I like to sit back and watch my blog evolve.
Right before my eyes, but by no conscious decision on my part, Tuesday Food Day is becoming not only about sharing recipes and tips, but about nutrition and health in general. Such as the post about diet coke, which is a must-read for anyone trying to kick their addiction to the “bubbly chemical juice” (thanks to the husband of Andrea from Peanut Butter Handprint for coining the term).
I don’t have any recipes begging to be shared this week, so instead, I’m going to tell you how I lost the baby weight. Something that women do not always discuss, although the subject is one that sparks many a curiosity.
Before I begin, please remember that every new mom has her own unique experience with pregnancy, child birth, breast feeding, baby care, and the associated weight gain and loss. I am only here to share my story and the techniques that worked for me.
My first piece of advice? Don’t gain that much baby weight to begin with. Easier said than done. You tend to hear all sorts of stories about the mommies who gain 80 pounds and lose it all within a month. You hear about these stories because they are WEIRD. The exception, not the rule. Perhaps some women need to gain 80 pounds to safely and healthily grow their roughly 7 1/2 pound baby, but usually this is not the case.
From my first prenatal appointment at 7 weeks to my last one, which was 2 days before my due date (so, 39 weeks and 5 days) and less than 24 hours before little Miss Giovanna entered this world, I gained 26 pounds. Not too little and not too much. On the low-end of normal. I believe this was due to my behavior rather than my genes. My mother gained 40 pounds during each of her pregnancies. Not that much more, but slightly higher than the recommended 25-35 (and for the record, she lost it all). My mom says that she ate like a pig when she pregnant. In fact, she even snorted when she told me this. Oink Oink. Which brings me to my next piece of advice…
Don’t eat like a pig.
Sorry, but pregnancy is not an excuse to stuff your face. It’s not a free pass to gluttony. If anything, you should consider your body to be a sacred temple during pregnancy. There is a tiny little person growing in your womb, don’t you want everything to work right? Don’t you want your little seed to have the best possible start to life? Your baby eats what you eat. Would you feed your baby processed, artificial foods with little to no nutritional value? Or would you choose fresh, whole foods from the earth packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and life? Furthermore, would you want your baby to skip breakfast and dinner? Would you want your baby to overeat? Would you want your baby slurping down coffee or soda or sugar? I know that none of us are perfect and motherhood is a lot of pressure. Do your absolute best and if it’s truly your best, it will be good enough.
Treat yourself with the utmost care and respect, and you will be treating your baby the same way.
This means that you must limit empty calories. Lunch and dinner should (with little to no exceptions) include lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and other legumes. Food from the earth. Limit animal fat.
Savor each bite. Sit down when you eat (which is one of my many weaknesses). Appreciate and love your food. Eat what is in season. Be serious about everything you put in your mouth. For an in-depth understanding of these lessons, read “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. But first read my post about the book, which Mireille herself links to on her own website.
Avoid highly processed founds like the plague. Would you rather have a very small slice of a decadent yet semi-healthy flourless chocolate cake or two oreos? The oreos may actually have more calories.
Recognize that your primary source of nutrition should come out of the earth, not out of a cardboard box or a plastic bag
Find your indulgences in fruits, healthy fats, and small amounts of your favorite things. Like dark chocolate. (The caffeine is negligible, but check with your doctor to be sure.) For many weeks during my pregnancy, I could not live without my daily chocolate avocado smoothie. Now, as I am breast feeding, this treat tastes even better. I’m not sure how that’s possible, although it may have something to do with the fact that breast feeding leaves me far hungrier than pregnancy.
You only need an extra 300 calories per day during pregnancy. Don’t you dare eat for two. Well, you can eat for two. But keep in mind that the second person is very, very small. 300 calories isn’t very much. You could pack that many calories into a mocha from Starbucks. Although we are not drinking coffee and we are avoiding empty calories during pregnancy, right?? (The caffeine content is no longer negligible, but again, I’m not a doctor. Ask your doctor.)
To put that into perspective, you burn roughly 500 extra calories per day while exclusively breast feeding. You actually need to eat more when you’re breast feeding than when you’re pregnant. Which brings me to my next tip in losing the baby weight: exclusively breast feed your baby for as long as possible. This may mean one month, six months, or a few years. Just do what you can. But remember, our bodies were made to breast feed. Our babies are designed to be breast fed. Our pregnancies are intended to prepare our body for breast feeding. We gain weight while we’re pregnant and the extra fat is to help us feed our babies. That fat is designed to be burned off. So, get it off. Don’t let it stifle you.
But also remember that it took 9 months to put it on, it may take 9 months to take it off. Be patient and good things will come. Be impatient and you may give up. It took me 4 months to lose it all, but I am still working on toning and tightening at 6 months postpartum.
Exercise through out your pregnancy. If your doctor says it’s ok. A few months ago, in Pregnancy: the bellies, the worries, the beauty, I revealed some of the complications during my pregnancy, which compromised my long walks for several months, with the exception of prenatal yoga, which was always approved by my caregiver. But during the first half and the last month of my pregnancy, I was a walking woman. I walked everywhere. During the first few weeks of my pregnancy, I ran everywhere. And then morning sickness hit and my running days were over for a long while. I didn’t gain more than a pound or two until I was about 14 or 15 weeks. Which was fortunate considering that my wedding took place when I was at 13 weeks.
Exercise after you have the baby. As soon as your doctor says it is ok. It’s nearly impossible to find time to exercise when you are a new mom, which is why babywearing is so essential. I couldn’t have lived without my Moby Wrap when Giovanna was a newborn. It was comfortable for both of us, and I could escape for walks while she napped, safely snuggled next to my chest. Long walks should never be underestimated in their ability to help you lose weight. If you feel like walking is too easy, then walk up hills. Steep hills. If you can’t find them, find a treadmill. I also dabbled in exercise videos, including Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, but I could never stick with them. Especially when the flowers started blooming and I couldn’t stand to exercise in my living room. There are tons of classes you can do with your baby. Mom and baby yoga. Stroller strides (which I went to last week for the first time and it was a great time). If all else fails, you can always chest press your baby.
Drink lots of water and herbal tea. Always. These liquids will keep you hydrated and regular, with the added bonus of suppressing your appetite. Herbal tea will even nourish your body with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. In fact, the world’s civilizations with the longest life expectancy are known for their special reverence of herbs for health and healing.
Let go of unrealistic expectations. It’s ok if your ass doesn’t look like Jessica Biel’s. Aim to be healthy, fit, and feel good in your skin.
Be kind to yourself. Hug yourself. Love yourself.
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How much weight did you gain during pregnancy? Did you lose all or most of it? If so, how? Was it difficult or easy? Please share your own experiences!