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If you’re struggling trying to figure out how to jump start your journey to post pregnancy weight loss, don’t worry! It’s definitely NOT easy for many of us!
However, it’s important to understand the basics of weight loss in order to develop a plan for yourself!
For instance, weight-loss is based on a basic component: Calories IN vs. Calories OUT.
Postpartum Weight Loss is still the same in those regards, except there are now MORE external stressors (not just calories) to consider.
So, I’m going to break this topic down to the best of my ability based on my own personal experience!
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DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a dietician, nutritionist, certified trainer, doctor etc… I am simply sharing my opinions based on my personal experience & research.
How can I lose post pregnancy weight FAST?
Notice the ‘FAST’ is the key part of that question?
For many of us, we’re so eager to reach out end results FAST. No matter what it is were trying to accomplish, we just want it done fast!
Saving money? You want it done fast. Breastfeeding? You want to master the technique fast.
But sometimes, well, most times, FAST doesn’t equal quality results!
I’d be lying if I said there’s no way to lose weight fast, because there is.
You could significantly under-eat, go on a liquid diet, and do all the things NOT recommended as they can cause horrible side effects, making you feel miserable, make you sick, and more!
So now that you understand that FAST is not the way to go, lets figure out HOW you can begin a sustainable postpartum weight loss journey!
How can I begin my postpartum weight loss journey?
The main component to really understand for weight loss, in general, is that it’s based on calories in vs calories out (as mentioned above).
This means, you need to be burning more calories then you’re intaking aka: eating at a caloric deficit.
And remember, eating at a caloric deficit does NOT mean starving yourself. That is a big no-no and misconception for those new to ‘dieting’.
The other part to this is to come to terms that weight loss takes time! You will need to put forth a consistent, yet, patient effort for yourself if you want to see healthy and sustainable results.
However, after just having a baby, there are some very important factors to take into consideration before beginning your journey to lose weight – one being that you should be focusing on helping your body RECOVER after birth.
This means, focusing on:
- Rehabilitating your pelvic floor (Mutu system is an EXCELLENT online program to help with this – and the best part, it can be done AT HOME)
- Practicing breathing techniques and finding a program to help you improve your diastasis recti (if present)
- Work on getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night
- Consuming healthy meals each day
- Keeping your body hydrated daily
- Minimizing any stress to yourself and body
- Prioritizing your mental health (SO important after having a baby)
Other factors involved in losing weight after baby will be discussed below, so stay with me!
Using a Meal Planning Guide Will Help!
First things first, if you’re struggling to figure out where you need help; whether it’s workouts, rehabilitating your body, or dialing in your nutrition — a fitness/meal planning guide could be a great place to start!
- Track your physical and emotional progress easily
- Log your workouts efficiently
- Plan & Prep your meals like a pro
- Keep a list of GO-TO recipes ready whenever you need them
- Get in & out of the grocery store with everything you need, nothing more, nothing less…
Then let the Ultimate Workout Guide + Meal Planner take the stress out of eating healthy & being active for you! What’re you waiting for?! Grab your copy > HERE < while it’s still available for its low introductory price (yes…it’s LESS THAN $10)
I’m a postpartum mom, how many calories should I consume for weight loss?
First – you’d need to calculate your caloric intake (this means calories/macros you’d need to regularly consume without considering workouts, dieting, etc…).
To do this, there’s a couple ways:
- You can use online macro calculators. (these aren’t as reliable, especially as a postpartum mom and are a bit more cookie-cutter, so I personally don’t rely on them or ever really suggest them much, but they are available if it’s all you have).
- Perform your own manual calculation. (This way is much more accurate and the way I personally prefer if hiring someone is out of the options. Here’s also a great article about calculating your calories from Sohee Fit)
- Hire a professional to calculate them out for you! (This would be my personal preferred way if you’ve never tracked calories or macros before especially because you need to consider things like breastfeeding & hormonal changes that a simple online calculator just can’t do).
A reputable professional will take ALL the things we’re about to talk about below, your goals, your activity level, and what’s truly realistic into consideration when calculating your calories/macros.
If you need help understanding macronutrients & calorie consumption, checkout Sohee Fit – MS, CSCS, CISSN; she’s the founder of Eat Lift Thrive Method, a Women’s Health Magazine Fitness advisor & has many more accomplishments under her belt!
She posts a ton of information regarding macronutrients and caloric consumption that has personally helped me understand even more so, why these things are so important.
What main factors should I consider for post-pregnancy weight loss?
How are you recovering after baby:
Depending on the type of delivery you had, the first 2 months will be the hardest.
