Thursday, April 25, 2013

Post Pregnancy: A Journey Back to My Pants

Getting over the excess weight gain from pregnancy is easy for some people and for others not quite so. But here’s my little two cents and hope it helps some people. Ok, so you just gave birth to your little bundle of joy and the last thing on your mind is that extra package left around your waistline. I was there. But my little bubble of ignoring that weight gain burst when my mom brought me a girdle. Apparently, she thought I was just too fat. And I couldn’t blame her. I gained half of my original weight. I was 150 lbs when I gave birth and I originally weighed in at 100. My baby weighed 6 lbs. So literally I had 40 lbs to lose. I’m still not all there. I still have a few loose ends to tuck in, but I’m happy to say, I fit again in my pre-pregnancy pants—the pants that I couldn’t even stick my leg in at the beginning of my journey back to pre-pregnancy form. So here’s the nitty gritty of my journey.

STEP 1: First thing first—BREASTFEED!! This is one of the best ways to lose weight and the healthiest way to feed your baby!

STEP 2: Since your breast feeding, make sure that milk is packed full of nutrients—lots of fruits, vegetables, protein from fish, whole grains, and juice that lists a gazillion of vitamin contents. Hey, if you have a juicer, juice it! Eat these type of healthy food as much as you want and if you desire to have a slice of pie after eating a good healthy meal—go for it. You deserve it. I certainly eat a slice of pie daily.

STEP 3: Take it slowly. Do not start exercising until your doctor tells you it’s ok. Have your doctor check your abdominals to see if any muscle separation occurred—which did for me. That meant no sit ups, but this is great because I hate sit ups anyway. So to start with, take a leisurely walk daily using your stroller. You have to get some fresh air, and your baby needs to get used to the idea of spending time outdoors. I have a mastiff, so the dog needed to go to potty. At first, I would take the swaddled baby and just stand in the yard. Eventually, I asked someone to walk the dog with me while my baby was in a stroller—to get the dog used to walking with a stroller. Everything is a learning or re-learning step by step process. We eventually learned to walk together. By the time the doctor gave me an ok for exercise, I was already comfortable with a quarter mile walk. With the ok, I slowly built the distance of the walk, then the speed of the walk, until you can call it a quasi-run (the dog loves to stop to sniff other dogs peepee). Now, my baby cannot stand it if we walk slowly. He wants us to run and would cry if we stand around too long. Every now and then, I would leave the dog and baby to mom or partner so I can go for a full and fast run. I LOVE to clear out my lungs.

STEP 4: I did some stretches. A couple of yoga moves that I love is a simple baby pose, literally, you crawl up on your belly and relax the way babies do on their bellies. At first, even that move hurt! Aside from the daily walk/run, every other day we do gentle random yoga poses. This feels good and gives me more energy to move. Since I’ve been doing these gentle stretches, I’ve had more energy to wake up to feed the baby nightly. I’m a big fan of multitasking. So each morning, when the baby is waking up or calming down after eating, I do a baby pose beside him in bed.

STEP 5: A friend of mine, who also lost her post-pregnancy belly recommended that I put myself in a crawling position and with a back perfectly straight, suck the belly in as far as I could. When I put my baby in a firm cushion for tummy time, I do this exercise. So when he build his muscles for crawling, he is watching me on all fours. He’s exercising when I’m exercising.

STEP 6: My dancer friend, Laura recommended that I lie on my back & raise my legs to the ceiling. Slowly/ carefully lower legs inhale & simultaneously try to hollow the stomach muscles so they feel glued/pressed to the floor. Only go far enough w/o engaging the lower back-legs no lower than 45 degrees. Exhale while carefully bringing the legs back to the ceiling. Do a set of 8 & continue or start there. I would do this exercise with my baby beside me happily kicking his legs as well. We are a team.

STEP 7: I also on every occasion (breast feeding, standing, sitting), I keep my spine straight and keep a good posture. There’s an exercise that I like called abdominal lifts. The lift is accomplished by exhaling ALL air from the lungs and attempting to lift the abdomen inward and upward and holding whaterver lift was executed for a few moments. Even as I’m writing this, I’m paying attention to my posture and doing abdominal lifts.

Anyway, I was back to pre-pregnancy pants after a month of doing these steps. My favorite aspect to this whole thing is the ability to move without pain AGAIN. You often don’t realize how much toll the weight exerted on every muscle of the body during pregnancy. I suggest you get yourself to feeling good again, as soon as possible, so you can meet the challenges of raising your child. Again, I still have a few places to tuck in, but I’m not worried. Continuing to breast feed, having a daily walk/run routine with the dog, daily exercise routine with the baby, yoga/stretches when my body stiffens up, and conscientious effort to “tuck it in” and keep my spine straight, is all I’m going to do for now because I’m starting to miss my jiggle. ☺

xo, Jem