Losing post baby weight during the pandemic – Month 2

July 26 was officially my second month of tracking my weight. I’m still on the right track, but I can tell that I have more days of giving in to cravings. I have a hard time saying no to sweets.

Ube Halaya – one of the many sweets that is hard to resist

First the numbers. I weigh 116.8 lbs on June 26. I weigh 111.6 lbs on July 26. I lost 5.2 lbs. I’m losing about a pound a week. Today, I weigh 110.6 lbs. I’ve been skipping breakfast for 2 months now. My first meal is lunch and for the past week, I’m typically not even hungry at that time. The hard part is snacking especially late night snacking.

Month 2

Plant Based Diet

My husband and I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix. One is Forks Over Knives. After watching it, we decided to try a plant based diet for majority of our meals. We’re not vegan. We are just replacing majority of our meals with a plant based recipe. Our lunch and dinner usually have meats in it about 98% of the time. We decided to have one meat day a week and come up with some recipe that are “vegan”. We are not very strict and we are still using what we have. For example, we have quite a bit of chicken broth and we uses that instead of vegetable broth if a recipe calls for it. So far we’re almost 2 weeks in it and we’re finding some really good recipes and some bad ones. Our goal is to continue this on for at least 3 months, in time for my husbands annual exam. He wants to see if it will change his cholesterol level. I also want to schedule my annual exam at that time.

Strength Training

We continue to lift weights about 3 times a week. At some point, I really want to add some cardio, but it takes time. I still want to see a pelvic floor PT before doing any ab work out, but that might need to wait until we’re done with this pandemic. I’m hoping that our local PT clinic will bring back the woman’s health PT. She was furloughed because of the pandemic.

Weights on Aug 1st

Continuing On

My goal is to reach 105 lbs by the end of September. It’s starting to get harder. I have more days that I’m above my calorie intake and I’m definitely slacking more on tracking my diet. I feel good overall. I can fit on my clothes now pre pregnancy, but I still want to lose that 5 lbs – I’m almost there! Wish me luck!

Losing post baby weight during the pandemic – Month 1

Last May, I seriously started tracking my weight. I was on my highest weight post baby #2 and I know that I’m ready to lose the baby weight that I gained since baby #1. I added another 25 lbs while I was pregnant with baby #2. I lost 10 lbs about a month after giving birth.

Exercise

My husband and I started going to our home gym (set up by my husband) once AHP was sleep trained at about 10 weeks. It was my first time weight training and I have to start from 0 lbs, just using my body weight in the beginning. I’m also not doing any abs work out until I can see a pelvic floor physical therapist. Unfortunately, the women’s health PT was furloughed at our local ATI branch so I still haven’t seen one. By end of May, I started tracking my weight and my diet.

The start – 5/28/2020

Tracking my diet

I was eating mindlessly and the pandemic didn’t help. I also have sweet tooth, and have an obsession with Nutella. It just hit me one day, after seeing a photo with my newborn that I didn’t like what I see. It also gives me a chance to be in control again with my own body or at least to feel that it’s mine shared of course with AHP, while I’m nursing.

Picking an App – Noom vs My Fitness Pal

I saw an Ad about Noom and started reading some reviews online. It seems that users were pretty happy with it and saw great results. At the same time, there’s a lot of comparison about Noom and MyFitnessPal. I downloaded both. I paid $1 to use Noom for 2 weeks while MyFitnessPal is free. On May 26, I had my first weigh in at 124.6 lbs. This is about 19 lbs heavier pre-pregnancy. Noom projected that I will be on my goal weight by September. I liked Noom in the beginning. Noom gives you article to read everyday as a form of motivation. As it advertised, it is all about psychology. Every item has a check mark. There are about 7 – 8 things you have to do for the day. You will also have access to a community and a coach after a free trial. MyFitnessPal has a premium version which you have to pay for. I only uses the free app. In my opinion MyFitnessPal has a better user interface and more food recipe on their database. It also has some exercises and articles that you can read on your own.

After about a week of tracking my food intake and my weight, I decided to use MyFitnessPal instead of Noom. Reading articles from Noom just didn’t work for me. On June 26, I’m at 116.8 lbs, losing 7.8 lbs in one month.

Using MyFitnessPal

It’s pretty straight forward. You put in your weight, height, age and your goal weight. You are then allowed to have a certain calories per day and you are supposed to track what you eat. Mine was set to 1230 calories. Since I’m nursing, I allow myself to go more than 1230 and consume about 300 to 500 calories. 1230 calories is not a lot, so I need to budget what I eat. At this point, I am really glad that I’m nursing so I can eat more.