You’ll be in pain, discomfort, tired, sore – etc… It’s important to take the necessary time to HEAL & RECOVER before you start adding stress about losing weight.
Remember, it took 9 months to create, carry and bring this baby into the world. That’s 3/4 of a year!
There’s no way you can expect your body to go through all of that and magically bounce back 1 month later. Hell, even 3-6 months is still too soon in my opinion.
And if you have a body that bounces back quickly, I’m highly jealous of your genetics and your starting point, but that’s beyond most people’s reality.
The last piece – always make sure you get medical clearance from your doctor before implementing ANY kind of dieting or fitness activity.
A general clearance guideline is 6 weeks PP for uneventful vaginal deliveries & 8 weeks PP for uneventful cesarean (double-check with your doctor’s office for their general guidelines).
Are you Breastfeeding baby?
Breastfeeding your baby will be a big factor to take into consideration. On average it burns ~200-500 calories per day. These are calories you NEED to be accounting for.
The rule of thumb, is that to establish & maintain your milk supply, you shouldn’t eat at a steep caloric deficit. In fact you should aim to eat at your maintenance level or slightly above (as long as it isn’t causing you to gain weight).
What I personally have found to help (I’m currently 8.5 months PP & began tracking calories at 7mos) is that I am eating at the HIGHEST caloric deficit possible, but I also listen to my body.
If I ever notice I feel exceptionally hungry or I notice my milk production is a bit lower then normal, I will eat according to my body’s needs. As much as I am in it for a long & steady weight loss; it’s also more of a priority to make sure my baby gets fed.
Postpartum Hormonal Changes
Oh, the hormones. We’ll briefly discuss some of the “weight loss” hormones (Leptin & Ghrelin) without getting too far into this topic.
Remember, these are just baseline guides for you to be mindful of when considering you want to embark to lose weight post-pregnancy.
- Leptin – A hormone produced by body fat cells to help regulate energy. It communicates to your brain when you have enough fat stored and to stop eating. Think of leptin as a “Stop Sign” to food.
- Ghrelin – A hormone secreted in the stomach to communicate to the brain that it needs to increase hunger.
During postpartum, you have to consider your (generally) low levels of estrogen, progesterone and higher prolactin levels.
And if you’ve already gotten your menstrual cycle back – it’s just another bump in the road.
But let’s take a look at these hormones and make sure we understand the basics:
- Prolactin – Feeling irritable, full of milk & extra bloated? This hormone is known as the “milk stimulating” hormone. It will remain in your body all throughout pregnancy until you are done breastfeeding. It is also accompanied with behavioral or mood swings (due to it’s effect on dopamine), fluid regulating, metabolism and even your immune system.
- Progesterone – This hormone throughout pregnancy is at it’s highest rate. It aids to help your uterus accommodate your precious growing baby. After delivery, these levels skyrocket down and don’t return to the party until your first menstrual cycle. Instead, prolactin is the ‘Primary P’ to make sure you can make milk for your baby(that’s what helps me remember this).
- Estrogen – Estrogen has all sorts of jobs during pregnancy. It helps your uterus grow, helps with blood circulation, helps with uterine lining, helps develop babies organs and even helps with breast growth to accommodate breastmilk. As discussed above, progesterone levels dump down after delivery, however, good ol’ estrogen levels remain high. Side effects of this could result in mood swings, anxiety, menstrual cramping, fluid retention, and many more.
One thing for certain is to make sure you’re patient. One day or week you may feel off, bloated, emotional, extra hungry or more, thanks to these pesky hormones! Be patient with yourself and remember you’re in it for the long haul – not some quick fix weight loss experience.
Lastly, most women tend to see hormonal improvement once they are no longer breastfeeding.
If this is something that has been hindering you from trying to lose weight post-pregnancy or just in general making, you feel off, please see your doctor to discuss your options.
Lack of sleep after having a baby:
It’s been shown that lack of sleep AND added stress can cause ‘hunger’. It has to do with how our brains perceive (or lack of perceiving) the hormone, leptin. Meanwhile, our good friend ghrelin, peaks up during this time.
The result? A sleepy, stressed out, hungry mama!
Make sure you’re getting in sleep whenever you can!
If you’re still offering baby feedings in the middle of the night or simply up to help soothe them back to sleep, try to sneak in some daytime naps!
And if your baby is at least 5 months old and you’re ready to get them on a SOLID SLEEP SCHEDULE, look no further, Cara of Taking Cara Babies can help you do that by clicking HERE!
Feeling stressed because baby’s having an off day? Sneak in some SELF CARE activities to keep your ‘glass full’.
