I’ve been getting mums back into shape for a long time! But being a new dad to an 8 month old, only now have I been so close to someone nursing and raising a tiny human! It’s easy to take on too much in this situation, but here’s the top 3 biggest mistakes I see from new mums looking to get their body back:
#1 – Starting too soon
It doesn’t matter whether your new arrival came into the world the usual way or entered through the sunroof. Unless it was left on your doorstep by a stork, your body has been through a lot hormonally, physically, and mentally. It needs time to adjust.
Apart from light walking or gentle swimming, give it at least 6 weeks before you start an exercise programme. And even then build up s-l-o-w-l-y! Doing too much too soon can very quickly lead to exhaustion, and apart from increasing the chances of getting injured, when your body’s exhausted it will hold onto every resource it has to combat that – including body fat!
So keep it light to start, and really take your time building up.
#2 – Wanting results yesterday
You’ve watched your body expand for several months. So many mums, particularly towards the end of a pregnancy, are already starting to plan what they’re going to do to get in shape again. You want weight loss, and you want it now!
Relax. Being in a hurry to drop the ‘baby weight’ is a HUGE mistake.
For a start, it can take weeks to get your baby into a routine, and routine is exactly what you need if you’re going to change your lifestyle. Also, if you’re breastfeeding in that time, you need slightly more calories than normal to make sure you’re getting all the nutrition you need so cutting your calories too much in an attempt to ditch the baby weight can be damaging for you both.
But lastly, your body has been on a hormonal rollercoaster for months, and that doesn’t suddenly stop when your shiny new rug-rat sees the light of day for the first time! Your hormone balance is very important to weight loss, so the number on the scale won’t go down smoothly, it’ll be up and down like a pair of kangaroos in mating season.
So don’t rush. Your body needs time to adjust and losing weight safely will take time too.
#3 – Making bad food choices in a rush
When you’ve just had a baby you’ll probably be in one of two states at any given time: Tired or under pressure. When that happens, we cope by just grabbing food when we can. Anything. Everything. It doesn’t matter.
You’ll hear advice from your midwives and health workers that your baby should be eating every 2-3 hours. That’s good advice for you too!
When you do get to cook, cook big! Cook like you’re feeding a small army, then portion and refrigerate or freeze. It takes no longer to cook for 4, 6, or 8 than it does for 2. You just double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients.
In between make up snack packs of nuts or crudités that you can keep to hand. You can keep these by your bedside, the sofa, or even in your changing bag if you get out a lot.
And remember, like you’re baby, you’re not alone! Get support, join a group, get a workout buddy. Whatever it is you do to get it, remember there’s no prizes for being an island when you’re getting your body back!