You’ve recently had your baby and after 9 months of hosting your little one, you’re ready to get your body back. Or maybe its been a few months or even years and you’ve been struggling to return back to your pre-baby glory but you’re finding that what worked for you in the past isn’t working for you now. First and foremost, know that you are not alone. There will always be those naturally skinny women who pop out a baby and look like super models a few months after but for the majority of us, the struggle is real.
Not only has your body completely changed after having a baby, now you have restrictions that you never had before. You used to be able to go to the gym for an hour or so multiple days a week but now even if you had the energy to do it, you don’t have the time. Maybe you were the queen of restricting calories before having a baby, but that’s a no no when you’re breastfeeding or downright miserable when you’re chasing around a toddler all day long. Like many things post baby, in order to find success in your new life, you’re going to have to adjust accordingly. The first adjustment that most of us need is a reality check. Unless you’re one of the women with unimaginably fast metabolisms mentioned above, you need to give yourself at least as much time to get back to your pre-baby weight as it took to get you to your pregnancy high weight; so a minimum of 9 months, but for most women, that time span is a full year. Second, you have to accept that some things may never go back to the way they were before. You may have cellulite in places that you never had before or a belly pooch. Consider them to be badges of honor or rites of passages.
There are only 24 hours in a day and one you so there’s only so much that you can feasibly accomplish. Unless you have a full time nanny and your name is Beyonce, you’re probably not going to be able to hit the gym daily or for hours at a time. If you’re finding your biggest restriction to getting moving to be having time to do so, try aiming for quality over quantity. Say goodbye to the days of hopping on the treadmill or elliptical machine at a casual pace while catching up with a friend on the phone or reading a book and say hello to the 30 minute workouts that combine cardio and strength into one and that are super high impact with many sets and few breaks. As a mom, if you can motivate yourself to do it, home workouts are your friend. They’re diverse, easily accessible and the fact that you don’t have to travel to and from the gym gives you time back in your day.
If online workouts aren’t your thing or if you don’t have the time for them, there are other things you can do. If you unwind at night by watching TV, do push up, squat and crunch circuits during the commercials of your favorite show. Make a goal to take the stairs at work instead of the elevator or if you walk anywhere during the day, opt for the long route instead of the shorter one. Anything is better than nothing and while the results may take a little bit longer to show up this way, they will eventually show up if you keep at it.
If you’re struggling with personal motivation or accountability, look to find a support system. The reason that programs like weight watchers work so well is because of the community that is created and because the members hold each other accountable to the goals that they set. You don’t have to necessarily join a program like this though to get these benefits. Chances are you know at least one other person that would like to lose weight as well and you can form your own weight loss club where you not only keep each other accountable, but motivate each other to exercise
An astronomical 75% of your weight loss success is contributed to what you eat and not exercise which is a huge plus for moms who find it hard to workout or can’t find time to do it. Your diet is also a lot easier to control than exercise. The con is that dieting isn’t fun. Especially when you’ve given up literally all of yourself, the last thing you want to do is have to count calories or restrict what you eat. It’s the last little joy that you have just for yourself! I however am not talking about dieting; I’m talking about a lifestyle change. As fun and catchy as fad dieting is, it never works in the long term. If you can’t implement something for the rest of your life, then you shouldn’t do it. The only thing more frustrating than losing weight is losing it and then gaining it back and that is usually what happens when you embark upon the latest and trendiest diet.
Instead, aim for slowly implementing good eating practices into your life. While you have to find what works best for you, some helpful suggestions are to stock up on healthy foods in the house instead of unhealthy ones. Why keep food in your house that’s just going to temp you? That’s not to say that you won’t have cravings or be tempted, but at least it won’t be staring at you in the face every time you go into the kitchen! Plan your meals to the best of your ability so that you don’t get to the point where you’re so hungry that starvation blinds you to good decision making. Everything should be done in moderation and assuming you can control it, allow yourself an occasional treat.
Like with anything else, think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you find that you love your new mama curves and are happy in your own body, then there’s no need to try and change it. Instead, you can focus on being healthy. If you do decide that you would like to embark upon a fitness journey, set realistic expectations and don’t be too hard on yourself. Celebrate the small wins instead of focusing on what you didn’t achieve. Try not to compare your success to that of others. The only person that you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday. Most importantly, if you get off track, don’t let it derail you permanently. Don’t let a bad moment become your permanent reality. You’re allowed to make mistakes and success isn’t about not making mistakes, but rather how fast you recover from those mistakes and get back on track.