The struggle to lose weight after having a baby affects women from all walks of life. A lot of factors play into just how fast your body will regain some semblance of what you looked like before getting pregnant.
Factors that affect how fast you "snap back"
- pre-pregnancy weight
- activity level
While we can't do anything about our age, and we can't be 20 pounds lighter by the end of the day, there are a lot of things we can do to help feel more like our "old self" without feeling too overwhelmed. Needless to say, good nutrition and exercise habits have both mental and physical benefits that will only add to the joys of motherhood.
Watch the knee-jerk reaction to equate "healthy" with calorie-free. A strict diet of dry toast, diet sodas and carrot sticks could actually throw your body's metabolism in reverse. Sleepless nights, breastfeeding and the stresses of a new baby are all energy sappers and the best way to restore the loss of energy is to eat “clean.” If you read the post previous to this on clean eating, you know what I'm talking about. These clean foods are minimally processed, contain few additives and are packed with vitamins and minerals. They tell your body when you’re full and give you the energy you’ll need to exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk with a stroller. Packaged or processed foods, including many “diet” foods, have no nutritional value and in most cases are loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners.
It’s important to introduce moderate exercise after your body has recovered enough postpartum (usually two months). Gradually introducing a steady regime of cardiovascular and strength-based exercises will trim and tone your body.
A friend of mine, Megan Dillow, who is a mother of three and pilates instructor extraordinaire at Lincoln Park Athletic Club, swears by these three postpartum exercises. They're an easy add-on to any day, great for tummies that need a little attention and always a good standby for anyone who wants to focus on their core.
- The Hundreds
Lying flat on your back, raise your legs to a 45 degree angle, and place your arms straight down. Lift your head and shoulders, tucking your chin toward your chest. Begin pumping your arms quickly down to the ground. Pump your arms 100 times, and you’re done!
- Side Leg Lift
Lying on your side, with your hand holding your head. Lift your legs together without letting them separate. Keep your thighs and bottom tight, engaging those muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Return to a resting position, and repeat 10 times before working the other side.
- Criss cross obliques
Lying flat on your back, place your hands behind your head with your elbows wide. Bring one knee in toward your chest and extend the other leg out long. Leading with your shoulder, reach your armpit to the knee on the opposite side of your body that’s pulled in. Release, and switch to the opposite side. Repeat 10-15 times, rest and repeat again.