Your body just went through one of the most sudden changes it will ever experience, and your life has been completely transformed. You are further from your fitness goals than before and its harder to lose weight, with less time to work on them. You can’t just follow the same advice everyone else does. With so much against you, you have to be extra effective and efficient.
I’m not going to tell you to eat clean and stay hydrated. You already know that, and if you don’t, every other article will tell you that. I’m going to give you less obvious tips to help you avoid the pitfalls that well-informed moms often make. Some of these are mistakes I made at first even though I’m a trained fitness and nutrition coach.
I thought carefully about the best mom weight loss tips to give you. There are hundreds of tips and tricks for losing weight and getting fit. Your challenge will be figuring out, of all the ones you hear, what the most effective ones will be given the limited time you have. I kept this in mind as I chose the 10 tips in this article. Take these suggestions to heart. While you will hear plenty of advice, focus on these as the ones that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. If you want to lose weight as a new mom, follow my proven tips.
Don’t assume that what you did before will work now.
Your hormones have changed forever. You also might have lost muscle mass during pregnancy. These changes affect your strength, body composition, and metabolism. If you try what you did before and don’t see results, don’t fall into the trap of getting stricter and stricter with your regimen. Yes, you might need to be stricter than before. But if it’s not working, start from scratch to figure out what your body needs now.
Mom Weight Loss Means TO Build muscle.
Things can feel a bit loose and saggy after having a baby. The best way to firm up – including stretch marks – is with strength training. Not all strength training is the same, however. Choose training methods that maximize muscle growth, called hypertrophy training. This speeds up your metabolism for two reasons: Not only does muscle burn more calories at rest than fat, but the process of building muscle requires a lot of calories. Additionally, human growth hormone is released, which some doctors are claiming to be the fountain of youth. This is what visibly tightens your skin. Just search YouTube for 80-year-old bodybuilders to see what I mean. Most importantly, if you can see your skin looking younger and healthier on the outside, imagine what it is doing to your organs on the inside!
Some women worry about bulking up. Have you ever asked the men in your life how hard it is to bulk up? And we only have a fraction of the testosterone that they do. We will replace fat with muscle and get stronger, denser muscles. This is actually what gives the toned, curvy look most of the moms I work with are seeking. Plus, you’ll get really strong. Besides being incredibly empowering, you’ll need that strength to carry your child without causing microtrauma that can turn into painful injuries over time.
Choose workouts that are most effective in short bursts with rest in between.
This is a mistake even a lot of pro trainers make. Certain types of training need to be done at your max. This means that once you tire out – which at your max takes less than a minute – you need to rest until you recover enough to do it again at full force.
Turns out, those workouts are perfect for busy mommies who are interrupted every 30 seconds! Do a set, be a mommy, do another set, go back to being a mommy. So easy!
Intervals and hypertrophy training are perfect choices for a weight loss program for mommies. With intervals, you get your heart rate up to 90% of its max. To estimate without a heart monitor, this is when you can no longer talk. Keep it at that intensity for 30-60 seconds, and then take a break for at least a minute. You can do this with exercises such as jump squats or power burpees if you go as high and fast as you can. For hypertrophy training, choose weights heavy enough that you can only do about 10 reps with perfect form – slow and in control, no momentum. Rest a minute between sets, and rest until fully recovered before moving on to the next exercise. Of course, with moms, I use the term “rest” loosely.
Mom Weight Loss Means Prioritizing sleep.
I know, this is easier said than done. I don’t expect you will be able to get a full night sleep every night, and maybe not at all for a while. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a priority. When you do have the chance, choose sleep over socializing, cleaning, watching TV, or other activities that might tempt you. Don’t overcommit yourself. It’s ok to be a little antisocial or messy for a while (ok, maybe more than a little!). Sleep is crucial, and it should be treated as such.
Your body cleanses, detoxes, regenerates and recovers during sleep. This is important not only for health but for weight loss. Lack of sleep means more fat storage, more bloating, less energy to work out, and lower willpower to stick to your regimen. So make it your goal to sleep at least 7 hours per night. Sometimes, no matter what is left undone, just stop what you’re doing at a certain time and go to bed. You might find that the mental clarity you gain makes you more productive the next day. You will certainly be edging closer to your fitness goals.
Your workouts must be harder than what you do all day.
One of the biggest mistakes I see with moms is that they underestimate themselves. Once they manage to carve out time to work out, almost all of them tell me they do body weight squats. Doing 10 minutes of squats, lunges, and crunches will have you at a plateau in no time. Why? Because in order for your body to get fitter, you need to challenge it beyond what it does all the time. Have you ever held your kid on one hip, bent down, and picked up something from the floor? Congratulations, you just did a squat with however much your kid weighs. So to get results and fast weight loss, you can’t squat without weight. You need to use more weight than your child, or do hundreds of them, or add another challenge such as jump squats as high as you can.
Those workouts for busy moms that are a series of squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, and so on, are a great starting point. But you need a way to progress or you will get slightly fitter and then plateau. I use adjustable dumbbells and a doorway pull-up bar. That has given me enough options to keep challenging myself for years. Here are more mom weight loss tips for you regarding your eating habit.
Read ingredients. Ignore everything else.
You know not to dump 5 teaspoons of sugar in your oatmeal. You might not know that the super healthy looking oatmeal packet you bought – organic, gluten free, non-GMO – already did it for you. That breakfast bar you got at Whole Foods? Same thing.
