins, I've found the best time for me to do it is during my pumping sessions. When we were still doing overnight pumps I realized I was wasting a lot of time watching TikTok videos (those things are addicting!) when I could use some of that time to track my day or start my weekly check-in (and I think my coach loved that I'd get my check-ins done so early every week lol).
Stronger U and Pumping
Going into this session my biggest concern was maintaining my supply. I had always heard to be cautious with being in a calorie deficit while breastfeeding or pumping because it could dip your supply.
I'm exclusively pumping so I'm able to know exactly what my output is at every pump. In the early weeks of my session, I used to track every day my output to make sure it was growing (I would enter it into my daily notes). Sure enough, my ounces were increasing and I was losing weight! This was so exciting to see.
I'm now in maintenance with my supply and it's continued to stay steady while I'm continuing to lose weight.
Stronger U vs Weight Watchers (WW)
I ultimately chose to do Stronger U instead of WW this time around because it's more sustainable. When I did WW after my first baby was born I found that it was hard to relearn the plan since it had changed so much from when I had done it years before. And when I'd finally relearn the plan, they'd go and change it again!
This became extremely frustrating to me. I wanted to learn how to eat better and maintain a healthy lifestyle, not learn how to live on a plan. I understand why WW does this so they can keep you subscribing to the program, but it made it not sustainable for me.
With Stronger U I'm actually making healthy lifestyle changes and really learning about proper nutrition and how to fuel my body. I don't feel deprived at all and I really love that there's no good or bad foods - everything is fair game.
What I Eat
One of the biggest keys to my success with Stronger U has been learning to embrace "boring" meals and keeping my meal plans extremely simple. I usually have the 1 or 2 things I'll rotate for my breakfast and lunches, and then dinner we'll change up.
Here's an example of what I eat in a day:
Breakfast: Mush Overnight Oats with a scoop of collagen powder, black coffee
Lunch: Cafe Steamers Balsamic Chicken Steamer Bowl or a Big Salad (usually with a grilled chicken pouch from Costco, salad topping and kale and spinach mix), Clio Bar
Snacks: Granola Bar, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheerios, Fairlife Protein Shake (I've recently started adding it to my afternoon coffee to make my own peppermint mocha drink!), good culture cottage cheese
Dinner: Turkey Burger with a sandwich thin, air fried veggies and tots
Dessert and Snacks: Yasso Bar, Annie's Popcorn, Annie's Graham Bunnies
I've quickly found I do best when I have small snacks and meals instead of having huge meals. I also tend to get snacky at night, so I try to save some more macros for snacks and drinks.
My StrongerU Results
Over the course of 12 weeks I lost 15lbs and grew my supply! I'm really happy with how my results have been. I haven't been perfect with my macros (and if I had I'm sure I'd be down even more) but to me this program is about finding how to make it sustainable.
While Stronger U is a little pricier than other programs - it costs about $159/month - I've found it's completely worth it. The plan is individualized to you as well as you have a dedicated coach that you can chat with at any time. Plus, the community support is amazing and they even have a special group for pregnant and postpartum moms on the program!
I also really like that Stronger U has helped me not feel overwhelmed as a new mom. Before Stronger U, I was in so many different pumping and breastfeeding facebook groups and hearing so much advice on what to eat to boost breastmilk supply. My coach has become the one voice I listen to on this subject and I'm now able to ignore all the noise on supplements and "miracle foods" and trust in my own process. It's made me way less stressed!
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I really do love the Stronger U program. It helped me to get back into healthy eating habits, lose weight in a healthy way, and to not restrict any foods. I've signed up for another session to continue my weight loss journey and am excited to see what the next 12 weeks have in store for me!
Ready to try it out? Click here to get $25 off your membership