Ok, I’ll be honest…I’ve been debating as to whether I should write this article or not for a little while now. I think it’s simply because I want every single mother (and person in general) to love their bodies. There are so many people telling women how they SHOULD look postpartum. The media is a very good example of this, consistently belittiling women for not losing the baby weight fast enough, and showing photos of celebrities two weeks postpartum with a six pack. These messages are simply…awful. So, I want every mother out there to seriously remember that each postpartum journey is a little bit (or a lot) different and that is OK.
For me, getting my ‘body back’ after each pregnancy was incredibly important for three reasons:
#1. I have better energy, alertness, and overall physical health when I take care of myself
#2. I love feeling (and looking) strong, lean and fit
#3. I want to model to my girls that taking care of your body is a form of self-love and it is important
I want to make it clear that I am by no means an ‘expert’ when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I’m simply sharing what worked for me based on what I’ve learned (and I LOVE learning about health and wellness). If you’re reading this because you’re feeling stuck in your postpartum weight loss journey and especially for the women who feel discouraged and exhausted…please don’t give up.
Be consistent with your eating and exercise habits, and your mind and body will reap the benefits for the rest of your life. I’m a firm believer that it all boils down to self love – take care of your mind and body because it seriously deserves it…YOU deserve it! So with all of that said, here are some tips based on how I lost my baby weight after two kiddos.
#1. Get rid of the negative thinking
This is indirectly related to losing baby weight, but I swear it will transform your life. I feel like so many mother’s ‘let themselves go’ because they feel selfish when they invest energy in themselves. This is so counter intuitive – you will absolutely be a happier and healthier mother if you begin to take care of yourself.
So today, make a commitment to shift the way you think about what it means to exercise and eat healthy. If you have always felt that you don’t have time (or you’re too exhausted) to exercise, I want you to change the way you talk and think about your physical health. You are going to exercise because your mind and body deserve the love and attention that you haven’t been giving it. You are going to eat healthy because your body will function and feel better when you give it wholesome, nutritious foods. So…get rid of the negative self talk and the excuses you make for not taking care of yourself as you would like to. If you’re too exhausted to exercise, tell yourself you will commit to 10 minutes (because anyone can do 10 minutes) and see how you FEEL after you finish…you may just end up doing a little bit more.
#2. Focus on fueling your body
Being a mom of two girls three and under, I get it…time is hard to come by. We don’t have the luxury of spending an hour prepping the perfect grilled salmon lentil salad with a side of smoothie for lunch. Sometimes it’s a matter of throwing something together that you can eat while simultansouly holding a baby and cleaning the kitchen. Mom life at its finest! Because time is often not on our side, I try and stock my fridge and pantry with food that is GOOD for my body. There’s nothing worse than eating a chocolate bar for your afternoon snack and feeling energetically depleted once the sugar high wears off. I avoid as many processed foods as possible, limit my added sugar and unhealthy fats intake, and focus on eating lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. To be more specific, I love the Tone It Up Program and usually follow their Nutrition Guide. And FYI…their Nutrition Plan is NOT a diet, it’s a lifestyle…and it’s AMAZING! (If you want to learn more about Tone It Up, visit https://www.toneitup.com)
So, every time you are about to eat something, first think… will this give my body what it needs? Will it fuel me in a healthy way? Does it have a ton of added and refined sugars, preservatives, unhealthy fats and sodium? Some of my go-to snacks are plain greek yogurt (I always add some organic honey to sweeten it just a little), homemade CLEAN banana oatmeal muffins, trail mix, boiled eggs and veggies with hummus.
#3. Be prepared
This directly relates to my last post. If you have a ton of unhealthy treats in your pantry then that is what you will reach for when you’re exhausted and starving, therefore you need to be prepared. Get rid of the junk and stock your pantry and fridge with foods that fuel you. I always went one step further and would prep things ahead of time when possible. Boiling a bunch of eggs for the week or chopping up a bunch of fruit and veggies so they are easy to reach for is the best way to ensure you are making the best food choices. And bonus…when your little one says they are hungry (because let’s be honest…kids are hungry pretty much ALL of the time), you will have quick and healthy options for them.
