After delivery, most women are concerned about losing the weight they gained during pregnancy. There is pressure from our society for women to look a certain way and there is much attention on celebrities who seem to magically regain their pre-pregnancy bodies within weeks of giving birth. While most women do not have access to the resources celebrities have to lose weight in a flash, they can still lose their pregnancy weight in a safe and healthy way with good nutrition and physical activity. Here are some general tips to guide you:
Take it slow: Remember it takes about 40 weeks to gain all that weight during pregnancy, so don’t expect all the weight to be gone quickly. Current recommendations for healthy weight loss are 1-2 pounds per week, so it may take a woman 6 months to a year to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy. This may sound like a long time, but fast weight loss is very difficult to maintain and is usually done in an unhealthy manner. Give yourself about 2 months before you start to lose weight intentionally. Your body needs sometime to recuperate after giving birth: growing a baby was a lot of work the last 9 months!
Eat the rainbow: A healthy diet is essential to your health and weight loss. Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables will help your body get much needed vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Make your meals more healthy by incorporating different colors of whole foods and aim to get at least 3 different food groups per meal for healthy nutrition.
Get up and move: Physical activity is very important for weight loss as well. It can be difficult to find the time and energy for exercise with a new baby, so take it easy at first. Talk with your doctor about what physical activity is appropriate for you at your 6 week postpartum appointment. Light aerobics or walking is a great way to start. Try doing some activities that include your baby as well.
Breastfeed!: Not only is breastfeeding the ideal nutrition for your baby, it is also helpful for moms to lose weight in a healthy way. A lot of energy is used to make the perfect milk for your baby; it can help you burn up to 500 calories a day!
Remember to consult your physician before attempting any weight loss program to rule out any health problems contraindicating diet or physical activity.
By Kelly Martin, MCD, RD, CLE