After carrying and delivering 4 babies and successfully losing the weight 3 times, I have learned a few things for this time around. These things apply to anyone, not just postpartum moms. Without further delay, here are 10 absolutely necessary things to do to lose baby weight or any extra weight.
1. Drink LOTS of water.
You’ve heard it before. You know it, but it’s easy not to apply, especially in the winter. You wouldn’t run your car without oil. Don’t try and run your body without pure water. It just doesn’t run efficiently. I’ll be honest, I am terrible at this. BUT, with nursing a baby, the fluid levels need to be even higher so I’ve been motivated to drink water despite whether I feel like it or not. I’ve found that the more I drink, the more my “thirst” kicks in. I have been filling a water bottle in the morning and try to fill it one more time during the day (and then drink an extra big glass or 2 before or after meals.) If you struggle with this, try this little smarty pants trick.
2. Don’t cut calories…yet.
After having a baby, some of get all excited to start getting our pre-baby body back. I was just relieved to not have heartburn any more! But, like I told my husband this morning, I traded heartburn and being out of breath for cracked, bloody nipples, no sleep and hemmoroids. Good trade? Not so much. The good trade is getting to snuggle my sweet one
Cutting calories after giving birth can affect milk production. We have to be patient. We’ve waiting 40 weeks, what’s 8-12 weeks more? If you are past 6 months post-partum, you can start cutting back (a little).
If you aren’t even in post-partum, how would this apply to you? Cutting calories isn’t the only thing that causes weight loss. If you over eat, then yes, this will help. BUT, for lifestyle living, there are usually other habits that need to be formed like quality of food choices, portions, how frequently you eat, getting rid of mindless eating and starting to exercise. I believe applying those will be far more valuable than just cutting calories which tends to lead to shortterm results, not longterm success.
I haven’t cut any calories. I’m not even tracking right now. In fact, I am still in the “eat whatever you want” mode, but am quickly ready to start eating less sugar. That’s for sure! You know you’ve overdosed when it doesn’t even sound good any more.
3. Don’t analyze your war wounds.
I found myself standing in the mirror the other day noticing how my belly that was stretched tight and round just 3 weeks ago was now hanging like a wilted wrinkly balloon that has slowly leaked it’s air and was nicely falling over the edge of my pants. I also noticed my newest, silvery stretch marks beside my belly button. A thought passed through my mind and it went like this, “Ugh…ck.” Before I let the thought slip to my lips, I told myself, “No, not uck…amazing.”
Whether you’ve had a baby or not, your body is an amazing creation. It may not be in it’s more fit form and we have made choices that aren’t the best, but we can change that and our body will benefit. I am trying to be thankful for the body that I have now. If not now, then when? I will never be perfect and neither will you.
4. Don’t try on your “pre-baby” clothes too soon.
I heard someone call them “thinspiration” pants. I’ve heard them called “skinny” pants. I have non-maternity pants. Want to cause yourself more mental or emotional challenges? Didn’t think so. Don’t try on your non-maternity pants too soon. OR, if you’re a first time mom, don’t have your heart set on the exact same shape and frame you had before. I found after my first baby that I had a few things that seemed to fit differently. I’m not saying fat necessarily. I’m saying your chest, your hips, and even your feet may be different! Your body just expanded in a rapid and big way with ligaments, hormones, skin, fat cells, etc… I actually weighed less after my first baby than I had since 9th grade and I was incredibly lean. Even so, my pants fit different.
I tried on my wedding ring yesterday and it STILL doesn’t fit. That’s when this little ditty came to mind. It’s too soon to expect big changes. It took me 40 weeks to get here, it’s going to take some time to get somewhere else.
If you’re not losing baby weight and you have a pair of “those” pants, can I suggest you find another motivator? How about saving a dollar or two for every pound lost and then buying yourself some brand “new me” jeans? Or, how about giving yourself a reward for each weekly goal you reach? This focuses on the future and the journey moving forward instead of having your eyes fixed on the past. You can’t move into your future while holding onto your past. Maybe it’s time to donate “those” pants and move on to better things!
5. Don’t use the words, “fat”, “big”, “ugly”.
Or any other word that falls into the same category. Would you call me those words? I certainly hope not! A month ago or so, my 7 year old was trying to describe someone to me. He told me she was “overgrown”. I laughed and laughed! I had never heard that description. :) It’s a nicer way to look at it I suppose, but either way, just like point number 3, we have to find appreciation for our body right now. I am thankful that I can walk through Target and not feel like I am gasping for air. I am thankful I can pick up my 39 pound 3 year old and give him a long big hug. I am thankful I am a mover and my body was made to move. Trust me, I’ve called myself all kinds of things and I’ve said it in front of my boys. I know. Not good. That is something I have been working on in the last few years. My boys are learning a lot by watching me. Who’s learning something by watching and listening to you?
6. Don’t go too hard too fast.
After having a baby, going to hard too fast can increase your bleeding, decrease your milk supply and lactic acid can be tasted in your breastmilk. Not to mention, you are running on little sleep as it is so going too hard too fast can make you MORE tired instead of increasing your energy. I love working out hard, but after having several “littles”, I also know what working out looks like for the season right after having them. It needs to be realistic in intensity, realistic in amount of time, and realistic for priorities. This principle applies to anyone starting out on a new exercise and nutrition plan. Going too hard too fast is one of the surest ways of overtiring, overworking and losing motivation.
