The non-celeb guide to loving your post-baby body
Just had a baby? Forget crazy celebrity weight loss tips. Get in shape one sensible and positive step at a time.
Celebrities are constantly gushed over for their post-bub bodies and weight loss secrets. You may have heard of one who reportedly dropped 20kg by swimming and other exercise, but later admitted it was actually due to starving herself and nibbling on little more than rice cakes.
Hardly realistic or healthy weight loss strategies!
So what are the most sensible and healthy ways for getting back in shape and feeling good?
1. Eat small, frequent meals
Firstly, stop pinching your stomach and cut out the negative talk.
“Think positively about your body,” encourages Bupa dietitian Rosalyn D’Angelo. “Celebrate what it’s been able to do for you and your baby.”
Typically, you lose a fair amount of weight in the first three months, and after that it’s reasonable to lose 0.5kg to 1kg per week.
“But if the weight isn’t coming off fast don’t be concerned. It depends on how active you are and whether you’re breastfeeding.”
It can take months, even up to a year, to get back to a healthy weight range. Aim for three small meals a day, plus three healthy snacks to help keep up your energy through the day.
“Eat fruits, vegies, wholegrains, lean red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes and reduced-fat dairy products. Healthy snacks such as almonds or vegie sticks with hummus are good.”
Make sure portions aren’t massive, either, and that food ratios favour vegetables.
“Vegies should take up half your plate, carbs one quarter and protein the other quarter.”
For breastfeeding mums, D’Angelo suggests one extra daily snack, such as a tub of low-fat yoghurt.
If you’re really feeling short on time and energy, stock up on frozen vegies and tinned tuna to throw a quick meal together. “Or, buy packets of pre-prepared vegetables.”
The FoodSwitch app can also help you assess the nutritional value of a packaged product – you simply scan its barcode with your phone, and it suggests similar foods that are healthier alternatives.
2. Start pushing that pram
Not only does exercise help you manage your weight and get fit, it also gets the endorphins flowing. Physiotherapist Claire Osterstock suggests going for gentle walks as soon as you’re comfortable.
“It’s important to feel happy and well,” she says. “Pushing a pram is the easiest, most practical activity.”
Thirty minutes’ daily exercise is good, but if you’re very pooped, try 10 – minute bursts of activity at an intensity where your heart rate is raised but you’re still able to comfortably talk.
“Small amounts daily will still improve your strength and fitness, and help you lose abdominal fat.”
You can also start gentle exercise classes such as Pilates six weeks post birth, but check it’s okay with your doctor first.
To recover more quickly after pregnancy, prevent back pain, and reduce your chances of bladder and bowel problems, embrace pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises). Best of all, you can do them while watching TV!
“Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor upwards and inwards as though you’re trying to stop the flow of urine,” advises Osterstock. "Fully relax in between contractions, and as you get better, try to hold on for longer.”
3. Stop comparing yourself to celebrities!
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If you’re still jealous that celebrities have figures that seem to snap back like a rubber band, then remind yourself that it’s not a realistic to expect the same from your body.
“Stars have money to hire people [like trainers] to help them lose weight quickly, but it’s also their job to look a certain way, hence the hurry,” say D’Angelo. “Plus a model’s body is more likely to return to its original state compared to someone who didn’t look like that in the first place.”
Osterstock agrees. “It’s unrealistic comparing yourself with anyone, even that woman in your mothers’ group who effortlessly fits hours of exercise into each day. Stick to enjoyable exercise, start slowly and do your best.”
If you focus on gradually getting to a healthy weight range where you look and feel good about your body through sensible diet and exercise, it’s likely to come naturally. So don’t stress and just enjoy being a new mum!