Weight loss tips for new moms

Losing weight after having a baby can be challenging for many women. How to do it while feeling satisfied and energized after meals and without becoming malnourished is an even greater challenge.

The female body goes through radical shifts throughout pregnancy. Over the 36-42 weeks of gestation, her blood volume increases by 50%, oxygen consumption at rest increases 10-20%, absorption of nutrients increases, body weight goes up, blood pressure increases 5-10mmHg, and a new human is grown: it is a miracle. And darn hard work.

However, the physical demands of motherhood don’t stop after birth. Recovering from labor, breastfeeding, coping with interrupted sleep, and frequent diaper changing are but a few of the challenges new mothers face.

After so much turbulence, no one can blame them for not feeling patient to have their bodies back to their pre-pregnancy size and shape.

Tips for losing the baby weight

  1. Sleep. Assuming your baby doesn’t sleep, accepting help from others is essential to rest and recovery. This is especially important after the major physical overhaul of giving birth. If family and friends are willing to help, let them. Instead of trying to get errands done, nap with your baby. The first 6 weeks after having a baby is critical healing time (and not the time to try and lose weight). Losing sleep will delay recovery and make losing weight down the road more challenging. Resist the temptation to rely on sugar and/or caffeine for “energy” since they ultimately damage the body’s ability to produce energy and are addictive.
  2. Weight train. Don’t focus on cardio aside from walking or aerobic activities you truly enjoy. Weight training is more effective at weight loss and toning. Start with brief workouts with plenty of rest in between exercises.
  3. Eat a diet that is right for you and that leaves you feeling rejuvenated, free of cravings for sweets and satisfied for 2-3 hours. Breastfeeding isn’t an opportunity to overindulge because you think your body will burn up those extra calories making more milk. It does take energy to make breast milk so eat sensibly and until you are satisfied rather than overfull to expedite your results. Your diet should include plenty of fats such as organic butter, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, and oils from raw nuts and seeds. High quality protein, preferably from organic animal sources speed up healing and muscle repair. Round out meals with your favorite carbs such as organic greens, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, zucchini (or even some higher starch carbs like root veggies or fruit in small amounts) to help keep your insulin levels low and help your body burn fat rather than store it.
  4. Take sanity breaks. Get out of the house for a walk, especially if you are having a hard day. Fresh air is calming to both moms and babies.
  5. Ongoing social support helps you stay positive and helps you get through the rough times. Friends, family or joining a new mom’s group are all ways to reinforce that you aren’t alone in this new chapter in your life.

Local support

A local family paper Growing Up In Santa Cruz has a comprehensive list of resources to support new families with everything from lactation support to parental support groups.

For fitness and nutrition guidance, seek out a qualified professional who has experience working with women postpartum. Other local supportive services include:

  • Nutritional guidance. A customized diet plan that meets your nutritional requirements and allows returning to a healthy body weight without feeling hungry is essential.
  • Training at an appropriately intense program that doesn’t encourage additional cortisol production is important for fat loss and preventing overtraining.
  • Gyms with childcare such as Toadal Fitness and Spa Fitness offer activities for children too and encourage fitness without creating a babysitting obstacle.
  • Postpartum yoga or other calming activities help reduce stress.
  • Stroller strides offers moms a network of other moms who exercise together and offer social support.
  • Walking outside in the fresh air. Santa Cruz has great weather most of the year and plenty of beautiful places to take a stroll with or without the baby.

Even with these suggestions, it may take some women longer to return to what feels “normal” to them. Some changes will happen more quickly than others. It is reasonable for it to take anywhere from 4-12 months for most women. Given what it needs, the body knows how to heal. The real work is trusting and having patience with the process.

Continue reading on Examiner.com

Meat and fat: Finding the ideal balance

Flesh protein can vary considerably in its fat content. Since we have individual differences in the amount of both fat and protein that is optimal for good health, it is important to know the fat content in different meat options. Below are lists of high, medium, and low-fat flesh protein (for purposes of this article, “meat” includes poultry and seafood).