In addition to counting calories, I also start intermittent fasting or really skipping breakfast. This is easy for me since I sleep during AHP’s first nap. I have coffee during the day and my first meal is usually around 11:30. In the beginning, I was really strict and I tried to consume just 1,230 calories, but I did get hungry and realize that I need to eat more since I’m still nursing and burning a lot of calories. I lost 3 lbs on that first week, which is probably not healthy. Right now, I’m losing about 1 – 1.5 lbs a week and I’m pretty happy with that.

Eating Right

I also learned more about nutrition. Obviously, I know that fruits and veggies are good for you but I never looked at the nutrients of foods that I eat. As I said, I like sweet A LOT. Knowing that 1 serving of Nutella or about 2 tablespoons are 200 calories, not to mention another 110 calories from the bread really put it in perspective. I am eating 310 calories of mostly sugar. I realized that I like rice a lot, but can cut it down and be satisfied with 2/3 of a cup. I went back on eating more fruits for dessert and been enjoying more cantaloupe, mangoes and apples. I have harder days. After 2 weeks, we celebrated MBP’s birthday, I devoured cupcakes and tons of Filipino food. There are days that I will still mindlessly eat once the kids are in bed, while I’m watching some TV. This is hard and I never thought that I will have a problem losing weight. In fact, growing up, I have a problem gaining weight. I tried to keep myself occupied and for the month, I listed some things that I want to do that will keep me busy.

Keeping track of weight

I weigh myself every morning, before I start my day. Weight fluctuates during the day and I’m usually lighter in the morning. This week, I fluctuate between 114.5 ~ 113.6 lbs. It’s annoying when I move up from the previous day since I like looking at the downward graph. I have to remind myself that I should really look at the trend on a weekly basis.

Progress for 1.5 months

Goal

My end goal is to be at 105 lbs. I’ve been on this weight for a good 17 years before pregnancy. At the same time, I also want to build some muscles. I’d like to be on my ideal weight by the end of September, keep it and stay healthy.

Watch out for progress!!

The Cost of a NICU stay

November is prematurity awareness month. According to March For Dimes “the preterm birth rate in the United States has worsened for a third year, rising to 9.93 percent in 2017. Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in this country and globally.”

MBP was born prematurely at 28 weeks and 5 days. Every parent will never forget the day that their kid was born. I will never forget that day and the 74 days in NICU after that.

I’m not going to discuss the emotional trauma that every parent that step in the NICU get – that warrants an entire separate post. I’m going to discussed about the financial implication of a NICU stay.

Direct Medical Cost

We were fortunate to have a great insurance that covered the entire cost of MBP’s stay and the post care that he needed a year after. In WA state, a child is eligible of medicaid regardless of parent’s income if his/her hospital stay exceeds 30 consecutive days. MBP received Medicaid as a secondary insurance. That said, the payment billed on Medicaid is very minimal since I reached my deductible when I gave birth.

The total claims for MBP’s first year of medical expenses is $1,050,098.31. Yes, IT IS OVER A MILLION. It is not a typo. His primary insurance paid $352,293.52 and Medicaid paid $693.89. These are for 195 total claims that was processed.

Insurance gets massive discounts on these claims. This is the time that I’m so grateful to my former employer for providing good health coverage. My insurance even called me after MBP was discharged just to check on him and ensure that we are getting the care we needed.

Indirect Expenses

There are other costs associated to NICU stay other than the actual medical expenses. Funny that we actually spent more on them than the direct medical expenses.

  1. Lodging – Some families don’t live close to the hospital. We were lucky to live in a state that has a Level 4 NICU. I was lucky to deliver my kid in the same hospital and don’t need to fly him from other states. I know other families that have to deal with it.
  2. Transportation – We paid $200/month for monthly parking. The hospital is close to downtown Seattle. When you’re dealing with a NICU stay, finding parking is the least you care about. We were also in an out during the day, delivering the milk that I pumped. We paid $600 in total since MBP was in the NICU for 2.5 months. It’s funny that we pay more for parking than the actual medical cost since it was covered by Medicaid.
  3. Food / Eating out – I didn’t even track this, but I know we had a lot of take outs. I went back to work a couple of weeks after giving birth to save my maternity leave once MBP is discharge. There’s just no time to prep food, between pumping, working, driving in and out of the hospital and a lot and lots and lots of crying.

Healthcare is Important for Early Retiree

We can talk about probability. Statistically, 90% of pregnant women will have a full term pregnancy. They will never have to worry about the high cost of a NICU stay. But if you’re one of the minority group in the 10%, you are out of luck. I talked about Medicaid kicking in after 30 days. Some parents in the hospital actually wants this to happen just so they can afford healthcare. The claims of MBP’s first 30 days, just for the hospital stay is abut $200K. My overall out of pocket expense was $4k at the time and I paid less than that because MBP’s secondary insurance kicked in.