How to Lose Weight without Losing Your Mind: Post-Baby Weight Loss Tips for New Moms
This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.
I’m always tempted to laugh when someone lauds me for being “naturally thin.” Or digs into me for losing the bulk of the baby weight in six weeks; the rest of it in six months. But I’m not blessed with a magic metabolism and now that I have an infant, I certainly don’t have time for daily workouts. It takes time, thought, and effort for sure. I also make it a point to enjoy what I eat, so I’ve come up with a few lazy-girl tricks to shedding weight, or keeping excess off. Here you go.
The diet I went on for my wedding was quite the undertaking, but despite occasionally sitting in a Dallas restaurant and watching the entire table consume chips and queso while I took small, singular, well-chewed bites of steamed chicken on a bed of peppers and onions, it really didn’t involve that much strife. With the help of MyFitnessPal, I figured out that calories in/calories out was the way to do it. Simple, finite math was my crutch. It meant I could have a small gelato if I skipped rice at dinner. Or that I could “earn” a glass of wine by going for a 30-minute run first.
So, step one is to keep track. Current weight, goal weight, and what you actually do all day. From errands (parking on the far end of the lot and taking two extra laps around Target can burn extra calories) to snacks (an apple sliced up with a tablespoon of peanut butter for dipping is way more satisfying than a bag of chips). Pick an app, get a journal, or figure out another way to track what goes in and out. Then:
Add veggies. All the veggies. Unless they’re drenched in olive oil or battered and fried, vegetables are low in calories, and they’re always high in nutrients. Buy a vegetarian cookbook or pin some great recipes. You don’t have to do a whole vegetarian meal in order to get tons in there, but seek inspiration for making yours unique and flavorful. My mom taught me a great trick of replacing lasagne-style noodles or rice in baked dishes with spinach. Even fast food can be veggied-up: next time you’re at Chipotle, order a “salad” instead of that burrito bowl. Skip the sour cream but treat yourself to a sprinkle of cheese and enjoy every salsa on the line. Your tummy will be full and happy, I promise.
Carbs are not your enemy. But like any friend, they should be selected carefully. This is a toughie. It’s kind of interesting that as a Celiac, I eat tons of carbs. Potatoes are actually a very whole, nutritious food. Just don’t ruin the experience by eating them sliced and dunked in hot oil. Honestly, I hate brown rice. I know it’s the better option, but I just don’t care for it. Instead, I treat myself to a (proper) serving of white rice once a week. Plain, no condiments. I typically eat it with chopsticks — it disappears slower that way. Bread is also not the devil, no matter what your nutritionist friends are telling you. Just pick the right one and don’t eat a ton of it. True whole wheat bread is loaded with vitamins and nutrients — do your research and find one that you like. Since I’m gluten-free, I go for a more creative blend of grains.
My current fave is Schar multigrain. Would my diet be better served if I didn’t bread? Probably. But I’m all about losing weight, not my mind. A life without carbs isn’t one I want to lead. These slices are 80 cals apiece; I scoop out half an avocado and split the contents between two pieces, sprinkled with some salt and pepper. Or, like this morning, I’ll measure out a couple servings of red pepper edamame hummus and smear it on top. It’s absolutely delicious, it’s still healthy, and just like everything else I eat, it gets logged.
You do not have to skip dessert. Like, ever. That’s right. Life is too short, remember? Those apple slices with peanut butter I mentioned above are absolutely delicious at the end of the day. Josh and I also like to wash and cut up strawberries for dessert; we each get a bowl of them with a few squirts of Redi-Whip on top. Again, this is not a post where I am going to tell you to go eat raw berry, soy-free, dairy-free, hemp paleo pudding for desert. I understand that works for a lot of people. I am not one of them. In order to not lose my mind, I need to enjoy what I’m eating. Redi-Whip is low in calories. Yes, it comes from a (gasp) can. But I’m eating it on top of organic strawberries. Go ahead and call me a hypocrite; I’ve got loads of energy even with a six-month-old on my hip (and my boob), and my clothes are fitting great. Bam.
A “real” dessert happens around here sometimes, too. Of course, when I was pregnant I ate ice cream pretty much every night. But those days are over. Every once in a while Josh and I will treat ourselves to a cold, sweet treat. We had the most delicious ice cream on Mother’s Day — one small cup each, no toppings. And we walked to the shop and all around town afterward. A little splurge here and there will keep you happy and sane. If you don’t burn it off that day, skip your treats and go for a run the next day.
Remember why you’re losing in the first place — to enjoy life! I firmly believe that living a healthy lifestyle also means taking care of yourself and being happy. Treating every day as a “special occasion” and eating half a tray of brownies or spending three weeks lifting nothing other than the remote is not going to make you happy. But neither is super-selective eating and daily 10-mile runs. Get up and move around. Take the stairs. Lift your baby above your head ten times in a row. Do another set of those. Find a workout you actually like (right now, I’m on Pilates). Have two glasses of water before you eat dinner. And log those calories.
I am not naturally thin. I am someone who works at her body every day. But if you find me out on the town on a Saturday night with a cocktail in hand, don’t be surprised. I keep my body in good shape with a balance of diet, exercise, and treats. After all, reaching goal weight is all about slipping into a cute outfit and going out to enjoy your life. And one more thing? On your honeymoon — forget all of the above and just eat. You can worry about real life later.