One step at a time on this journey.
7. Analyze priorities day by day.
This one is something I have yet to learn, but I’ve faced it with every baby. I have faced it WITHOUT giving birth. I have faced it when I have a bazillion things on my plate and am busier than a bee. What is true priority for this season? Our health should ALWAYS be a priority, but how does it fit among other priorities? This evaluation HAS to be done otherwise, frustration and failure always follow. There are priorities that will never “move down” the list like God and our family. Our health should never move down the priority list either, it just looks different in different seasons.
For example, today, I have these things on my list: pay the bills, bank, return movie, deliver a gift, dust, laundry put away, bathe 2 little ones, finish painting my toes (yes, they are half done) and finish this blog post. There are things that aren’t “on the list” that have to be done like feed my family and take a shower (well it doesn’t HAVE to be done, but it NEEDS to be done I have small windows of opportunity in my day when I’m not doing a “have to” or holding or nursing a baby. It’s guaranteed that I will be interrupted a few times no matter when I start something and for this season, I need to be ok with that (thus the half painted toes.) I am a “finisher” by nature and I love a clean house so it’s VERY HARD to reprogram myself. That’s why I say “it’s for a season.” So, when I get my first window of opportunity, I look at my list and decide what is priority and when or if other things can happen if the two little ones are up, etc… While I like my house dusted and the laundry put away, if it doesn’t happen today, I’m going to be ok with it. If I don’t finish my toes today, I am ok with it. Bills, baths, and blog were at the top of my priority list for today. If I can only do one of those things, it will be pay the bills. When exercise is on my “to do” list, it becomes a part of the “top priorities” for the day. It won’t necessarily be THE TOP priority, but it’s one of the top. That’s how I make sure it happens. I plan my workouts for the week ahead of time with a few “plan B’s” in there. Then, when the day comes, I know exercise is on the list and look for “windows” to make it happen.
8. Learn and believe the mantra that less can be more.
Some of my best workouts have been 30 minutes long! How can that be? Mix strength training, functional training, plyometrics and cardio drills and you’ll get your strength, interval AND cardio workout in all at once! I LOVE things that are multi-muscle use and super efficient. Why? I have 4 kids, jobs, a husband, and very little time
In this season, I might not workout as MUCH as I like, but the goal of exercise in this season isn’t the same as the season before nor the season before that. I want to heal my body from a year of stress and strain due to the car accident and pregnancy. I want to lengthen and strengthen my support system so I can move the way I want to move in the latter months of 2014. It’s also a HUGE stress relief for me. It’s amazing what a 20 minute nap and a 20 minute workout can do for your mind, your emotion AND your body!
9. Get fit at the gym, lose weight in the kitchen.
There seem to be 3 very common types of ladies looking for weight loss…the ones that want to workout 14x a week to lose weight, but eat and drink anything they want the rest of the time. The one who will take on a strict diet cutting calories, cutting out specific foods, cutting out flavor, cutting out fun. Then there are also the ones who do both to the fullest for 3 weeks and then tire out so quickly and then quit because it’s too hard. The best results are the ones where there is a healthy balance of both exercise and nutrition kept consistent 80% of the time longterm. Use exercise to get your body fit for life. Use nutrition as the fuel to do so. If you do that, weight loss and fat loss is an inevitable side effect. Doing one without the other won’t give you lasting success AND you won’t feel good along the way.
I am easing myself into working out. I started working out last week and have gotten 4 workouts in (1 I did at home with 2 of my kids, 1 of them was a walk with the entire family and the other 2 were at the gym.) Nutrition will become more of a focus in January. I won’t get really focused on it quite yet. I am going to ease into that as well because of obvious reasons. First, the holidays are here and second, I am still adjusting to a new baby in the house!
10. Don’t rush.
The gym will wait for you, but your baby will grow up without you. Doesn’t this go against everything I’ve been saying? Is this something a trainer would normally say? No, not in all contexts. I am learning that when my newborn is 3 weeks old, it’s not a time to jump into a strict and time consuming exercise plan. Does that mean I am “letting myself go”? Certainly not! I am learning to readjust for the season. Will I lose the baby weight? Yes, I did before. It just won’t be tomorrow or even next month. It takes time. It took me 40 weeks to get to this place. How long did it take for you to get to the place you’re in? Grace and patience. I don’t want to miss what’s in front of me now which is a lot of baby snuggle time. I am pretty darn sure that being a size 6 is not nearly as fulfilling as loving my baby.
I’ve done a lot of rushing through life in order to “get things done” or “get things accomplished”. I am guilty of telling my kids way too much that I can’t play because I want to finish cleaning something or something I am working on can’t wait. No, that’s not always wrong, but I do it way too much just to finish my list. This last year has been a year of learning on multiple levels and one thing I need to gain a deep understanding of is not to rush and to enjoy the journey. It’s not a race where the first one there gets the prize! It’s not a sprint, it’s a long, steady, consistent jog. The finish line is not really the goal, it’s everything we gain along the way.