This is a special 3 part series by Fitness expert Sara Haley.
Getting your pre-baby body back is one of the most challenging yet rewarding accomplishments a woman can be faced with. Magazines certainly don’t make it any easier by showcasing celebrities announcing: “All I did was breastfeed and work with my trainer for a few months!” The reality is it takes work – hard work. I’m a fitness professional who prides herself on helping others lose post-baby weight, and it took me a solid four months to get back into my pre-baby clothes (notice I did not say pre-baby weight – I explain below), and trust me, it did not happen without sweat, hard work and yes, some tears. So, here are my thoughts on getting your pre- baby body back in a short yet safe period of time.
1. Be Candid: Be honest about what your pre-baby body actually was. This can be a difficult thing to admit. I often have post-natal women vent to me, “ I just can’t seem to get my pre- baby body back.” The problem is they are often actually talking about their “ideal body,” which is ten pounds less, or two sizes smaller, than what their “pre-baby body” really was. When we remember back to our pre-baby bodies, we need to be candid regarding what our situation really was.
This is something I had to be realistic about too, for slightly different reasons. When I got pregnant I was in the best shape of my life (something else I encourage because it will make losing the weight that much easier). Sounds ideal, right? The downside was that my pre-baby size was not a realistic goal for me to meet based on my post-baby priorities – nursing and spending most, if not all, of my time with my new son, Landon. Because I was nursing, I was eating differently than I had been pre-baby, and because I’d just gone through labor, I physically couldn’t jump back into the intense training I was used to. I had to set my goal on something that made sense and would be maintainable.
It was April, so I gave myself until the end of the summer to get back into my old clothes (I’m not a numbers person). One of the best things I did was toss my skinny jeans aside and about two months out, I bought a pair of jeans that fit comfortably. This way I watched my new jeans get bigger instead of wiping tears away every time I tried to squeeze my Mama hips and belly into my pre-baby jeans. P.S. – To all of you who are thinking that your hips will never go back, I promise with some consistency and confidence (my next 2 points) you will get there. Even though I’m not back at my exact pre- baby weight, I’m finally back in my skinny jeans! So be candid, and make sure your “pre-baby body” goal is honest and real. Once you get back to that pre-baby weight you can set new goals, but for now, just take it one step and a time.
2. Be Consistent: Trust me, I wish there was a secret pill. The reality is losing the baby weight is like any other weight loss. It takes you putting in the work, which means eating well and getting your sweat on as often as you can! If you don’t want to look pregnant anymore, you have to stop eating and moving like you are pregnant. That means you can no longer pull the pregnancy card and have pizza and ice cream whenever you want. Take the pregnancy food out to the trash and get to the gym (with your doctor’s permission of course).
After getting cleared by my doctor around three weeks (If you have a C-section, it will be closer to 6 weeks), I started back slowly with light weight training, and worked my way up to hitting the gym 4-5 times a week. Like any new mom, I felt the guilt of leaving my son, so in the beginning it was sometimes just 30 minutes, but at least it was something. When Landon started to develop a sleeping pattern, I was able to schedule my workouts around him sleeping. Some days I got up an hour before Landon woke up and others I stayed up an hour later, so that I could get in MY time at the gym. Sure, it was a sacrifice, and yes I would have rather been sleeping, but the only way to see quick results is to put in the work.
Overall, the key is consistency. If you don’t put in the time, if you don’t cut the calories, if you don’t do the cardio, if you don’t eat the right food, (all on a regular basis) you won’t see results. Make a plan and stick to it. You made sacrifices for nine months to create a human being, so you do have the willpower. Now you just have to use that willpower and consistency to get yourself back into the body you want.
3. Be Confident: Own your new curvaceous body! The more you mope around and complain about still feeling pregnant, the more you’ll continue to treat yourself like you are pregnant – continuing to dress in your maternity wear, lying down to watch Oprah reruns, and eating pregnancy treats. Trust me, I’ve been there – it’s the worst feeling to go to the gym and have people ask you if you’ve had the baby yet because your stomach still looks like you’re in your 2nd trimester (that’s where nursing definitely helped me – the contracting of the uterus
helped my stomach go down quicker).
After experiencing this, I quickly went to Forever 21 and bought myself some cheap oversized t-shirts that made me feel a little more sexy and not look so pregnant. This way I hit the gym on a more consistent basis and didn’t feel so self-conscious. I found that the days I stayed home and gave up my workout or ate like crap were the days I felt the worst and the least confident. The days I ate clean and healthy and headed to the gym were the days I felt most confident about my body and my new life as a mom.
If your confidence isn’t quite there yet, try an at-home fitness DVD. One of my favorites is my Beauty Sculpt DVD with Brooklyn Decker: . (It’ll give you cardio and strength training all-in-one!) I promise you this much: if you are confident in the fact that you can lose the weight, it will happen that much quicker. You were once that size, so there is no reason your body will reject you getting back there (unless, of course, it was not a safe place for you to be in the first place). You can do it.
Getting your pre-baby body back is no joke (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but if you walk (and work out) with confidence, remember to stay consistent, and remain candid in your goals, you can get there sooner rather than later. Good luck!
Questions or comments? Email Sara at email@example.com
Sara Haley is a certified trainer and instructor through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), as well as a member of the American Pregnancy Association (APA). Specializing in prenatal fitness, functional training and dance methodology, Sara has over twenty years of dance and fitness training, and has been a Reebok Global Master Trainer since 2008. Sara’s pregnancy workout program, Expecting More™, will be available January 1 on http://www.sarahaley.com.
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