*Obvious Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. You’re probably not either. Before beginning any type of workout program or making dietary changes, talk with your primary care physician.*
I’ve debated on whether or not to even post anything about this online. Having a baby is tough on the body and one of the many reasons why we waited so long to start a family was because I was terrified of the weight gain. I like being trim, wearing bikinis, and feeling comfortable in my own skin, so the idea of packing on 25 pounds voluntarily was kind of a mind warp for me. I entered pregnancy with the end in mine and that end included confidently strutting my stuff at the beach with a baby in my arms, so I had a plan in place before I even packed my hospital bag. If that sounds vain, it’s probably because it is, but at the end of the day I want to feel healthy and be a good example for my daughter. If that offends you, don’t read it. Here’s what worked for me:
0-6 Weeks Postpartum:
- Wear a binder like it’s part of your religion. I used a Belly Bandit and loved the results. My mom helped me put it on about two or three hours after Annabeth was delivered and I continued wearing it 24 hours a day (minus showering) for four weeks. I started with a size small and graduated to an extra small about a week in. A binder provides a significant amount of support and helps the uterus shrink quickly. I feel like this made a huge difference in my weight loss, especially when I was able to wear my regular jeans about two weeks after Annabeth was born. Find my Belly Bandit here.
- Drink 100 ounces of water each day. Even though I’m almost a year postpartum, I still make this a daily goal. You lose so much fluid after having a baby (why didn’t anyone warn me about the night sweats, ugh?!?) and it’s important to make sure you’re not dehydrated. This is my favorite water bottle.
- Nurse, nurse, nurse, nurse, nurse. If you’re able, nursing/pumping is a game changer. I was super shocked and thankful to discover that I could feed a third world nation with my milk supply. One year later it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. There are tons of research articles about breastfeeding and the benefits for mommy and baby, so I encourage you to read up. If nursing isn’t for you or doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up about it. At the end of the day, fed is fed (and fed is best) and there are lots of great formula options out there. This is the pump I still use everyday.
- Move when possible. Obviously this is not the time to run a marathon or even a mile. Instead, just focus on moving when you feel up to it. Go for a walk with your hubby or if the weather is nice, break out your fancy new stroller and get a nice dose of Vitamin D with your sweet baby. Don’t worry about setting a specific pace or your step count. Breath in some fresh air and play some fun tunes. We have this stroller and LOVE it.
- Be smart with what you eat. During this time, I did my best to eat cleanly and focus on smart carbs. A normal day would look like steel cut oats with blueberries for breakfast, a Larabar or raw almonds as a snack, sprouted bread with lean deli meat and cheese for lunch, full fat Greek yogurt and some honey for a snack, and lean protein with some type of green veggie and quinoa for dinner. I tried to avoid sugars, processed foods, and anything white (bread, potatoes, pasta, etc.). We had so many sweet people send food and I totally ate what was offered, but when left to my own devices, I tried to make good choices.
6-12 Weeks Postpartum:
- Light cardio. My doctor cleared me for running at the six-week mark with the warning to start slowly. He also asked me to wait until the twelve-week mark before pushing the jogging stroller. I used Couch to 5k to train in intervals. My mile time was embarrassing and it’s still not where it used to be, but I’m up to three miles no problem in about 32 minutes. Make sure you listen to your body and slow down when necessary. Find Couch to 5k in the App Store here.
- Ballet Beautiful. I loved Ballet Beautiful while I was on maternity leave. Once Annabeth went down for a nap, I’d break out my yoga mat and choose three of the six workouts to do each day. I’m not into weightlifting and this particular type of workout promotes long, lean muscles. I feel like it definitely helped my core and it didn’t take a huge chunk out of my day. Ballet Beautiful has lots of options here.
- Continue making smart choices with food. On maternity leave, I mainly stuck with the same thing from day to day. I used lots of recipes from SkinnyTaste or Trim Healthy Mama (a form of carb cycling) and just made sure to avoid white stuff (again with the breads, pasta, and potatoes) and sugar.
12+ Weeks Postpartum:
- Sugar is the devil. It’s a drug, period. If it has more than 2 grams of sugar in it, I typically won’t eat it unless it’s a Larabar or RxBar. Always read the label because it’s lurking everywhere.
- Daily workouts are non-negotiable. This one is hard, because sometimes I just don’t feel like it. Realistically, you can suffer the pain of discipline or the pain of regret, so it’s better to just buckle down and do it. Wishing for a great body won’t produce any results, but working for it will. Being healthy means doing what needs to be done even when it doesn’t feel great. Right now I’m saving for a Neverfull, so I pay myself a dollar everyday that I complete my workout (#willworkoutforlouisvuitton).
- Cardio, cardio, cardio. We run at least three days a week and we add a half mile to our run each week. We started hardcore running together after football season ended and life got less crazy. We pack up Annabeth and Atlas and head for the park. I like to use my FitBit app to keep track of my mileage and Josh prefers Map My Run. We’re also signed up for our first tandem race this spring, so we’re shaving our mile times down as much as possible.
- Nurse, nurse, nurse, nurse, nurse. Yes, I’m still nursing. No, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I always swore I’d be done when Annabeth hit the twelve-month mark, but she loves it and so do I, so we’re going to keep on trucking until we’re both ready to stop. I’m not sure when that will be, but definitely before Kindergarten (ha!).
- No carbs after lunch. Josh is almost completely carb free. I still need carbs to make milk, so my diet is a little more forgiving than his. On an average day, I eat steel cut oats with local honey and a cup of black coffee for breakfast, raw nuts or seeds like almonds or pumpkin seeds for a morning snack, a lean protein, green veggie, and complex carb (usually quinoa) for lunch, full fat cheese for an afternoon snack, and lean proteins with green veggies for dinner. I also try to work in LaCroix as a treat and an afternoon cup of oolong tea.
- Intermittent fasting. The kitchen closes at 7:00 p.m. at my house. Once the counters have been wiped down and the candle has been lit, we don’t rummage through the fridge for a midnight snack. Any eating we do has to be done between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Again, this is what worked for me, my family, and my body type. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. Start by making small changes (maybe swap out your sugary latte for plain coffee or choose an out-of-the-way parking spot at Target) and gradually allow those small changes to bring about bigger ones. You’ve got this, Mama!
If you’re not a new mom, don’t bring up postpartum weight loss with someone who just had a baby. Just don’t. Keep your comments to yourself because they can sting and bring about major heaviness. Words can and do hurt and your off-the-cuff comment can send a new mom spiraling down a dangerous rabbit hole of self-loathing (or worse). Basically, make like Three 6 Mafia and keep new moms names out ya mouth, if you catch my drift.
If you are a new mom and someone doesn’t heed my above advice, try to make sure you stay right with the Lord by not murdering them. Prison isn’t worth it. Really though, people can be jerks and having a new baby means everyone has an opinion that probably doesn’t match yours. If someone says something about your weight, you can wallow in self-pity (I did), you can talk with someone you trust about how it makes you feel (I did), or you can prove them wrong by doing something about (I did and will continue to do so).
If all else fails, remember, exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t murder people.