This post is part of my series, A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy, where I document my journey of losing 52 pounds of baby weight, after giving birth to my third baby in 4 years. (For my raw, unedited look at my pregnancy, check out my series, A Real Picture of Pregnancy.) All of my photos are unedited and follow the one-take rule.

A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months

See that huge smile on my face?

It’s because I feel really freaking good.

In the last 6 weeks, I did something major.

I cut out all alcohol, processed foods, dairy, grains and added sugar.

Did you hear that?

All alcohol. (Eeeek!)

Basically, I ate protein, veggies and fruit, and drank water, for 6 weeks.

And I lost 13 pounds.

It was hard, and I did have a few cheats. (Including a Choco Taco at my son’s first birthday party. Because, duh.)

But I did it.

And, about halfway through my challenge, something crazy happened.

I started believing in myself again.

A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months

Normally, I keep these white shorts in a bottom drawer, and they stay hidden, on the bottom of the pile.

No one knows my thoughts about these shorts. I know they are my skinniest shorts that I’m only able to wear when I’m at my goal weight. These shorts had made me feel so bad about myself over the last year. I had secretly tried them on several times, and every time, I could barely get them on, much less button them.

Each time, I’d think, ‘It’s a lost cause. I will never be back to that size. It’s impossible.’ And then I’d feel discouraged and drink a cocktail or eat something bad.

But one day, I was browsing Instagram and saw the hashtag #NonScaleVictory (or #NSV), and it got me thinking more about something I already knew.

That the scale doesn’t define me. And I’m making awesome progress everyday, even though it sometimes feels invisible.

After that, I got crazy and decided to open up that bottom drawer and pull out the secret shorts.

I couldn’t believe it, but they buttoned.

They fit.

I was still 12 pounds over my goal weight but in a way, I realized I was already at my goal. 

I love myself and my body for being strong and clean and capable.

The scale is just a number. But I am dynamic person who is happy and healthy.

And that starts from the inside out.

Over the rest of my 6-week challenge, I lost a total of 13 pounds.

If you look at my progress pictures, it doesn’t look like much of a difference. But, I can tell. My belly looks tighter, my face looks leaner, and most importantly, my reawakened inner joy glows from the inside out.

A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months

The clean eating helped me finally push past the 7 pounds of yoyo-ing I’d been doing since October. That back-and-forth had put me into a funk that, at times, I felt like I couldn’t get out of. I wasn’t happy. Because I wasn’t seeing the progress I thought I should.

With my first 2 kids, I was back to pre-pregnancy weight by the time they were 8 or 9 months. But, as my third baby neared his first birthday, I was still 15 pounds away from my goal.

In fact, I took these progress pictures but didn’t want to post or share them.

                            11 Months                                                                   12 Months

A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months         A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months

There were many reasons I was seeing slow progress.

It might have been my age. I’m 34 now, and I was 29 when I started having kids. Those 5 years have made a big difference. My metabolism is definitely different, and if I eat a Chipotle burrito, I swear I gain 6 pounds.

It could have also been my stress level. My husband started his own company this year, and as a result, I find myself alone more, with a busy baby and 2 young boys.

The fact that I gained 10 more pounds with my third pregnancy than any other might have also had something to do with it.

Given all those factors, and the fact that I was sick of seeing so little progress, I knew that if I wanted to make a change, I needed to do something drastic.

And one day in April, I woke up and said, “That’s it. I can either continue to be discouraged, or just bite the bullet and do something kind of crazy.”

And so, I started the 6 weeks of no alcohol and totally clean eating.

I allowed zero excuses. I continued working out 5 days a week and drastically changed my eating habits. On a typical day, I have a green smoothie for breakfast, raw veggies for snack, a salad for lunch, nuts and berries for snack and grilled chicken with roasted veggies for dinner.

Shockingly, eating well wasn’t even that hard. Once I was a few days in, I noticed I felt lighter and cleaner. I noticed I had more energy and a more positive, confident mindset. And as the days went on, I really stopped wanting bad foods at all. Now, when I have a craving, it’s for a fat, juicy steak and blue cheese dressing on a green salad. I don’t even want Taco Bell or cheese fries.

And with that, my mind is totally blown.

Get crazy and expect more from yourself.

You might be shocked at how capable you really are.

A Real Picture of Post-Pregnancy: 13 Months

This month’s stats

Pre-pregnancy weight: 148
Birth day weight: 200
Start of plan (1 month postpartum): 186
13 month update: 153 (-6 from 3 months ago)
Pounds lost: 47
Pounds to go: 5

(As I mentioned, I lost 13 pounds during my 6-week challenge. But, my net loss since my last update is “only” 6 pounds because because I’d gained about 7 pounds of bloat since then too. Some of you are sticklers for the numbers, so I knew I needed to include that or you’d call me out!)

I’ve been sharing my real and raw post-baby updates since my baby was 4 weeks old. Now, 13 months in, I’m still chuggin’ along! Anyone else on the baby weight loss journey with me? Say hi in the comments section below.