For new moms, losing postpartum weight can be a challenge. However, these challenges are not the same as losing traditional weight or dropping excess pounds put on during the holidays. Kristin Sears explains the difference, and how you can start shedding excess fat.
By Kristin Sears
The New Year is here! That truly special time when many experience the woes of not being able to drop those holiday pounds. One group that knows this feeling all too well is new moms.
It’s fairly easy to gain weight after a baby. Many women can develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy which remains after the birth of the child. That continuing insulin resistance makes it easy to accumulate excess fat.
Luckily, I was fortunate not to have gestational diabetes (you can read my Metabolic Syndrome and the Daughter of the Zone story here). My regimen of swimming five days a week and staying in the Zone (as much as a pregnant woman can) attributed to gaining only 25 pounds.
I was also one of those annoying moms who lost that weight (plus five pounds) two weeks after giving birth. A lot of that had to do with nursing and breast pumping which uses up a lot of calories and energy (up to six times a day).
But here’s where your jealousy of me will fade. As soon as my pumping sessions dropped to three times a day, guess what? I gained 15 pounds and that weight is showing no signs of leaving. When you stop nursing and pumping, it’s similar to when you stop exercising and don’t change your calorie intake.
Aside from the milk factor, there are additional reasons moms experience a tough road to losing weight after a baby. The primary factors are insulin resistance induced by pregnancy, and radical hormone changes that occur in the mother after birth. Add in the stress of raising a newborn, and it becomes a perfect storm for gaining excess fat.
But what if you’re not a mom and just need tips for weight loss? Keep reading.
Lose Fat, Not Weight
Regular weight loss requires calorie restriction without hunger and fatigue. The key is balancing both hunger and satiety hormones. These hormones affect a new mom the same way they do an average adult. However, a mother has the extra burden of increased insulin resistance in the last trimester of pregnancy.
I hate using the word “diet” even though my dad reminds me all the time that diet is Latin for “way of living.” In order to have a long-term result for nutrition, you must think in terms of fat loss instead of weight loss. Fat loss is a difficult and slow process that requires reducing calories without hunger or fatigue. Since the Zone Diet is balanced (40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat), you’re able to maintain a better hormonal harmony that’s the key to long-term weight loss.
A balanced hormone response at each meal is your best insurance policy to achieving that goal.
Write Down Your Food Intake
One of the best things you can do to stay honest with your weight loss journey is to keep a food journal. Write down what you are eating and how you’re feeling at each meal. The more structured the eating pattern, the easier it is to lose the excess fat without hunger or fatigue. Print out your own Food Journal page to get started.
Sometimes, the less adventuresome the food, the more you control the hedonic responses that drive you to eat more.
Get Physical to Keep Energy Levels Up
A belief I share with my dad is that weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. For me, working out helps keep my energy levels up and inspires me to make healthy eating choices.
When I can hit the gym, I prefer interval training. This involves alternating periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods. It reduces insulin resistance more effectively than endurance training and therefore improves cardiovascular fitness. In other words, it’s the best hormonal response with the least amount of time involved.
In fact, you don’t even have to go to the gym! You can simply walk up several flights of stairs as rapidly as possible for 30 seconds, then slowly return to your starting point and repeat for 7 more times.
Most importantly, these tips need to be kept up on a continual basis. In the past, I too have been guilty of falling off my quest to make healthy choices, but hope springs eternal in the New Year. Let’s all work together to get a healthy start!