Losing weight is definitely not easy, especially when you are totally new to it and have been blessed with great metabolism pre-pregnancy when pounds would easily slip off. The post-pregnancy period however, treats everyone differently. Whether it’s a stark difference in hormonal balance, your organs adapting to the various changes in your body or the toll of motherhood, sometimes the pounds just don’t come off even if you think you are putting in the effort.
Here are some reasons why you might be having difficulties getting back into shape:
- You’re not eating enough calories
Most people tend to eat too little and think that’s the best way to lose weight. You actually can’t go too low below your required calories because your body starts to go into starvation mode and stores everything you eat as fats. Use a calorie calculator if you’re really serious about losing weight. You also should pay attention to macros if you really want to get a balanced and effective diet.
- You’re not eating the right balance of foods
When we say macros, we mean protein, fat and carbohydrates. Sticking to right balance of these 3 is what propels your weight loss. If you eat too much protein and too little carbohydrates, your organs will overwork and you may in fact gain weight. If you eat too much carb-loaded foods and too little protein, you may lose weight if you’re eating lesser calories, but you’re also losing muscle and bone weight, causing your fat percent to increase. A complete depletion of fats in the diet is also harmful to the body and will cause ailments like constipation which can lead to serious conditions. Keep a good balance as per your caloric requirements and you should be on your way.
- You’re not tracking your calories accurately
Tracking calories and macros may sound completely foreign and complicated, but it’s something you can easily master just by reading up more, getting a healthy cookbook and downloading a food diary. Keeping close track of what you eat is the best way to stay on focused during your diet so that you can meet your goals.
- You’re not sleeping enough
If you don’t get 7 hours of quality sleep every night, you will not be able to hit your fitness goals. Whether you grind yourself at the gym or prefer long walks, lack of sleep usually leads to weight gain or a plateau. Your body simply does not have enough time to repair itself when you deprive it of sleep. Of course, being a new mum might make that hard, but once your baby sleeps through the night, you should too. Staying up late messes with your hormones, and it’s very hard to regain that balance.
- You’re not drinking enough water
Water has been touted as the “liquid fat burner”. Why? Well, we have all learned that 70 – 75% of our body is made of water, but as we grow older, we don’t drink as much water as we need to and are usually at barely 50% body water. So we are constantly dehydrated even when we don’t feel it, which means that our organs and bodily functions are not functioning optimally. Take half of your body weight in pounds – that is the number of ounces(convert to ml) of water you should be drinking every single day, throughout the day continuously in order for your body to function optimally and keep your metabolism on track.
- You’re not exercising (enough)
If you’re not exercising, get up and go for a walk now. It’s as simple as that. Just add some more movement into your life. Whether it’s skipping that feeder bus out to the MRT, dancing to the cute K-Pop tunes on your TV or chasing your kids around the playground, an increase in movement leads to an increase in your heart rate and therefore increases the amount of calories you burn each day. If you already have a dedicated exercise regime, try switching out your exercises once in a while. If you’ve been doing cardio for way too long, try High Intensity Circuits. If you’ve done HIIT, try lifting weights. Increasing the weight you lift every week is the best way to continuously challenge your body and therefore burn more calories. If you’re sticking to your caloric deficit, your fat will drop naturally and your muscles will get stronger. It’s impossible for you to “get bigger” because you’re eating lesser than what you burn.
- You don’t set boundaries
Sleeping enough, drinking sufficient water and adding a bit of exercise all seem like the easier parts of the process. But there are still many people who fail to continuously meet these requirements. Another “easy” part is setting boundaries on where and when you eat. It’s been said and done that you shouldn’t eat dinner too late, and supper is obviously out of the question if you want to lose weight. It’s best not to eat 3-4 hours before bed, that way you slowly turn off your hunger switch and don’t wake up hungry. Waking up hungry blurs your judgement on how much food you need when you wake up, and you will tend to continuously crave for carb/fat-rich foods throughout the day if you don’t eat right for breakfast. Another boundary to set is only eating at the dinner table. Eating in your bedroom and while on the couch is what leads to unhealthy snacking at the wrong hours.
- You eat out often and cheat too much
We’ve done away with telling you what to eat, and instead focused on how you should eat. You will naturally find that it will be hard to eat within your calories and macros if you eat junk food, order delivery and eat out often. The best way would be to prepare your own foods, and stick to foods you find in the fresh grocery aisles. Throw out any processed snacks you keep in the house and limit dinner/cafe dates with friends to once or twice a month. It’s easy to feel tempted when you’re out with colleagues, friends or simply feel drained from motherhood, but remind yourself of the reason you’re doing this. Remember not to go crazy on the weekends or on cheat days (which you should limit to one or two cheat meals per month instead) – this gets rid of all the effort you put in on the weekdays.
Feel like giving up already? Well it’s not that complicated, simply start with the easiest parts – getting enough sleep, water and adding more exercise into your regime. Start cleaning up your diet by preparing your own food and getting rid of processed food. The key to progressive weight loss is staying consistent. Make sure you are still getting enough sleep and water even when you start counting calories and intensifying workouts, slowly build up your healthier lifestyle and refrain from falling back into bad habits. If you’re feeling tired, remember to take a break from working out but don’t go crazy with cheat meals. You can do it!