First of all, I hate that coined phrase, “getting your body back”. So, ladies, lets take some time to fully appreciate just what has happened in the last 10-12 months of your lives. Your body has stretched, your hormones have taken you for a ride and you are left looking at your body like….now what?? And to top it all off, you are over 35 and think that getting any resemblance of your old body back is some form of a sick joke. Let me tell ALL of you, though, that if you want it, IT CAN BE DONE because honestly half of it is your mindset. So start looking at your body as a bad ass, beautiful, baby-making machine! If you pushed out a baby at this age, you can certainly accomplish a little remodeling–so to speak.
Let’s start with hormones…
Once the baby is delivered, and depending or whether or not you are breastfeeding, the surge of hormones is probably making you feel a tad bit crazy, which is completely normal. A little bit of physical movement can do wonders for your mood, even if the only thing you feel like doing is sitting on the couch eating chips and wondering how you ever thought you were tired before kids. Am I right, ladies? If you are early postpartum, say up to 6 months, and getting very little sleep, you need to take it easy. Lack of sleep causes our cortisol levels to rise (cortisol is a stress hormone), and adding in any kind of intense exercise can add more stress that your body simply does not need. High cortisol can really screw with your metabolism, not to mention your mental heath. So I suggest that for the first 3-6 months, once you are cleared by your doctor, start with very low impact exercise.
Suggestions: yoga, walking, light resistance training and swimming.
Once you feel like you are getting some sleep and your stress level has decreased, then you can start to add in a little more cardio or heavy weights. What if you hate working out and maybe you weren’t in the best shape before you got pregnant? All you need to do is move. Start with walking! There are many of studies showing that just 15-20 mins of light movement every single day will brighten your mood, tone your body and help you lose the baby weight. You don’t need to workout one hour, 6 days a week to get fit–that is a myth! And for us older and wiser girls, it’s not that great for us either! Personally I’m huge into a pilates-type workout called PVOLVE. Although I didn’t see fast results like I would if I did a high intensity program, I love the way it’s starting to length my muscles. I will link all my favorite workouts below.
Now let’s talk food and postpartum weight loss. But before we dive in, I want to tell you that the number one key to losing weight is drinking water. You need to ALWAYS have a water bottle by your bed if you are breastfeeding, and it is the first thing you need to do when you wake up. Drink a big glass of water however you prefer it. I do room temp with a bit of fresh squeezed lemon and pinch of pink Himalayan salt. If you are breastfeeding, you must eat carbs so enjoy them while you can! Do not feel guilty during this phase in your life. It will be gone before you know it! Your body is holding on to some fat and that is okay. It’s a very selfless time, that is certain, but there are a few good carbs you can switch out for the not so good ones if you want to start dropping some pounds. Examples include the following:
Potato – Sweet potato
Rice – quinoa
Regular pasta – whole wheat pasta
Bread – sprouted wheat bread
My other little trick when I stopped breastfeeding and wanted to lose those very annoying last ten pounds was to simply cut out high sugar fruit. I stuck to blueberries and raspberries only and tried to eat them early in the day opposed to later in the day. I also added in a lot of high quality fats like MCT oil (bullet proof brand is best), avocado and raw cashews. Also consider taking a very high quality probiotic and prebiotic. Most people don’t realize that a prebiotic is just a special type of fibre that supports digestive health. It can help with various digestive problems and even boost your immune system. It is completely safe to be on both of these during breastfeeding.
Now, all prebiotic or fibre powders are not created equal. Do your research. I have found that The METHOD Simply Inulin is by far the best. It is tasteless, and I stir some into my coffee, shakes and even cook with it. BUT go slow! You should start with 1 tsp and work your way up to 1-5 tablespoons a day and should be consistent with it. I do 2 tablespoons in my morning Nespresso coffee and 2 tablespoons in my nighttime tea concoction.
One thing that most people never think about is cutting down on animal protein while trying to lose weight. I am not vegan and in fact grew up on a cattle ranch, but in all my research and experimenting, I believe we generally eat way too much meat. So if you eat meat three times a day I would move down to two and then eventually try to get to only having animal protein one time a day or experiment with a vegetarian week and just see how your body reacts. It is important to add a little Vitamin B12 while cutting back on meat so just buy nutritional yeast and sprinkle it on salads and soups. It has a cheesy taste so it’s also brilliant on popcorn.
My last little piece of advice as a health coach is to SLOW DOWN! As mothers it is so hard to eat like a regular human being. Sometimes I find my self standing at the stove shoveling in my kids Annie’s Mac & Cheese. Try for a least one meal a day to make yourself a proper plate of food and set your phone timer for 20 minutes. Put your fork down between bites, chew longer, and take sips of water during your meal. You will find that when you aren’t inhaling your food you won’t eat nearly as much and you might actually not even want seconds. When we eat slower, we give our stomaches a chance to catch up to our brain. It is also proven that eating on the go or eating too fast also kicks up our cortisol levels into high gear.
Here’s the other thing, mamas–please be patient! It can take years to get back to where you want to be and you really need to play around with food and exercise to see what works for you.
The METHOD inulin www.thepilatemethod.com
MCT Oil www.bulletproof.com
Labrie is a wife, mother to two children and habit change coach!
Follow her on instagram @labrieanna
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