Get your pre-baby body back

By Erin Dym on September 18, 2012
In the weeks after giving birth, most new moms look at themselves in the mirror and don’t recognize their own bodies. They worry that their skin looks too saggy or that the baby weight is coming off too slowly. “Getting back in shape takes time, but there are things you can do to help guarantee your success,” says Lauren Jawno, certifi ed nutritionist, fitness trainer, wellness/lifestyle coach and the author of Change4Good: The Ten Essentials for Food, Fitness and the Good Life (www.change4good.ca).

Here are seven of Lauren’s high-impact tips for getting your body back – for good:

Keep a food journal

Research shows that people who keep food journals have the greatest success at losing weight and maintaining their loss. According to one study, the more you track your food intake, the more weight you are likely to lose. Journaling gives you a chance to track quantity and makes you aware of your portion sizes. Without tracking and measuring – and writing – most people underestimate calorie intake by 20-60 percent! Writing also gives you time to reflect on your food choices and your goals.

Eat often

Eating nutrient-dense foods regularly throughout the day will nourish your body with what it really needs and help reduce cravings, manage your hunger and keep your energy and moods steady. Make sure to spread your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day to about every three hours. This will ensure that you don’t become over hungry and over eat and that you don’t eat too frequently, which prevents your body from burning stored calories (fat).

Eat well

What you eat matters – the more nutrientdense foods you consume, the better. Eating processed foods harms your health, adds weight and stimulates your appetite for more junk foods. Empty calories leave you feeling hungry, and even though you are consuming calories, they aren’t the calories your body needs. Make sure you’re eating the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat as well as fibre. Also have foods with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and drink water. These nine basic nutrients will ensure your body has energy and will optimize your health and well being.

Drink water

Drink one to two litres of water every day. (One litre is just over four cups.) Drink more water when you work out and drink an extra cup of water for every cup of coffee you consume. Drink herbal tea and avoid juices and pop. Start your day with warm water and a slice of lemon in the morning – this will stimulate the colon and clean the liver. Bring water with you wherever you go.

Control your portions

There are three basic tricks to portion control.

  1. Listen to your body. You should feel satisfied but not full to the point of discomfort.
  2. Keep a half-cup measure and a tablespoon measure on your counter; if you guestimate, you could end up having more than a portion of cereals, grains, yogurt, cheese and oils.
  3. Use your hands. A portion of starchy carbohydrates or fruit should be the size of a clenched fist. A portion of non-starchy vegetables should be what you can fit in two cupped hands, though you can eat as much of this as you like. A portion of meat or protein is the size of the palm of one hand. A portion of healthy fats should be the size of your thumb (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons depending on what you’re eating). You shouldn’t necessarily eat with your hands but you should measure with them!

Splurge

Follow the 90/10 rule. If you’re eating healthy 90 percent of the time, you can afford to eat the fun foods too, though you will want and need them less intensely. Enjoy a slice of pizza or a piece of cheesecake once a week. And don’t feel guilty about it. You earned it.

Exercise

Exercise at least 30-60 minutes every day. Physical activity burns calories, increases your metabolism and energy and relieves stress. To lose one pound of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories. Make sure you combine cardiovascular activity (running, swimming or spinning, for instance) with weight training. Increasing muscle tissue increases metabolism, which means that your body will burn fat faster.

For more information, consult your physician or visit Lauren Jawno's site.

Originally published in ParentsCanada: Best Wishes, Spring 2012.

By Erin Dym| September 18, 2012

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