The 6 Biggest Weight-loss & Health Mistakes New Moms Make (and How To Avoid Them)
We totally understand the desire to get back to feeling strong and fit after having a baby.
However, when it comes to weight loss after having a baby, there are many factors at play.
When you have a new and growing baby, you’re dealing with a host of life changes beyond just the care of your little one. Things like:
* Irregular sleep
* Constantly changing schedules
* Fluctuating hormones
* Roller coaster of emotions
* Body aches and pains
All too often we see moms who are anxious to start losing weight after having a baby do things that jeopardize long term health and wellbeing. And in the long run, any weight loss doesn’t stick, mamas feel cranky and hopeless about returning to a comfortable weight and regaining energy.
How Postpartum Weight Loss is Different
After you have a baby, there’s a bit of a conundrum when it comes to weight loss. And it’s compounded if you are breastfeeding because if you restrict your calories too much or deprive yourself of essential nutrients, your milk supply will diminish. The two main factors that make postpartum weight loss different are hormones and our expectations.
Hormones. When you have a baby, and you breastfeed, your body beautifully coordinates the production of hormones to enable milk to flow to your baby. Estrogen levels drop and stay low. Prolactin (the milk-producing hormone) and progesterone levels rise significantly. This shift in hormones that makes breastfeeding possible also signals to your body to hold onto the nutrients you consume to nourish baby first. So your weight is of least concern to your cells during breastfeeding.
Expectations. Perhaps you’ve heard that breastfeeding helps you shed pounds. You may have even chosen to breastfeed with that end in mind. While it’s true that breastfeeding expends an extra 500 calories a day, how your body processes the food you eat and how your body arrives at a certain weight is a complex equation involving degree of breastfeeding, sleep, food choices, lifestyle, stress levels, exercise/heart rate and more. When your expectations are not realistic, you set yourself up to feel bad. And feeling bad is no way to motivate yourself to feel great.
It just feels too hard if you are trying to do too much too soon.
Are you setting yourself up for disappointment?
Mothers often set themselves up for disappointment by planning to lose too much weight too fast after having a baby or relying too heavily on breastfeeding-generated weight loss.
A study done by a prominent university hospital in Australia found that under normal circumstances (i.e., not while breastfeeding), that the pace of weight loss for sustainability without deprivation is a rate of 4lbs every other month.
In other words, when you set out to lose weight that you want to keep off, plan on losing no more than 4 lbs in a month. Then, maintain that weight for a month. If you want to lose more, go for no more than 4 lbs. the next month, then maintain that for another month.
New Mom Health MISTAKE #1:
Treating postpartum weight loss like typical weight loss.
Do you have some pounds from pregnancy (or even pounds that you gained after birth) that you want to shed? How often have you said these things to yourself:
Starting tomorrow, I’m going to start/stop [insert something you’re going to change].
If only I didn’t have to [insert obligation] I would have time to take better care of myself.
I can’t eat that because I’m trying to lose my baby weight.
Everyone says [insert thing] is going to do it for me, once and for all. But why isn’t it working?
Something must be wrong with me because no matter what I try, I cannot get rid of this extra pooch.
If you have found yourself saying any of these things, you have adopted the “Diet” mindset.
The diet mindset does not work in general, but it really doesn’t work after having a baby.
Avoid Dieting and depriving yourself.
The diet industry is one of the largest industries in the world.
I did a search on Amazon for new diet books published in the last 90 days.
I knew it was going to be a lot, but there have been 10,000 NEW titles on diets! That’s a lot of new books in three months on one topic.
Then, I narrowed it down to just weight-loss diet books released in the last 90 days. Still an astronomical “over 1,000” titles. That’s a lot of diet books to be released in just three months!
Clearly, there is still demand for a “fix”.
If diets truly worked, we’d all be fit, happy, and at our ideal weight, and there would be no demand for diets as a thing.
Diets, by their very nature, are doomed to fail.
That’s because when we “go on” a diet, we also plan to “come off” that diet one day. We assume that once we reach our ideal weight, we’ll be able to go back to how we were eating before – which didn’t work in the first place!
When we “go on” a diet, we are instantly adopting a new way of eating, often not fully understanding why we are making these changes.
When we are done with a diet program, we feel we are off the hook and over time, we simply forget what we were “supposed” to be doing.
Finally, even the most modern and advanced diets create feelings of deprivation and instill this idea that we are bad, broken or wrong to start with.
They create this external pressure to be good.
They make us believe that we have to be stronger than we are naturally and have ridiculous willpower.
This wreaks havoc on your confidence. Your willingness to see it through to the end suffers.
Your chances of continuing after the “diet” is over are almost nil!
Diets are nothing more than a quick fix solution to a long term challenge.
So the key is to look at eating, health and wellness as a lifestyle, not a short term fix.
How to avoid MISTAKE #1
Promise yourself that you won’t “diet” during this time. Look for approaches that are focused on health as a lifestyle and educate you on how to easily incorporate wellness into your daily life.
Questions To Inspire Action:
• How many diets have you tried, and how many of them have worked over the long haul?
• Are you eating in a way that promotes your health, gives you energy and keeps you at your ideal weight?
• Do you have more than 15lbs to lose but do it in a way that is healthy and sustainable?
If you breastfed, have you fully weaned and do you feel ready to lose those last stubborn 5-15 lbs for once and for all?
What is one tiny change you could make right now—and maintain—that would be beneficial for the long-term?
Share your answers to these reflection questions in the comments below. We love reading every comment!