The experience of having a baby is hard to describe. It’s amazing, it’s exciting, and, at times, just plain scary. While you navigate the emotional ups and downs of being a new mother, seeing pictures of other women who appear to bounce back to their pre-baby shape within hours of giving birth can make you feel more down than up! While we can’t promise you’ll have Beyoncé’s pre-baby body, there are a few things you can do to get your OWN body back.
1. Be realistic
It took 9 months (and a new person), to gain the pregnancy weight. Don’t expect to lose it overnight. It’s also unrealistic to think that you can get back into your old diet and exercise habits right away. Most experts recommend that you should only start thinking about losing excess baby weight after about 6-12 weeks. You’re sleep deprived, emotional, and if you’re breast feeding, probably hungry. Life is not quite as simple as it used to be!
2. Don’t eat junk food
It’s so tempting to simply grab something quick and easy, but besides sabotaging your weight loss efforts, you won’t be giving your baby what he or she needs if you’re breastfeeding. The nutritional content is limited in convenience foods and instead of giving you vitamins and minerals, they give you sugar and salt! Too much sugar plays havoc with your metabolism, so now is a good time to kick your habit! Good quick fix snacks (and something you only need one hand to eat), include
- Smashed avo on toast
- Boiled egg
3. Be prepared
Shop smart and get organised. You won’t be tempted to eat junk food if it isn’t in your house in the first place! Put together a weekly meal plan and prepare and freeze as much of this as you can over the weekend. Bulk up meals with loads of vegetables, these keep you going for longer as well as delivering all the nutrition you need.
4. Be consistent
Just as your baby needs routine, so does your body. Between feeding, nappy changes and crying (your baby) making time to sit down to a meal can feel like an afterthought. Don’t let it be. Without eating regularly, energy levels start to fade, emotions run high and irritability sets in, making it likely you’ll just eat more (or more of the wrong things), at your next meal. Eating at the exact same time every day helps to regulate your hormones and your appetite. If sitting down isn’t an option, consider a nutritional shake or smoothie that you can have on the move.
“Yeah right” we hear you say! Sleep is hard to come by, but is also the secret to weight loss. Being sleep deprived upsets the balance of the hormones that regulate your appetite. It can sometimes be impractical to “sleep when the baby sleeps” as there is always so much else to do, but shift your priorities around. The dishes can wait, can’t they? Try to nap during the day, even 30 minutes can do the trick. At night, include your partner in the feeding schedule.
6. Step away from the kitchen at midnight
If your baby has been up 3 times before midnight, or if they have just had their feed, it’s easy to head to the kitchen for a quick snack. These little snacks all add up and since you won’t be using up any of that energy you just ate, its likely to be stored as extra fat. If the urge for a midnight snack is overwhelming, have a glass of milk or some herbal tea. Neither will send your blood sugar rocketing and both will calm you down, helping you go back to sleep (as short lived as that may be).
7. Bond with your baby while getting active
Your days of going to gym for 2 hours have had to be put on hold, but that’s no reason you can’t be active. Moving around not only helps keep your weight in check, it also helps to boost your mood, ease anxiety and help you sleep better. Going for a walk pushing a pram, or carrying your baby in a pouch can be surprisingly good exercise. You don’t even need to leave the house! There are several good home exercise programmes where all you need is your baby and the floor! For some ideas, check out http://www.parents.com/parenting/moms/healthy-mom/mommy-and-me-workout/
8. Don’t eat your feelings
When you’re sleep deprived and feel overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s common to rummage through the fridge for something to make yourself feel better. Yet if you don’t break that habit, it can prevent you from losing weight. Instead of turning to food to feel better, have a list of healthy activities you can do when you’re trying to cope with your feelings. That might include going for a walk, phoning a fellow mom, or simply sitting down on your own for 5 minutes. Parenting can be hard, so don’t go it alone. To be the best mom you can be don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!