How soon and how exactly can mothers resume their fitness routine? Getting back to “the old me” sounds so empowering and promising, but without a definite plan, how do you achieve that? For some mums, they can get back to workouts within 6 weeks, but for others, it may take longer.
It’s important to set realistic weight loss goals after giving birth. A recommended rule of thumb is to lose half a kilo per week. Age, your baby’s weight, activity level, natural metabolism, and genes will also factor into your weight loss journey.
Beginning with a new, balanced diet, it’s advisable to up your nutrition awareness when reading labels. Simply put, don’t eat anything you wouldn’t want your child to eat. This means less processed food. In general, consider eating right more than eating less. Allow yourself snacks or “mini-meals” in between busy hours. Reach for almonds, an apple, a banana or nuts. Don’t go for empty-calorie foods like soft drinks and chips. A general rule is to snack every time before nursing your baby. This ensures increased metabolism.
On the subject of nursing, if possible, breastfeeding can actually burn a lot of calories. Breastfeeding burns 600 to 800 calories day. Some women are even lucky enough to shed a considerable amount of weight from breastfeeding alone. It is important, however, when tapering off breastfeeding, to adjust your diet downward and exercise routine upward.
There’s also the often-daunting task of getting up and moving. You don’t need to jump into the gym straight away. Start off by taking a walk and getting a few thousand steps in a day. If you can’t leave the house, walking up and down the stairs for 15 minutes can burn 150 calories. Some mothers enjoy baby-wearing by investing an ergonomic baby carrier for regular walks with their baby.
When you’re ready, you can start with some light workouts. Aside from walking, pelvic exercises on the floor and stretching are good workouts. Pick up an old or new hobby you enjoy, like yoga, cycling, or swimming.
Weight lifting is also recommended and women should do away with the notion that it will result in bulk. Unless you consume a lot of food like a bodybuilder or genetically predisposed to muscle bulk gains, you won’t bulk up from resistance training.
It’s important to get plenty of rest as well especially during the early weeks of bringing home a new baby. Naps are highly recommended so you won’t be compelled to snack on junk food. Better sleep cycles also help with metabolism. When your baby takes a nap, try to take one yourself.
Lastly, put together a support group. A team of new mothers all working towards weight loss and improved fitness can boost motivation and self-confidence. Pledge to go on walks together and encourage each other’s process.