All right, I admit it. I have taken weight-loss supplements. Well, not any time recently, and not since I started this journey, and certainly not while pregnant. It was actually years and years ago before I ever started having kids. I wanted to believe that there was some magic “pill” out there that would help me take the weight off and keep it off. I can’t even remember the pills I took but I think I remember that we (both The Chick Magnet and I tried them) got them at a kiosk in the mall.
The main ingredient I know was caffeine. I did not handle them so well as they made me sick to my stomach and jittery. Let me tell you people, as an EXTREME type-A personality, this girl needs NO help in the jittery department. So, my foray into the weight-loss supplement industry was incredibly brief. I think I lasted less than a week and pretty sure I lost no weight on them.
My plan this time around does not include taking a pill or drinking a shake or going to a meeting or having a surgery. I believe that those things may work for some people, but they just aren’t for me. The reason I have this topic on my mind is because I received a question from a reader a couple of weeks ago. Lisa (not me, the reader) and her husband would like to get pregnant soon and she asked me my thoughts on weight-loss supplements while trying to conceive. Here is what her e-mail said (re-printed with permission):
I am 39 and weigh 233. I had given up on the thought of having a baby but I got married in June and now I have baby fever. I know I am at an unhealthy weight and want to lose weight but I also want to get pregnant. I have recently purchased the YP10 weight-loss system which is similar to the hcg diet. You eat a very low-calorie diet and take these drops 3 times a day. I am torn about whether to do this since I want to get pregnant. What are your thoughts on weightloss supplement while ttc?
TTC = trying to conceive
I thought her question was an excellent one and wanted to share my response with you here, so you guys, too, can know where I stand on the issue. I will preface this by reiterating that this is what works, FOR ME. Weight-loss is highly individual, and what is right for me and my journey may not be right for you and yours. My sister has lost GOBS of weight, at a much faster rate than I have (she is now pretty much at goal-weight), through a medical weight-loss program that included using medication. I am insanely proud of her, she is absolutely beautiful (she was that before though too!) and maybe only slightly jealous.
So, please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say as me being anti-weight-loss program. I am pro-what-works-for-you. Also, recognize that I am not a dietician, nor am I a trained medical professional. I am simply one woman attempting to share my journey to becoming a healthy and whole person. Please consult your physician if you have any questions about my opinions on this matter.
Here is my response to Lisa:
Hi Lisa-thanks for contacting me.
First of all, I just have to offer a disclaimer that what I am about to say can’t replace the advice of your physician lol. I am sure you know that, but as I am not a trained dietitian, midwife or OB/GYN, I can’t give advice to your specific situation.
What I can say is what I feel has worked for me and what I have been told by my own care providers.
First, I am not a big fan of taking ANY weight-loss supplements, ever lol. This is just my personal opinion. I am not really into fad diets or weight-loss aids. Again, just my personal preference. What I advocate is eating a whole foods diet high in protein, fruits and veggies, severely limiting processed foods and sugar (like almost never-except maybe in certain social situations where it is unavoidable and then in limited quantities), and limiting carb intake to only whole grains (brown rice, 100% whole grain bread, quinoa, barley) and even at that, only 2-3 servings a day.
If you are anything like me, carbs and sugars are not your friend-especially sugar (including artificial sweeteners). I also advocate eating healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, real butter, coconut oil, avocado etc…) and not getting on the “low-fat” bandwagon (just about everything with that label in the store comes with added sugars and artificial ingredients to take the place of the flavor lost when removing the fat that is supposed to be there).
In addition, I suggest the old standby of adding exercise into your weekly routine-preferably at least 5 times a week-even if it is just a five minute walk-do whatever you can to incorporate more movement into your daily life, and try to steadily increase the time and intensity you spend exercising.
I know many, many people who have achieved pregnancy at your weight and age. I will be 35 next month and I weigh 320 pounds. I have been overweight with every pregnancy and have had 5 healthy pregnancies. So conception is not out of the question for you if you want to ttc.
That being said, yes I DO agree that you want to be at optimal health when you get pregnant. I DON’T think you can achieve optimal health on an extremely restricted diet. Will you lose weight that way? Sure-but it is not the healthiest way to do it, in my opinion. The goal shouldn’t just be to lose weight-but rather, HEALTH. When you start eating a whole foods diet, cut out most sugar from your diet and start to exercise, you will see the pounds come off.
They may not come off as fast as when you are taking supplements, but they will come off in a healthy way and as you begin to change your habits you will be making changes to your health that you can sustain. Many, many people who do the hcg diet or something similar gain all the weight back, and then some, as soon as they are off the program, because they really haven’t made lifestyle changes that they can maintain for a long period of time. You’re goal is health, not rapid weight-loss at any cost.
Also, these changes you make now are ones you can continue once you do become pregnant. It is not unsafe for a pregnant woman to lose weight while pregnant, particularly if she is overweight. I have lost weight during most of my pregnancies. BUT, what you don’t want to do is lose the weight initially, get pregnant, and go completely off the band-wagon, eat whatever you want and gain a ton of weight while pregnant-that’s not good for babe either.
If you start now with eating better and caring for yourself (also add in drinking LOTS of water and getting adequate rest) those are things you can continue once pregnant to give your baby the best start possible. Pregnancy adds lots of extra demands on a mama’s body and you want to fuel your body properly to keep up with those demands. I follow a modified Brewer’s Diet
during pregnancy and that works for me and seems to have helped me have very healthy pregnancies and very healthy babies, despite my weight.
Another thing I would recommend for you is making an appointment with your physician and just having a general check-up performed-including blood work testing for diabetes, cholesterol issues, thyroid, anemia, iron levels, Vitamin D levels and a general well-woman exam. Your physician will be able to advise you as to what they would like to see you achieve before getting pregnant.
It’s also a good idea to go ahead and start taking a good quality prenatal vitamin now, or at the very least, a folic acid supplement. I also take a Vitamin D supplement, pro-biotics and an Omega-3 supplement (good quality fish oil). Although there is no guarantee, odds are in your favor that you will have a healthy pregnancy and delivery! It would be great to get your hubby on board as well-the healthier he is, the better your chances at conceiving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
I also recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility (you can probably find it at your library)-this is an incredibly valuable resource for those who are trying to conceive. There is also the website, http://tcoyf.com/
, that has some printable charts for tracking your cycles and ovulation-if you do that faithfully for a month or two you can get a general sense for how your body is working and ovulating, which can increase your chances of conceiving more quickly.
We have been practicing natural family planning for over 10 years now and it has never failed us. It doesn’t work for everyone, particularly women with fertility struggles or irregular cycles, but it works for many and it has really helped us with our family planning and avoiding synthetic hormones in the form of birth control.
I don’t want you to think I am criticizing you. Please understand this is just my personal opinion on weight-loss and health. It will look different for everyone and what works for one person may not be right for another. I hope I have answered your question and helped in some way. If you don’t mind, I would love to turn your question, and my answer into a blog post because I think it is a very good one.
(end of e-mail)
This is pretty much the same advice I would give anyone, regardless of whether they are male or female, trying to conceive, trying to lose weight, or just want to be healthier.
So, what do you say? Have you had success with a certain weight-loss supplement or program? I know there are several reputable, effective programs out there. Anything that I missed? Agree or disagree? Share your experiences and advice for Lisa in the comments!