It’s not easy to lose weight post-partum. Let’s face it. Losing weight can be hard. Losing weight as a parent, can be extra hard. Prior to having children, it’s more of a mental barrier than anything else – whilst you may claim to have no time to exercise, or the lack the means to afford to eat healthily, or the energy to get your butt to the gym – although we may convince ourselves it’s a task too difficult to even attempt, nothing compares to the difficulty you may face after having a child. Roughly one quarter of all women retain 11lbs or more a year after giving birth, and after joining mum club, I can now empathize completely. You have less time, you have less money, and there’s no arguing with the fact you have considerably less energy – heck, I had none for the first 4 months. No one is denying it is difficult that it can be challenging to lose the excess weight, especially if your not yet in the mindset to get really stuck into it. Despite what many think though, there is no need for a complete lifestyle overhaul; there may in fact be a key reasons you cannot shed those extra few pounds, and a few small changes you can make that will make a massive difference to the results you are personally seeing.
1. You Don’t Have The Time
There are not enough hours in the day as a parent, I’ll be the first to preach that one. With a newborn, you don’t get the five minutes to go to the toilet let alone the hour to go to the gym – with a toddler, they’ve gained some independence, but chances are you’ve also returned to your working day and any chance of a quick workout has disappeared again. If you stay at home, you can’t find the time, if you work, you can’t find the time – it’s a lose lose situation, and one that I can completely understand. Nutrition coupled with an active lifestyle are the two main influencing factors on bodyweight, so if we can’t find time to cook healthy options, or to workout, how is it possible to lose weight?
It’s simple. Work more efficiently, not more.
There are so many healthy dinners that take less than 5 minutes to prepare, lunches that you can take straight out the freezer and snacks that are ready to hand, provided you do a little bit of planning and preperation. On a Sunday, I spend roughly two hours prepping food for pretty much my entire week – this is 2 hours where I have someone watch my son, whether that be my partner, or my mum, but there is nothing to say that this can’t be done during a nap, or after the kids go to bed. Two hours may seem excessive at one time, but how much time would you normally spend preparing food daily? Preparing food in advance means healthy, quick and satisfying meals are ready to hand when I get hungry, they reduce food wastage and take away any dangers of shoving on a pizza because I can’t think of anything else to cook. My own meal prepping posts will be live periodically throughout this month, but the reality is that it’s something that you can do with little to no input from me anyway, you probably no what healthy choices are, and you probably like them – you just don’t have the time to prepare them. Find two hours, find a freezer, and you’ve found a nutritious diet for the week.
The same can be said for exercise; I was the first to spend 2 hours daily in the gym prior to having a baby, however the thought of that now is almost comical. Post baby, any form of exercise (other than the dead weight I carry around for 60% of the day in one arm) has to be under half an hour. More than that, and I’ve completely over run nap time, I’ve probably burnt my cooking chicken, or I’ve simply fell into the trap of feeling utterly guilty for using more than half an hour per day for myself. The Body Coach TV workouts are perfect for new mothers with little time; 20 minute bursts that can be done at home with no equipment, completely free to find on Youtube, but that you can guarantee will allow you to pick up a sweat. Although it can be difficult to push yourself at home – modifying exercises, taking extra breaks and ensuring your completely hydrated throughout will allow you to make it the entire way through a 20 minute workout, which is the most important thing when trying to begin a program. 70% of all people who start a new fitness regime quit: why not be the 30%. Depending on how audacious your feeling – working out with your pram is also an option. I personally have not yet managed to incorporate this into our weekend walks, but if I ever get brave enough, or find a park deserted enough, I might just. I fit in a ridiculously long walk three days per week, normally when my child is playing up and refusing to sleep, and I make sure to try and utilize the time. I’ll listen to a Podcast, or write posts using the microphone feature on my phone. Fitness is what you make it, and if your still telling yourself you can’t find 20 minutes in your day a few times a week to stay fit, then your probably lying to yourself.
2. You Don’t Think About What Is Going Into Your Mouth
Mindless eating is one of the worst possible habits to pick up if you have any desire to drop a few pounds – I know this, because finding it slapped 15lbs straight onto my arse. In the baby days especially, when it’s hard to find that extra time to cook, we’re all guilty of popping a digestive, or twelve, into our mouths. Now what if I told you a Digestive biscuit contains 73kcal, and the 12 you’ve popped in your mouth throughout the day has added an additional 900kcal to your daily total? You’ve probably burned about 40kcal walking back and forth to the biscuit tin, but regardless, it doesn’t add up, and over time that’ll probably become apparent when your jeans are a bit tighter. Whilst it’s not necessary to track every calorie that goes into your mouth – in fact it’s probably more detrimental in the long run – looking simply at what goes in versus what goes out is enough to make adjustments that will provide results. I can’t recommend having set meals at specific times, because from experience I know that parenthood is far too unpredictable for that, but meal prepping means that whenever you do have a quick minute, it’s simply a case of popping it in the microwave, rather than having to prepare something. It all comes down to putting in that tiny bit of effort in advance to reap the rewards; however, chances are, if you want to graze on digestive after digestive, chances are you will still to continue to do so if they are in the house, I’ve always worked by the ‘if it’s not in the cupboard I can’t put it in my mouth’, so try and limit the foods you are in the habit of gorging on, within reason of course, moderation not deprivation.
3. You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
4. You Just Don’t Want To
5. The Baby Excuse
Both your nutrition and your activity levels are the direct influencers on your body weight prior to pregnancy, and after childbirth, it really is no different. It’s not easy and it will take a little bit more work, but small changes can make a huge difference in the long run, not only to your waist line but to your quality of life. I can bark on for hours about getting to your ‘ideal’ body, but in reality, what good is that if your doing little to extend your lifespan; what good is an Aston Marton with an interior that can only be likened to a beat-up boy racer? It comes down to slow, steady weight loss and incorporating a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable – taking small steps like the ones outlined above will ensure you maintain the weight loss, rather than creating a quick fix.
Disclaimer; I am not a health professional. I have a degree in Physiology, Sports Science and Nutrition, as well as being a Certified Fitness Instructor and a Health Coach. Let’s be honest, that’s all a bit airy-fairy; I’ve been there and my advice comes more from first hand experience than anything else. What works for me may not work for you, but the basic principles of health and fitness can have a profound effect on anyone’s overall quality of life, and it is those that I aim to promote in any of my fitness and nutrition posts. BUT I am not a doctor, and I’d suggest you seek his/her advice before introducing any new vigorous changes.