Weight loss following pregnancy and hanging up the tent sized maternity clothes is something I’m sure all new mothers look forward to with anticipation (I know I did!). However, for a lot of women, the baby weight can be a bit more difficult to shed! Each woman is different and there is no “one size fits all” formula for shedding the weight gained during pregnancy.
For me, the struggle with my weight continued even after I had my first son. I actually ended up gaining MORE weight after I left the hospital. When the doctor asked me “What happened?”, I immediately broke down in tears. In that moment, I was just OVER the battle with my weight, especially since I was a new mom. However, I decided not to give up…even after I had my second son 11 months after giving birth to my first! I began my weight loss journey when my youngest was going on 10 months old and I was waning him off of breastfeeding, which did not happen until almost a year later.
Here are a few tips to follow to aid in jump starting the process of losing the baby weight once you are cleared by your doctor.
1. Stay away from quick fix cleanses and fad diets, specifically when you just give birth. In the first six weeks after having baby, a nutritious diet is more important than losing weight (especially if you’re breast feeding). Beginning a restrictive diet can drain your energy and the last thing you need is anything that will make you feel tired and sluggish (after all, you just gave birth to something that can make you feel tired and sluggish, why add to it!).
Speaking from firsthand experience, it is soo important to make wise food choices after having the baby or else you will continue to gain weight!
Be mindful that you are getting the proper amount of nutrients you need to function at your fullest capacity and heal faster. Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These foods provide you with many important nutrients while helping you feel full longer. Other nutrient-rich choices include low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses. White meat poultry, most fish, beans, and lean cuts of beef and pork are good sources of protein, as well as zinc, iron and B vitamins. Incorporating these food options into your diet will aid in postpartum weight loss.
2. Make time to get moving! Being a new mom or a mom to young children can make finding time to work out a challenge (trust I know!). Not to worry though, you should start SLOW anyways. If I could make it happen while working a full-time job AND taking care of 2 babies, you can too! Just try out some of these tips and remember, where there’s a will, there’s always a way!
Exercise while the kids are sleeping. I would wake up an hour before the kids usually woke up and did my workout.
When I started back working, I used my lunch hour as the time I would workout and eat lunch (post-workout meal) at my desk. That way I wasn’t taking any time away from my family or even my job.
Have someone watch the kids while you exercise for 30 minutes to an hour. My husband would watch the kids while I exercise.
Let the baby (or kids) watch you or take them for a walk with you! I would keep my sons in the play pen / bouncer and do a quick home workout video or I would go for a 2 mile walk with them in the stroller. That way I could keep an eye on them while I got my workout done.
If you don't have time to spend 30 minutes straight on a treadmill, how about just 15 minutes of some form of activity? Something is always better nothing and doing something as simple as a few jumping jacks, a few minutes of jump roping, or even taking your newest addition for a walk in their stroller can be all you need to get moving!
3. Don't forget to take care of yourself by stressing LESS. I know this may be easier said than done but it is so necessary! Get dad to take the baby at least for a few minutes every day to give you some much needed down time. Stress has a way of making you hang on to your excess body weight as it increases the amount of cortisol your body produces. Cortisol is a hormone that encourages the body to store fat, specifically in the abdominal area. Taking even a 15-minute soak in your tub, all by yourself, in peace and quiet can make a world of difference on your stress levels!
4. Focus on overall weight & fat loss. After having their kids, most women see the biggest difference in their stomachs and mistakenly think that doing thousands of crunches is where they should concentrate their efforts. Wrong Fam! There is no such thing as 'spot reducing'. The key is focusing on overall fat loss if you want your waistline back. Ultimately, this happens by having a balanced diet and implementing a consistent exercise plan.
Weight loss following pregnancy involves three things: nutrition, exercise and LOTS of patience. With a little sacrifice and realistic expectations, losing weight after pregnancy doesn't have to be the daunting task it may seem. Just make sure to take care of yourself by starting SLOW, allowing your body time to heal and don't worry about the weight coming off. Ultimately, the most important thing after having a baby is being happy and healthy so you can better take care of yourself, as well as, your bundle of joy!