In all seriousness, getting physical rest is important. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, talk to your family or partner to see how they can actively take a helping role so that you can rest up a bit more.
Prioritizing Time with a newborn baby
This can be tricky, especially for most new moms. If I’m being honest, sometimes the weight loss has to get put on the back burner for you to get a system in place that works best for YOU and BABY! And you know what, that’s totally OK!
Being a mom is full of trial and error. My best advice would be to stay patient and find what works best and is SUSTAINABLE for you to commit to without it being too much pressure.
Often times I see people wanting to be all in or all out and they end up just quitting whether it’s to be focused on a meal prep or focused on some workouts. You have to learn to adjust, adapt and keep going!
I find, preparing my meals ahead of time for the week is helpful. Then I always aim to get my MAIN workouts in on days my husband will be home. If I miss anything in between, it is what it is. We learn to just make things work as they are and let them go as they aren’t. MomLife!
RELATED POST >> Easy after baby workout routine to stay active!
Weak Core + Pelvic Floor
You’ve probably heard of the term diastasis recti. This happens when the muscles that run across your abdomen “stretch” or “elongate” along the midline, causing lack of core support.
However, when it comes to the core – there are far more muscles involved, such as the transverse abdominis & rectus abdominis.
These muscles all correlate to having a strong core AND pelvic floor. They’re also very important to rehabilitate if necessary to prevent any injuries during day to day tasks or working out.
It’s also important to know that things like:
- bladder leakage when you sneeze
- painful intercourse
- belly bulging
Are all common signs to have postpartum, BUT they should not be a consistent problem that doesn’t go away.
For even more information, I’d suggest checking out more information about diastasis recti.
Recommended Read >> Pelvic Floor Health – What every mama should know!
How can I still achieve postpartum weight loss despite the challenges listed above?
Identify your goals & be realistic
Make sure when you’re considering jumping into weight loss that you’re setting clear and obtainable goals based on your situation!
For example, don’t set yourself up with these crazy goals of losing 20lbs in 1 month or completely giving up all your favorite foods!
If you’re breastfeeding, don’t plan to go on some crazy extreme low calorie or food exclusion diet. We’re talking obtainable goals here!
And don’t let all the “Skinny Tea” or “Magic Shake” companies try to sell you their unrealistic results either.
Your diet will play a prime role in achieving weight loss! It’s important to consume healthy, nutrient dense foods – not just for weight loss, but to help support breastfeeding too!
One of my personal favorite ways to make sure I’m getting my nutrients in is with SmoothieBox! SmoothieBox is an affordable and convenient breakfast alternative that delivers straight to your home! They come in 4 delicious flavors that leave you feeling like you downed a delicious sweet treat every morning! If you’re someone who needs your meals one and done, SmoothieBox could be a great alternative for you!
However, if you had a crummy day and really just need to take it out on some ice cream, I feel you. And you know what? Go for it – in moderation!
What I mean is make yourself a serving and that’s it – don’t grab the entire tub and start eating straight from the tub.
However, if you do have a bad day where you go all out – it’s also ok. Brush it off, and get back on track the next day. You can’t undo the past, so no point in adding extra stress on yourself over it.
Once you get physical clearance from your doctor to workout, you can slowly ease your way back into a workout routine! If you’re a pretty active in shape person already, there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t resume your regular training (within reason).
Remember, moving can be as simple as walking around the block or doing some relaxing yoga in your living room while baby naps. Whatever keeps you moving is the goal.
But if you’re ready to take it up a notch, I would suggest you look into a program or coaching that includes weight lifting.
There are a ton of routines out there, for my top 3 favorite after baby workouts, check out this post!
Self Care/Getting Sleep
As already discussed above, making sure you’re getting in your sleep and self-care. I’d aim to get a minimum of 6-7hrs of sleep per night if you can!
If you’re not sure how to fit in self-care, I wrote an ENTIRE POST about self-care for moms!
Develop a routine & include your partner
Lastly, if you’re struggling to find balance because you’re just run thin doing everything, try talking to your partner about it.
Let them know you need help and see if there’s a way you can come up with a routine TOGETHER!
This way you can have some planned time each week to focus on working out, prepping your meals, getting some self-care in, or whatever will help you stay focused and on track.
- Kelly Mom – dieting while breastfeeding
- Aaptiv – Postpartum weightless
- What to expect when expecting – Hormones Guide
Thanks for reading post-pregnancy weight loss tips for mama!
If you’re a postpartum mom, let me know your tips for losing weight after baby in the comments below!