Losing weight after having a baby is hard. We often get bombarded by magazine cover after magazine cover of yet another model or actress who is wearing a bikini three weeks after having a baby, and as a society we seem to have lost touch with what a women’s body experiences after having a baby.
To be honest, I have always been naturally very thin and in shape. I like to work out, enjoy eating well, and have never really had to pay attention to what I ate. I have never been on a diet, and I was not sure when I was pregnant if I would really be able to gain that much weight. Don’t worry, I did.
And I was surprised at how hard it is to lose weight after having a baby. I have often wondered what the experience was like for women who choose to use a weight loss program after having a baby, so we sat down with Nicole Sullivan, an actress with a long resume from “Cougar Town,” “S*#@ My Dad Says,” “The King of Queens” and “MadTV.”
Nicole is a “real mom” of two, meaning that she does not employ three nannies, a trainer and a cook to help her stay in Hollywood shape. After giving birth to her second son, and never really losing the weight from her first baby, she decided to join Jenny Craig.
Club MomMe: Nicole, tell us about your sons:
Nicole: I have two sons, Beckett is 3 years old and Dashel is 5. Dashel was named after my favorite book as a teenager, but we spelled it incorrectly so we call him Dash. We decided to stick with authors for our son’s names and we then picked Beckett from the author Samuel Beckett.
Club MomMe: What is it like being pregnant in Hollywood?
Nicole: When you are first getting pregnant, you feel like you have to time your pregnancy around the television season. However, this is of course very unrealistic for most women in Hollywood, and I later realized how silly the idea of timing my pregnancy around a television show’s season really was.
Luckily, both times that I was pregnant I had a lot of support from everyone that I worked with. When I was pregnant, I ate what I wanted and did not stress over it. However, I never totally lost weight after my first son was born.
During my second pregnancy, it really sank in that I never lost all of the weight the first time around, and I started feeling like my weight could continue to escalate. That day I literally picked up the phone and called Jenny.
That phone call has changed my life.
Club MomMe: Did you feel a lot of pressure to lose weight working in Hollywood?
Nicole: To be honest, I felt more pressure to lose weight from magazines than I did from colleagues and people who work in Hollywood. I realized two things: first that certain people have different genetics and can naturally lose weight easier than others and two, that people have very different priorities in life.
Some moms in the entertainment business choose to spend three hours a day in the gym, they have help and they don’t mind spending a lot of time away from their little ones when they are very young. My priority in life is my family, and I could not dedicate this much time to working out and being away from my little ones.
When you are not pregnant anymore, but you aren’t thin, that’s when you really feel the pressure to lose weight. Here I was after my first son was born, and I was still overweight. I just could not lose the baby weight. I love reading People and Us Weekly just as we all do, and you see splashed across the pages pictures of women three, six and eight weeks post-baby and it seems like they all lose the baby weight so easily. And here I was, feeling like I could not lose the baby weight.
Club MomMe: What did you learn from Jenny Craig?
Nicole: It was not that I could not lose the baby weight; it was that I did not know how to do so. As an actress, my entire life I have watched what I ate, however it is completely different to lose weight post baby. I felt bad about myself and felt like I was a failure.
That was when I found Jenny Craig. Suddenly, I had someone there to monitor me, help me and support me in my journey. I had an amazing consultant, Becky, who was very understanding about what I was going through and talked me through various challenges along the way. Becky told me to focus on one week at a time, and I consistently lost two pounds per week on the program.
Club MomMe: What did you like best about the program?
Nicole: As a busy mom, the thing I liked best about the program is that it is so easy. I did not have to worry about calories, points, cards, etc. All I had to do was follow the program and add in my own fruit, vegetable and yogurts. I eat organic produce, so that was easy. As a mom on the go, I loved that I could just grab my “Jenny” for the day, put it in my bag, grab some fruit and salad and go. It was simple.
I now feel healthy and happy in my own skin.
Club MomMe: What was your goal on the program?
Nicole: There was never any pressure put on me to determine my goal. I decided to make my goal weight less than my wedding weight: 124 pounds. This was less than I weighed in 17 years! Even though setting such a challenging goal was a bit scary as a mom of two, I kept thinking to myself an expression that a good friend always told me, “Make yourself proud.”
I wanted to make myself proud! I got there and have been there for two and a half years. I was thinner than my “wedding skinny,” which was super exciting for me! I lost 35 pounds in 16 weeks.
Club MomMe: How do you maintain your weight now?
Nicole: Maintenance is challenging. Losing weight is one thing, but maintaining it is another. I still stick with the Jenny plan, getting a weigh-in once a month. Stepping on a scale in front of other people is a very honest thing. You can’t hide, you can’t deny it. If the number creeps up, I go right back on Jenny and the scale goes right down. I still get the emails and I check in with Jenny every so often.
Club MomMe: What has been the most valuable thing you learned from Jenny?
Nicole: When I was no longer pregnant, I completely lost touch with portion size. I needed to learn about portion control and Volumetrics – basically the concept of adding in fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate. You take your Jenny meal, which is delicious, and add in vegetables to make the meal feel more voluminous. This keeps you feeling more satisfied while keeping your calorie intake under control. The science of Volumetrics was designed by Dr. Barbara Rolls and Jenny Craig is the only weight loss program with exclusive rights to use the Volumetric approach.
Club MomMe: How does Jenny Craig keep you on track?
Nicole: The plan from Jenny gives you three meals a day, two snacks and a dessert. You have to eat each meal and snack each day, so it keeps you on a schedule. You will eat every three hours. I panic when I do not know what to eat. I am busy and I get hungry. What Jenny does is it makes the options simple for me. I always have food in my freezer which makes it super simple if you don’t have a plan. This way you don’t get too hungry and shove the goldfish crackers into your mouth.
Club MomMe: Prior to Jenny, did you like vegetables?
Nicole: No. It may sound bad, but I had not cooked a vegetable since I met her husband. Now I always have vegetables on every plate. My kids have never seen me eat a meal without vegetables on my plate. While my kids might not always eat them vegetables, they always have them on their plate, and they know that vegetables make a meal.
Club MomMe: How did your husband respond when you went on Jenny?
Nicole: My husband gained some weight while I was pregnant, the classic sympathy weight. So he did the Jenny program with me. It is however harder to get guys to “buy in” to the program. When we would go in and talk to our consultant Becky, my husband would dread it at first. He soon started spending more time with Becky than I did! My husband loved having a consultant and being able to talk to someone about his eating habits, why he was hungry, etc.
Club MomMe: Do you work out?
Nicole: Prior to starting Jenny, I had not run since she was 17 years old. I now run half marathons! While working out is great for your health, the Jenny program is not a Biggest Loser type of thing. The emphasis is on working out to feel great, stay healthy and feel good. Jenny Craig says 80% of weight loss is food and 20% is related to your movement and what you do.
Club MomMe: Lastly, what are your favorite foods from Jenny Craig?
Nicole: Chicken Carbanara is my favorite, and I also like the “Sunshine Sandwich,” Turkey Burgers and Fried Chicken with mashed Potatoes.