We moms all fear the same thing after pregnancy, the inability to lose belly fat. It's often difficult for us to understand that after 9 months of pregnancy our enormous bellies are gone in a matter of hours, but not quite back to what it was before. That lingering question about weight loss is a popular concern. Efforts to lose weight can and often affect the confidence of many new moms. Unrealistic standards of how fast one can bounce back from having a baby can be overwhelming. Some lose the weight in 6 weeks while others take years to shed it off. New moms often find it difficult to workout while juggling mommyhood, hormonal ups and downs, getting back to work, sleepless nights and so on. Being a devoted wife, a business owner and mother of a beautiful baby girl, I understand that making time for yourself and figuring out how to fit in the workouts can easily become the last of priorities. After more than 9 years specializing in pre and postnatal fitness I have comprised 5 tips on how to lose belly fat after pregnancy. There are no secrets, just dedicated small efforts that lead to rewarding results.
Tip 1: Are Your Hormones Balanced?
Pregnancy brings along a myriad of changes in your body. What you may see from the outside:
- Hair may thicken and grow faster
- Nails may grow more rapidly
- Fluid retention, especially in the lower extremities, may occur
- Postural imbalances due to your growing belly and changes in your center of gravity
- Weight gain
- Acne or clearer skin
Dramatic hormonal changes occur during pregnancy. What you may see from the inside:
- Increased HCG
- Increased estrogen
- Increased progestin
- Other fluctuating hormones
- Associated emotional fluctuations
Clearly hormonal changes are necessary for a fetus to develop into a beautiful and healthy baby. It hit home for me when I was found to have hypothyroidism during my first trimester of pregnancy with Kayla. I was definitely caught off guard and feeling as if my body failed me. I immediately feared that I would struggle with my weight indefinitely. Furthermore, I was concerned I wouldn't be able live up to my personal trainer standards. Afterall, who would want to work with an experienced trainer who can't lose excess weight after pregnancy? With the workout tips mentioned in this blog post and after correcting my thyroid deficiency under the guidance of my doctor, I lost a significant amount of weight and am now 12 pounds lighter than I was prior to my pregnancy. Whether you have low thyroid, gestational diabetes or any other hormonal imbalance you can learn and take the proper steps on how to lose weight, the dreaded subconscious fear that all moms share. Balanced hormones are key to helping you regain your slim physique faster! If you live in the DFW metroplex I highly recommend seeking out a consultation at Testosterone Centers of Texas (TCT) to assess for hormonal deficiencies. TCT is a trusted partner of ME BODY BABY Fitness, they will help guide you along the journey of balancing your hormones under the guidance of well trained medical staff.
Tip 2: Lose Belly Fat With Water!
Believe it or not, the less water you drink the more water you retain. Sounds contradictory, but it is true. New moms must drink an abundance of water to keep up with the demands of nursing, to stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance. Here is a quick weight based formula to follow:
- Divide your weight by 2
- Take that number and drink at least that amount of water in a day
- For example: 140lbs/2 = 70oz.
Consume more water when it is hot or when working out. This will aid you in maintaining fluid homeostasis and improve the efficiency in which you lose fat. Although small, studies have shown a clear symbiotic link between the volume of water consumed and the rate at which calories are burned. Try swapping out your favorite soft drink or 400 calorie frappuccino for a tall glass of water. You can give it flavor by adding lemon, cucumber or mint leaves.
Tip 3: How To Lose Belly Fat With Sleep.
The three most popular complaints amongst new moms are:
- Lack of sleep
- Inability to lose fat fast
- Crazy hunger spikes
I get it. I was so exhausted during the first 6 months of Kayla’s life. Lack of sleep is a culprit of overeating, especially consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. It contributes to low energy and drives up the stress hormone cortisol. Why is this? Back to my first tip on balancing hormones, the hormone ghrelin and leptin are associated with food cravings and overeating. Research shows that healthy sleep habits of 6-9 hours per night will help balance these two hormones. Adequate sleep is a very important component on how to lose belly fat after pregnancy. Try napping every time your baby naps and don't be afraid to ask your husband, friends or family for help and then don't be afraid to ask again and again.
Tip 4: Lose Belly Fat With Exercise
Many postnatal moms are afraid of exercising because they feel guilty for leaving their baby at home and are self conscience of their changing body. Some may not know where to begin when starting their journey to losing the baby weight. All of these feelings are normal. I was mortified just walking into the gym in fear of what I looked like to others following pregnancy. Would people know I just had a baby? Would they think I let myself go? Often I found myself leaving the gym 20 minutes early to hurry home, but only found my little sunshine fast asleep. It took months to realize that I needed to put “ME” first every once and a while. Because of this, I believe I became a better mom. After your doctor releases you for physical activity, ease into your workouts by walking and light strength training. When you feel comfortable you can start pushing yourself to do more each week. Before you know it you will be rocking it! If you would like to learn more on how to lose weight after pregnancy without leaving your baby at home, you should consider taking our Mom and Baby Rock Solid class at Me Body Baby Fitness!
Tip 5: “80% In The Kitchen And 20% In the Gym”
This is a very important key to help you understand how to lose belly fat after pregnancy! What you put in your mouth is more important than working out. The formula that worked for me to lose weight was to increase my lean proteins, eat a moderate amount of carbs and low amount of healthy fats. I call it the 50/30/20 rule.
- 50% lean protein (fish, lean beef, lean turkey, egg whites, legumes, plain greek yogurt, etc...)
- 30% non starchy carbs (broccoli, carrots, cucumber, asparagus, bok choy, mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, water chestnuts, eggplant, etc...)
- 20% healthy fats (coconut oil, coconut milk, real butter, avocado, olive oil, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, olives, almonds, pistachios, etc...)
Remember if calorie intake is equal or more than calories burned weight loss will not occur. You can also try this caloric intake equation to help you determine how to lose belly fat through the number of calories you should consume each day:
655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
A 30 year old 150 pound woman who is 5 foot 3 inches will roughly eat 1,596.1 calories a day to help lose weight.
If breast feeding add 250 calories to the total
Planning your meals is another great way to stay on track. I always have my quick staple meals on hand in the fridge to whip up on the fly when I am pushed for time. I will write a blog post soon to include all of my staple meals. For now you can check out my smoothie blog for nutrient dense meal options. Also, check out these post pregnancy weight loss success stories! Just remember that I believe in you :) Learning how to lose weight and keeping it off after pregnancy can be achieved.
Andrea Steponaitis- ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Andrea Steponaitis, owner of MBB Fitness, specializes in personal training, group fitness classes, prenatal / postnatal fitness, weight loss services & nutritional counseling. As a former collegiate cheerleader her passion and enthusiasm shines through in everything she does!