Baby weight has been a topic du jour among my mommy friends these days, and understandably so. On top of the occasional stressors of life with a new babe, we can often feel out of control of our bodies, as they take their time bouncing back to pre-baby form. Add to that photos of Gisele and Gwyneth in their size 2 bods five seconds after popping out their little ones, and the pressure to get back in our skinny jeans can feel overwhelming.
Luckily, it’s totally doable. It may not happen as quickly as Hollywood starlets and supermodels, but it will definitely happen, as long as you commit to taking some important steps. I’m certainly not back to my pre-baby size 4, but it’s been amazing watching my body return to form gradually and healthfully over the last three months. And the confidence that the rest of the way is soon to come certainly does a lot to relieve the pressure. Here’s what has worked for my clients and is working for me:
I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you can do it, it’s the best way to start burning off that baby weight on day 1. Breastfeeding burns off 300-500 calories a day, the equivalent of an hour long run! And it burns off the baby weight naturally and gradually, which is awesome.
– Check out my recipe for my Miraculous Lactation Smoothie!
When you get the go ahead from your doctor, get your ass moving, gently and in a way that feels good for your body. This is not the time to start a grueling workout regimen that you dread! We take daily mile long walks through Santa Monica, go to mommy + baby yoga once a week, and now that girly girl is cool hanging out on her playmat for a bit, I do 20 minutes of Pilates 2-3 times a week as well. These are all forms of movement that I love, that don’t require a babysitter. Find what works for you and commit to it, at least 3 days a week.
– Check out my playlist of quick and easy morning workouts and great Pilates routines on YouTube!
Make time for a big lunch
Ladies, this is the biggest thing you can do for your post-baby body. I know it can be hard to prioritize eating well when you’re alone with baby during the day, but it’s absolutely crucial. Here’s why: our bodies need and are designed to use up the vast majority of our caloric intake during the day, when we’re the most active, and our digestion is the strongest. So when you nibble, snack, and eat insubstantiality while on the go during the day, your body panics and actually goes into fat storage mode. You don’t lose weight or burn fat by skipping lunch, quite the opposite. So you need to start having a big, satisfying and nourishing dinner-sized lunch, every day.
– How do you do this with a new baby? What’s working for me is a combination of cooking up whole grains for the week on Sunday, and stocking up on a variety of healthy prepared foods from Whole Foods. My fridge is packed with grilled salmon, roasted root veggies, sautéed greens, and yummy beans — all of while I pile on top of my pre-prepared grains with some vinegar, olive oil and seeds (usually pumpkin or sunflower) for a big delicious lunch that takes all of two minutes to throw together.
If you have the time or some help, you can also make a bunch of these meal components ahead of time yourself. With this crucial change, you’ll find you have more energy to devote to baby, a more stable mood, and a waistline that starts making its appearance before you know it!
Lighten up your dinner
Just like your body thrives off a nice, big lunch, the opposite is true of your big dinners. In the evening, our digestion and fat burners slow down, which means your body is more likely to store anything you eat after 6pm as fat. So that healthy dinner you sit down to when your hubs gets home, with the grilled chicken and brown rice and veggies? That’s sitting in your belly all night long. The saturated fat in animal protein turns into fat in your body, the grains turn to sugar, and then, yes, fat. And that dessert you treat yourself to? That’s all going to those hips and thighs.
After you’ve had a big delicious lunch (and maybe even dessert!) at midday, your ideal dinner is nice and light, easily digestible, and ideally vegetarian. A big dinner salad with beans and avocado, or a yummy veggie soup — these lighter dinner options will put your body in fat burning mode while you sleep, helping to speed along the weight loss process. It works like a charm. —- Check out my favorite light dinner soup recipes!
