6 Steps toward Postpartum Weight Loss
Weight loss after pregnancy is a whole different thing than trying to loose weight at other life stages. A new mom faces new life challenges, including erratic sleep patterns, skipping meals, complete lack of personal time, frequent interruptions, loose ligaments and changes in pelvic structure, the high demands on energy reserves for breastfeeding, and hormone fluctuations–to name a few!
To get the most out of any postpartum weight loss program, you need to address postpartum-specific challenges. By addressing the particular issues of new motherhood, you’ll have more success with a weight loss plan.
1. Say Hello to Your Body Again
Reconnect to your body. It takes time to get reacquainted. Don’t expect yourself to be the same. Focus on supporting your new body and offer loving affirmations:
“You are a beautiful powerful woman who brought a baby into the world. You rock!” instead of “OMG my stomach is so big!” or “I’ll never get this baby weight off.”
Write down your affirmations and put them somewhere easily visible.
2. Focus on Sleep
If you aren’t getting sufficient sleep, your cortisol levels will rise and this will create cravings for sweets or carbs. Lack of sleep has a direct impact on appetite control. Make a commitment to do whatever works for you and your family to make sure you get the most sleep you can.
3. Check in With Yourself
If you are eating when not hungry, explore the emotional reasons why you may be eating. Are you anxious, fatigued, overwhelmed, bored, isolated? Parenting is stressful. Observe what’s going on when you want to eat. Be willing to be honest with yourself about the hard or boring parts of parenting.
4. Erratic Eating Creates Cravings
Make your eating needs as important as the baby’s. Many women focus so much on Baby or are so overwhelmed that they neglect their own nutritional needs. Focus on eating a balanced diet with adequate protein at every meal, plenty of plant foods, and little to no refined and processed foods. Find ways to make this simple. After pregnancy, women need a lot of protein to rebuild tissue. Whether vegetarian or not, try to get protein into every meal.
5. Move In Lots and Lots of Ways
Getting into a new fitness routine can take some time. So while you’re figuring out a new fitness schedule, focus first on incorporating as much movement into your day as you can. There are new studies that show that little movements like standing instead of sitting, sweeping and gardening add up to make a big impact on weight loss. Find little ways to move through out the day. Even short 5 minute bursts of activity throughout the day make a difference. Choose to move more in small ways.
6. Sugar or Carb Cravings Are a Signal
If you’re craving a lot of sugars, pasta, or breads, this may be indicative of low serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter associated with depression. Make sure you balance your blood sugar with protein at every meal, take B vitamins, and find out more about how to increase serotonin naturally.
In general, you should take your time to get back in shape. Be gentle and supportive of yourself, and be creative in how you get in more movement, rest and good nutrition!
Mariana is a licensed practitioner of Traditional Chinese medicine, a singer/songwriter and the creator of Mamashine. She is also a survivor of postpartum depression. Mariana lives with her energetic son, her husband and various animals in Austin, TX.