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The Essential Guide to Postpartum Weight Loss

Are you a new mum looking to shed those extra pregnancy pounds? Postpartum weight loss is a common concern for many women after giving birth.

I know this is what you are here for and I will deliver, but I do want to throw in there that there is a lot more to life then being the right weight, starting with baby snuggles!

For me its more about being happy in my own skin (and that may include changing how you look physically) and being able to do the things want to do physically, rather than getting down to a specific weight.

But whether you are here to find out about postpartum weight loss to get to a specific number or just to feel more “you”, you have come to the right place.

What is Postpartum Weight Loss?

Postpartum weight loss refers to the process of losing weight after pregnancy and childbirth, which is a crucial aspect of the postnatal journey for new mothers.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes significant changes to accommodate the growing baby, such as hormonal fluctuations and increased blood volume, and due to all these factors, we put on weight.

After childbirth, while some effortlessly ‘bounce’ back to their pre-baby bodies, but a significant portion (or dare I say most?) find themselves grappling with the whirlwind of caring for a newborn, navigating hormonal fluctuations, and breastfeeding – understandably struggling to prioritise self-care. This can leave them feeling disheartened about themselves and their bodies.

Incorporating exercise into daily routines can help strengthen the body, improve metabolism, and boost overall mood and energy levels, I loved doing baby workouts and sling workouts as part of The Mama Plan.

Why is Postpartum Weight Loss Important?

I have recently been reading “How Not to Age” and its bought home to me why postpartum weight loss is important.

Its not about looking nice in a cute newborn baby photoshoot (although that is a benefit!), but its about being healthy for as long as possible so we can enjoy our lives and be their for our children (and grandchildren???), for as long as possible.

Remembering our ‘why’ can make these changes easier to stick to.

These are small changes to our habits that will improve your life now and have even bigger results in decades to come!

What Are the Best Ways to Lose Weight Postpartum?

Discovering the best ways to lose weight postpartum involves a holistic approach encompassing healthy eating practices, regular physical activity, prioritising sleep and self-care and effective stress management techniques.

The crucial aspect is discovering how you can maintain consistency and only you can figure this out.

The rest of this article is full of ideas that may or may not help you so you can pick and choose what works for you and your lifestyle.

Healthy Eating Habits

I want to keep this section simple yet significant, as it holds great importance and applies to the majority of mums out there. So, here it is.

Consume more plants of all varieties, especially greens, berries and beans and reduce processed foods (and by default salt consumption).

The other ideas you may want to consider:

  • Intermittent fasting: Consider incorporating periods of fasting into your routine to promote metabolic health and weight management.
  • Mindful serving sizes: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating and promote balanced nutrition.
  • Weekly meal planning: Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure nutritious choices and avoid impulsive, unhealthy options.
  • Choose whole grains: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread for added fiber and nutrients.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, green tea and clack tea throughout the day to stay hydrated and support various bodily functions.
  • Practice mindful eating: Slow down and pay attention to your food choices, eating habits, and hunger cues to promote healthier eating behaviors.
  • Go vegan: Consider adopting a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes for its potential health benefits and positive impact on the environment. I know its not for everyone but I highly recommend it.
  • Only eat when you are hungry: Listen to your body’s hunger signals and avoid eating out of boredom or emotional triggers. When I keep this in mind, I find I eat far less frequently.
  • Be mindful of your triggers: Recognize situations that may lead to mindless eating, such as going into the kitchen while watching TV in the evening, and find alternative activities to break the habit.
  • Reduce blood sugar spikes: Incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet and start meals with vegetables to help reduce blood sugar spikes and improve insulin sensitivity.

Regular Exercise

Incorporating regular exercise into the postnatal routine is crucial for successful weight loss, whether you like a structured weekly class, an ad hoc workout with an energetic toddler or something in between, its about what fits into your lifestyle.

Here are some ideas, starting with the most important:

  1. Up your step count: throw the baby in the buggy and go for a walk or spend your ‘me’ time going for a walk, start with an achievable goal then slowly up it. 10k is a good number to aim for but is actually totally random so if that seems like too much, start with 5k or 7k.
  2. Add some bodyweight exercises: start with these, such as these. Try and attach it to an already established routine (habit stacking), for example once you put your baby down for their first nap, do your workout each day.
  3. Find an active hobby: swimming, rock climbing, dancing, anything you find fun and gets you moving.
  4. Go for a run: I love running because it can be totally tailored to you on any given day. Enjoy the freedom to run at your own convenience, adjusting your pace, distance and music as desired.
  5. If you enjoy it, join a gym: I hate the idea of someone going to the gym if they don’t actively enjoy it, there are so many ways your can get fit out of the gym without having to put yourself through something you don’t enjoy. This is all about lifestyle change and nobody can be expected to continue doing something they don’t enjoy long term.

