- Breastfeeding: First, let’s be clear: this is not the point in time where you hear me spout off about how superior breastfeeding is to formula-feeding or how more moms should really do their babies a favor and stick it out with nursing, even when they can’t or choose not to. I’ve nursed both my kids and have had a relatively easy time with it; I realize not everyone can breastfeed, and not everyone wants to. I only mention this because I think it’s one of the big factors in helping me lose the baby weight, not because I’m trying to tell any other mamas how to feed their babies. Whew, glad that’s out of the way! Moving on…there’s a lot of confusion about breastfeeding and weight-loss. In theory, nursing helps you lose weight because it burns a lot of calories (roughly 500 per day). But for every woman who says she could hardly keep the weight on while breastfeeding, there’s another who couldn’t lose the last 5-10 lbs. until weaning; it’s different for everyone and there are no guarantees. With my first baby, nursing didn’t seem to do squat to help me lose weight. This time around, I think it’s definitely helped – I eat a decent diet and I exercise a few times a week but I’m in NO WAY strict about my eating or exercise habits, yet I still managed to lose all 37ish pounds of pregnancy weight by the time my baby was 8 weeks old; I chalk that up to breastfeeding, at least in part.
- Short, intense workouts: Ok, I know we’re all busy, so I’m not here to convince you my life is any more hectic than yours. In fact, I can’t stand when people humble brag about how busy they are. But when you have a baby (or two), your so-called ‘free time’ (ha!) is unpredictable; you never know when it’ll start or when it’ll be interrupted by a hungry, crying baby. That’s why, with the exception of an occasional run, I’ve focused my exercise efforts almost exclusively on short but challenging workouts. As soon as the baby goes down for her first nap, I throw on workout clothes, fire up a video and get through a routine in 15 minutes or less – sometimes I even have time for a quick shower before she’s up again. My go-to workouts have been ZWOW routines (free on YouTube) and Lindsay Brin’s Bootcamp 2 DVD, which is designed specifically for postpartum women. Other options include BodyRock or your own HIIT routine. If you push yourself hard during those 15 minutes of exercise (once you’re fully recovered from giving birth of course), there’s no reason you can’t see the same results you’d get from a longer but less intense workout.
- A new food attitude: You’d think that not having to worry about my calorie intake would mean all-day bingeing on chips, pizza and every other bit of junk food that falls under my gaze. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that relaxing with regards to calories (thanks to the additional calorie burn from breastfeeding) actually stops me from obsessing about food all day. Just the fact that I can have that piece of chocolate or extra serving of pasta or whatever else means that I often don’t even want it. I try to eat healthy meals most of the time, but I also let myself have treats or bigger portions without thinking twice about it, and that attitude adjustment has made such a difference in my eating; it feels so much more natural because I can enjoy food – both the healthy and not-so-healthy – without becoming preoccupied about what’s going into my mouth and what I’m trying so hard to keep my hands off of.
Moms: what have you found to be most helpful in helping you lose the baby weight and getting your body back? I’m always looking for more ideas!