Losing Weight After Pregnancy

Celebrity moms seem to be popping up everywhere showing no hint that theyve just delivered a baby.  Many of them are incredibly in-shape within a few months after childbirth, donning bikinis, short shorts and tank tops. How do they do it? Theyve got an army of people helping them and they spend hours doing extreme workouts every day. However, most post-pregnancy moms dont have access to that kind of potent combination.

So how long should it take to lose your pregnancy weight gain? It depends on what shape you were in before you gained the weight and how much you gained over nine-months.

If you started at a normal weight, and gained between 25 and 35 pounds, it should take about 2 to 4 months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.  Remember that your body has changed over that nine months, so although you may lose the extra pounds, your shape may be different.

If you were overweight before you were pregnant you most likely added more weight than doctors typically recommend (25-35 lbs.). It may take up to a year or more to lose your extra weight and the weight you dont lose may stick with you for a very long time.

Looking at pictures of models and actresses that seem to drop the pounds almost magically after giving birth can be depressing to new moms who dont have the same resources.  But its really unrealistic to compare yourself with others. Everyone is different and you have to objectively look at where youre starting from and what a realistic goal is for you. 

Should you diet?

Dieting usually isnt the answer. As strange as that may sound, trying to stick to a diet while adjusting to having a new baby in the family is probably asking too much of yourself. A better approach is to eat a well-balanced variety of foods. Actually eating more often throughout the day and creating smaller portions can help boost your metabolism. It will also keep you from getting too hungry from going too long between meals. Also if you are breastfeeding you need a few extra calories " try not to go under 1800 a day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid site can help you design a personalized eating plan based on your age, activity level, and weight loss goals. The site even has a special section for breastfeeding moms.

Fish is considered a super food because its loaded with DHA - an essential omega 3 fatty acid. Stick to salmon, sardines and tuna (packed in water).  Milk & yogurt are high in calcium for strong bones. Proteins such as lean meats, chicken and beans are very important to a healthy body. Beans in particular are low in fat and high in fiber.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It fills you up, keeps you hydrated and some research suggests that it may speed up your metabolism.

One of the most important things you can do to help drop the extra pounds and re-shape your body is to exercise.  It doesnt have to be hours and hours of spinning or aerobics.  Pushing a stroller through the park is a good start.  30 minutes a day is recommended for exercise. If time is an issue, break it up into (3) 10 - minute quick workouts. Strength training with free weights is also important and will help tone and strengthen muscles that have been a bit lax for the last 9 months.  You can start with 3 to 5 pound weights " some moms use cans of food " to get the resistance you need.

Before you start any exercise program check with your doctor first, particularly if you had a C-section.

Finally, the one thing you can do and probably the hardest, is to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Catch as many naps during the day as you can (while baby is napping) and if you have access to family or friends, recruit them to help take over while you get some shut-eye.

When youre exhausted its easier to give up on taking care of yourself. Being sleep deprived has shown to make losing weight more difficult.

One thing to keep in mind is that every new mother will have her ups and downs with losing the extra baby-fat that she gained during pregnancy. Be patient with yourself and set small realistic goals. Do it for your own health, not because you want to live up to someone elses idea of perfection. People are more successful when they lose weight gradually and with a new baby to care for, gradual is good. You dont need the extra stress of trying to fit in the jeans you wore before you were pregnant 2 weeks after giving birth.

Enjoy your baby, eat healthy foods, drink water, exercise in snippets if necessary and get the rest you need. The weight will come off.

Source:  Stephanie Watson, http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/8-tips-for-losing-weight-after-pregnancy

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