Get out of the “diet” mentality
This is not the time to start a “diet” or restrict your caloric intake. You need energy to devote to your babe, and calories to make all that glorious breast milk. But by the same token, this is definitely not the time to indulge in empty calories and junk food. Your body needs real food: healthy fats, vibrant veggies, and powerful proteins. So resist the temptation to go extreme by cutting out all carbs or skipping meals. A: it won’t work, and B: it’ll stress you the hell out. And what do you do when you’re stressed? You eat crap. So the whole thing is pretty self-defeating anyway. Follow the steps listed here and you’ll get results without needing to utter the dreaded D word!
Don’t be afraid to indulge (smartly)
I have a Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup after lunch every day (have you had them? They’re uhhhh-mazing), a glass of wine or a gluten-free beer (NGB is my fave!) every night, and we go out for a yummy, indulgent dinner once a week. Dark chocolate, a homemade baked something (use coconut palm sugar and gluten-free flours to up the health factor), a favorite drink, a dinner out.. Go for it!
A little indulgence is an important part of a sustainable approach to eating, but try not to limit yourself to only food-based indulgences! Leave the hubs on baby duty and get a mani-pedi or go for a spa day; get a babysitter to watch your pumpkin while she sleeps, throw on a LBD and go on a super fun date; take long amazing candlelit baths after baby’s asleep. These indulgences will help you feel happier and more taken care of, and will keep you out of that deprivation mentality that you’ll inevitably compensate for in some less than healthy way down the line.
Dress for your current body
Ok, this is a big one. When nothing in your closet fits other than your enormous maternity clothes, it’s easy to fall into the sweats/yoga pants and nursing shirt routine. But riddle me this: do you feel sexy and empowered in those clothes? Or are they a constant daily reminder of a body you are frustrated with? Yeah…
You’ve gotta bite the bullet and go get yourself some key pieces that fit your current body, that you feel awesome in. I picked up a pair of skinny jeans in a larger size, some tops that fit my new huge boobs, and some cute dresses that I can nurse in. J. Crew Factory, H&M, even TJ Maxx all have great affordable options so you don’t have to feel bad about buying clothes that will soon be too big. I recommend a pair of jeans that fit great, a couple elastic waisted mini skirts that you can wear for a while to come, a couple dresses you feel sexy in, and a few tops that flatter your current shape.
Commit to getting dressed every day, especially if you’re going somewhere. Showing up anywhere, even the grocery store in a getup that makes you feel like a shlump will just do a number on your self-esteem and make you feel awful about yourself. And negativity is not as great a motivator as you might think.
Learn to love your body as it is
You’ve just created, carried and birthed a new life with your amazing body. Now, many of you are sustaining that life with milk from your body. This is nothing to sneeze at. Your beautiful body has done some miraculous things over the last year or more. Honor it, love it, accept it. This doesn’t mean giving in or losing motivation to get in shape. But it does mean that hating on your body or comparing yourself to other mamas that seemed to bounce right back isn’t doing you any favors. Hating your body won’t get you to yoga every week, it won’t help you enjoy that big healthy lunch or motivate you to eat more kale and less cookies, and it won’t help you lose the baby weight any faster. In fact, all that body hatred is actually causing you to have more cravings and less willpower! But coming at your new body with love, and maybe even a little awe, will help you make loving choices in how you treat yourself every day and make the whole process of gentle transformation actually enjoyable.
I myself have a ways to go (I’ll add a new photo update soon).. Will my body be the type that holds on to an extra 19 lbs until I’m done nursing? Maybe! If so, I’ll stay fit and toned and wear those 10 lbs with pride, knowing that it’s all a temporary, beautiful sacrifice that I happily make to be able to nourish my baby. Or maybe in another month or so, I’ll look in the mirror and see abs again! Either way, it’s all good.
Trust that your body will bounce back if you commit to lovingly follow the steps above. I promise! It may be a little curvier than it was before, but it will certainly turn plenty of heads. And in the meantime, you can spend less time stressing about your current dress size and eating to make yourself feel better, and more time playing with the amazing creature you created and eating her little toes.