#4. Don’t snack at night
I’ll admit, I’m ALWAYS hungry when I’m breastfeeding. It’s ridiculous how much I eat (and crave). But when I stopped eating after 7pm, I very quickly noticed a shed in the pounds. I also found that evening munching was never (or rarely) good…I never reached for carrots and hummus or made myself a nice salad (I think that’s unheard of). Let’s all be honest here…when we snack in the evening, 95% of the time it consists of chips, cookies, muffins, cake, pizza, ice cream…or any other treat not listed. And just a note: If I was ever REALLY hungry at that hour, I would grab an apple with almond butter or fruit salad and would often feel satisfied after a small but healthy snack.
#5. Consistency is KEY
I’m a firm believer that eating well and exercising regularly should be a “lifestyle”. I exercise at least three times per week, even if it’s a quick twenty minute workout, and most of my meals and snacks are healthy in nature. The thing is…if you want to change your body and feel better overall, you need to be as consistent as possible.
I find a great trick for me is to schedule in my workouts as if I’m scheduling in an appointment. You likely wouldn’t skip out on an important doctors appointment, would you? So, try and schedule your workouts in the same way you do any other appointment. Make it a priority. Plan around your workouts so that you don’t find “better things to do” when the time comes, and make sure these “appointment times” are set in advance. Long term results are achieved through conscious effort and planning, so stick it out even if you don’t see results right away.
#6. It’s not all or nothing
We don’t do restrictions in our household, we do moderation. Do I feel guilty after I eat a burger and fries with a beer on a Saturday date night? Absolutely not. Will I eat that every other day of the week? Absolutely not. I’m all about moderation and no guilt when I do indulge.
I think how we view food greatly influences how we treat our bodies. Treats aren’t bad (in my opinion) and we need to stop the whole shaming game when we want to enjoy a slice of pizza or a piece of cake. With that said, the more junk you eat, the more crappy you will feel and the less weight you will lose. Try and avoid over doing it, but as soon as you have an all or nothing approach, you will self sabotage. Moderation is key.
#7. Water, water, water
Drink up, girl! It’s funny..I never used to be a water drinker. Now that I’ve become the 8 glasses a day kind of girl, I feel so gross when I don’t get in my water intake. Staying hydrated is SO important, and I found this a critical part in feeling my best and keeping my energy levels up. Heidi Powell, a celebrity personal trainer recently stated that drinking an adequate amount of water is essential in helping to activate Lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat in the body). So, if you aren’t drinking enough water, your fat loss is LIMITED. A small change that can have big impact!
#8. Focus on Exercise Quality over Quantity
Ok, I get it moms. Finding time to exercise when you have young children at home isn’t easy. Kids truly do dictate how your day is going to go…you may have a plan to exercise while they are taking their nap and then BAM…a tooth is coming in and they are glued to your hip all day.
Because of this, I quickly discovered that I couldn’t always commit to long workouts. Therefore, I started to focus on the quality of my exercises, regardless of the duration. I realized very quickly that I really don’t need a full hour four days per week to see results. To be honest, most of my workouts are 25 minutes in duration, 3 times per week but I don’t waste a minute when I AM exercising. They often consist of high intensity exercises with a mix of weight training and cardio. By the end of the 25 minutes, I’m sweating like a pig and I feel great.
Getting in a 25 minute workout also makes it a lot harder to say no to. Lets be honest…most of us have 25 minutes of spare time every other day. Not only that, but a 25 minute workout seems so much less daunting than a full hour. However, the key is to make the most of each workout, so make it a sweaty one.
In addition to these workouts, I make sure to get out (weather permitted) every day for a long walk with the girls. When you focus on moving more (in general) you will begin to notice positive changes to your body.
So…there ya have it. I hope my suggestions work for you as they have for me. If you’re on a health kick or have achieved some personal fitness and nutrition goals, please share! I’d love to hear your story!