Many products marketed as health food or healthier alternatives to other foods are loaded with sugar, salt, chemicals, and overly processed ingredients. Vegan cheese? Barely resembles food anymore. Multigrain bread? Unless it says 100% whole grain, it is mostly white flour with enough brown to look healthy. Spinach pasta? Those crunchy veggie stick snacks? All junk!
I’m not here to tell you what to eat. I indulge sometimes. But I know when I’m indulging. So many moms working their butts off to reach their goals fall victim to misleading marketing. The one way to avoid this is to read the ingredients on every product you buy. Not the claims on the box. Skittles are a fat-free, cholesterol free food. Not the nutrition facts. Those can be useful for helping you decide how much of a food to eat and balancing out your nutrients, but they don’t tell you whether or not a food is healthy. Nuts are high In fat, yet one of the best foods for you. Low calorie, low sugar juices? Usually not real juice. Calories, fat, sugar, protein – these don’t tell you whether or not a food is healthy. Read the ingredients. Look for ones Grandma would use. Ignore everything else.
- Mom Weight Loss Means Eat about 80% plant-based foods.
I hate good foods/bad foods lists. Why do so many of them contradict each other? Because when it comes to a healthy regimen, amount matters. You know the saying “Let food be thy medicine”? Well, just like with medicine, the dosage is important!
There are certain foods that are bad – anything with unnatural or overly processed ingredients. However, with healthy foods, it matters how much you eat. Different foods have different effects on the body, just like medicines. It depends on what your body needs and how much.
Meat from healthy animals is a great source of all essential proteins your body needs, in a form that is easily digested and assimilated. However, too much meat can raise your risk for heart disease, lower your immune system, and wreak havoc in your digestive tract. White grains promote diabetes, foster weight gain, and lower your immune system when you live in a largely sedentary society. Yet they can give athletes the boost they need for tough training. It all depends on what your body needs.
That being said, one of the universal nutrition rules is to eat a majority plant-based diet – about 80% for most people. Very often a mom comes to me confused because she is eating all healthy foods but not seeing progress – whether in fitness or with health issues. Turns out she’s having yogurt for breakfast, a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch, and whole wheat pasta with salmon for dinner. All healthy foods (excluding individual allergies/sensitivities), but where are the fresh fruits and vegetables? Where are the micronutrient dense foods? The individual foods are healthy, but her overall diet isn’t.
Individual requirements vary, but a good generic starting point is to eat 80% foods from plants, i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. 20% of your diet can come from animals, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. At every meal, try for 50% fresh fruits or veggies. An estimate by sight; no need to weigh or count calories. After you have tried eating this way for a few weeks, feel free to experiment to find the right percentages for your unique body.
Try eliminating common trigger foods.
Another reason I hate good foods/bad foods lists is that the same food can be harmful to one person while another person thrives on it. Allergies are the most extreme example, but there are also more subtle sensitivities. Since most research studies look at group trends, they don’t capture these individual differences.
One of the most life-changing experiments you can do is an elimination diet. This can be especially helpful after having a child because your trigger foods might have changed. Eliminate all of the most common trigger foods for two weeks – dairy, soy, grains, corn, eggs, nuts, shellfish – and see how you feel. Then, add them back in one at a time, at least 3 days apart. Look for changes in your weight, digestion, skin, energy levels, sleep, and emotions. Believe it or not, food sensitivities can be the hidden culprit behind health issues from asthma to IBS, depression to PMDD, acne to allergies – even severe cases. Ridding your diet of your personal trigger foods will make you feel so much healthier and more energetic that sticking to your workout regimen becomes easier.
Don’t worry about the willpower it will take to stop eating your trigger foods. Once you feel the difference you will find yourself wanting to avoid them. Plus, it’s your choice. If you prefer to eat them occasionally and deal with the consequences, nobody is stopping you. Trying an elimination diet doesn’t commit you to anything. It simply empowers you to be able to choose when you do or don’t want to deal with the associated health consequences.
Mom Weight Loss Means Managing your willpower wisely.
It is helpful to think of willpower as a limited resource. The more you spend on one area of your life, the less you have for others. Hence, now that so much of your willpower is being spent on parenting, you have less for diet and exercise – unless you manage it wisely.
Be very clear on your priorities. Think to yourself, “Will this matter tomorrow? In a week? Next year?” Make sure you don’t waste energy or willpower on less important things until you have fulfilled your most important obligations, including to your health!
To replenish your willpower reserves when they are overused, add joy to your life. Do something fun or pamper yourself. Date night, girls’ night, aromatherapy bath, massage, mani-pedi – choose whatever will destress you and make you happy.
Give yourself time.
It’s not a race to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, if you lose too fast you will lose muscle, which lowers your metabolism and gets you on the infamous yo-yo dieting cycle. So don’t rush!
Take your time finding out what your body’s new needs are. Explore lifestyle changes that will be sustainable for you with your new responsibilities. There are sustainable options that will give you excellent results; you just need to figure out what works for you. Whatever you do, don’t try a temporary crash diet or exercise plan that will not work long term. This will backfire. Give yourself a few months to adjust and see where your body ends up naturally. Then tweak your fitness and nutrition regimens as needed. This isn’t about losing weight as fast as possible. It’s about keeping it off as long as possible.
Mom Weight Loss Means Focus and Taking Action
When moms are trying to do everything right yet not seeing results, chances are the problem is with one of the 10 items above. Some of these mom weight loss tips might surprise you, but trust me, they are worth your attention. Follow my guidelines and you will not only lose the weight you want but be happier and healthier while doing it. You might even be like some of the moms on my program and end up liking your body even better than before pregnancy. So get on the road to success and start tackling these 10 items in your life today, and lose weight as a new mom easier than ever!