I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy- 62 lbs to be exact. People often ask me how I managed to lose it all (with an extra 10 lbs to boot) so I thought it might make a good post. Here are 10 choices I made which contributed to my safe, healthy and lasting weight loss.
- Patience. I took a few months to bond with my baby, allow my body time to recover from childbirth, establish a good milk supply and adjust to my new role as a mother. Once I was ready, I acknowledged that it took 9 months to gain the weight and it wasn’t going to disappear overnight. I knew that in order to safely lose the weight and keep it off, I needed to be patient.
- Breastfeeding. I attribute a good amount of my weight loss to breastfeeding. Although this is not why I chose to breastfeed, it is certainly a nice perk! Research shows that women who exclusively breastfeed for a minimum of six months are most likely to lose all of the weight gained during pregnancy. Lactation also seems to mobilize fat accumulated before pregnancy.
- Stay hydrated. I keep a reusable water bottle with me at all times to make sure I’m drinking enough water (which is also important for #2). Also, cut down on sugary, carbonated and/or caffeinated beverages. Try adding fruit slices, fresh mint, cucumber or ginger to water. If you’re really craving soda, a nice alternative is mixing a splash of 100% juice with some sparkling water.
- Be active. You don’t have to go nuts in the gym or run a marathon. I took 45 minute daily walks with the stroller or baby carrier which allowed us to get some fresh air and sunshine and when it was cold or rainy, we hit the mall. When I returned to work I took 30 minute power walks in the morning, started taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parked further away from the building. Everything counts!
- Keep a food journal. Sometimes we aren’t aware of what, why or how much food we’re eating. Try keeping a daily journal of your food intake and moods. I used the Weight Watchers Points Plus online tracker which helped me eat a balanced diet, kept my portions in check and tracked my success which kept me motivated. Nursing mamas also get some extra points to maintain a healthy milk supply.
- Graze. Eat smaller, more frequent meals and snack throughout the day. When I returned to work I brought a small fridge to keep under my desk and stocked it with quick and easy snacks like sliced carrots, apples, pears, cucumbers, peppers and dips like almond butter, guacamole and hummus which contain healthy fats and are satisfying. Also, be sure to keep your handbag stashed with healthy snacks for on-the-go.
- Plan ahead. Your fridge and pantry should be stocked with healthy staples and it’s helpful to have some tried and tested recipes handy. Planning out meals in advance will keep you in line as it is easy to splurge on a high calorie meal when you’re hungry and pressed for time.
- Eat the rainbow. Eating a variety of colorful fruits, veggies, legumes and grains packed with nutrients and fiber will help keep you full, satisfied and energized.
- Allow occasional indulgences. I don’t believe in fads or crazy diets. In order to maintain any kind of weight loss, you need to adopt a healthy balanced lifestyle which not only includes eating well and being active, but also occasionally enjoying an indulgent meal or decadent dessert.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep loss has been shown to affect the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that regulates appetite. As a result, you may feel hungry even if you’re full. Sleep loss may also interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize carbs which leads to high levels of blood sugar. Sleep is a precious commodity with a baby… consider foregoing the dishes and nap when baby naps.
Remember, you’ve gained more than pounds by having a child. Something I read on the La Leche League website after having a baby helped put things into perspective~
You’ve acquired memories of your baby’s precious infancy, when all he wanted was your voice, your body, and your smile. You’ve grown strong from caring for your baby when he was ill. You’ve gained wisdom from learning to lovingly guide your clever explorer. You’ve discovered that even though your body may not meet pre-determined standards of beauty, it can nurture a baby in the best way possible. You’ve earned the body of a mother. Celebrate that body and appreciate the emotional and physical strengths you’ve gained. Compared to all that, a few extra pounds are insignificant.
Please consult with your health-care provider before making any dietary changes or starting any exercise plan.