I've never met a mom yet who doesn't want to shed those baby pounds and get back into pre-pregnancy shape. I know all of us are different- we have different metabolisms, eating habits and exercise routines (or lack thereof!). I remember shedding many tears after my first daughter was born- how was I ever going to lose all that weight? Nothing fit, I was wearing 2 sizes bigger then when I got married just 18 months earlier, and to top it off, many well-meaning friends assured me that this is how it would be now that I was a mom. I had gained close to 60 pounds during my first pregnancy. I was the maid of honor (make that the whale of honor) in my sister's wedding just 4 weeks before Laina was born- I was huge! I never did lose all the weight before I became pregnant again with my son, although I tried to exercise like crazy and watched what I ate. My focus back then was on fat-free foods. I had learned in nursing school that fat was my enemy- so instead I consumed large quantities of fat-free, high sugar foods (after all, they have to make it taste good somehow, right?) I read labels for fat and was a calorie counting fanatic. Not fun...
Fast forward 18 plus years later. I am now the mommy to 10 children, with the youngest just 11 months old. I weigh what I did on my wedding day, and yes, my wedding dress still fits perfectly. I usually lose most of the baby pounds by 3 months and all of it before 6 months. So what am I doing different?
For one, I no longer count calories. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, we should not be trying to limit calories! In fact, breastfeeding moms should consume more calories than while they were pregnant, but make those calories count. Focus on eating nutrient dense foods. In fact, our whole family eats only whole foods- nothing processed or refined. I also eat plenty of fat, good fats, that is- like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados. We use raw honey and maple syrup for sweeteners and avoid all refined sugars. I eat sprouted grain breads (like Ezekiel bread or Trader Joe's sprouted breads). We eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables. We eat beans, brown rice (most of the time), small amounts of healthy poultry, fish and beef. We try to eat foods that don't come with an ingredient list. If you can't pronounce it or don't know what it is, don't put it into your body!
Also, I breastfeed as long as possible. If you eat well, you will produce good milk and in turn you will have a healthy baby. Often when a mom is struggling with her weight because she doesn't eat well, she in turn has a baby that is thin and doesn't gain well. I try to breastfeed exclusively for as long as possible, which is usually around 9 or 10 months before introducing any foods. The food I consume is being passed onto my little girl, allowing me to maintain my weight while she continues to grow.
Lastly, stay moderately busy, which shouldn't be hard if you have kids. I like to do the "10 Minute Solution" workout series, which allows me to exercise in 10 minute increments, picking the workout I want to do that day. These are available at stores like Walmart and Target. These are simple to follow, allow you to focus on problem areas and don't take a whole lot of time (my favorite part!). Of course, walks with the kids down to the mailbox, vacuuming and carrying a baby around also count towards staying active. It is important to build muscle, because muscles burn more calories at rest and helps increase our metabolism.
I'm often asked what I eat on a typical day. This will look different for each of us, but here is just a sampling. Notice that none of the things I eat has an ingredient list- they are all natural foods made by God for us to enjoy...
Breakfast: 3 slices of sprouted grain bread, coconut oil and raw honey, 2 farm fresh scrambled eggs OR cooked millet with coconut oil, maple syrup and some fresh fruit- and I love my coffee when I wake up!
Snack: green apple with almond butter and raisins OR several cashew date balls
Lunch: sprouted grain bread with sliced turkey breast (Applegate), avocado slices, tomato and lettuce and a few baby carrots OR homemade lentil soup and raw veggie sticks
Snack: Fruit smoothie (I use frozen berries, almond milk, kale or spinach) OR banana and a handful of raw almonds
Dinner: Brown rice, black beans, shredded chicken, shredded romaine, tomatoes, fresh corn, olives and homemade salsa OR beef and quinoa meatballs in tomato sauce over brown rice pasta with a garden salad
Snack: homemade yogurt made from raw whole milk with frozen blueberries and sliced almonds
I drink only water and often add fresh lemon juice which tastes great and helps keep my body alkaline. I also take Juice Plus Garden, Orchard and Vineyard blend every day.
I know many people that meet me today think that I am simply a thinner person by nature. I was actually pleasantly plump as a child, and I weighed quite a bit more in high school then I do today. I also gain plenty of weight (between 40 and 50 pounds) with each of my pregnancies, and I have had no problem losing the baby pounds since switching to this way of eating. I do, however, have to be disciplined. I know there are people who can eat anything and not gain weight- I'm not one of them!
I love the motto that says eat to live, don't live to eat. If you eat what your body needs to stay healthy and well, the baby pounds should come off and stay off. You also won't crave sugar or junk food if you are getting the nutrients your body needs to stay well. That's the best part! You actually won't crave donuts or cake anymore, instead you will be hungry for real food. I believe we shouldn't diet to lose weight, instead we should make healthy eating a way of life and we will reap the benefits of maintaining our weight and feeling well, as well as having plenty of energy. Don't we all want that? It's hard to be a good wife and mother when we don't feel well.
If you have a history of having a hard time losing weight, despite trying to eat healthy, you may need to increase the healthy bacteria in your gut by taking a good probiotic. The good bacteria in your gut are often compromised, especially if you have eaten a diet rich in processed foods, taken antibiotics or even if you have had surgery or a colonoscopy. I recently heard a doctor speak who believes this may be the reason so many people struggle with their weight. Their whole digestion is compromised because the gut isn't functioning the way it is supposed to. Remember the gut is our second brain and controls so many of our body functions. They are even doing experiments where they take the bacteria from a healthy, thin person and placing them inside an obese person. The result? The obese person becomes skinny! How cool is that!