Julie is a certified Group Exercise Instructor and has taught pilates, boot camp, and dance fitness classes for 10 years.
Ahhh... motherhood. There are so many joys and trials that come along with this role, and one of those trials is... losing all that weight you gain from pregnancy. Or maybe you didn't gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, but you lost muscle definition. (Can you say abdominals?) There are some simple suggestions for how to get your body back after baby.
You may be wondering if you'll ever get your body back. Or maybe you were in great shape while pregnant and you rocked labor and delivery, but the six weeks after until your postpartum checkup left you feeling a little out of shape and flabby and a little low on energy.
Thankfully, these are all things that can be improved on, and you don't have to feel doomed to wander life forever looking like you just had a baby.
The simple strategies below will provide you with creative ideas for getting back in shape, whether your six months postpartum or six years.
Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
And by nutrient dense, we mean foods rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Postpartum is a time for eating healthy, not going on a crash diet, especially if you're breastfeeding. Nourishing your body with nutritious foods will ensure that your body has the nutrients to properly heal it after the marathon of childbirth.
- Lean proteins: chicken breast, turkey, whey protein, beans, lean ground beef, yogurt
- Fibrous fruits and veggies: Brussels sprouts, spinach, watermelon, apples, bananas, kiwis, cucumbers, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes
- Healthy fats: avocados, cashews, almonds, coconut oil, sunflower seeds
- Sugary soft drinks
- Foods high in trans fats
- Large amounts of caffeine
- Pies, cakes, and other sugary desserts
Your body will bounce back more quickly, and you'll feel more energized, which makes it easier to keep up with your new bundle of joy.
Exercise Should be Short and Sweet
This seems like a no-brainer right? Well, it might seem tricky while you try to fit in eating, sleeping, and other errands while your baby is sleeping or playing. And the 150 to 180 minutes of weekly activity recommended by the American College of Sports' Medicine seems like a lofty goal.
Ditch the all or nothing mentality by breaking up your workout into smaller 5 - 10 minute segments throughout your day. If you're really short on time, try a Tabata.
A Tabata is four minutes total in length. (That's right. Four minutes!) So what is it? Tabata workouts consist of eight rounds: 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. For example, try doing as many squats as you can as deep as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat. Your muscles will be burning and your heart will be thumping.
If all else fails, sneak in activity while you do your chores or clean your house until you break a sweat. You can even strap your baby to you in a carrier and walk around your house.
Remember that getting up and moving is what's important. Studies show that moms who exercise decrease their chances of postpartum depression.
So get moving and be happy!
Drink Water... And More Water
Our bodies are mostly made of water - our cells, muscles, and organs. So it should be no surprise that drinking plenty of water will help you get your body back by flushing toxins and waste from your system.
A good goal to aim for is to drink the number of your body's weight in ounces daily. You'll be amazed at how your skin and joints feel when you drink enough water.
And if you're nursing, staying hydrated will help optimize your milk supply. Boosting yours and baby's health.
Handle Your Core With Care
While your abs might be the thing you want to change the fastest about your body right now, it's actually better to begin gently exercising your core again. And by gently, we mean VERY gently.
Over one third of all pregnancies cause a condition in women called diastasis recti, which involves a separation in the connective tissue of the rectus abdominus/"six pack" muscle.
If you think you might be one of those people, you should definitely check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting an exercise routine again.
At first you'll be able to start with kegels, ab vacuums, and pelvic tilts before progressing to glute bridges and toe taps. You will want to skip those crunches though.
For added support, some women choose to wear a postpartum wrap or girdle to remind them to activate their pelvic floor and transverse abdominus.
The key is to be patient and consistent. Your abs will eventually begin to feel stronger in your abs and pelvic floor again.
You're about to embark on a journey to get your body back after baby. It's important to remember that your body didn't transform overnight during pregnancy, and it won't go back to more like the way it used to overnight.
Keep a workout/nutrition journal to remind your self of the progress you've made towards your goal.
Workout with your partner or another new mom, and encourage each other.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't compare yourself to another's postpartum fitness journey. Celebrate the things your body can do. You've already done something amazing by bringing your precious little one into the world.
Remember that you're on this journey to be a better mom so you can have energy for your kids. So have fun and enjoy that time with the newest little member of your family.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.