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Better Body After Baby? It’s Possible!

By SAMANTHA RENDON

Most people think that your body will never be the same once you have a baby, but it is possible to bounce back after childbirth and be stronger and healthier.

Healthy mother and baby

Losing the weight gained during pregnancy may not happen overnight, so why rush working out when your body has just been through so many changes? The first six weeks after birth should be dedicated to you and your baby. Give your body time to recuperate, make healthier food choices and eat often, especially while breastfeeding. You want to ensure proper nourishment for you and your baby. When you look in the mirror, don't be hard on yourself.

At my six-week doctor visit after the delivery, I weighed 137 pounds and was cleared to go about my regular activities. This was one week before Thanksgiving. I knew I wasn't going to lose all the baby weight, but I had to start my lifestyle change: I wasn't going to wait until after Thanksgiving. My new life would start now. I started with Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. If I didn't realize I was out of shape before, I found out then. On Thanksgiving Day, I did not deprive myself of anything, nor did I devour everything in sight. I ate what I wanted -- but in moderation -- and the day I after, I went right back to my healthier options and exercise routine.

I started losing weight, but felt I still needed to do more to reach my goal. This is when I began counting calories with Livestrong.com's MyPlate app and measuring proper serving sizes. What an eye-opener! I was amazed at how much an actual serving was and how many calories I thought I consumed versus what I actually consumed.

Here is an example of a reasonable and healthy dinner:

* 4 ounces of spinach-and-feta-stuffed grilled chicken (recipe courtesy of skinnytaste.com)
* 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
* 6 spears of asparagus

By counting calories and exercising four or five times a week for 30 to 45 minutes per session, the weight fell off. Granted, there were occasional days I would gain a pound, but I always stuck to my diet and exercise regimen. I knew that I would regret it if I quit -- and I'm no quitter. But I am human: If I wanted a cookie, I ate a cookie. If I wanted cheesecake, I ate cheesecake. It's perfectly OK to eat these foods -- but in moderation.

After seven months of switching from peanut butter to almond butter and swapping cereal for steel-cut oats or egg whites, I continued to lose the weight. I ate out at restaurants only two or three times a month and exercised to Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, Ripped in 30 and Body Revolution. I went from 137 pounds to my lowest weight of 100 pounds, which is in a healthy range (I'm only 5-foot-1). My arms are strong, my abs are tight and my legs are muscular. Honestly, the healthiest I've ever been in my life is now after having two kids. Remember: It's not about being skinny. It's about being healthy for you and your family.

Before/After
(Samantha BEFORE and AFTER giving birth)

My Advice
After growing a baby for nine months, it takes time to lose the weight. Mothers, enjoy your babies for those first six weeks! Cherish the time.

Don't be in a rush to jump on the fitness bandwagon and don't get aggressive with weight loss, especially if you're breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women need to consume at minimum 300 extra calories per day. Try not to eat less than 1,200 calories per day. Set small goals of five-pound increments. Once you lose the first five pounds, move on to the next five, and keep pushing.

Finally, don't give up! If you do, you'll never know how far you would have progressed in the next six months. You're in control of how your body looks.

-- Samantha

Readers -- Have you been struggling with losing weight after having a baby? How much did you gain during your pregnancy and how much do you have to lose? What has worked best for you? Do you have recommendations for balancing family time with work and fitness? Do you have healthy recipes that both you and the family can all enjoy? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Samantha is a stay-at-home mother of two boys ages 3 years and 8 months. She enjoys working out to videos by Jillian Michaels and trying new and healthy recipe alternatives for her family. In her spare time, Samantha loves reading books, enjoying a glass of wine and spending time with loved ones.

 

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