It is no secret that a woman’s body after pregnancy may not scream perfection and it can take a bit of time to return to the status quo. That being said, there are a lucky bunch that seem to not experience any major changes and “snapback” almost instantly. However, for the vast multitude of us, the reality is different.
With my natural body shape before pregnancy being relatively thick (I’ve been a modest size 10/12 for the past few years) and an appetite of a blue whale, I knew I had to get a handle on my diet before my body became a complete alien to me. I often find that when speaking to other moms, you get two ends of the spectrum. You have those that live by the mantra “just eat what you want — after all, you are growing a life,” and you have the other more self-conscious group who will advise you “not to eat for two — the growing baby doesn’t need much food.”
My view and attitude fall somewhere in the middle. As much as I wanted to experience pregnancy in all its glory and attribute any weight gain to my growing baby and not my insatiable need to stuff my face, I knew I didn’t want my “snapback” to be too difficult. Never being a fan of exercising, I’ve always preferred changing my diet to drop those extra post-Christmas pounds to sweating on a treadmill. Am I the only one that finds it completely demoralizing when you run for 15 minutes (the most I could ever do in one go) and find that you have only burnt off 200 calories, the equivalent of a package of Hula Hoops?
The scale in my bathroom was one of my closest friends throughout my pregnancy. We had morning dates every single day for the first seven months, some of which I admit ended badly. I quite frankly didn’t always agree with a few of the figures it was spewing out and we eventually parted ways when I realized the friendship was causing me to have headaches. As much as I recommend the monitoring of weight gain, I don’t encourage it becoming an obsession as mine did. Even with the understanding that you are likely to gain about 20 lbs on average during pregnancy, it doesn’t always make it easy when you see your weight shooting up.
Now let us skip forward to post-pregnancy. I had gained a healthy 25 lbs, most of which appeared to be water weight, baby, uterus, and the rest. Almost immediately after having my baby, I noticed some positive changes to my swollen face and body. However, I still had some work to do to get to my ideal size. Here are a couple of things I found useful in shedding those irritating pounds:
1. Eating smaller portions with less carbs.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding like I was, you cannot do anything extreme, as you need to maintain your calorie intake for your milk supply to be sustained. But cutting back on portion sizes and incorporating healthy ingredients will certainly help. I tried to include a salad in most of my meals and resorted to drinking tea when I felt peckish or hungry. Let’s be completely honest, a lot of the time when we think we are hungry, we are actually just thirsty. I do recall a few annoying nights when all I wanted was a chocolate cookie but instead opted for a warm glass of water and bed.
2. Postnatal YouTube workout videos.
These were amazing for me. I could steal 15 minutes here and there to indulge in some light exercise when my newborn was down for his nap. The great thing about postnatal workout videos is that you hardly break a sweat! The important thing here is staying active and moving. This is also an opportunity to tackle the dreaded Diastasis Recti (stomach muscle separation), which most pregnant women will experience a degree of. You know that awkward mum belly where it looks like you have a gaping hole around the belly button area that you can fit your hand in? Yep, that’s what that is. The only way to get rid of is to get stuck into some specific stomach exercises. YouTube is your friend.
3. Apple cider vinegar.
The pasteurised kind. A couple of tablespoons in some warm water first thing in the morning or last thing at night can help burn fat cells a lot faster. I attribute the consistency of my weight loss to my diligence in following this routine. It doesn’t taste the best, but just pop it in a wine glass and pretend you are sipping on some non-alcoholic beverage.
4. Daily walks.
Not only is this good for your body, but it is also good you for your mind. Being stuck indoors all day every day never does anyone a lot of good. Get your pram/baby carrier out and go for a light stroll. My son loved our walks from as young as one week (well, he mostly slept through them) and it allowed me to get some well needed fresh air. You would be surprised how far a few 30 minute walks every week can take you on your weight loss journey.
And remember, it took nine months to create your little human. So what if takes a bit longer to get back in shape? Just take your time and practice some positives behavior as you get to know your “new body.”