Bringing a child into this world is a wonderful and miraculous thing. Facing down the baby weight which results from a pregnancy is often a task which many young mothers dread. A large percentage of them never recapture their former physique glory, and often it isn't due to a lack of effort. It's just a task which needs to be taken in a slow and intelligent manner. Ready to dive in?
First off, you should be aware that stress is your worst enemy, if the goal is to recapture some muscle tone and shed the body fat which has suddenly found a way to stack itself upon your previously lean physique. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is your worst enemy when the goal is to get in phenomenal shape. It is released each time you lift a weight, worry about a bill, or jump out of bed at 2 am for a nightly feeding. Your job is to minimize the stress you face, while at the same time making normal tasks less stressful. This will limit your cortisol release and get your fat burning processes moving faster.
Don't rush back to exercise too soon after giving birth. Most physicians recommend waiting 1 to 2 months following childbirth before returning to exerting physical exercise. Whichever delivery method, your body will need time to heal, and you'll need to recharge your nutrients as well. Start back with a healthy diet, rich in protein, dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables right away. If you eat the right kinds of foods, your energy levels will skyrocket and you'll probably be very anxious to return to exercise action.
Make your weight loss goal a realistic and safe one. Any goal in the area of "lose 5 pounds a week" is going to result in reckless and dangerous methods, which will kill the metabolism and use up valuable muscle. A realistic goal of losing 1.5 to 2 pounds per week should be the maximum goal. Map out your current shape, and where you'd like to be. Track it week to week. Use the mirror, measuring tape, and scale to measure your progress. The scale alone can be a misleading indicator, as your re-gaining of muscle might spike the numbers upward, even if you're growing leaner each week!
Fibrous carbs will be your best friend when you're trying to turn your body back into an efficient, food burning machine. Complex carbs give your body way more hours of energy than simple carbs. Choose food options like vegetables, whole grain bread, quinoa, oats, and brown rice to give your body 3 to 4 hours of sustained energy release. Simple carbohydrate options such as soda, cookies, candy, white rice, and bread will release their energy stores in 30 to 60 minutes, creating a crash and leaving you in a low energy state until the next meal rolls around. Eat junk, feel like junk… and look like junk too!
Many women will restrict their fat intake in an attempt to reduce their body fat. This looks good on paper, but can often rob their bodies of essential fats which they actually need. Omega-3 rich foods such as chicken, egg yolks, salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies can lead to breast milk rich in nutrients needed for the child's cognitive development. It also delivers the nutrients that mama needs for fat loss processes!
Protein should remain a huge focus in your post-pregnancy diet. Lean choices such as fish, turkey, chicken, egg whites, whey, and learn ground beef are great choices for rebuilding muscle mass as you begin to get active once again. Your fullness will return, and metabolism will skyrocket, leading to more fat burning than you've seen in nearly a year.
Staying hydrated is a huge part of post-pregnancy nutrition. Moms are a huge high-risk group for dehydration, with their body's resources often supplying more than them alone! Dehydration leads to low energy, false hunger, increased headaches, weaker performance on the weights and with cardio, and a reduction in breast milk production.
Don't wait too long before getting active. Many young parents get wrapped up in the duties of raising a young child and before they know it, 6 or 12 months has passed. Suddenly, that weight becomes permanent weight, which is MUCH harder to lose. Your best bet is to get back on the fat loss train as quickly as possible, and get your body back to your pre-pregnancy shape. Good luck!