My post-partum weight loss journey
I always find it quite funny when people assume that because I’m in the fitness and wellness industry, my pregnancy weight just dropped off me after having my daughter, Bella.
The truth is, there were no shortcuts for me either and it took at least a year for me to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. In my first trimester, I only gained 1-2kg. In my second trimester I gained 8kg and in my last trimester I ballooned a little and gained 10-11kg, to make a total of 20kg!
My gynaecologist wasn’t thrilled with the amount of weight I picked up, however, I was at a low weight when I fell pregnant and I wasn’t expecting to fall pregnant in the first place. So, in my opinion, I needed to gain around 5kg just to be at the optimal weight to carry a healthy baby. This meant that ‘technically’ in my mind I only gained around 15kg. Still, it took me a while to lose the weight I had picked up – and that’s okay.
Slow and steady
Although I started exercising at the six-week mark (as soon as I got the all-clear from my doctor), it took a full year for me to lose the baby weight and to just feel myself again. I just couldn’t lose weight while I was breastfeeding.
For me, it was a complete myth that the weight would just drop off as soon as I started breastfeeding. In fact, it was the opposite! My body seemed to hold onto any excess fat – to ensure I had enough breastmilk etc. I made peace with that and just kept telling myself that I would continue to eat well and exercise moderately throughout my breastfeeding journey. In my opinion, nourishing my baby was more important than my waistline at the time.
When I was six-weeks postpartum, I went for my first 5km run, but took it very easy because I had a scare at the four-week mark. I was quite busy at home, working a little, cooking, breastfeeding and moving around a lot- and one morning I woke up in a lot of pain and couldn’t stand up properly. The doctor warned me to back off and just rest for a day or two, to reduce the risk of my internal stitches splitting. I listened and therefore felt fine at six weeks, but I still eased back slowly into exercise.
I started with slow runs and light weight training (upper and lower body) – I was just careful with some moves like squatting – and I avoided too many chest exercises, as my breasts were still very tender. I gradually increased the intensity of each exercise by around 10% each week to make sure I didn’t get injured. I also went to Bodytec (which uses electro stimulation to contract your muscles). This helped hugely with building strength and activating my muscles – as I couldn’t do much throughout my pregnancy.
My weight-loss secret - rebounding!
I found running to be quite painful and difficult after giving birth because of the extra weight I was carrying, and so I started to get more serious about rebounding, when Bella was around 5-6 months old. I can honestly say that it totally transformed my mind and body!Rebounding is one of the best postpartum exercises for new moms because:
- It boosts your mood (you can’t help but smile when you bounce)
- It increases blood circulation which is great for breastfeeding
- It helps the body heal from within.
- Its low impact, which makes it easier on the joints and muscles
- It’s 100% safe to do after birth (once you’ve been given the all-clear by your doctor)
- It strengthens your core like no other exercise out there.
- It burns fat, builds muscle and burns plenty of calories – all at once.
With each bounce, the internal organs and muscles contract, much like a Kegel exercise, so it helps to strengthen the core like no other exercise out there. It’s also great for stabilising the pelvic floor – which takes time to heal after having a child.
At this time, I also started my rebounding business because I just couldn’t believe what the exercise modality had done for me and I wanted to share it with other moms. In my opinion, rebounding was the ONE thing that totally transformed my body.
Not only did it help me burn fat and calories, it helped me to lose my water weight, boost circulation and promote lymph drainage, which, in turn helped with cellulite and toning. Lymph requires peristaltic movement to flow through the body – and bouncing on a trampoline accelerates this process, hence it’s incredible detoxing benefits!
Even to this day, I can give two rebounding classes a day and I feel invigorated rather than depleted. It’s a miracle exercise- especially for moms!
Some of my challenges
As I mentioned above, it was very difficult for me to lose weight while breastfeeding. And it was only after Bella was a year old, and I weaned her off the breast, that I started to see results and my body resume to normal. Sleep deprivation was always a major challenge for me as some days I was just too tired to prepare a healthy lunch or fit in an exercise session. But When Bella was around six months old, we did a gentle form of sleep training with her and it was a game changer!
Suddenly, she was sleeping for longer stretches at night and wasn’t breastfeeding so much on demand. As a result, I got more sleep and felt more rested. I started upping the ante on my training and had the energy and motivation to be stricter with my diet. More sleep for me also meant that my hormones started to settle -my cortisol and adrenaline levels started to stabilise and my anxiety eased too.
At this time, I lost around 3kg but nothing too drastic. My key message? Moms, it’s important to love yourself and be kind to yourself after giving birth. It’s a life-changing process both emotionally and physically and it’s okay to take time to lose your baby weight. Your beautiful body carried and nourished a baby and deserves all the praise for that. When you are ready to start losing the excess weight you might be carrying.
Here are some of my go-to tips:
- Stick to a healthy diet and ease into exercise. Looking after your health isn’t a race, it’s a journey.
- Be kind to yourself and practice self-care. If you’ve had a sweat-busting workout, reward yourself with a long, warm bath or a new nail polish. Avoid rewarding yourself with food.
- Get checked. It’s a good idea to have a few basic blood tests to ensure you’re not deficient in anything. And if you can, have your hormones checked too. Sometimes hormone imbalances can prevent weight loss.
- Stick to a moderate exercise regime most days of the week. Too much exercise, such as long distance running or intense HIIT workouts more than three times a week can wreak havoc with your hormones and raise cortisol levels or affect your milk supply.
- Also, when it comes to exercise, a balance between cardio, weight training and rebounding is the best way to lose body fat and burn calories.
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, as well as slow-releasing carbohydrates and foods rich in fibre. This will help to keep cravings at bay. I start my day with a fresh veggie juice – and it keeps me fuller for longer.
- Sleep and rest as much as you can. If this means asking for more help with your little one, then don’t feel bad.
- Drink more water – this is my number one weight loss tip and something I always stick to.
- Ditch the mom guilt. A healthy, happy mom means a healthy, happy family.