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Holding onto Pregnancy Weight - Postpartum Weight Retention

Dear Dr. Bell, I SWEAR ON THE LAST BABY HAIRS I HAVE ON MY EDGES, that my body just wants to HOLD ON FOR DEAR LIFE to this pregnancy weight! I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make my body burn fat! I eat like 2 times a day if not 3. I’ve started back weight lifting, and I do cardio 3-4 times a week! I do see my body toning, but I WANT/NEED to lose weight! I’ve been stuck at 187 lbs since MARCH! MARCH! It’s now October and I might as well be a freaking whale for Halloween. Dr. Bell….HELP?!?!?!

Dear Jada,

Congratulations on the birth of your child and your willingness to get back your sexy shape! Be of Good Cheer! There is a solution to your problem, though the solution will take time. The solution requires an Exercise Prescription and some nutrition monitoring.

Exercise Prescription: 

The combination of the 3 IFPA Components of Fitness below create the fastest weight/fat loss:

1) Strength Training: 3 times/week (M,W,F or Tu,Th,Sa, you need a day of rest between sessions).

2) Aerobic Training: can be done everyday, but limit the time to 45 minutes of actual aerobic work, not including Warm-Up/Cool Down.

3) Flexibility Training: For fastest possible results, 3 sessions/day-7days/week

Program Design: 

1) Strength Training: Pick one basic exercise for each of the 10 major muscle groups: Quads. Hamstrings, Chest, Upper Back, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps, Abs, Calves, Low Back.


  • Weeks 1-3: 15RM(Repetition Maximum)
  • Weeks 4-6: 12RM
  • Weeks 7-9: 10RM
  • Weeks 9-12: 8RM
  • Active Rest for about 10 days then repeat

Time: Weeks 1-2: One Set; Weeks 3 and after Two Sets

Type: Start on machines, I prefer free weights, but you will need an IFPA Certified Personal Trainer to show you how to do it right. I have been in more gyms than politicians have told lies and I have seen very few non-IFPA Certified Trainers that know how to DO, Demonstrate, Teach and/or Spot free weight exercises correctly.

2) Aerobic Training: keep the intensity low to start. You need to protect your joints. I suggest you start with Non-Impact exercise like the Recumbent bike.

As your aerobic conditioning improves, consider High Intensity Interval Training(HIIT: which can still be done on a recumbent bike) and has been shown to increase fat burning in less time.

Intensity: Low. Start in the Classic “Fat Loss Training Zone” of 60-70% of Maximum Heart Rate(HRT). Consider HIIT later.

Time: 45 mins or less to prevent an unwanted rise in cortisol levels.

Type: Non-impact until your joints feel 100% back to normal.

3) Flexibility Training: Do Static Stretching exercises around each joint and muscle group.

If you can find an IFPA Certified Trainer who is also Certified as an IFPA Flexibility Specialist, you can get much, Much faster results by having the IFPA Certified Trainer take you through Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF) stretching sessions as many times as you can each week.

Since a flexibility session last approximately 4 hours, for best results do 3 sessions/day, every 4 hours.

Intensity: LOW, VERY LOW! 30-40% of Max, typically defined as a point where your muscles feel tight, but NO PAIN!

Time: Hold each stretch 60 seconds and focus on relaxing and gentle breathing into the stretch. After the first 30 secs you feel will the muscle lengthen and relax, you can move into a slightly deeper stretch for the 2nd 30 seconds, but again: Tight, but NO PAIN!

Type: Static or PNF Stretching. During PNF Stretches, you use the CRAC technique, where the client is the only one who takes the stretch deeper…NOT THE TRAINER!!!

NUTRITION: You need to monitor your weight daily!

Get on the scale each morning the same way, i.e.: after your physiological urgencies have been relieved and naked.

Your scale will give you an approximation of how your caloric intake from the day before is helping or hurting your goals. And then, make changes in how much and what you eat and drink. You are not a mushroom!

Despite all the “Hype” on “macros” the reality is, with few exceptions, like hard to digest fibrous foods, if you consume more calories than you expend, you will gain weight and if you consume fewer calories than you expend, you will lose weight.

Without the very time consuming task of weighing every morsel you put in your mouth, the scale is the best tool to give you instantaneous feedback.

Use that tool to educate yourself on your daily food and drink consumption and your daily activities. For long term success each meal should be a combination of complex carbohydrates(65%), protein(20%); and fats(15%).

There is some research that focusing on other percentages can provide RAPID weight loss, the research also shows a rapid “Rebound Effect” where you can end up heavier and fatter than when you started! The 65/20/15 is healthy and manageable and can easily become a long term Lifestyle Change!

Lifestyle: Practice Stress and Sleep Management. Make sure to sleep 7-8 hours every night in a very dark room, no red, blue or green lights from clocks, TV cable boxes, etc.

Also: Stay Hydrated! Water retention could be one of your problem areas and surprisingly, you need to drink sufficient water to stay hydrated to defeat water retention.

Warning: If you have been on one or more supplements, you should know by now that they are not working. As you already stated, what you have been doing up to now has not worked. Depending on the supplement and the manufacturer, it can be doing more harm than good. If it is not working, why spend your money on it?

Following my prescription may give you very surprising results. Maybe not the “Rapid” result some have promised you, but healthy, manageable results that will be permanent.

Please let me know your progress!

I wish you all the best!