Losing weight after having a baby can be challenging to some women. With nine months of self-indulgent comfort foods and lack of physical activity due to all kinds of body aches, losing weight post-partum is impossible, right? Wrong.
Two weeks after the birth of my son, I lost all 15 pounds of my baby weight. Another two weeks later, I lost a further 10 pounds. No diet pills, no special meal plans, no weight loss gimmicks. No kidding.
Before I got pregnant, I have been trying to lose weight for three years to no avail. I lost weight when I least expected it. I started looking at what I was doing differently. Here’s what I found:
I was eating regularly. Yes, you read that right. Eat to lose weight. Like most people, I used to skip meals all the time. When I got pregnant, I started eating regularly (for the baby) and by post-partum, eating three square meals a day at around the same time had become a habit. I no longer felt the need to overeat in one sitting because I missed the previous meal. No need to snack, either. I was eating less because I was eating regularly. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by researcher Anne McTiernan found that women who had regular meal patterns lost more weight than women who skipped meals. As I learned from experience, skipping meals does not cut calories.
I was drinking plenty of water. Water. Not juice, not soda, not energy drink. Water. I must’ve drank gallons (I mean, gallons) of water while I was pregnant per my doctor’s order. Drinking plenty of water kept both baby and I hydrated, ward off infections while pregnant, and helped shed the pounds post-partum. According to a 2007 column called “Fit for Duty. . . Fit for Life!” published in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps website, thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. We may sometimes think we are hungry when we may really be dehydrated. Because I was drinking water regularly, I did not confuse thirst with hunger.
I was watching my portions. Two words: Portion control. This did wonders for me. No, I did not carefully count calories or made sure I had exactly one cup of rice. A new mother has no time for that. I had one simple technique. I started using smaller plates. My Aunt, who was staying with us while I recovered, introduced the idea simply because it was harder for all of us to wash my regular, super heavy, restaurant-sized plates. Portion control was an unintended consequence of switching to smaller plates. I could no longer fit as much food as I used to on the plate! I could simply have seconds, you say? No. Because before I even finish my last bite, I could already hear the baby crying. I finished what was on my smaller plate and that was that.
I was eating healthy at home. Pre-pregnancy, hubby and I ate out most of the week. Post-partum, we were unable to go out as much. Simply put, we HAD to eat at home. As a result, I avoided outrageous amounts of calories, sodium, and saturated fat that I often get from restaurant food. Eating at home creates an opportunity to eat a more balanced meal, according to John Hopkins Healthy Monday Project. I had limited time to cook but I easily found simple, easy recipes. I combined my sweet and salty snacks (in moderation, of course!) with fruit and vegetable snacks. Eating healthy foods at home was good for my body and good for my wallet.
I was doing regular baby workouts. Who would have thought that having a new baby allowed me to have regular workouts? I found that taking care of my newborn son was just the exercise I needed during those early weeks. Carbs were shed as I moved from running to answer his cries to sprinting to prepare his bath. I was regularly ‘lifting weights’ as I lifted the baby to burp, held him to sleep, changed his diapers, and played with him. My strength and resistance grew as he got heavier by the week. Yes, I did not have time to go to the gym. No need. Baby workouts did the job for me.
The secret to losing weight post-partum is no secret. By incorporating a few lifestyle changes to my daily routine (some I discovered by accident), I lost all my baby weight and a few pounds more in just four weeks. If a busy new mom like me can do it, anyone can.