Those extra pounds that hang on after your initial six weeks postpartum baby weight loss might be difficult to lose. This is especially true if you gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy. However, with the right weight loss tips, planning and motivation you can shed those extra pounds and manage your weight.
Strategy for Postpartum Weight Loss
There is no easy, magic formula when you are trying to lose your extra baby fat, especially with a new baby who needs you. It takes time, work, planning and motivation, but if you follow this basic strategy and stick with your plan you will successfully lose your baby weight.
- Plan to eat a balanced, healthy, lower-calorie diet.
- Combine aerobic exercise, weight training and stretching.
- Breastfeed your baby. Though results vary, some studies show that breastfeeding for at least for six months can help you lose your baby weight.
- Find ways that to keep yourself motivated so you can keep going until your lose the weight you want.
- Get enough sleep and control your stress. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones, making it harder for you to lose fat. Fatigue also zaps your energy and motivation to eat right and exercise.
Diet and Exercise
Medical studies support the strategy of combining diet and exercise for losing your baby weight. Jackie Keller, licensed, certified wellness coach, weight loss expert and founder of NutriFit™, has successfully used this strategy to help celebrities such as Uma Thurman shed their baby weight.
According to Jackie, the key to her weight loss plan is, "creating nutritionally-balanced meals and incorporating simple body sculpting exercises."
Putting Diet and Exercise Into Practice
Weight loss diet and exercise advice is simple, but putting it into practice in general is not always easy. To improve your chances of success, a healthy way to lose the weight is at a steady pace of about one to two pounds a week. More rapid weight loss could also cause you to produce less breast milk.
Dieting to lose your baby weight does not mean starving yourself. To lose weight, eat fewer calories than you ate to support your pregnancy but plan your daily meals and snacks with healthy foods to help you manage your calories.
- Don't eat less than 1,800 calories a day; you need at least 2,000 if you are breastfeeding.
- Eat five to six small meals throughout the day to keep your energy up instead of three big meals.
Eat a balanced, variety of nutritious foods to get all the nutrients you need.
Choose lower-calorie foods that are packed with nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low fat dairy.
- Eat enough protein foods to maintain your muscle mass. Include lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds and add fish such as salmon for omega-3.
- Eat enough carbs to maintain your body's energy needs, especially if you are breastfeeding.
- Include enough healthy fats to help you make breast milk and hormones.
- Drink enough fluids to keep hydrated. If your urine is clear or pale yellow, you are getting enough.
- Avoid processed and fried foods and limit salt, sweets, fats, sodas, juices and sugared drinks.
Jackie Keller's book, Body After Baby, contains more than 100 recipes, weekly shopping lists, and suggestions for vegetarian moms. She also gives advice on how to plan your weight loss meals to fit your family's needs.
Start out your exercise activities slowly to give your body time to recover from the stress and hard work of labor and delivery. Pick exercises you enjoy so you will stick to your routine. If you exercised during your pregnancy, you will find it easier to get into a routine.
The right combination of exercises will boost your weight loss effort as well as recondition your body and reduce your stress.
- Aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming, treadmill, stationary bike, or a dance class, help your burn fat and condition your heart and improve your energy and stamina.
- Weight training helps your maintain your muscles and help you burn fat. Start out slowly to give your body time to recover from the stress and hard work of labor and delivery.
- Stretching exercises, including yoga, improves your flexibility and equilibrium and reduces stress.
Crunches and other abdominal exercises won't spot-reduce your belly but will add tone and help you lose fat overall. Jackie notes, "It can be a bit harder to tone up abdominal muscles, especially after your second baby, but that too isn't inevitable." Abdominal exercises help get your stretched out belly muscles back in shape.
- If you are not used to exercising or did not exercise during your pregnancy, start slowly.
- Start with 10 to 15 minutes of aerobics a day, adding 10 to 15 minutes of light weight training every other day.
- Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week. You can break your 30 minutes into 10 minute sessions three times a day if you can't find 30 minutes at a stretch with a new baby.
- After a few weeks as your strength and stamina improve you can increase your exercise to 45 to 60 minutes a day and use heavier weights.
- To make it easier to add exercise to your plan look for "mommy and me" exercise programs.
- Throughout the day don't forget to do your Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles that got stretched out during labor and delivery. You will happy to avoid urinary incontinence later.
Even if you had a cesarean section, you can start walking soon after you get home but follow what your doctor tells you. In addition to walking, Jackie Keller advises moms to include other activities that burn calories into daily life. Her practical suggestions include, "Do squats while you're holding the baby or try walking as much as possible with the baby in a baby carrier."
Motivation and Stress
One of the biggest challenges when you are trying to lose weight is to stay motivated. "Discipline and steadfastness are the keys to weight loss," says Jackie.
Finding your sources of motivation and discipline might be difficult for you when you are spending time caring for your new baby and you are sleep-deprived and tired. Getting healthy for your baby and fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes are great motivations. More importantly, consider if you don't lose your baby weight the risk of obesity and other health issues such as diabetes can follow you years later.
When you reach your weight loss goal, don't stop there. Stay motivated and maintain your good habits to manage your weight. The key to keeping the weight off and staying healthy is to continue to eat a healthy balanced-calorie diet and get regular exercise.
Weight Loss Expectations
If you plan ahead and focus on losing your baby weight, you may return to your pre-pregnancy weight by six months postpartum. Jackie Keller notes that in her experience, how soon you shed your pregnancy weight, "could be as quickly as 30 days, or as long as 6 months." She also says, "The sooner you get started, the earlier you'll get back to your pre-baby figure."
With a new baby it may be difficult to find the time or energy to manage your weight. Include your partner, your health providers and others in your weight loss strategy, planning and activities; you need all the help and support you can get.