The pressure to lose weight after pregnancy can be overwhelming. Many new mothers feel insecure about their bodies immediately after giving birth. I was one of them. The feeling of my soft squishy post baby belly, and all the extra pounds that I had gained during pregnancy, made me uneasy to say the least. However, I knew I wanted to lose the baby weight and tone up in a healthy way. So, whether you are still in the pregnancy phase or have already given birth, here are some tips I have learned that will hopefully help you along your journey.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I researched were the benefits of staying fit during pregnancy. I found that maintaining your fitness throughout pregnancy helps preserve your strength and muscle tone, making it easier for your body to bounce back after baby. I also found that not only does it prepare your body and mind for labor, but you are also less likely to gain surplus weight as a result of keeping an active lifestyle. So, throughout my pregnancy I vowed to remain fit. In fact, the day I went into labor, I had been in the gym that morning walking a mile on the treadmill and performing 100 weighted squats.
“You will know when your body has had enough and it’s important not to push it!”
To help me figure out the best workouts to do during pregnancy, I used a fantastic website called WOD at Home. They provide an entire work-out program for the pregnant mom, catered specifically to each trimester, week and day of pregnancy. However, the workouts they provide are intended for those that have been doing or are familiar with high-intensity training. **Always consult your doctor before exercising during pregnancy** The golden rule for working out while pregnant, is to continue doing the same types of workouts or activities you were previously doing to stay fit prior to pregnancy. Becoming pregnant is not the time to start increasing the rate or intensity of your workouts, you simply want to continue with the same level of fitness your body has become accustomed to. Above all, the most important advice I received about working out while pregnant, was to listen to your body. You will know when your body has had enough and it’s important not to push it.
Even though I achieved my goal of maintaining a fit pregnancy, I still gained 45 pounds! (25-35lbs is the average) So, after the birth of our beautiful little girl, I got to work on shedding that baby weight. By using the following tips, I was pleasantly surprised after only 3 months that I felt comfortable in a swimsuit. I was still not back to my pre-pregnancy size nor weight, but I felt like I was shrinking in a healthy way and I also felt comfortable with my body throughout the process.
I Went Paleo…Well Sort Of.
As a new mother, it is unrealistic to immediately hop on the dieting bandwagon after giving birth. When it comes to your post pregnancy diet, the most important thing you can do is focus on the quality of foods you are putting in your mouth, and not your calorie intake! You want to focus on eating nutrient rich meals that will help balance you internally and also help you feel energized throughout the day.
I am the type of lady who LOVES food. So I had trouble committing to a complete paleo diet, but the semi-paleo route was my bread and butter…so to speak. My goal was to incorporate lean meats, vegetables, nuts and fruits into every meal, and completely avoid processed carbohydrates (or fillers). Not only did a semi-paleo diet provide me with the energy I needed to take care of my newborn baby, but I also felt better about what I was putting in my body which made me happier all around.
I Immediately Started Exercising Again.
When I say exercising, I simply mean that I put on gym clothes and got my body moving. It is incredibly important to start doing some sort of physical activity after pregnancy. Exercising helps increase energy levels, regulate hormones, and has been shown to reduce the risk of postpartum depression. I was back in the gym about a week after giving birth, but all I did was walk on the treadmill…and I didn’t walk far! I took it one day at a time and vowed to do a little more each day. For post pregnancy workout ideas, I just continued to use my WOD at Home Pregnancy workouts, but I started in Trimester 2 and worked my way back to the beginning to gradually increase my activity level. After about 4 weeks, I felt like my body was pretty much ready to get back to the high-intensity training that it was used to before pregnancy.
I Got A Belly Bandit
No matter what you do, it seems like your stomach will never EVER be tight and flat again! And if you are like me, adjusting your diet and exercise will make no difference to your new flabby belly. I started using the Belly Bandit about a week after giving birth. I used it whenever I had the opportunity and sometimes I even slept in it. The Belly Bandit acted as a comfort blanket of sorts, allowing the extra skin and jiggle I had recently acquired to now be easily contained by a simple wrap. The ultimate goal of the Belly Bandit is to help tighten and shrink the belly, waist, and hips post pregnancy.
Relaxin is a natural hormone produced during pregnancy to help your pelvis and ligaments soften for childbirth, and can stay in your body for up to five months after delivery. The Belly Bandit works in conjunction with the hormone, Relaxin, to help accelerate the healing process and get you back to your pre-pregnancy size. The Belly Bandit also helps provide comfort after a C-section, minimize stretch marks, and has been found to promote good posture while breastfeeding. This was by far the best investment I made in my after baby body.
Patience & Perseverance
I was in the gym 5 days a week and eating food that my body loved… So why did the scale still look the same after months of hard work? What was I doing wrong? The answer was nothing. My body was still producing certain hormones that played an important factor in my ability to lose weight. For instance, prolactin is the hormone responsible for stimulating milk production, but it also increases your appetite and makes you retain fluid. This alone makes it difficult for your body to shed those extra pounds. After 4 to 6 months your prolactin levels drop, which is when you can really start to see the changes in your body. I also noticed that once my cycles started up again (9 weeks later), the weight just began to fall off. Unfortunately, hormones are the one factor you cannot affect. My point being, you need to be patient and your hard work will pay off!
I did not completely return to my pre-pregnancy weight and size until 6 months after my little one was born. But using the above tips helped me to stay energized, motivated, and made me more comfortable with my body throughout the transformation process. Just remember, that it is a process and it takes time.