This may seem like the obvious subject to cover for myself who is currently left with a Buddha belly (and thighs… and butt…) after delivering twins, but a friend actually emailed to see if we could cover this topic when she asked, “What are some suggestions to help get past this awkward stage of having a baby but still looking pregnant?” To tackle the topic, Breezy Mama turned to one of our favorite fitness experts, Gabby Reece. The volleyball star, founder of gabbydaily.com, mother of two and frequent cover girl agreed to do a guest blog for us on getting your pre-pregnancy body back.
You have just birthed, you’re not sleeping, living in an alien body, and now you are starting to figure out how to get back to the body you knew before the amazing adventure of pregnancy. Not too much to ask of a new mother is it? Oh, and what about the woman who already has small children running around home? If you feel overwhelmed or emotional this is perfectly normal, and if you really want to get back on track, you cannot be critical of where you are. How to start? Of course it depends on how your delivery went, was it easy, did you have a C-Section, etc. If you are cleared by your Doctor to begin to move then that’s all you’re going to do. Start by taking daily walks with your new baby just around your neighborhood. Not only will this be a safe way to begin exercising, but it will also prove to be quality time with your new bundle. Make sure to wear your baby. He/She is light enough for you to carry, and better for them to be as close to their Mom as possible. Think of it as a baby accessory (truly the most fabulous for any season).
Listen to your body. This doesn’t give you the license to fold your hand and claim “well I just had a baby” or “I’m too tired”. I think it’s pretty safe to say that new parents are tired for quite some time, but the show must go on. You need to be fit and full of vitality for yourself and your family. I’m not talking about what is fair or easy, I’m simply stating the hard facts of what you have to do. One of my favorite adult philosophies: it’s not about what’s fair it’s about what is. For all of you women out there the sooner you can embrace this code then the sooner you will stop trying to compare your journey with that of your male counterpart, get on with it, and be happier.
Once you are starting to feel stronger, add safe resistance training a few times a week. Keep some light dumbbells lying around the house so when your baby takes a nap you can do basic primal movements to get those muscles woken up. Shallow squatting, lunging, bicep curls, shoulder press, kickbacks, bent over rows, etc. These are all things you can do in a tiny space and with very light weight.
Nutrition. If you are breast-feeding then right out of the gate you will be burning an extra 800 to 1000 calories a day. This is not the time to go on a diet. This is a time to eat the way you use to before all the cravings and get on track. If you are nursing don’t get nutty about calorie restriction since it’s imperative you have the nutrients to keep that milk flowing. Foods you could avoid: pasta, bread, sweets, soda, alcohol, microwavable foods, baked goods, energy drinks, diet foods or sodas, fried food, pizza, etc. Things made with refined flour (even though I know how yummy they are) can really set you back a ways. Americans drink 20% of their calories so water, water, water. Sleep and water are two of the most important things to keep your milk production up. Make sure you are getting enough good fat because your body needs all the vitamins and minerals it can receive since you are essentially recovering from pregnancy and giving birth. This is not the time to beat yourself up or hammer down on workouts and diets. This is about intelligently recovering and getting your body ready for the next phase.
For me, I lost most of my weight after a few weeks except the loose tummy and large nursing breasts. I did feel more “watery” than usual but I find getting the weight off sooner than later is helpful. A lot of times since women are hibernating with their new baby at home, they get snacky and tend to lounge around a lot. There is a way to begin moving and avoiding those foods that are going to bite you in the butt even while you are in this hibernation mode. We all have to pay the piper and I would rather pay up front. Don’t think that you can eat whatever you want and that it won’t come back to haunt you.
I realize when you are tired that certain types of foods are soothing. However, if you could look at the food as a tool that is meant to serve you and help you reach your goals, maybe that can shift your perspective and expectation of what you want to get out of food.
I myself had to have two C- Sections so I didn’t start rigorous exercise for about 5 to 6 weeks. I was however moving around and taking baby steps after about 10 days. Always check with your Doctor.
I want to encourage you if you have just had a baby to keep moving. Don’t give in to this idea of “well I’m a Mom now and blah blah blah”. You are still you, a human, a woman and you still have the opportunity to be the best you thus far. Also, you are a living example to your child and they will take your lifestyle habits someday and make them their own. No pressure right? My girls always ask me why I have to go to the gym or on a bike ride and I explain to them it’s so I can stay healthy and keep up with having fun with them.
Lastly, mountain climbers take on a huge task, but they don’t do it by looking up at the giant wall of rock and think “I’m going to climb this mountain”. No… they prepare, have a strategy, and start out by putting one foot in front of the other. That’s all it is.
Congratulations to all of you new Moms, and through the sleepless haze take in the amazing miracle of life.
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Just what I needed- a “get real” pep talk from Gabby! I love that Gabby does not let us off the hook for being a mom, being tired, complaining of how we hard we women have it, because she is right: we just need to DO IT! My youngest baby is 3 and a half and I have spent too many years “taking from the piper” instead of paying him and it is time to get off my lazy butt and be the best me for 2011! Thanks Gabby!