Weight loss after pregnancy

P14 Image A Most moms are normally very keen to banish those baggy, usually unflattering maternity clothes to the storage closet after a pregnancy. The bad news is that there is no quick fix; the good news is that with healthy eating and exercise you can get your pre-pregnancy figure back quicker than you thought possible.

You will need plenty of patience and allow yourself 3 months before embarking on any strict weight-reducing diet. Allow yourself at least 9 months to regain your pre-pregnancy weight. Remember that this can get you on the road to a healthy, active lifestyle, which can only benefit you in the long run. Under no circumstances should you try to starve yourself thinner. It’s guaranteed to fail.
Most expecting moms put on around 13 kilograms during pregnancy, and lose about 5 kilograms during birth, which leaves about 8 kilograms of weight that most new moms want to lose. It may be much more or much less, depending on your pregnancy, your lifestyle and any underlying medical conditions. Set a goal and be realistic about weight loss. 500 grams to 1 kilogram a week is a good weight loss goal for most women. Weigh yourself once a week to check on progress.

Diet for weight loss after pregnancy

When you were pregnant, you may have changed your eating habits to satisfy your cravings as well as support your baby’s growth. A healthy diet after pregnancy is really important, especially if you are trying to regain your pre-pregnancy weight. You should try maintain a diet full of high fibre foods; not only will they keep you feeling fuller for longer, they also nourish you with all the right kinds of nutrients. Some suggested foods are:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Low fat dairy products
  • Chicken without the skin, any kind of fish and lean red meat
  • Whole grains

You should try to avoid the temptation of junk and fast food, it might have been great when you had a baby on board, but now the excessive salt, high fat and heaps of sugar can seriously undermine your weight loss objectives. A great way to easily lose some weight is to simply make yourself smaller portions for your meals, you might still be hungry when you start doing this but soon your stomach will adapt. Oblivious snacking can ruin any good diet, try to eat only when you are hungry and don’t let stress or a negative emotional state drive you towards excessive eating.

There are many dieting tips that may help you lose your post-partum weight, including:

  • Drinking around 8-10 glasses of water a day – replace soft drinks, coffee and juice with water. If that sounds boring, you could always try flavoured water, or add lemon to your water.
  • Having healthy snacks close by – keep a few granola bars, wheat crackers and nuts in your bag, so you are not tempted to indulge in junk food.
  • Eating whole grains (breads, cereals, pastas) instead of the processed versions.
  • Avoiding gravies and sauces, as they are high in fat and salt.
  • Avoiding frozen meals – these may seem convenient but can be loaded with fat and kilojoules.

Exercise for weight loss after pregnancy

If you were active during pregnancy and had a normal natural delivery, it’s generally safe to begin exercising soon (most women wait around 2 months) after delivery – or as soon as you feel ready. If you had a caesarean or a complicated birth, talk to your doctor about when to start exercising.

The best way to start is with some light aerobic exercise – walking, cycling and swimming are great as they don’t jerk or jar your body. When you are just getting started, do short bursts of exercise throughout the day and, as you get fitter, lengthen your workouts and try make them a little more intense. If you prefer to work out at home then Yoga can be a great way to get into shape.

You can even get your baby involved in your fitness routines by taking them for a walk in their baby stroller. Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after each workout. Stop exercising immediately if you experience pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or a sudden increase in bleeding ‘down there’, these may be signs that you’re overdoing it.

Another great benefit of exercise after your pregnancy is that it can even help reduce any post-partum depression you may feel by releasing endorphins when you work-out. You should also undertake some Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises to ensure your bladder and surrounding muscles have the best chance of rebounding to their pre-baby shape.

You may be very keen to start exercising after your pregnancy, but there is a baby to look after and the fatigue that accompanies this, in addition to many other obstacles, can put post-partum activities low on your to-do list. But not to worry, here are some of our best tips to get back into doing workouts to lose that extra pregnancy weight:

  • Squeeze short workouts in when you can through the day; they are just as effective as one long workout.
  • Get support and advice from friends and family; many of them have gone through the same things and will probably have some kind words and ideas for getting back into shape.
  • Pregnancy can weaken your core muscles, so when you feel ready, start to reinvigorate these muscles with some core-related activities, like pelvic tilts and other core strength exercises.
  • Don’t try to emulate those celebrity moms who seem to lose weight instantly. They are surrounded by personal trainers, dieticians etc. and it is unrealistic, not to mention too expensive to try and lose weight as fast as they did. Besides, if you lose weight too rapidly, you’re more likely to gain it back just as fast.

Pregnancy and weight gain are like peas and carrots – they go together and it’s healthy for you. Therefore, when trying to lose those pregnancy kilos, be sensible and don’t entertain extremes, junk food binges or celebrity diets. Balanced nutrition coupled with exercise is the safest and healthiest way to get back your pre-pregnancy body. Just remember it took 9 months to gain the weight; give yourself at least that long to take it off.

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