Given the right angle, the best lighting, flattering clothes and a decent Photoshop package we could all pull off a celebrity style post-baby body sham of an image! And it may be nice to have a few in your collection however realistically you probably won’t feel that different day to day. Being fit in the true sense of the word requires fairly consistent commitment and effort which seems to conflict with a baby that needs around the clock care! You also may not feel that motivated to exercise given the fact you are probably getting about three hours sleep a night! Then there’s your Partner and maybe another couple of children that want your attention too and the mountains of washing and cleaning jobs that are stacking up.
Maybe you’ll just go down the drastic reduction in calories route or take on another fad diet, you’ll be a Size 8 in a matter of weeks, right? You may well nail the shrinking bit but if you are just reducing calories without looking at the balance of your nutrition this is unlikely to be a healthy option and if you’re not doing the exercise with it then you may struggle to achieve the strength, stamina and sculpting side of things. A drastic reduction in calories may then have an impact on milk production if you are breastfeeding and on that note the breastfeeding bit would have already been giving you a 300-500 calorie deficit daily so with a little patience and some consistent moderate tweaks to your diet (still balanced of course), you may find you start to lose pounds without that fierce deprivation or body upsets that many extreme/quick fix diets can put you through.
Here’s five ideas for meal plans that you may find useful and then I’ll come on to some fitness tips:
1. Keep your healthy menu simple. Easy access foods that don’t need chopping or cooking can be a God send! Check out the pre-cooked mackerel and chicken, the quinoa, brown rice and lentils that just need a rinse and a boil, spinach, tomatoes and beetroot that can quickly be washed and served on a plate
2. Buy two days worth of meals at a time rather than a week’s worth at the supermarket (fifteen minutes doing your grocery shopping with toddlers and babies is easier than 1 hour).
3. Prepare to be visited by the sweet-tooth monster! I have armed myself with plain yoghurt, seeds, nuts, mixed berries, cacao and honey. I also put honey on oatcakes or rice cakes which when eaten moderately is less calorific than cheesecake which is what my brain still tells me I want.
4. Having protein with every meal can help make you feel fuller for longer.
5. Keep well hydrated. I’m more of a coffee lover than a water lover but as a fitness instructor I know that water is very important not only for muscle function and digestion but also for weight loss as in simple terms when I am hydrated it fills my tummy and my brain is then less likely to try and fill it with other rubbish.
Here’s Five fitness tips:
1. Once you’ve got the okay to exercise from the doctor (crucial first step) then it may be very useful to hook up with a pre and post-natally qualified personal trainer who will have studied how your body has changed during pregnancy and all the key safety considerations. I would also suggest getting your doctor to examine you for ‘diastasis recti’ because if your stomach muscles are parted in this way it would be strongly advisable to get specialist support to build your core back up and embarking on an abdominal program without this may do more harm than good!
2. Walking (especially briskly and up hills) can be a great way of burning calories. If and when your body feels strong enough (and this is likely to be months down the line), you may like to do some interval training with your All-terrain/running buggy and build up your fitness by switching between a brisk walk and light jog.
3. It’s okay to go back a few levels and build up – press ups on your hands and knees and unweighted squats for example may still provide that ‘burn’ the day after if you do plenty of reps. Technique is very important and being able to execute an exercise correctly will give you the best results as well as helping prevent injuries.
4. Be aware that post-pregnancy bodies often have a lot more relaxin so your ligaments feel far more elastic and stretchy which means you need to take care to not over stretch and also to consider the stability of your joints when exercising.
5. Build in a well-being element to your fitness program. There are an awful lot of demands on a new Mum and looking after your own well-being is paramount. Exercising outdoors, with friends and sometimes with your baby in tow may tick lots of boxes at once. Get creative with your fitness too and let others support you. If you’ve got a willing babysitter you trust take that dance class, go climbing or get out on your paddle board. Having ‘you’ time and maintaining a sense of self as well as being a mother can be very important psychologically and mental fitness is as important as physical fitness.
On a personal level, having been trained as a Personal Trainer through Performance Training Academy has been very empowering when it comes to building up my fitness post-baby. If you too are considering a career change that can boost your own fitness as well as helping others to boost theirs do drop us a line on: 0800 9788 442 or email us at [email protected]
By Hayzel Davies