Losing Weight after Pregnancy: What to Expect
Having a baby is one of the most incredible and challenging experiences in the world. There's an overwhelming amount of information on every detail of pregnancy to child growth and development to parenting approaches. But what about "you" after pregnancy? Maybe you've figured out how to take care of your little one(s), but have you figured out how to take care of you? Where's all of that information hiding?
I scoured the library and internet looking for practical resources not written by supermodels or celebrity trainers during my first pregnancy and came up empty handed. I wanted a simple workout plan requiring little to no thinking (aka no complicated exercises with diagrams or reading involved!) and a real-life look at the challenges and frustrations of post-pregnancy weight loss. With my second child just 2-months old, this blog series will follow my post-prego shape-up journey and give you practical guidance for your own post-pregnancy goals.
The morning I wrote this, my 2-month old required attention twice before I could fit in a continuous 30-minute workout at 4:30am. I'll confess this was my first - I hear him calling me again.
Ok, I'm back. This was my first formal workout in nearly two weeks. Lessons here: 1) Flexibility is the first essential ingredient for getting back into shape after baby, 2) Listening to your body and its needs are vital to making it through the first few months of motherhood or getting back in shape, and 3) Keep focused on the long-term goal. These three things aren't easy to focus on when you want your pre-pregnancy body back yesterday!
Whether you just had a baby, are several months post-partum, or several years since giving birth, these three essentials still apply. Even as a dietitian and personal trainer, I understand how easy it is to skip workouts (I'm no celebrity trainer, nor do I have a nanny or any family nearby to lend a helping hand!). Juggling a high-energy 2-year old, a husband who works 70-plus hours per week and is on call 24/7, a high-maintenance newborn, and having my own business, workouts can easily take the back-burner to taking care of everyone else. Shoot, I feel well-accomplished if I get in a shower, cook dinner, and make it to a meeting on time and not covered in spit-up and stickers! And perhaps fitting in a phone call to have an adult conversation between my fifth round of "Wheels on the Bus" and diaper change number twelve!
My point here is that as a mother, you will forever have a mile-long to-do list and a family to care for. But you must make taking care of you a priority on that to-do list. This does not make you selfish. Read that sentence again. This does not make you selfish. The energy, stress-relief, sense of accomplishment, and physical and mental strength you gain from exercise will make you a better mother, spouse, and friend. Being a healthy role model for your children, at least for me, trumps all other sources of motivation, but I also desperately cannot wait to fit into the pre-pregnancy outfit that hangs by my TreadClimber. I want to be the best version of me possible (don't you?) and I can't accomplish any of those things without regular and consistent workouts. Find your source of motivation and keep it in the forefront of your mind.
Secondly, find a way to fit in workouts wherever you can, but take your schedule and resources into consideration. For example, both kiddos are usually asleep by 8pm and I could workout then, but I'm a morning person and 8pm is "veg time." So, I choose to work out in the wee hours of the morning when I know it's guaranteed that at least my 2-year old will still be sound asleep. I moved my TreadClimber into our office from our separate workout room to be closer to my kiddos and within the reach of the baby monitor. I also take both kids for a walk 4-5 days per week. I kick it up a notch by putting my 32 lb 2-year old in the backpack and pushing my little one in the stroller at the same time. Even if we only go for 20-30 minutes, it's a good workout. Find ways to include your kids in your workouts if you can't get alone time so your plan is fool-proof.
The goal of the first few post-partum months is to establish a workout routine that fits your schedule and is sustainable with the demands of motherhood. Whether it's walking, hitting up the gym, home DVDs, or sweating it out on your Bowflex equipment, just doing it is enough right now.
We'll get into the nitty gritty of post-pregnancy weight loss, nutrition, and fitness in my next few blogs, but for now focus on the how, when, and why of exercising. And give yourself a pat on the back for taking the first step to being one fit mama!
Weigh one time per month (if you want), but don't weigh any more than that. The weight will drop off quickly during the first 4-6 weeks, especially if you're breastfeeding, and then you may hit a plateau. This can be super discouraging, but don't compromise your health or milk supply to try to lose weight more quickly. Remember, it took 9-10 months to put the weight on, give your body time to take it off!
Read all of the Losing Weight after Pregnancy series to learn more healthy ways to lose weight after pregnancy.