High-fat meat choices (over 8 grams per 3.5 ounce serving=100 grams)

  • Anchovy, 10 grams
  • Bacon, 38 grams
  • Beef (although grass-fed is lower in fat than grain-fed): prime rib, ribs, inside skirt steak, 18 grams
  • Chicken (dark meat), 10 grams
  • Duck, 11 grams
  • Goose, 13 grams
  • Herring, 15 grams
  • Lamb, 19 grams
  • Mackeral, 18 grams
  • Pompano, 12 grams
  • Quail, 14 grams
  • Salmon, 10 grams
  • Sardine, 11 grams

Medium-fat meat choices (5-8 grams per 3.5 ounce serving)

  • Abalone, 7 grams
  • Bass (freshwater), 5 grams
  • Beef heart and liver, 5 grams
  • Pork (ham, chops), 8 grams
  • Rabbit, 8 grams
  • Swordfish, 5 grams
  • Trout, 7 grams
  • Whitefish, 8 grams

Low-fat meat choices (less than 5 grams per 3.5 ounce serving)

  • Buffalo, 2 grams
  • Chicken breast, 4 grams
  • Clams, 1 gram
  • Cod, 1 gram
  • Cornish hen, 4 grams
  • Crab, 2 grams
  • Elk, 2 grams
  • Goat, 3 grams
  • Halibut, 3 grams
  • Lobster, 1 gram
  • Mussels, 1 gram
  • Ostrich, 3 grams
  • Oysters, 1 gram
  • Scallop, 1 gram
  • Shrimp, 1 gram
  • Tuna (albacore), 3 grams
  • Turkey (light and dark meat), 1 and 4 grams respectively
  • Venison, 2 grams

Some people thrive on a higher fat diet and others on a lower fat diet. If you have more energy and satiety when you eat more fat, choosing higher-fat meats is wise or you can add additional fat such as coconut oil, olive oil or butter to lower fat meats. Eating the skin on poultry is another way to increase the fat content.

Our ancestors did not just consume flesh protein: they ate the whole animal. Even if you do not do well with large amounts of fat, some fat in the diet is important for overall health.

New Leaf has an excellent selection of meat, poultry and fish from local and sustainable sources. Live Earth Farm now has free-range chickens for sale. Staff of Life has a limited selection of grass-fed beef, but they do offer ground buffalo and ostrich. El Sachichero is also a good source of local, humanely raised meats.

Core strength: A 360 degree perspective

Everyone is always talking about the “core”. Essential for strength, stability, and preventing back pain, we’ve become obsessed with this region of the body, but are we all on the same page with defining what our core is? As you will see, the core is much more than just the ab muscles.

Muscles of the core:

The core is a group of muscles in our trunk that protect the spine while allowing movement in every direction. Defining the core is important for making it stronger. Being able to visualize the different muscles working as you exercise will help you strengthen more effectively.

  • Multifidus-Don’t let its small size fool you. This muscle is located right next to the low spine for a reason. It is vital to spinal support and strength.
  • Scapular stabilizers-Rhomboids, trapezius, levator scapulae, serratus anterior, and rotator cuff muscles keep the shoulder in place while performing movement. The harder the exercise, the harder they work as a team to prevent shoulder injuries. These muscles are considered the “core” of the shoulder.
  • Internal obliques-Allow side to side bending. Provide lateral support to the trunk. Also known as “love handles.”
  • External obliques-Diagonal bending, spinal stability, and abdominal compression.
  • Transverse abdominis-The deepest layer of ab muscles, the transverse acts as a corset and helps to hold in the belly and also stabilizes the pelvis.
  • Rectus abdominis-Commonly known as the “six-pack”, these muscles flex our trunk and help maintain proper posture.
  • Quadratus lumborum-This deep back muscle stabilizes the pelvis and moves the spine in different directions.
  • Psoas-This complex muscle performs a number of functions including holding the spine in alignment and stabilzing the low back.
  • Erector spinae-These long muscles of the low back provide support to the spine and help us stand up straight as well as bend and lift without rounding the back.
  • Pelvic floor-Support the internal organs and help prevent incontinence.
  • Glutes-Gluteus maximus, minimis and medius are all important for stabilizing the hips. Without strong, stable hips, we are unable to safely perform many common exercises.
  • Local places to strengthen your core:

    The core can be strengthened doing almost anything as long as you are aware of your posture and make an effort to move from your center. Here are some examples:

  • Walking or hiking
  • Weight training-at a local gym, at home or even outside
  • Outdoor play (running, jumping, throwing)
  • Swimming
  • Golfing
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Rock climbing-indoors at Pacific Edge, outdoors at Castle Rock or Pinnacles
  • Yoga-local gyms, bikram yoga studios, Nourish
  • Taking classes or working one-on-one with a fitness professional to gain a deeper understanding of your core is invaluable. These muscles work hard every day to prevent injury and optimize physical performance. It takes practice to learn how to use them correctly, but the benefits are well worth it.

    Continue reading on Examiner.com