Suffolk: How did you lose your baby weight? Do the celebs set an unrealstic example to new mums?
- Credit: Lucy taylor
For most normal people weight loss is not high on the agenda immediately after giving birth. Caring for your new baby, getting some rest and healing take precedence.
If you’re breastfeeding it’s easy to get complacent with your “diet” as the weight you spent nine months acquiring appears to just evaporate before you can even finish your Kit Kat Chunky. But breastfeeding is a process, one your body quickly adjusts to. After a while the production just ticks over, regardless of what you eat. Your body learns to convert lettuce into milk.
Your stomach, however, seems to take a little longer to catch on to this as it continues to shout at you daily for MORE CAKE. This delayed reaction halts all momentum and you try to rein it in but your baby is still refusing to sleep and you’re just not ready to say “Goodbye, Chocolate, we had some beautiful moments but it’s over”. After all, when you’ve tried for the seventh time in one morning to make your baby fall asleep and stay asleep (and failed, might I add) there is one fact that you can be sure of – something you can bet your life on: Chocolate still tastes GOOD. Chocolate knows what you want. Chocolate won’t cry. Chocolate wants you to be happy.
That is, of course, until you catch your reflection in a shop window or see a “beautiful” photo that some insensitive family member has taken of you embracing your new offspring and realise Chocolate is a two-faced swine that turned you into a fat person. Not a chunkier version of yourself but a full-on pastry-shoveling blob. You start wondering whilst watching Supersize vs. Superskinny if you’re the fat person Dr Christian sent his Supersizer to stay with in the States. Will someone soon have to wash you between the folds? When did this all happen? Obviously, having relied upon elasticated waistbands and cardigans for the past few weeks (or months) you missed that one steam-rollering its way down a cycle path.
It’s time to face facts. I’m a size 14 (instead of my pre-baby size 10) but no-one wants me to lose weight. My children and my husband love me just the way I am. My friends still want to meet up and don’t blurt out “BIG FAT PIG” in a Tourettic outburst. But I know how I look. And I know how I feel with my muffin top escaping from my previous confidence- and comfort- enhancing jeans.
It’s hard also not to compare myself to my size 8 friends who seem to have coughed their way back into their size 8 jeans just minutes after giving birth. And then there’s the invincible Kate Middleton. It’s as if pregnancy hasn’t even grazed her body! Although I’m sure that being married to the future king she could quickly lose any weight gained whilst riding her unicorn to Narnia. Beyoncé, on the other hand, claims to have had to lose 60lb (well over 4 stone) in time for a concert three months after giving birth. How did she do it? Clearly the pressure is greater for her. Luckily I’m not famous. No-one is judging me on my weight (apart from me). So what do I do? Obviously, having spent a few days post-realisation feeling bad about myself, I eat a bit of muesli and see what happens. Nothing? Oh sugar, this might take some actual effort. As if caring for a baby isn’t hard enough! Gwyneth Paltrow suggests I do workout DVDs whilst caring for my children.
Aside from fearing I might terrify them with my lunges and hand claps, it’s just impractical, Gwyn. “Every woman can make time – every woman – and you can do it with your baby in the room,” says Paltrow, according to NY Daily News. “There have been countless times where I’ve worked out with my kids crawling all over the place.” Good for you, Paltrow. I think I’ll just enjoy this moment where I don’t have to bounce my baby to stop him whinging, change a dirty nappy or breastfeed, by sitting on the sofa, having a cuddle and drinking coffee (because I NEED it). The Davina workout DVD can stay firmly in the drawer until the end of time, or such time that I admit defeat and dispose of it.
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Halle Berry took a “gentle” and varied approach to weight loss with her personal trainer, Ramona Braganza. “We started out conservatively, with just some cardio and stretching, five days a week,” says Braganza. “After a week, we changed it up. No-one wants to do the same routine all the time. We’d go for hikes, a jog on the beach, or do kickboxing or yoga.” Aha! Inspirational! You and Halle are welcome to take as many hikes as you please.
But it gets worse! Victoria Beckham told Vogue magazine: “I worked out a lot. I ran a lot. I did it six days a week. I become quite obsessive when I get into something.” And this, Posh, is where I draw the line. It’s not often in life I get to be the mother to a beautiful, spectacular, awe-inspiring baby boy. Regardless of its testing moments, it is without question the most amazing privilege I’ll ever have. And it won’t last forever. In the blink of an eye he’ll leave home to begin his own adventures. I think I’d much rather be obsessed with him than adhere to your self-obsessed regime, one which frankly you should be ashamed of. I could be as rich as you and I still wouldn’t find time to work out “a lot” six days a week.
Weight gain and weight loss are emotive issues that are tackled when the time is right. I managed to lose the weight from my first child through an hour of Zumba a week, a few gentle bike rides and the ingenious process of consuming less food. But I did this in my own time and not because I felt pressure to be a certain size by a certain time.
If a little temporary weight gain and a blubbery stomach is the sacrifice I’ve had to make for my beautiful children then chuck me the Kit Kat Chunky and my pyjama bottoms. I may as well enjoy every second.
THE EXPERT VIEW
Nikki Edwards, the nutrition expert who writes a lifestyle column in Ealife, said: “When attempting to lose weight after giving birth, go easy on yourself. Eat a well-balanced variety of foods and do not starve yourself ? especially if you are breastfeeding.
“Women put an awful lot of pressure on themselves to look good immediately after giving birth but snapping back into pre-pregnancy weight in double quick time is unrealistic.
“My advice is to stick to a healthy eating programme packed full of protein, so you do not go hungry, and exercise when you can find time, even if it just a stroll through the park with the buggy.”
“I was very naive about how much my body would change when I had children. I remember looking down at my stomach after giving birth to my daughter and being appalled that it had not shrunk back down to normal size.
“For the past decade, magazines and newspapers have subjected us to an onslaught of images of new mums perfectly turned out, with a plump six- or eight-week-old baby propped on their protruding hipbones.
“This presents an unrealistic and distorted view of the reality for many women ? who may never get their pre-pregnancy bodies back. If you ask me, the preoccupation with losing baby weight in those early days robs you of your precious time with your new baby.
“Instead, take your time. Your body needs to heal. And in the meantime, you should learn to love your loose skin, saggy bits and silver stretchmarks ? all of which are the scars of something quite incredible.”
Ellen Widdup, Ealife columnist and mother-of-two