HOW do they do it? From Beyoncé to Victoria Beckham and Tipperary pop star Una Healy — all the glamorous new mothers seem to snap back into shape within weeks of having a baby.
For the rest of us mere mortals, the reality is very different with many women taking months or even years to lose the weight which naturally piles on during pregnancy. So are we doing something wrong or do celebrity mums have secret ammunition to help them regain their svelte figures in record time?
Karl Henry, the fitness expert from Operation Transformation, knows only too well what it takes to get a body in shape. He says women should try not to put too much weight on while pregnant but equally they shouldn’t beat themselves up about fitting into skinny jeans days after delivery.
“We are constantly being bombarded by images of celebrities pinging back into shape just weeks after having a baby and I don’t think they are realistic at all,” he says. “Most celebrities are working with a trainer several hours per day post baby and the average person just can’t do this.
“But maternal obesity is the single biggest predisposing factor for childhood obesity, so you should be conscious of your weight during pregnancy and ideally, having one stone to lose post-baby is normal.
“After delivery you should be aiming to lose 2lbs a week and no more,” he advises. “Each pound of fat is 3,500 calories so losing 2lbs per week is 7,000 calories of fat. So if you have one stone to lose that should take you around six to eight weeks. You can change and improve your diet, by cutting out the sugar and white carbohydrates. Replace these with brown carbohydrates and plenty of water.”
Henry says new mums should ensure they have spoken to their doctor before embarking on a fitness regime and once they start, should do it at a steady pace.
“Before you start exercising, ensure that your GP has given you the green light,” he says. “Then I would suggest fast walking — it is a great way to burn lots of calories and it has low joint impact and is free. Aim to walk three times a week, covering four miles an hour or 6.4km/h.
“Resistance training is also important, so do some light weights, keeping the reps high. This will improve your muscle tone and firmness, which is always good. If you had a Caesarean, you may need to strengthen your mid-section. Sit-ups, bridge and side bridges will help. But start slowly and build it up each week as you get stronger.”
Dr Daniel McCartney of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, says new mums should aim to lose weight healthily.
“There are a couple of really straightforward dietary modifications that new mothers can make to lose weight,” he says. “The first of these would be to have a large serving of high-fibre breakfast cereal in the morning, preferably with a generous amount of low-fat fortified milk and increase fruit and vegetable intake to a combined five or more servings per day.
“Like the high-fibre breakfast cereals, these are full of fibre which fills us up, displacing other high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods from the diet. Fruit and vegetables are full of important vitamins and minerals like antioxidants, iron and calcium, which not only replete the mother’s stores after the birth, but also improve the quality of her breast milk.
“Breast milk contains lots of calories which are derived from the mother’s own energy (fat) stores. So, by breastfeeding their infant, new mothers can not only provide a nutritionally high-quality food to the baby for growth and development, they can also shed much of the extra weight gained during pregnancy.”
nSee www.karlhenry.ie and www.indi.ie
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