After having my son, I was shocked by what happened to my body. Obviously, I was well aware that there would be a lot of body changes, but I always thought I would get back to where I had started. I am a marathon runner and pretty active person so I figured my body would snap back to its original shape. However, after five months of dieting and trying to get back into my pre baby pants, I was still stuck with skin sagging over my waistband, legs that I didn’t recognize, and a reflection I hated to see in the mirror. Instead giving myself a break and accepting that my body had gone through something significant, I grew depressed.
Around month six, I just gave up. I ate whatever I wanted and ignored the scale. My fitness routine pretty much came to a halt, and I threw my pre baby pants in the back of the closet. After about a month of feeling sorry for myself, I saw my reflection at a mirror in the store only I didn’t recognize me. I kept glancing at the frumpy woman with her hair in a ponytail and an oversized sweatshirt wondering why she was looking at me. On the third glance, I was horrified when I realized that it was me. Right then, I was determined to resurrect my former self.
It took a long time (much longer than I expected) to shed the extra weight and get back to being me, but I discovered my impatience was only hurting the process and making me feel bad about myself. It had taken me nine months to slowly grow a human being so the extra weight wasn’t going to just slide off. It took work, patience, but most of all a commitment to myself. This meant allowing myself time not only to exercise but rest and just give myself love. Part of getting back in shape also meant learning to lean on my husband for support. As a new mom I thought I had to do it all myself to feel like I was doing a good job. By accepting the fact that I needed to allow time for myself, there was a release of pressure and tackling my weight loss felt more manageable.
It took me almost ten months to get back to my pre baby weight, but I did it! It gave me a new appreciation for my own body, and it allowed me to reconnect with myself. A baby brings so many new emotions and daily life changes but it is important to stay connected to ourselves and our lives beyond parenting.
Here are eleven tips that helped me lose the baby weight.
- Wear a tummy wrap – I loved mine, and it reduced swelling significantly. I put it on the first few hours after my son was born, and it helped support my back as well as keeping the post baby belly from jostling around. I wore it for a few hours every day and while I slept. Within the first three weeks the swelling had gone to the point where I didn’t look six months pregnant anymore.
- Be patient! Even after my swelling went down, the skin had not snapped back. I had this loose skin that hung over my waistband, and I feared it would never look the same again. Just give it time. It took about seven months for my skin to feel normal again, and even now it doesn’t feel like it once did, but trust me it gets better with time.
- Start walking – Once you have the ok from your doctor, start going for walks. Start small and work your way up, but get out of the house and walk. Take your little one in the stroller. Go to the park, go to the mall, just get out and walk.
- Work out with baby – While I snuggled with my little one I would get up and do a few lunges or I would hold him and just walk around the house singing and working in a few squats. When he could support his head, I would pick him up and down and make faces while I worked my arms. As moms we have to get creative. Working out doesn’t have to be a committed block of time at the gym. Create a workout that works for you.
- Get your rest – It is so important to find time to sleep. Sleep whenever you can. Don’t go crazy about cleaning the houses or catching up on emails just focus on your new baby and healing. The more rested you feel the more likely you will be to feel up to physical activity which is an important part of the healing process as well…Once your doctor gives you the ok, of course.
- Lots of water and nutrients – It can be easy to forget about your own needs while you are caring for a new infant, but stay hydrated and eat lots of nutrients. You can also continue to take your prenatal vitamins. This is also helpful if you are breastfeeding. The more you take care of yourself the easier it will be to recover and start to feel like yourself again.
- Try something new – Sign up for a new yoga class, give Zumba a try, or check out a mommy and me class. Get out of the house and find something that makes you feel good about yourself. If other elements make it difficult to leave the house, check out new exercises online. You can find an endless supply of workouts online that fit your goals and ability.
- Competition – Honestly, the number one thing that helped me lose the weight was challenging my husband to lose weight too. We started a competition to see who could lose the most weight. We kept a chart on the fridge to track weekly progress and whoever lost the larger percent of their body weight would get a special treat. Our choices were anything from picking out a Friday night movie to an afternoon by ourselves to do something we enjoyed or even the chance to sleep in on the weekend.
- Start a vision board – I love this for any goal I am working towards. As I was trying to lose weight, I created a vision board that included places I wanted to hike, photos of new activities I wanted to try, healthy foods that were delicious too, and photos of my son as well. So much of my journey to get fit was also about my desire to be able to teach my son to be active through my example. I was doing it just as much for my son as I was for me.
- Make realistic goals – Don’t go crazy with the weight loss goals and try to achieve with extreme diets or overworking your body. I think the most important part of losing weight is making routines that become a part of everyday life. Being healthy is a commitment that will only work if it is sustainable. It might be slower process this way, but the goal is to maintain a healthy weight and life, not drop weight quickly only to gain it back once you go off your diet or crazy workout routine.
- Stay inspired – It can be easy to get inspired and tackle goals for a week or maybe even a month, but one hectic weekend or a couple slip ups, and it all falls apart. I love to check out new fitness shows. I find it fills me with new hope to see others struggling with similar issues only to reach their goals and thrive. It is a great reminder that we all have an incredible amount of strength, it is just about tapping into it. One of my new favorites is Fit to Fat to Fit. Trainers spend months gaining weight so they can lose it with their clients. It gives trainers a whole new perspective on the idea of weight loss, and it is so inspiring!
I have finally arrived at a healthy and happy weight that is about so much more than appearance. My goal was to be comfortable in my skin again and strong enough to get back to my adventurous nature so I can share in life with my son. I think I have made it.
Check out shows like Fit to Fat to Fit on Verizon FiOS channel 639 and watch TV in a whole new way. It is a great way to catch up on shows especially during late night feedings! Surf and Sunshine is a member of the #LifeonFiOS blogger program. All opinions remain my own.