It’s so crazy to me that this was just over a year ago. I’ve had a lot of people asking me recently how I magically lost my baby weight. It hasn’t been any one thing and it certainly wasn’t magic. Like most healthy lifestyles a combination of several factors together. When I got pregnant I was nervous my body would never be the same. And well, it’s not, but I never would have guessed it would help lead me to the lowest weight I’ve been since junior high and the strongest I’ve felt in my life. I certainly didn’t think I’d be modeling sports bras 13 months later! I was in shape before, but becoming a mother has pushed me even harder now that I know what I’m capable of. Motherhood is a transformation and all of it has been a lot of hard work, but I am amazed at how it’s helped me become a healthier version of myself. It’s something I truly never expected. Here’s how I did it and 10 tips I followed for other soon-to-be moms.
1. Have a healthy pregnancy. This may sound obvious, but many moms think pregnancy and “eating for two” means they literally get to eat whatever they want with no consequences. While you should follow your body’s natural hunger cues and cravings, you really only need about 300 more calories per day in the second and third trimester for a normal pregnancy. Eat healthy and stay as active as your body is willing. I always kept it in the back of my mind that my baby only ate what I ate and exercised when I did. If not for yourself, do it because your baby can’t if you don’t.
2. Take it easy and enjoy your baby. Once your babe arrives so many people get obsessed with getting their body back. Just chill! Enjoy these precious new moments without guilt. For most women that eat healthy while caring for a new little one (especially if you’re breastfeeding) a lot of the weight will begin to come off naturally.
3. NURSING! This is different for every woman, but nursing helped me lose fast. It helped shrink my uterus back down and start to tone my stomach muscles back up at the beginning. Then as he had growth spurts, I had shrinking spurts. This happened around 8 weeks, again around 5-7 months, and yet again around 11-13 months. I jokingly called my baby my human lipo because I could almost feel the fat being sucked out and almost every nursing session I still get so hungry!
4. Walking. All through my maternity leave I walked almost every day with my dog and baby. It was a great way for us to get out of the house and enjoy a little fresh air and exercise. I started around 2 weeks and timed it around his nap time so he would sleep and my dog and I got a walk in the sunshine. Bliss!
5. Pilates and core strength. Around 5-6 weeks I ordered this Pilates DVD from Amazon. LOVE IT! I am pretty picky when it comes to my workout DVDs, but this one is awesome. It’s broken up into two sections so you can do one or both from your living room, which is totally practical for a new mom. It was hard to start up and feel that my core strength was so much less than it used to be, but this really helped me get my core back.
6. Healthy eating. Okay this is obvious too, but really important. I say healthy — not dieting. Since I am nursing, I couldn’t really diet even if I wanted to. I just remember that same thing that my baby would eat what I eat. So that meant even if I let myself give into Arby’s curly fries (my weakness!) I had some veggies too. And I didn’t go overboard with fast or fatty food. I mostly attempt to follow the food pyramid with a good, well-rounded diet and eat plenty of calories
7. Squeeze exercise into your routine. Okay this one really is hard, especially at the beginning. Don’t force yourself to do anything drastic or super time consuming or you will never do it. I think this is true even if you’re NOT a mom. Ease in. Maybe that’s 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes or maybe it’s 4-5. You can get someone to watch the baby, bring him along in a jogging stroller, or workout in your living room. Just set a schedule and do it!
8. Challenge yourself! Last fall my friends peer pressured me into running a half marathon 8 months postpartum. I have always detested running…like I’d rather do any other exercise! More on that later. I had already lost my baby weight, just not all the inches so I was only half motivated and nervous about committing to something I wouldn’t enjoy. Half way through my 8 weeks of training I sort of fell in love with running and after that the inches really started coming off. I leaned out more than I ever have been able to at this point.
9. Green smoothies. I know I mentioned eating healthy, but green smoothies need their own section because I can totally tell a difference on days I have them versus when I don’t. For new moms (or anyone) they are such an easy way to make sure you’re getting healthy greens, veggies, fruits and protein. When I started having one everyday I noticed a significant difference in my energy and metabolism. I fit them in for breakfast, part of lunch, post-workout snack, or sometimes even my late night sweet craving fix.
10. Yoga. I really got into yoga a lot toward the end of my pregnancy because it was the only thing that helped the pain in my pelvis and back. It took me a while to get back into doing it regularly after I had my baby, but it helps my metabolism and stress level so much! As much as I’d love to have time to go to a real studio for class, it’s just not practical for me, so I fit in a 22 minute session of “Yoga with a View” available on Hulu. I’ve really noticed a difference in my metabolism when I do it regularly, but I instantly feel more refreshed and more patient with my now 14-month-old (very busy) toddler.
To sum it up, I just want to say to nervous moms out there, you CAN do it! I used to look at others and wonder how pregnancy would affect my body. As much as I’ve always been into fitness, my genes have a tendency to gain weight if I don’t always stay on top of it so I was scared I would blow up and never be able to get back. When I was first pregnant I was so incredibly happy, and I don’t want to sound egotistical, but I cried on multiple occasions to my husband because I was worried I wouldn’t be sexy after having a baby. He was sweet and said he would think I was gorgeous no matter what, but what it really came down to was I wanted to feel secure that I’d feel good about my body.
I was never obsessive, I just stayed on top of it like usual and focused on my health and enjoying pregnancy and being a new mom. I gained 25 pounds, which was healthy for me, and lost that within 8 weeks from walking, breastfeeding and starting Pilates. The rest all came gradually, but I just tried to work hard and let it happen naturally at my body’s pace. I still am amazed that I could be smaller and in better shape now than I think I ever have been, no matter how hard I worked before. Hopefully this can help give other moms hope and motivation that you absolutely can do it too!