The New Mom’s Guide to Staying Fit

All eyes are on summer.

Especially for those of us in the north. Beaches, vacations, weddings. You’re probably thinking of that bathing suit in your closet that is two sizes too small. If you’re a new mom, mom to an infant, or even a toddler – there is a surprisingly easy way to get back into shape that’s good both for you and baby. On top of it there are a couple of things you can do to make yourself look great in that new bathing suit.

  • Breastfeed: Of all the ways a new mom can get back in shape, the cheapest, easiest, healthiest, is to just follow what nature intended – breastfeed your baby. A mother burns about 400 to 600 calories a day just breastfeeding. On personal observation, mothers I know who formula fed or breastfed for a very short time, have a much harder time getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Of course there are some moms who can’t physically breastfeed, but if you can, this is the hands off way of burning calories, even while you sleep. The longer the better, I have breastfed for 25 months and do not regret it for a second – I even had trouble gaining weight. Good for you, great for baby.
  • Don’t diet, eat right: Let’s be honest, diets just put you in an endless cycle of gain and loose. You don’t need a diet, just a healthy lifestyle. Though I have a pretty quick metabolism and if I told you my weight you would throw tomatoes at me, I still attribute the fact that I have gained little weight during pregnancy to what I ate. In my opinion and experience, a healthy diet should not be supplemented by vegetables, it should be based on vegetables. Of course it is a plus that I am a fruit and veggie addict, can’t live without the stuff. If your diet depends heavily on white bread, rice, pasta – don’t expect the baby weight to go anywhere. You will not disappear if your veggie serving is bigger than the starch on your plate. Better yet, a huge serving of salad with meat or fish will leave you satisfied without any fillers. This is perhaps the only advice that can cost a little extra, but it doesn’t have to. Get to know your local farmer’s markets, with the rising grocery store prices it will be cheaper for you to shop locally. Even better, join a CSA. Many families find that when they have so many vegetables they have to use, they end up buying less of everything else, saving money, and eating healthier in the process.
  • Drink more than you eat: This is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. A well hydrated body is not just good for milk production, but for your skin, digestion, and getting in shape. All you need is water and light herbal teas, not juice, coffee, or artificial drinks of any kind. Water, water, more water.
  • Walk: I had no time to exercise or go to the gym as a new mom, neither did I want to. But what worked great for me is taking daily walks with my newborn and a stroller. Not only does being outdoors help your mood, it is an easy way to walk off some pregnancy weight. You don’t need to spend any money either. No gym can replace fresh air.
  • Let go of unrealistic expectations: I may look like I have my pre-baby body back, but trust me, I don’t. It took a little while for me to get over the fact that my abs will never look toned and youthful like they did on my honeymoon. I don’t have ‘how to’ tips on how to accept your new body, but what helps me is to look at the new little human being I gave birth to and realize that this is just a stage of life, giving birth is beautiful, being a mother is exhilarating, aging is not scary and can be graceful if you choose to. Steadily approaching my thirties, I can live with the body I have even if it isn’t perfect. No Photoshop here.

Do you have more to add with your experience? What worked, what didn’t? Would love to hear your input!