Moms, do you look at your post-baby body and sigh in complete and utter frustration (if not derision)?
I know how you feel. When I heard that I was pregnant with my first child, I was scared. Not because I was single (I was), or because I didn’t plan on getting pregnant (I didn’t), but because I had just lost 100 pounds, and was afraid I would gain it all back!
I’m kidding, but not really. That was a thought in my mind, and it turns out that was the LAST thing that should have crossed my mind.
That doesn’t mean that I bounced back the second week after giving birth to Jade, or that I have abs that scream for a bikini. The last time I wore a bikini was when I was 3.
Yet, losing the baby weight that year after my daughter, Jade was born turned out to be surprisingly easy. And, losing the baby weight again after my youngest daughter, Asha, was born, proved to be easy as well.
Many of my health coaching clients struggle with getting their post-baby body back, even if their children are already grown and flown the nest! Read on for ways to bounce back after baby, without completing making over your entire busy lifestyle.
After months of growing and nurturing a little person, and surviving the trauma that childbirth is, and then becoming a human cow, your body may never look exactly the same. However, you can still be blissful in your body without suffering (I promise).
Let’s talk about specific health challenges that moms especially seem to have, and techniques to overcome them.
Challenge #1: No time to hit the gym
Forget the gym, and find a new way to get active. This way takes minutes a day, costs no money, and gives you a healthy dose of energy for your whole day. Plus, you can do it right now!
After I lost my office job in 2010, I lost 10 pounds without even trying. I did not exercise more or eat differently. What I did was spend most of my day on my feet taking care of my toddler.
How would your life improve if you just got up on your feet more often?
Sitting disease is real. If you have never heard of sitting disease, it is the idea that sitting on your butt for extended periods of time not only makes you unfit, but can also increase the size and spread of your cheeks. Yes, those cheeks.
Even if you would welcome a wider butt, sitting down all day may decrease the heart benefits you get from exercising for an hour.
Some experts believe that sitting is worse for your health than smoking. Women’s Health released an article from a reporter who did not sit down for a whole month. While this approach is too extreme (you still have to sit to use the toilet, right?), there are merits to getting up on your feet.
These merits include:
- Relieves pressure on your legs by encouraging blood flow
- Burns more calories than sitting
- Builds core strength
I can tell you that standing for at least 5 minutes every hour will not require grumping, a guilt trip, or a gym membership. No matter how busy you are, you can probably carve out 5 precious minutes to take a stroll around your area, or even escape for 10 minutes. That short break will restore your spirit and energize your body.
My challenge to you is to set an alarm to stand up at least every 2 hours. If you are a traveler, make sure to schedule regular rest stops or even just stand for a few minutes by your seat. Record your progress throughout the week. Then, see how you feel by the end of the week. Your body will thank you!
Challenge #2: Weak stomach and back from a tough labor/recovery
Some of us moms experience diastasis recti, which is a condition in which the large abdominal muscles separate. Diastasis recti is common in women who are over 35, deliver a high birth weight baby, or have a multiple pregnancy. While this condition is somewhat rare, it can create challenges with regular exercise programs that include lots of planks and core work.
Even if you don’t suffer from diastasis recti, tough labor could have exacerbated a back problem or even created one.
A lot of my friends in the chiropractic industry have told me that they see younger patients coming in with significant back problems. I had back surgery for a slipped disk before I turned 30, and I still have slight nerve damage in my left foot. Until you throw out your back, it’s hard to understand just how important your core muscles are.
Having a stronger core will help you look better in your clothes. The straighter your back and firmer your belly, the less likely you will have unsightly bulges hanging out of your pants.
So, how do you gently work those core muscles after baby? The best way to do this without any injury is to dance!
Yes, that’s right. Pump up your favorite tunes, and get shaking. I will throw impromptu dance parties with my two girls in my living room, turn on the Wii for a sweat challenge, or even check out my favorite Youtube channels for choreography moves from my favorites, Keaira LaShae and The Fitness Marshall.
Again, this requires you to get on your feet (unless you bust out some old school breakdancing) and start moving. No worries if you start with only a one song, 4 minute option. Check out some of my favorite videos to get you moving (no matter your current ability).
Challenge #3: Hungry all the time
When I was nursing my kids, I was hungry ALL THE TIME! Do you feel me on this?
It turns out that many foods that support healthy lactation also support healthy weight loss. These foods include whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa, fats like almonds and coconut, iron-rich fruits like apricots and dates, and even spices like turmeric, fenugreek and miso.
Load up on these healthy foods, and don’t forget to drink more water.
By the way, certain programs discourage reducing your calorie intake while nursing. None of my programs include counting anything, and I’m a big fan of the idea that NO ONE, least of all a mom, should go hangry. Eat when you’re hungry, and pay attention to whether you need to go to bed instead of mindlessly munching. In general, I found that most of my hunger pains as a new mom were the result of fatigue more than actual hunger.
I can’t tell you that you will lose a bunch of weight simply by standing throughout the day. What I will tell you is bouncing back after 10 months of pregnancy takes a little time. Why not enjoy yourself along the way? Stand up more often, dance to build your core, and eat the right foods to support your healthy mom goals.
Most of all, give yourself a pat on the back for being the amazing mom that you are!