Pregnancy does many things to the body, but one of the most unwanted side effects is weight gain. We all know those super skinny moms who go through pregnancy glowing and looking great, only to pop out a kid and leave the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans. Okay, maybe we don’t actually know these mythical creatures, their existence, however, is touted to us, only making new moms feels worse about their less than perfect physique. We are bombarded by magazines poking fun of celebrities who gained too much during pregnancy, think Jessica Simpson or Kelly Clarkson, and others showcasing moms looking back to them old selves within a matter of weeks. So what is key to taking the weight off post pregnancy?
1. Don’t gain so much during pregnancy – Easier said than done right? Between cravings and being too tired to muster up the energy to cook something, pregnant women often fall pray to excessive weight gain. According to the Mayo Clinic, It is recommended that women with a healthy BMI (body mass index) gain between 25 and 35 lbs and those overweight or obese gain anywhere from 11 – 25 lbs. The more you gain during pregnancy the more you will have to lose later on, which in turn will affect how long it takes to lose the weight. Healthy weight loss generally occurs at a rate of about 1lb a week. Moral of the story, skip the donuts, ice cream and chocolate bars and hit the veggies, fruits and lean proteins instead.
2. Nutrition – If you are “eating for 2” quite literally, before baby is born, it will make it that much harder to eat less after. Also the food choices you were making for 9 months will be hard to break, as poor eating can become habit. Don’t overindulge and try hard to continue healthy eating habits. If your pre-pregnancy your pre-pregnancy habits were less than stellar, adopt new, healthy habits. This will only make it that much easier to lose the weight after baby arrives since calories can be consumed much quicker than they are burned off.
3. Strength Training – If you are given the green light from your doctors, stay active during your pregnancy and ensure to include strength training. Strength training helps to maintain and increase muscle mass. The more muscle a person has the higher your metabolism is. A pound of muscle burns over 5 times the amount of calories as one pound of fat. Therefore ensure your regimen both pre- and post- natal includes some form of strength training as this will aid in weight loss.
4. Listen to your doctor – Don’t jump right back into a hardcore workout routine following child birth. Heed your doctors advice and don’t over do yourself. Most doctors recommend 6 weeks before resuming strenuous exercise, but this can depend on the type of delivery, vaginal versus c-section, and any possible tears or health problems. Remember right after pregnancy your body is prone to more injuries since oxytocin has loosened your ligaments all over your body, in order to aid in the birth of your child. Doing too much too fast can get you injured, which might actually keep you out of the fitness world even longer.
5. Take time for yourself – Ensure that you make time to workout. When your child finally falls asleep use your time wisely. Do a workout and forget about the dishes in the sink or the laundry waiting to be folded. Do a quick workout at home, they can be just as effective as hours spent at a gym (check out our No Excuses 20 Minute Workout or this 25 Minute Dumbbell Workout for Weight Loss). Take the time and put yourself first. You deserve it for everything you do for your children, house and husband.
6. Sleep – This one is tough, butso important. Try and get adequate sleep. The mayo clinic recommends adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. This may be tough when it comes to feedings or sick kids or those kids who just refuse to sleep through the night. Also if you don’t get that much sleep at night, try to grab a quick nap while your kids are taking their naps. Sleep aids weight loss because it helps to regulate different hormones in the body that regulate appetite. Also if you are feeling tired then you are more likely to pick high energy, low quality foods for a quick energy source. So remember count your sheep!
7. Make it your life – Don’t just look at weight loss as a time to deprive yourself of the foods you love or doing exercises you hate. Choose something that is easy for you to stick with and make it a normal part of your life. If you love to walk or run, buy a jogging stroller and take your kids with you. Bring some toys or books to keep them entertained or walk/run to a destination they will enjoy, like a playground, the beach, or the library. When it comes to food, make things you love or find a healthier alternative. Check out this Healthy Chicken Parmesan recipe. It has all the goodness without the tremendous calories. If you start incorporating your entire family and truly make it a part of your life not only will it be beneficial for you, but you may help your significant other make positive life changes and your kids will grow up with great models for nutrition and an active lifestyle. What more could you ask for?
8. Set realistic goals – Remember weight loss is a journey. You won’t lose all the weight you want probably as quickly as you want but don’t let that discourage you. Set realistic goals and they don’t always have to be weight related. Maybe your goal is to walk for 30 min a day 5 days a week, do, to do a push up or maybe your goal is to go down one dress size. Don’t make your goals to big or unrealistic like I want to lose 50lbs in 3 months. Not only are they not healthy but it will also be extremely discouraging when you don’t reach your goal and potentially cause you to give up all together or hit the chocolate ice cream to drown your sorrows. Either way big goals often just set people up for failure so make small goals and keep making new ones as you reach them. This will help you feel good about your success and allow you to more easily see the progress you have made.
At the end of the day it took you 9 months to put on all that pregnancy weight so give yourself that amount of time to get it off. If you follow the advice above you will probably beat that time line but everyone is different. Don’t be hard on yourself, just be consistent and do your best. With time you’ll get the results you deserve.