One size does not fit all. This is especially true when it comes to motherhood. Your body may never be the same as it used to be after you give birth, but that doesn’t mean that you should resign yourself to being unhappy with your shape for the rest of your life. In fact, it’s possible to look even better after you have children than you did before. Why shouldn’t it be? Your breasts are fuller, your hips are wider, and your face is wiser. By dedicating yourself to postpartum fitness, you can reclaim your body after childbirth while simultaneously showing your children the importance of taking care of yourself and your health, making it a mommy win-win. Here are some tips to get you started.
Give Your Metabolism a Head-Start
After childbirth, your body focuses on storing fat and Calories. Biologically, this is so that if there’s ever a shortage of food, you can continue to thrive while also producing enough milk to care for your child. But we don’t live in an age of feast or famine, and there’s no need for you to store all that extra fat on your body. My Body Life can help you find ways to jump-start your metabolism. This can give your body the encouragement that it needs to let go of some fat and allow your hard work to pay off.
Other ways to give your metabolism a head start include breastfeeding if you can, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a protein-packed breakfast every morning. You should also eat frequent small meals throughout the day instead of three larger meals. This keeps your metabolism working steadily and will help you burn off more Calories throughout the course of the day without having to work harder or eat less.
Eat the Right Foods
After giving birth, eating the right foods is more important than ever. While doctors will tell you not to diet after giving birth—and you shouldn’t—you should be paying attention to nutrition. You’re likely to be craving a lot of food, especially if you’re breastfeeding. But if you’re craving a lot of food and also only eating leftover goldfish off your toddler’s plate, you’re likely to pack on the pounds.
Instead, focus on healthy, whole foods to get you through the day. Drink a lot of water—at least 8 oz before you stick anything else in your mouth—and then eat vegetables first, followed by lean proteins, dairy, complex carbohydrates, and fruits. Focusing on foods in that order can ensure you get the nutrition that you need in addition to the Calories your body is telling you it wants.
Find Alternatives to Comfort Foods
Having a newborn in the house is an emotional time for any mom. After a hard day when the baby wouldn’t stop screaming, it’s easy to want to fall back on your comfort foods to relax. It’s possible to have some grace with yourself on these days without undermining your efforts to get back in shape if you proactively find alternatives to your comfort foods.
For example, mac & cheese is bad for you. Cauliflower & cheese, while not [i]great[/i] for you, can fill that craving without completely derailing your day, especially if you have it in small amounts on the side of some rotisserie chicken. Similarly, if you like ice cream, you can make mini ice cream sandwiches out of chocolate graham crackers and sugar free cool whip to satisfy your craving without giving in to the ice cream temptation.
Focus on Toning
During the last stages of pregnancy, your joints and muscles loosen to prepare for the childbirth process. It takes anywhere from several months to a couple of years for your joints to go back to the way before, which means that if you focus on the wrong kinds of exercises after giving birth, you could be setting yourself up for injuries.
Instead, focus on exercises that tone and tighten your body instead. You’ll especially want to focus on your core muscles. In the years after giving birth, back pain is a common complaint. Moms stoop over to feed their babies and are constantly bending to pick them up from the floor or crib and put them back down, and all of that can lead to core strain. Proactively working on strengthening your core can keep your body in shape for motherhood while simultaneously toning the muscles you care most about when it comes to your appearance.
You don’t have to make drastic changes to your life in order to start feeling good about your body again. With the right small changes, you’ll find that the baby weight falls off, allowing you to grow accustomed to the new and improved version of yourself.