Dietitian Aoife Hearne gives tips on how to get back to your pre-pregnancy body with some simple steps. And don’t forget to buy a good pizza cutter.
Recently I went to the Bon Jovi concert at the RDS. It was almost 10 years since I was at the last one and it felt like a lifetime ago when I was thinking back on it. However, the only thing that was on my mind the day of the concert was: What am I going to wear?
The past few summers I have either had a newborn or have been “bouncing back” from pregnancy so I have been a whole range of clothes sizes and for some reason I have never been the particular size I am now.
After a panic, I managed to pull something together that I felt good in, but of course it had to be high-waisted jeans — the days of low rise are long gone for me, no matter what the current fashion is and I’m okay with that.
Getting back in shape after having a baby is a funny thing. I have never put pressure on myself to lose weight post-baby. I have kinda gone along with the direction my body has taken and, like I said before, I’m lucky that breastfeeding really supports me in that task.
But just like every other woman, there comes a point when you are sick of the sight of your maternity clothes and simply want to fit back into your normal clothes.
And while we don’t want women to feel under pressure to lose weight, I would encourage new mothers to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight before getting pregnant again to help reduce incremental weight gain which is becoming more common. So let’s look at what’s makes it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Nutrition and diet
Last week we checked out nutrients that are important and again I want to stress the fact that cutting out food groups (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and following a strict diet is not a healthy way to approach weight-loss.
In fact, even when we look at diets, the evidence would suggest that only 1%-2% of people will keep the weight off long-term. I truly believe that having a more mindful approach to eating is the way forward when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight.
Another place to focus on — when you have time to catch your breath — is your home environment. This is super-important as the foods you see on a regular basis are generally the foods you will be drawn to eat.
Start to think about what is often called food architecture — meaning where foods are in your house. For example are the biscuits beside the tea in the press? Or do you have biscuits or cake out on the counter? It is wise to move the higher sugar/fat items or processed foods to a press where you don’t have to see them regularly.
If, like me, you got through the day with the help of tea/coffee in the early weeks it would be a good idea to make sure none of the foods that really tempt you are in that press otherwise by 10am you’ve already said “no” to these foods 10 times and by 11am you’re munching biscuits to get you through to lunch-time.
Planning your meals
Ultimately, the goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The one and only way I know that works is to invest some time in the planning of meals and food choices that make it into your home.
This can seem like an unnecessary chore, but giving yourself 30 minutes will really set you up for success. I recommend setting time aside to plan the meals you are going to make for the week and making a shopping list so that you are ready for the supermarket or online shopping.
Even if you don’t do one big shop while you’re on maternity leave, stick to your plan. This was a lifesaver for me during the early postpartum weeks and time invested really paid off.
It meant I didn’t rely on the quick-fix of ready meals or takeaways and I was nourishing my body and ensuring it was the best shape for me.
Get a pizza cutter
By far the best tip I can give you to make the healthy choice the easy choice is to invest is a really good pizza cutter. A really good friend of mine gave me this tip when I was pregnant. Truth be known, I was bemused, but I followed her advice nonetheless.
What I realised in those early weeks when I had a baby permanently in one arm is that you can cut almost anything with one hand and a good pizza cutter. So this unusual tip is one I keep passing on to other new mums.
Regarding the Bon Jovi concert, the other insight is that after a night of dancing, my pelvic floor is definitely not what is was 10 years ago. That is a whole other day’s work.