For every mom who loses weight easily while breastfeeding, there’s another mom who can’t seem to shake the weight off at all. I’ve been so lucky to have both situations. After having my 2nd baby, I remember being incredibly frustrated as to why I wasn’t dropping the weight as I had so easily the first time.
I remember crying trying to figure out why it wasn't as simple as it was after my first pregnancy or why none of my clothes fit right anymore. It was an emotional time, to say the least. As women, I think there's a lot of pressure to "get your body back". However, no one tells us that those expectations will be as stressful as they often are.
One of the biggest things I've learned on my own journey is to give myself grace and time. Every new baby brings on new life changes and challenges. As moms, our top priority should not be to "get our body back", but to simply live a healthy lifestyle with being a great mom as our top priority.
It takes time to lose weight post-pregnancy and there are many ups and downs along the way. Don't be hard on yourself and focus on long term sustainable weight loss vs. a quick fix! As your body evolves and recovers, the weight will drop if you stay consistent with positive changes.
That being said, “quick” is relative. It takes 9 months to make that baby and put the weight on and it takes at least 9 months to get it off. It might sound like a long time, but as an expert in this area, if you’re able to lose all your weight (or more) in 9 months I think you’re doing mighty fine! In that time frame, I lost 20+ lbs of baby weight and then some, and I was able to establish long term lifestyle habits that were really the overall goal!
Here’s some of the things I did:
1. Move Daily
We all know exercise is important when it comes to weight loss. However, time is of the essence after having a baby. We have a lot less time in our day, to say the least, so figuring out how to exercise can be a challenge.
My best advice is to make it a goal to move daily. Take your baby for a walk in the stroller or carrier, or do a short 20-minute home workout during nap-time. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that makes your body FEEL good.
If you're doing hour-long workouts and putting added stress on your body, you could be causing yourself more harm than good. Exercise is healthy, but if you stress your body out to the max, it will break. Meaning it could cause adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance or worse. Start small and work your way up! Slow, consistent, and long-term weight loss comes with slow, consistent efforts.
2. Eat MORE Whole Foods
One thing I've found is that most women are not eating enough calories post-pregnancy. With all the demands thrown at you during this time in your life, it’s easy to see why it would be difficult to find time to make nutritious foods.
On top of that, the diet industry has told us eating less and moving more is the only way to lose weight—however, that's simply not true!
As a postpartum mom, it's vital that you're eating enough calories to fuel your energy demands. Low-calorie diets can be effective in the short term, but they can cause weight loss plateaus and a host of health problems in the long term.
Specifically for breastfeeding moms, your body needs fat in order to produce milk, so if you're not eating enough your body will hold onto the extra fat in order to feed your baby. It's really vital to your health and weight loss goals to eat MORE nutrient-dense calories!
Now, you shouldn't just be eating ANY empty calories. Focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods 90% of the time. Eliminating processed foods and excess sugar is really key to losing weight in a healthy way.
Try to keep your plates filled with healthy protein options (such as grass-fed beef, turkey, chicken or fish), healthy fats (ie. avocado, nuts/seeds, yogurt, olive oil, coconut oil, etc), complex carbs (ie. sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and oats), and lots of fresh veggies (all veggies are great)!
3. Ditch the All-or-Nothing Mentality
Don't fall into the "all or nothing" mentality that says if you don't eat perfectly 100% of the time, you won't lose weight. In my experience, restrictions lead to binging which leads to quitting. So, give yourself grace mama and take it one day at a time!
I followed the 90/10 rule, this means you can eat sweets or your favorites 10% of the time (I try to keep this to 1-2 meals per week), but the key is to not restrict yourself! There are simply foods you should eat more of and foods you should eat less of.
Focus on the small daily wins that will get you closer to your goals because that is what will fuel you to keep going.
When it comes to fitness, instead of being frustrated that your baby interrupted your workout, be excited about the fact that you completed half a workout for the first time in months! Instead of being upset that you didn't have a healthy lunch, applaud yourself for making the time to have a healthy breakfast and dinner that day. Do you see what I'm saying? It's a simple mindset switch that can keep you from "falling off the bandwagon" simply because you had one slip up.
The reality is that we are all human. We are never going to get this perfect. No one is perfect—even those people with perfect bodies are not perfect! This journey is all about striving for progress, not perfection! And at a season in your life when that is hard, well you've GOT to give yourself grace, girlfriend. Keep doing your best and working towards being the best version of you each day!
4. Make Sleep a Priority
This one is so underestimated! Sleep is hard to come by as a new mom but it really is VITAL to your ultimate weight loss goals. Sleep greatly affects your hormones, which affect weight loss.
It may sound difficult (this one is always the hardest for me), but you have to sleep as much as possible. I know it can be tempting to stay up late when you've FINALLY got your baby to sleep. I know it’s nice to have alone time and to not have a child attached to you. I know it’s nice to Netflix binge, or scroll Pinterest, or get those "to do's" checked off your list, but don't let that temptation keep you from sleeping.
If you want to lose weight, make sleep a priority could be the thing costing you your health and weight loss goals. Going to bed earlier, using a sleep mask, turning off the TV and electronic devices can all help with getting more restful sleep as often as you can. And absolutely sleep when your baby sleeps.
5. Simplify Your Life
Having a new baby can cause a lot of stress on your body, your marriage, and your life. It can be incredibly overwhelming to try and "do it all" and those thousands of to do's can seem never-ending.
If you let it, that stress can become chronic and can wreak havoc on your entire body, damaging your gut, your hormones, and ultimately stalling your weight loss.
De-stressing and simplifying your life is really important to your weight loss goals—please DO NOT write off this tip. Stop feeling guilty for asking for help, start saying "no" sometimes, and stop trying to put so much on your list. Do whatever you can to simplify. Instead of having a mile long to-do list, try to just simply have 3 things to accomplish each day—that's it! Don't overwhelm yourself during this time in your life, ask your spouse or family members for more help, and take time for self-care. This is one thing I wish I would have done sooner on my own postpartum journey!
It really is key to just slow down and focus on staying healthy, sane, and taking care of your baby during this season of your life.
I hope these tips help you on your post-pregnancy journey! Just remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Every little piece of self-care you do is working toward your overall health goals.