To borrow a line from Gone with the Wind, I don’t know much about birthing babies. But with numerous blog followers and friends asking for more insight on losing post-pregnancy pounds, I’m taking a step past my self-proclaimed “beloved aunt” comfort zone to address the topic.
Let’s digress for a moment. My favorite part of getting a manicure isn’t the nail treatment itself. I really enjoy digging into the latest issue of People Magazine for red carpet gown photos, heartwarming stories about everyday heroes (you know, in case I find myself in either situation) and making fun of the latest Kardashian coverage. However, one item between its pages never fails to irk me - stories about starlets who lost all of their baby weight in about 6 days and claim it was a breeze. Because after you’ve delivered that bundle of joy, it can be a struggle to lose post pregnancy pounds. Even for those who have never been overweight before.
So I turned to Tamara Grand, PhD, BCRPA Advanced Fitness Leader and Personal Trainer at the terrific FitKnitChick blog for her thoughts. Tamara, herself the mother of three and a perennial “A student,” provided enough great insight to merit its own Q&A session:
Q: Why can it be hard to lose post-pregnancy pounds?
A: Number one, new moms often have very little time or energy to devote to their own care. Sleepless nights make it hard to get back into a regular exercise routine post-delivery. Feeding the baby becomes more important than feeding themselves. Even when women have sufficient help and support to allow them to focus on themselves, many don’t, feeling guilty if they let others care for their baby while they care for themselves. Women need to realize that there’s no place for ‘mommy guilt’ and that they’ll likely become even better mothers when they satisfy their own needs for exercise and healthy eating.
Q: How about new moms who do make time for exercise and mindful eating, but still aren’t seeing the results they seek?
A: Many women find the last 10 pounds are often difficult to shed despite their best efforts in the gym and the kitchen. Biology is the culprit! Women’s reproduction depends on fat stores. In order to conceive, maintain a pregnancy and lactate, a woman must have an adequate supply of adipose tissue. Hormones secreted during pregnancy and beyond aim to maintain those fat stores for breastfeeding and future reproduction. That doesn’t mean those 10 pounds can’t be lost, it just means that it make take longer than expected and require making additional changes to exercise and diet. Pregnancy can also lead to a variety of muscular weaknesses and injuries that may postpone a woman’s return to regular exercise.
Q. Can practicing healthy habits prior to or during pregnancy make a difference?
A. In my experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, women who enter pregnancy at a healthy weight and gain only moderately during gestation have an easier time dropping the baby weight. Perhaps it’s because they have fewer pounds to lose and have a recent memory of being at a healthy weight. Possibly it’s because it’s easier for them to exercise at an appropriate intensity to generate weight loss than their heavier counterparts. Certainly, women who exercise regularly prior to pregnancy find it easier to slip back into the habit of working out than those who’ve been sedentary for most of their lives.
Q. What advice do you have to help women regain their figure after the baby is born?
A. Make it a priority! Find or take time for yourself. Ditch the ‘mommy guilt’ and recognize that your needs are just as important as your family’s. Realize that you don’t need an hour at the gym in order to get in a workout; 10 minutes of movement, three times a day is a fantastic start. Let dad, grandma or a friend watch the baby while you take a power walk. Exercise not only has the ability to help with weight loss, it’s also a great way to release stress and re-energize.”
“Be patient. Most women find that it takes about a year to return to their pre-pregnancy weight,” concludes Tamara. “Think of fitness and weight loss as a journey. Each day, do a little more than the day before.”
Have you or someone you care about ever struggled to lose post-pregnancy pounds? What ended
up ultimately working…and what backfires would you urge others to avoid?