Breastfeeding, Babywearing & Bouncing Back into Shape after Baby
[By L.R.Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages available on Amazon and other major retailers]
There is no such thing as a ’miracle’ weight-loss plan, but living a healthy, active life and eating nutritious meals doesn’t have to be all about sweat, sacrifice, and self-discipline, either. It can be about having fun, eating foods you love, and, best of all, it can fit right in with your lifestyle! By following a few basic nutritional guidelines and finding ways to fit exercise into your daily life, you can create your own ‘life plan’ and start moving toward your weight-loss and health goals.
1.) Practice the 3 B’s
Breastfeeding~Did you know that one of the best ways to lose weight after giving birth is to breastfeed? Breastfeeding uses about 300-500 of the calories you eat each day. That means if you eat the full amount of daily recommended calories for your weight, you’re actually dieting! I don’t recommend calorie-counting as a means of weight loss, but that’s a pretty cool fact, anyway! And when you add the fact that breastfeeding significantly reduces your risk of breast cancer and is super healthy for baby…win-win-win!
Babywearing ~Did you know that in addition to all of the amazing benefits to your baby, babywearing also offers you an excellent opportunity for a daily workout? Wearing your baby works your core and glutes specifically and gives you a full body workout, as well! Who needs a gym when housecleaning, walks on the beach, strolls through the mall, and just daily life in general are an excellent workout, all while keeping baby next to your heart and close enough for kisses?!?
Bouncing~Did you know that kegels can actually do more harm than good? Shallow knee bends like the ones mommies use instinctively when they bounce to soothe a fussy baby are the preferred method of improving the pelvic girdle! So say goodbye to the sneezing/laughing ‘leakies’ and hello to buns and thighs of steel!
2.) Healthy Eating, It Does a Body Good
Did you know that a low fat diet can actually make you fat? A diet of full-fat milk, real butter, real cane sugar, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, fat-marbled meat, eggs, nuts of all kinds, cheeses, fruits, veggies, and whole grain pastas and breads is far more likely to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight for life.
Along with enjoying these yummy foods, you’ll lose weight faster and be overall healthier by avoiding High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS~it’s in practically everything…breads, juices, jellies, etc…so you’ll have to read labels carefully!) and other corn-derived syrups and sugars, food dyes, margarine, vegetable/canola/safflower oils, and artificial sweeteners.
If you’ve got a sweet-tooth, denying yourself a treat can lead to overeating as you try to satisfy that urge with other foods. One way to combat that is to indulge in a small amount of ice cream (without HFCS or other corn syrups!) or free market dark chocolate, preferably in the evening because raising your blood sugar earlier in the day tends to increase your appetite for the rest of the day.
Keep in mind, letting yourself become hungry is one of the surest paths to overeating! It’s far better to eat multiple, small, snack-type meals throughout the day than to wait for meals when you’ll be hungrier and more likely to eat too much. Other benefits to ‘snacking’ instead of eating three full-on meals are 1.) Maintaining a consistent blood sugar, which aids in appetite control and helps your body escape the ‘survival’ instinct to store fat; 2.) Reducing your appetite naturally by eating smaller amounts at a time which helps your stomach to shrink; and 3.) Increasing your metabolism by consistently keeping your digestive system heated up in ‘burn mode.’
Sample meal plan:
¼ cup almonds & ¼ cup raisins
1 whole egg (Yes, eat the yolk, too! That’s where most of the healthy nutrients are.)
1 Whole wheat English muffin with real butter and ¼ cup natural preserves
8 oz. cottage cheese
½ cup pretzels & 2 oz. whole-fat cheese
Spinach salad with ¼ cup shredded carrots, ¼ cup dried apricots, 2 oz. whole-fat shredded cheese, 8 oz. shredded pork, ¼ cup crumbled Sun Chips, and 2-4 tbs. Balsamic Vinaigrette (Read the label, and watch out for HFCS!)
8 oz. yogurt & ¼ cup granola & ¼ cup berries
Fettucini Alfredo, Meatball Sub, Pizza, whatever you want! Just fill up your plate as you normally would, then put back half. After you eat, wait 20 minutes and, if you’re still hungry, eat ¼ of what you put back. (Supper is where most people ‘fail’ because that’s the time most social eating occurs. Rather than denying yourself and setting yourself up for failure, this plan allows you to enjoy the foods and social life you’re accustomed to, while still cutting out ¼ to ½ of the calories you’d normally eat at this meal.)
For those with a sweet tooth, after supper is the best time for a few ounces of dark chocolate or ice cream! Pastries and cakes aren’t good choices for a treat, but if you indulge occasionally, no worries
¼ cup almonds & ¼ cup dried pomegranates or cranberries
You can take this sample plan and switch out items from the same food group so it fits your tastes. For instance, if you don’t like salads, you could switch out the lunch salad with a baked whole grain pork burrito and top it with lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc. Just try to make sure that for every protein/fruit/veggie/dairy you take out, you put the same amount back in. (Sorry about The Hobbit reference. I couldn’t resist!)
3.) A Grateful Heart is a Healthy Heart
Science has proven that a good outlook on life improves not only the quality of a person’s life, but also the length and health aspects of their life. Taking time to intentionally focus on the good things in your life will improve your health, satisfaction, and overall happiness. Here are some ideas:
A.) Get outdoors! Heading out into the sunshine has been shown to improve a person’s mood as well as their health. There’s something about standing in the midst of towering trees or watching butterflies flutter by in the garden that makes stress just melt away. (And a daily dose of sunshine-induced Vitamin D is good for your bones!)
B.) Walka-Walka-Walka! Walking improves circulation and deepens breathing, both of which will make you feel more alive and ready to take on the world!
C.) Count your blessings! Taking time each day to list and be thankful for the good things in your life helps to create balance, making life feel more manageable when it begins to feel overwhelming.
D.) Volunteer! Reaching out to help your fellow humans in need is a great way to make your life feel a lot more purposeful and to help you get a healthy perspective on the stresses in your life.
E.) Laugh out loud! We all type that little ‘lol’ all the time when we’re online, but did you know that actually doing it, really and truly laughing out loud, releases stress-relieving, feel-good endorphins in our bodies? So watch a comedy routine, catch a funny old sit-com rerun, or just sit and enjoy a child playing for ten minutes, and you’ll be sure to laugh away the blues!
*Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is a guide (not a diet) that I created to return to my pre-pregnancy (Well, pre-pregnancies, actually, since I have six children!) shape and weight in a healthy and swift fashion and that I continue to follow for weight maintenance and healthy nutrition. This guideline is not designed for special health needs. Be sure to check with your doctor or other health professional if you have any health concerns.