Thanks to social media, we are bombarded with images of WAGs, celebrities and the Insta-models flaunting taut stomachs a week after giving birth. There seems to be increasing social and self imposed pressure to lose that baby weight as quickly as possible. However this is also sending a very unhealthy message to new mums and encouraging dangerous, extreme and unsustainable behaviours to lose weight quickly at all costs.
As a new mum the last thing I wanted to do was embark on some crazy Israeli army calorie restricted diet combined with daily high intensity boot camp training while contending with Guantanamo Bay levels of sleep deprivation!
My approach is a slow and steady one, do not expect to be getting that ripped bikini body in 30 days (as you will see in the progress photos, I’m still not there yet and it’s been over 3 months). But slowly and surely, there will be progress, because it doesn’t require major diet / lifestyle changes. It is KIND to your body, and is REALISTIC and SUSTAINABLE for a new Mum who already has to contend with the immense challenge of looking after a human who is 100% helpless and dependent on you!
Here are the 5 simple tips that have helped me sustainably lose weight after giving birth:
1. Walk everywhere (within reason)
- Walking is the best form of exercise for a new Mum. It is low impact so won’t add any stress to your postpartum body (which has just performed the incredible feat of childbirth and will need time to heal)
- Walking to and from activities such as grocery shopping or to the local cafe with your bub also means you’re not taking extra time out to exercise! As a new Mum, you are sleep deprived and time poor, the last thing you want to do is take extra time out to exercise!
- Walking your baby helps him/her go to sleep! As a new Mum, getting your baby to sleep (and stay asleep) is the holy grail, and walking is a sure fire way to achieve this. Take your bub for a stroll in the pram or strapped to you in a carrier and she'll be in the land of nod in no time. A total win win!
- Breastfeeding burns an additional 400-600 calories a day. That’s equivalent to jogging for an hr! So if you can do it, not only does it provide the best nourishment for your baby, it will also help you shed that extra baby weight! However don’t put undue pressure on yourself to exclusively breastfeed, if you need to mix feed (breast + bottle) or bottle feed, there should be no guilt or self judgement.
- Eat a nourishing diet that consists mainly of unprocessed whole foods - fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood. Steer away from junk food as whatever you eat will become what your bub eats (if you're breastfeeding)! Whole foods are also less calorie dense meaning you can eat more and feel fuller for longer
- Regularly incorporating Zen Ramen Nude Noodles as part of my meals - these noodles are a staple in my diet. I regularly eat them for lunch or dinner as one serve is only 28 calories so I can eat as much as I want and have multiple serves without getting 'carb guilt'. They take 5 minutes to cook and are the perfect base for stirfries, pastas and noodle soups. I like to load up my noodle dishes with delicious vegetables and protein for added sustenance and nutrition.
4. Organise 1 activity per day that involves leaving the house
- This one is for your mental health with indirect benefits for your physical wellbeing. I found that locking in one activity a day in your calendar, whether it be meeting a friend for lunch or doing some mum and bubs yoga, or even hitting the local shopping centre was extremely beneficial to my overall mood. It gave me something to look forward to each day without being too stressful. It gives you a reason to brush your hair and change out of your pyjamas. While it may be hard at first to get out of the house, once you're out you won't regret the energy and uplift you get from it!
5. Do some light strengthening exercises using your bodyweight (after 6 weeks)
- High intensity exercises can do more harm than good - your body has just been through the ringer growing and birthing a little person! Your pelvic floor muscles are weakened and you may have ab separation. Most physios will recommend at least 6 weeks before resuming any form of exercise. Even then you should avoid any intense or high impact cardio until after 3 months. Starting too hard too early is a recipe for injuries such as incontinence, loss of bladder control and back pain!
- Take time to strengthen your body and prepare it for high intensity exercise- there are many postnatal exercise videos on YouTube and Mum & Bubs pilates classes focused on helping mums regain strength post childbirth.
- Do these exercises 2 or 3 times a week for a couple of months before heading back to the gym!