Losing weight in the postpartum period doesn’t need to be a slog, its just about making a few lifestyle changes, one step at a time and keeping this consistent (or as consistent as they can be with a newborn!)

Nurturing a positive mindset towards fitness not only improves physical health but also promotes mental resilience and self-assurance in the postnatal period.

You are choosing to do the workout/walk/run, and we are lucky to be able to – there are many people who for whatever reason would love to do it but are unable to.

Adequate Sleep

I hate to include this section so apologies in advance (I promise I won’t say to get 8 hours uninterrupted sleep!) but ensuring adequate sleep is essential for postpartum weight loss.

Quality sleep is crucial in regulating hormones that affect metabolism and hunger levels, leading to better weight management.

By prioritising rest, new mums can improve their overall well-being and mental clarity, which in turn supports healthier food choices and more sustainable lifestyle habits.

We can only work with what we are given, if our little one has decided not much sleep is happening one evening, then that is life.

However we can control what we do eg.

  • avoid staying up for hours scrolling in bed.
  • where practicable, have a quick nap when your baby naps in the day. The washing up can wait, you can’t. (I will nap at home, in the car with the boys, and I have even closed my eyes in the park when they were both asleep in the buggy!)
  • consider using an app such as calm if you struggle to sleep or stay asleep. I never sleep as well as I do when I do the Deep Sleep Release session.

Self-Care

In the whirlwind of new motherhood, I entirely neglected self-care during Theo’s first eight months, assuming it was fine until I realised I couldn’t continue without a daily moment to focus on myself, without a baby attached.

Whether it’s just one minute or a full hour, dedicating time to self-care is essential because you are worth it.

It’s crucial to understand that self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

As a mother, it’s easy to feel guilty about prioritising your needs, but it’s vital.

You can’t pour from an empty cup, and taking even a short amount of time each day will undoubtedly make you a better mum.

For single parents or those with partners who work away, self-care may seem even more challenging but is all the more necessary.

Consider incorporating simple daily rituals like oil inhalation (take two drops of essential oil in your hands, rub them together, then enclose your hands over your nose and mouth, and inhale deeply a few times) or enlist help to carve out more substantial blocks of time for self-care.

Here’s a bullet list of self-care ideas:

  • 1-Minute: Oil inhalation, 360 breathing, washing your face and moisturising it.
  • 15 Minutes: Bodyweight workout at home (such as The Mama Plan), a mindfulness exercise, gentle stretching while listening to your favourite music, a short walk/run, a face mask, journaling, or a short self-therapy session.
  • 30 Minutes: Enjoy a cup of tea in the bath, read a book, engage in a longer self-therapy session, go for a walk/run, or catch up on your favourite TV show.
  • 60 Minutes: Treat yourself to a massage, meet a friend for coffee and a chat, hit the gym, go rock climbing, cycling, or indulge in any activity you love – the world is your oyster!

What Are the Common Myths About Postpartum Weight Loss?

Dispelling common myths about postpartum weight loss is crucial to debunk misconceptions surrounding topics like the impact of breastfeeding, the timing for initiating exercise post-childbirth, the effectiveness of fad diets, and fostering a positive body image while overcoming challenges.

One prevalent misconception is the belief that breastfeeding alone will lead to rapid weight loss postpartum. While breastfeeding can help in burning extra calories, but this isn’t the full picture, partly because our bodies get hungrier so we eat more calories to make up for the lost ones!

Another myth to address is the idea that diving into intense exercise shortly after giving birth is the only way to lose weight effectively. In reality, gradual and guided postpartum workouts are often more beneficial for the body’s recovery process.

The risks associated with resorting to fad diets for quick weight loss postpartum should not be overlooked. It’s essential to focus on nourishing the body with wholesome foods and adopting sustainable eating habits rather than falling for temporary, restrictive diets.

“You can’t start exercising until you’ve fully recovered from childbirth.”

“You can’t start exercising until you’ve fully recovered from childbirth” is a common myth that may hinder postpartum fitness goals, necessitating a holistic and sustainable approach towards incorporating exercise post-childbirth.

It’s important to understand that waiting for complete postpartum recovery before starting exercise may not always be the most effective approach, there are many things you can do such as 360 breathing and exercises to re-engage your core.

In fact, engaging in gentle, appropriate physical activity can have numerous benefits for postpartum women, including aiding in weight loss, boosting energy levels, improving mood, and enhancing overall well-being.

By taking a comprehensive approach to postpartum fitness that includes both exercise and proper nutrition, women can work towards achieving their fitness goals in a sustainable and healthy manner. If you are looking for some guidance on getting back into exercise after pregnancy, check out The Mama Plan.

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