Last week I gave you some tips to stay active during your pregnancy. This week, I want to share some tips for getting back into exercise and healthy eating post-pregnancy.
One of the things I looked forward to most after having my babies was to have my body back. I couldn’t wait to feel my belly again, without a 9-pound baby inside! However, that post-baby belly wasn’t what I was hoping for. I’m not sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect to look 6 months pregnant a few weeks after giving birth!
I really wanted to lose the pregnancy weight fast, but I knew my body just couldn’t handle it. I was tired from not sleeping through the night and I was extremely overweight, so exercise just didn’t appeal to me right away. Even though it was tempting to try the newest fad “diet” craze and lose that pregnancy weight in the quickest way possible, the best course of action was to take slow and steady steps.
Diet After Pregnancy
You’re recovering, and you’ll need rest and nutrition to regain your energy and, if you’re breastfeeding, keep your breast milk flowing. Instead of going on a crash diet, you should be on a well-balanced breastfeeding diet rich in nutrients for you and your baby. Choose foods that are big in bulk but lower in calories so you’ll fill up without filling out — whole-grains, fruits, and raw or steamed veggies. Continue to get a lot of calcium and pack protein into your diet after pregnancy in the form of lean meats, fish, and eggs. And guess what? Many women find they have more success with weight loss after pregnancy during breastfeeding (milk production burns about 500 calories a day).
Even if you’re not nursing, you still need to shore up your strength and build up your nutrients again, so it’s better to avoid those weight-loss diets that cut out one food group or another. In fact, eating a sensible diet after pregnancy that’s low in fat can help you with losing baby weight after pregnancy. What else helps? Setting realistic goals for yourself — weight loss after pregnancy isn’t impossible, but it took a while (nine months to be exact) to grow a baby in there, and it will take more than a couple weeks and a few ab exercises to get back that pre-baby body.
Exercise After Pregnancy
Eating a healthy diet is step one to get back your pre-baby body; the next is working in some exercise. Of course, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing. You’re tired. You’re sore. You have a newborn that cries. At night. A lot.
So for starters, cut yourself some slack! In fact, for the first six weeks postpartum, don’t even consider working out, your body is still recovering, and you don’t want to do any damage. First, you’ll need the go-ahead from your doctor before you start to exercise. Again, start small, especially if you had a C-section (be sure to check with your doctor for the green light on postpartum exercising). A great way to start is to go for a walk in the park with the baby to start off. I used to take the stroller and walk outside each day for half and hour. And when the weather was bad, I headed to the mall and walked around there.
As for ab exercises, start slow with those too. Focus on core strengthening, such as the “hover” or “plank.” You can then gradually add crunches, side crunches, and lastly, lower abdominal exercises.
About 4 months after my last child was born, I started to pick up the intensity of my workouts. I was sleeping better and I could workout while my kids napped. The first program I did was ChaLEAN Extreme. I loved this workout because it was low-impact but still a great sweat. But the best part, the workouts are only 30-40 minutes long, which is perfect for busy moms! The weight training in that program was amazing. It got me lean and toned within a year, and I lost all that baby weight during that time.
To summarize: make sure to take it slow and steady when it comes to diet and exercise after pregnancy. Your body needs time to recover, so give it at least 6 weeks before starting to exercise. You can slowly increase the intensity as time goes on. Just remember, it takes time to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight, so don’t rush it. The key to weight loss after pregnancy is staying active and eating a nutritious diet. Plus, a healthy and balanced diet after pregnancy will give you more energy — energy that you’ll definitely need to keep up with your baby!