A Dietitian Mom's Top Strategies for Reaching a Healthy Weight Post-Baby
Being a mom is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, but man it is hard! Sure, you get a tiny bundle of joy who you would do absolutely anything for and would kiss and cuddle all day long if physically possible. But you also get a sore body that’s a little bit looser in areas that didn’t use to be, and a lack of time or energy to do anything about it. I’m here to tell you that it’s completely normal to feel self conscious about your post-baby bod and quite frankly, wonder if you’ll ever feel “yourself” again.
The first few months after you bring home your little one is both exciting and exhausting. After a long day of diaper changes, nap schedules, and wiping absolutely-every-thing--from bums to spills and faces--exercise is often the last thing on your mind. Those first few months are supposed to be blissful chaos, but when you’re ready to start thinking about getting back to a weight that feels comfortable, here a few tips to help you along:
Wear Your Baby!
A baby carrier is the best purchase you can make as a new mom. You get all the cute baby cuddles while regaining the use of your arms. Win-win! I wore my baby on coffee shop dates, walking around the neighbourhood, on the elliptical trainer in my basement, cooking supper, and during all those witching hours bouncing up and down! In addition to extra bonding time with your baby, you also get your very own home-made work-out system! Just think – those sways from side to side in order to soothe your baby into a nap are also you doing lunges wearing an extra 10-15 pounds! If that isn’t multitasking, I don’t know what is.
Never Skip Breakfast.
Morning meals can be tough, especially if your morning routine is a little crazy. Whether you’re rushing out the door to drop older kids at school, or you’ve been up for four hours before the rest of the household with a non-time-telling baby, what you put into your body at the start of the day is important! Starting your day with breakfast has proven benefits to both weight control, reduction of certain diseases, and overall well-being. And skipping out on breakfast, especially as a breastfeeding mom, is a big no-no. You need energy to start the day that will last until your next eating opportunity! So, load up on easy go-to breakfast options like hardboiled eggs, smoothies, high-fibre breakfast muffins, or overnight oatmeal!
Up Your Veggie Game.
We’ve all heard of “see-food-syndrome”, which usually relates to seeing “unhealthy” food and consuming it. A trick for weight loss is to hide food that is higher in calories and fat so that you don’t consume them. For example, put the homemade cookies in the freezer versus in the cookie jar. Yes, this trick works, but why not make the “see-food” trick positive? We are more likely to consume nutritious foods like fruit and veggies if they’re visible. So, cut up veggies into snack size portions and keep them easily accessible. If you’re crunched on time, it’s okay buy pre-cut veggies and fruit at the grocery store! A go-to snack can be a plate of cut peppers, carrots, and cucumbers with yummy hummus or guacamole.
As a new mom this is often a hard one, at least, it was a hard one for me. Being a mom is the most self-less job, but sometimes it is important to remind yourself that it’s okay to be a little bit selfish from time to time. This means, going for a walk versus cleaning up toys or doing laundry, or taking yourself on a date which is all about you. One thing I know is that a happy mom is a healthy mom. So, prioritize your needs by setting small goals. Strolling with friends, joining a fitness class, or going to bed early with a good book!
Get More Sleep.
No joke, although funny to a new mom. There is a strong connection between lack of sleep and weight gain, as our appetite hormones can become imbalanced! Also, the longer you are awake the more likely you are to snack out of boredom or to make poorer food choices for a quick energy boost. So, aim to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, if you can!
Sometimes mommy brain can take over (as well as the emotional rollercoaster that comes with post-partum hormone swings) and eating food can become a coping mechanism, a soothing tactic, or just a mindless pastime. Make sure that you make time for meals and portion out your snacks. Pay attention when you eat, taste your food and really listen to your body. Don’t question the need for more food when you’re still hungry, and stop when you’re comfortably full. And don’t judge yourself for needing more than normal—your body is working extra hard, especially if you’re nursing.