The right way to lose weight after pregnancy
It is all about losing the postpartum weight in a healthy and sustainable manner. Stay positive, eat right and bond with the baby.
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I see a lot of confusion going around about how and when to start losing weight after delivery. Some women begin a diet too quickly and others start too late.
I see that all the time at my clinic when I see both kinds of women coming to me for guidance. Well, losing excess weight as soon as possible after delivery is important. There are no two ways about this. But it needs consistent efforts.
Also, there is a wrong way and the right way to go about it. And wrong way at this critical juncture of a woman life (health-wise) can lead to long-term health issues.
This Women’s Day — or as some people like to call it: Women’s Month — this is what I want to write about.
Wait till you have your first post-delivery checkup with your doctor before beginning any weight loss regime. It is usually after four to six weeks of delivery. Besides getting a go-ahead from your doctor, this downtime is also needed to recover some of your energy, ease off postpartum fatigue and let your body adjust to the ‘changes’ and demands of being a new parent. And if you have had a C-section, don’t begin working out till your doctor allows you to. In most cases, there is no problem and one can begin mild workouts after two months of delivery.
Lose weight gradually — between 0.5 to 1 kg a week is a good target. Trying to hasten is not a good idea as it will leave you exhausted, and may also affect your milk production (if you are breastfeeding). Also, after some initial weight loss, you might reach a plateau (no more weight loss) and feel frustrated. Aim at six to eight months to get back in shape.
Breastfeeding helps to lose weight — although you need to eat more to meet the demands if you stick to healthy food some of the additional energy needs are met through the fat stores in your body. Bond with your baby and also lose those love handles.
Breastfeeding can help in bonding with the baby and losing that extra fat. (Representational image: Reuters)
Concentrate on both — the quantity and the quality — of your diet. Eat enough calories to avoid feeling washed out, but get them from the right sources — up the protein (legumes, dairy, meats, egg, soya), and complex carbohydrates (whole wheat sources). Keep the fat intake down. Also ensure enough minerals (like calcium, iron) and vitamins (have 5 servings of assorted fruits and vegetables every day without fail) in your diet. Increase the fibre content (vegetables, fruits and whole grains) to feel full with lower calories.
Stick to small meals and eat lots of healthy snacks through the day — always keep fruits, salads or light snacks like chana, poha or upma handy. Swear off the junk and stick to home food for a while — your body can do without preservatives and additives at this time of your life cycle.
Finding time for exercise can be tricky but has to be done. Try to begin as soon as you can as — leaving it for later might make you lazy about it. Take professional help if possible. Ideally, choose the exercises that work for you —yoga is generally a good idea.
If abdominal muscles are loose (usually they are) then crunches are a good option too. So walk (if you can manage to find the time to get away), as it helps workout both the body and the mind — and give a much needed “alone time” too.
Try to take time out for a workout even if you are without help (prop the child in a pram while you run on the treadmill), or simply take your beautiful bundle and go window shopping in the mall and score lots of compliments too. It really helps to keep moving and stay active.
Become a total hands-on mom (best possible exercise) and take out time to go and play. Swim, play badminton or collect some children and play hide-and-seek. Run errands — leave the car at home and take the baby in the stroller for nearby errands. Keep moving as much as you can. Every step counts.
Swim, play badminton or collect some children and play hide-and-seek. Every activity counts. (Representational image: Reuters)
Enlist the support of family and friends. Some ‘me time’ is essential to stay in the right frame of mind. Staying positive is as essential as eating right and exercising. Unless your mind is sorted, your hormones won’t stay sorted (and might play havoc with both your weight and health).
Staying relaxed and happy all through will hasten your journey back to pre-baby weight (and lots of compliments). So every now and then, for a small period of time, go out lunching with friends, get a new haircut, or go buy some makeup.