I could not believe how much weight I gained during my first pregnancy. I packed on nearly 50lbs going from 135lbs to 185lbs. Unfortunately, I had a rough first trimester, I spent most of the time either in the bed, kitchen, or bathroom. It was a terrible cycle of I was always tired and when I wasn’t tired I was hungry, and as soon as I ate something I would throw it up. During my first trimester I gained most of the weight. I was so happy to see second trimester roll around, because by that time I was back to my normal eating habits. However, once I had my little girl I could not believe how much weight I gained. I made a conscious decision to not look at the scale until I made it to the 6-week postpartum mark. I just did not want to feel the guilt of carrying around the extra weight while juggling being a new mom. I knew at some point I wanted to focus on getting my body back, but I wanted to give myself time to recover.
What I discovered within a week I was so sore from giving birth that I needed to re-start some type of workout. Of course, I am not talking about vigorous exercises such as running or spin class. I was thinking more like prenatal yoga. While I was pregnant, I found free prenatal yoga videos on YouTube, so I decided to use those same videos during postpartum. I realized quickly I could not perform certain moves and I could not workout more than 10 minutes, but the little bit I could do helped me mentally and physically slowly recover.
It is not about drastic changes, but small lifestyle changes. It was time for me to tweak my diet and fitness regimen until I could fully recover! Simple lifestyle changes, such as switching to cutting back on eating meat, low-fat dairy, cutting the sugar, and swapping out hardcore exercises for light exercises, can make all the difference. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth the effort.
I followed these simple steps to lose the baby weight and keep it off:
Cleared My Kitchen
The first thing I needed to do was to ditch the junk food from my kitchen. I noticed after giving birth I was no longer craving those unhealthy snacks such as Lays potato chips with French onion dip! Sugar, refined oils, and white flour have no place in my balanced diet. These foods not only contributed to my weight gain, but also increased my risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and heart disease. I decided to keep my meals simple and stick to the basics. I loaded up on fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and fish. I actually found an article, which provided me great meal ideas for an entire month. This was great for a number of reasons: it introduced to me vegetarian dishes and it helped me to plan ahead. With a newborn it was very convenient and a relief to know what our menu would be for the next 30-days.
Cut Back on Meat
I did not realize that meat is packed with hormones and antibiotics that promote weight gain. These chemicals damage gut flora and kill friendly bacteria, which in turn, affects overall health. They also put people at risk for infections, obesity, and metabolic disorders. Replace meat with wild-caught fish or plant-based foods.
A vegetarian diet can help improve digestion and slim you down. I quickly noticed my energy levels increased too! I was able to get creative in the kitchen and swap meat for mushrooms, tofu, quinoa, and other high-protein vegetable foods.
Avoided Hidden Sugars
Ditching the table sugar is not enough for losing weight. I did not necessarily read labels, but I was mindful of what may be high in sugar and tried to replace it was other food items. For example, I love ice cream so instead of milk-based ice cream I found an almond-based ice cream. Another example, I swapped out white sugar for honey when making my morning cup of tea. It is the little things that go a long way.
Exercise and diet are equally important. I knew I was serious about knocking off the baby weight, but I could not hit the gym four times a week. I worked out at home for a few minutes or went out for walks with the baby. The whole point was to stay active and make exercise a habit.
Once I was feeling more like me, I eased back into taking classes such as Bikram yoga, cycling, and strength training. Yoga stretches and moves helped my muscles while relieving stress. Strength training boosts my metabolism and energy expenditure to help me lose those last few pounds.
By the time my little one turned 6-month old I lost 45lbs. Honesty is the best policy, so please know your body goes through a major change after having a baby. Although I lost the majority of the baby weight my body did not look the same, and my clothes did not always fit the same way it did prior to having a baby. It is more about how I felt versus what I looked like.
The most important advice is make sure you only do what you can and do not push yourself too hard. If you have a partner let that person help when they can. Without the support of my husband, I would not have had the strength and time I needed to get back into shape.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Make one change at a time, clean up your diet, and commit to an exercise routine.