by Aruna Kamath
I had put on a great deal of weight during my first pregnancy. From a slim, svelte hour-glass figure, I had transformed into a rotund shapeless barrel over nine months. The very thought of getting back into my pre-baby shape seemed daunting. Each time I looked at myself in the mirror, I went into a deep depression. Welcome to motherhood! I kept reminding and placating myself. The only saving grace was that my weight gain was well within the safe limits. But this was no guarantee I would lose weight easily!
During one of my check ups, my ever-so-reassuring gynaec had told me that I could lose up to 5kgs during delivery. Apparently, all pregnant women lose an average of 4-5 kgs post-delivery. Then again, it depends on the size of the newborn baby, the weight of the amniotic fluid and placenta. It sounded good, but was not much reconciliation. My whole worry was melting the fat around my hips and breasts.
Soon my bundle of joy arrived and I got into the thick of things. Even as I struggled to cope with the challenges of motherhood, the baby become my sole priority. Weight loss went into the back burner, and suddenly it didn’t seem to matter at all.
So when did the weight loss bug bite me again?
It must have been roughly six months after my delivery. Things had fallen into place and settled down into a manageable routine. Sleep and breastfeeding issues had been resolved to an extent. Though ‘my time’ was still a faraway luxury, I was in a better frame of mind than I was a few months ago.
It was during one of those instances, when I could snatch some time for myself. I stood in front of my wardrobe and ogled at some of my favourite clothes. Amongst them was a pair of ink-blue jeans that I had bought just before I had conceived. I pulled it out gingerly expecting the worst. I slipped it on slowly – and nervously. To my surprise, it eased along my legs. As I did a mental jig, I pulled it along further. The thighs and hips were a bit of a struggle. It was pretty snug at both the places. By the time it reached the belly, my smile had begun to fade. The ends were at least 4 inches apart and I was pretty disappointed.
Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. But I guess I had expected too much. However, I didn’t let this deter my weight loss challenge. My body was now ready for some intense exercising and I would let go of this opportunity to achieve my goal.
Here’s how I did it!
I have always believed that measured eating along with regular exercise is the best way to shed the pounds. Exercise helps you tone up and lose fat instead of muscle.
Walk like there’s no tomorrow
Believe me it’s one of the best exercises. If you’re committed to walking, you can count on this to give you 100% results. Initially it could be a little difficult to push yourself into a hard routine. Never mind. It’s important you make a start and be consistent about it. Once you get into a routine, you can gradually increase your sessions.
Remember not to overdo it to the point of exhaustion. Even a short walk in your neighbourhood park or to the grocery store, with your baby in the stroller is a great way to exercise. In fact, this is how I started initially, before extending my 15 minute walks to rigorous half-hour sessions.
I have never believed in dieting or skipping meals. Dieting is an unhealthy way of losing weight. Ask any experienced doctor or dietician, and they wouldn’t recommend it either. If you really want to get rid of that belly fat safely, the best way to do it is eat smartly and reduce your portions bit by bit.
It’s all the more important for a new mother to eat healthy to recover from the delivery and fend off infections. So don’t even dream of dieting or making compromises on your food until your baby is six weeks old. In fact, crash dieting will only spell trouble. It’s not just risky, but your body ends up producing less milk.
Here are a few eating tips that could help:
• Do not skip meals. A new mommy needs all the extra energy to stay active and healthy.
• Break your meals into 5-6 small meals, rather than 3 larger meals. Whenever you feel hungry, bite into a healthy snack. This makes digestion easy.
• When you’re hungry for a snack, reach out for healthy alternatives like fruits or salads. Apples, oranges, bananas, carrots are great choices. They are low in fat, but high in vitamins and fiber.
• Have a hearty breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day. It kick-starts your metabolism, maintains your energy levels and keeps you from feeling tired.
• Take time to chew your food. This way, you’ll avoid overeating as it’s easier to tell when you are full.
• Drink plenty of water. At least 8 or 9 glasses a day. Water helps to flush out fat. Try to keep away from aerated drinks and sweet juices. They can add unwanted calories and hamper your weight loss activity.
• Choose low-fat milk and dairy products. You can also make good breast milk without drinking whole milk.
Caring for a new baby can take up all your time, often leaving you with no time to take care of yourself. Even though weight loss is high on your list of priorities, you may not be able to focus on this for a while. But do remember, every activity you do counts. In fact, tasks like changing diapers, bathing and dressing your baby takes up energy and burns calories. Add to this – everyday chores like running the house and grocery shopping. It all sums up to a fairly substantial amount. Though your weighing scale may not show you a happy number, it’s important to stay positive and motivated with what you have accomplished so far. Set yourself a weight loss goal. From then on it will be an easy target.
Finally, a word of advice
Don’t be in a hurry to lose weight. Remember, your body has been stretched to its limits during the nine months of pregnancy. So it needs that much time to recover. This also means that slimming down won’t be an easy task. You may have to probably work twice as hard. But it’s not impossible. So go slow and be patient. Weight loss should be gradual – and should happen in the right way. It doesn’t matter if you take longer to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. Remember, you’ve given birth to a new life who ‘s about to multiply your joys in the days ahead!