I have had so many questions about my body after baby and how I lost the weight I gained during my pregnancy. Weight loss or returning to something resembling a pre-baby body is definitely a hot topic, and when you are time poor and sleep deprived it can be the most difficult feat.
Let me start by saying I wasn’t lucky enough to “bounce back”. Where I am today is the result of hard work and dedication (and a daily treat). As always, I am not a medical professional and merely sharing what worked for me personally. Always speak to a medical professional before making any changes to your diet and exercise 🙂
I have always eaten relatively healthy and prior to falling pregnant I was also going to the gym at least 5 times per week. Once I found out I was pregnant I cancelled my gym membership and bought a treadmill to have at home. I continued to eat healthy, but increased my calories to ensure I was getting the right amount of energy for my growing little man. I did give in to cravings (I have a massive sweet tooth and had been over 6 months without sugar prior to falling pregnant). By the end of my pregnancy I had gained approximately 14 kilograms, which was about the average recommended weight gain based on my starting weight and height. The most important thing for me during this time was to listen to my body and enjoy my pregnancy without “eating for two”.
Exercise wise, I continued to walk as often as possible (either on my treadmill at home or outside). I continued to walk up until the day before I went into labour (I just got a LOT slower). I didn’t do much strength training, which I think next time around I will try to do more of, but overall I continued to be active most days for at least 30 minutes a day.
How I got my body after baby – nutrition and exercise
About one week after delivery I had dropped about 6-7 kilograms of the weight I had gained during pregnancy. This was really without any effort, and logic tells me that it was the weight of my son, fluid, and the fact that I was breastfeeding around the clock. I was excited to think that it would be “that easy” to lose the weight I had gained, but when i weighted myself a few weeks later I had not lost any more weight. This is when I realised I was not going to just “bounce back” like I thought, and that I would actually have to put in a little effort.
During the first six weeks I really struggled to walk from one end of the house to the other without feeling as though my insides were going to fall out (sorry for the too much information, but it’s true). I had stitches and was uncomfortable, and did not even think about exercising during that time. After my six week postpartum check up I had the all-clear from my doctor and this is when I started low-impact exercise.
Despite feeling as though I could barely move my body without wincing in pain, I really am a believer in the old saying “you can’t out-run a bad diet”. At the end of the day, I knew that I had to start by re-evaluating what I was eating each day. I enlisted the help of a friend and nutritionist who designed a meal plan specific to breastfeeding. i would highly recommend seeking advice from a professional in this area so that a plan can be developed based on you needs, whether you are breastfeeding, and also incorporating foods you like. What I did take out of the meal plan was that I needed to ensure I was eating an extra 500 calories each day to account for breastfeeding (I don’t count calories but added extra sweet potato, brown rice or fruit to each meal to account for this). I also returned to eating as clean as possible, meaning once again limiting my sugar intake (I will post seperately on how I gave up added sugar soon).
With small lifestyle changes I slowly saw changes in my body and weight, losing the final 6-7 kilograms. I personally don’t believe in crash diets or any diet that is unrealistic to follow for the rest of my life, as if I was to stop I would just gain back what I had lost (I have seen so many people around me do “challenges” or drastic diets that see amazing results but then a few weeks later they are heavier than they were before starting). For me, it has always been about making lifestyle changes that I know I can continue every day.
What my typical daily diet looked like:
Breakfast: I am a creature of habit and ALWAYS had oats for breakfast. They are a great source of fibre and seemed to help with my milk supply. Since I was super time-poor (somewhat zombie-like in the morning) and fed my son as soon as he woke in the morning, I got my breakfast ready the night before. I soak organic oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, some dried fruit (maybe sultanas or prunes) in water in the fridge over night. In the morning I grate half a zucchini into the oat mix and microwave on high for two minutes. I then add some almond or rice milk and half a scoop of Tony Sfeirs whey protein isolate (ice-cream flavour) or a teaspoon of stevia.
Lunch: For lunch I would generally have a salad with some sort of protein. I usually tried to squeeze making my lunch into one of my son’s nap times (while also doing the housework, showering, etc etc). I LOVE vegetables so piled my plate sky-high and added a tin of tuna in springwater or left-over meat from the night before. If I didn’t feel like meat I would have an egg-white omlete. I always added nuts, seeds, avocado or flax-seed oil to my salads for some healthy fat.
Dinner: My fiance and I had about 4-5 meals that we generally ate during the week. I love to cook and get creative, but I try to keep my meals as healthy and clean as possible. We will usually have some sort of protein (chicken, kanga-bangers, or fish), and lots of vegetables. Our dinners usually cycle between stir-fry, salad, wraps using mountain bread, healthy chicken nachos, and barbeques.
Snacks: I am the biggest snacker you will meet (well maybe not, but I love to snack). I do try to account for my snacking and keep them healthy and clean. Favourite snacks include chopped fruit, tamari almonds (these are honestly amazing!), rice cakes topped with homemade hummus and tomato, homemade salsa, yogurt with fruit, the list goes on. I tried to stick to eating every three hours as I was super hungry while breastfeeding.
Sweet treats: I wish I didn’t have such a sweet tooth, but I do, and if I try to deny myself something sweet each day I go crazy-lady and eat every piece of refined white sugar in sight. As I mentioned, I have ditched added sugar, so my sweet treats are clean and healthy. Check out my five favourite sweet treats and links to their recipes here!
FYI, I still have a few almond milk lattes each week. I love having a coffee with my fiance each weekend since he works so much, so all in moderation I say!
WHAT I DON’T EAT: I don’t eat takeaway EVER (I actually really don’t like greesy fast food). My fiance LOVES to have takeaway once a week, so on these nights I will either have store-bought sushi or I will make my own sushi or giant chicken salad. I also eat very little wheat and dairy as research tells me it isn’t great for those with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome like me. I don’t like the way I feel after a super fatty meal, so I tend to stay away from deep-fried foods, and I have never been a fan of biscuits or cake (but give me a bag of lollies and I will finish it before you can blink). I also haven’t had a drink of alcohol since November 2012. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy wine and drinking in moderation, but I honestly don’t miss drinking or the way I eat after I drink a little too much (and I am still breastfeeding so I just think it is too much hassle to have to worry about when it is safe to feed if I was to have a drink). I am getting married later this year so will definitely celebrate with a few glasses of champagne, but until then I will keep any drinking to special occassions.
I wish I could say I have time to go to the gym, but I simply don’t. As I mentioned earlier, I did buy a treadmill and we have a spare room at our house, so I have turned that into my mini at-home gym. I have the treadmill, a yoga mat, some resistance bands, and hand weights and whenever I have a spare few minutes when my son is asleep I will jump on the treadmill or do some squats, lunges and planks. Most days I try to get out for a walk with my son in the afternoon. I don’t really exercise to lose weight as like I said, I don’t really believe exercise plays the biggest role in weight loss. But I do find it therapeutic and refreshing to go for a walk or run with my son in the pram (and I like the idea that he gets to experience the outdoor world too).
***Note that this is what has worked for me, but everyone is different. Making small lifestyle changes rather than drastic diet changes has seen me lose the weight, because I know I can stick to the changes long term. If you are on your postpartum journey then remember that your body has just done something incredible. I hope that this was helpful to any mums or mums-to-be who were looking for some support and guidance. I will keep you all updated on my postpartum progress and also post some of my favourite meals, sweet treats and snacks. Feel free to ask questions or make requests for posts you would like to see in the future 🙂