The internet is filled with articles and posts telling us mommies different ways to lose our “Mommy Pooch.” Most of these posts are filled with weight training strategies, cardio practices and crunches.
As a woman who took far too much pride her appearance early on in life, having my stomach “ruined” by my children was devastating to me. Some women accept these birthing changes and embrace their new bods. These are the women to look up to. Whether these women rock their stretch marks at the beach or just happily cover them and are ok knowing they will never wear a bikini again.
Having my stomach covered with stretch marks caused me a great deal of stress and frustration for years. On top of the stretch marks, the extra skin and sagging really did a number on my self esteem. It’s unfortunate how much self worth I placed into my bikini body. I felt like I was no longer worthwhile in a lot of ways simply because my stomach wasn’t what it used to be.
I worked my butt off to try and get my stomach back. Covering it with creams, joining classes that focused only on abs and even going through dieting extremes. As with most things, when I stopped worrying and trying, everything started falling into place.
During pregnancy, the muscles of the stomach separate. This is called diastasis recti. After these muscles have separated it can be difficult to mend them after giving birth, especially if you underwent a C section.
On top of that, we as women experience a decrease in our hormones as we age. The hormones estrogen, progesterone as well as testosterone are produced less and less. This leads to a slower metabolic rate and weight gain particularly in the mid-section.
Then there’s the lovely excess skin. After our bellies stretch to maintain our babies, a lot of times we are left with that saggy skin afterward. This can vary from person to person depending on your genes and how well you cared for yourself during your pregnancy.
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During my pregnancies I did weight training. I didn’t do much time on the treadmill because it wasn’t something I had done before becoming pregnant. It’s highly recommended not exerting yourself physically in areas your body isn’t usedto when pregnant. I didn’t use pregnancy as an excuse to over-eat, but I sure used it as an excuse to not be able to get on the treadmill. Oh yeah, I took that one to the bank.
I continued weight training all the way up to the end of my pregnancies and did pregnancy safe abdominal workouts frequently.
There is no doubt in my mind that all that effort paid off for me in a lot of ways, but there is still no denying that I gained 50 pounds with my first child, 35 with the second and grew stretch marks during both pregnancies.
I joined in on cardio classes and even attempted 6 minutes on the treadmill before and after I would weight train. For a woman who is not a natural runner and hates everything about running, that’s saying something. I was trying methods that brought me no joy. I ran out of sheer fear of what my body would look like if I didn’t.
I was able to get my belly back to normal a lot quicker with the help of a belly wrap. I used Brooke Burke’s Tauts Belly Wrap. This was a band I began wrapping around my stomach as soon as my children were born. It helps tighten up the skin, shrink your uterus back to normal size and sweat a little extra around the mid-section.
When I was promoting weight loss shakes I started learning more and more about healthy diets and the best ways to eat for optimal health, which you may know actually lead me away from shakes all together.
Then I did my stint with vegan/vegetarianism and realized I was gluten intolerant. These diets got me learning more about sugars, proteins, dairy and gluten. While I am back on a meat eating diet, I took all the knowledge I gained and have finally stabilized a way of eating in which my body feels at peace and so does my mind when I look in the mirror.
It’s crazy how much our minds effect or bodies and our bodies effect our minds. If one is out of balance, the entire system goes out of whack. Each body is different and sometimes it takes some tinkering around to figure out just what works best for the body we were given.
To my surprise, I started to find that my stomach was looking better than ever. Even thought I wasn’t making it to the gym, my stomach was maintaining a flat, unbolted look. I’m not saying this is the ideal everyone should be striving for. My body is never going to be the same as anyone else’s and vis versa. I was just pleasantly surprised at how little effort it actually took to look and feel how I had always wanted to.
My morning meal is heavy on fruits because I love fruit, and the morning is the best time for the carbohydrates that fruits have to offer. I have learned that my body and energy levels do better when I am keeping up with my protein, so I will usually do an egg with breakfast as well.
Lunches are veggie heavy and usually with a complex carb (like sweet potatoes) and chicken or turkey.
Dinners are very similar to lunch but I try to avoid the carbs since my body doesn’t require as much energy in the evenings.
When I do desserts, I try to avoid processed sugars and stick with more naturally sweetened foods.
I save all dairy and grains for special “treat” meals like tacos once a week or maybe a little teriyaki chicken with rice noodles on the weekend.
5. Drink Your Water. Our bodies are made up of mostly water and require a large amount to keep us healthy and hydrated. I aim for 8 glasses a day or more. I have a 24oz water bottle that I carry with me all day and fill up anywhere from 4-7 times in a day depending on my schedule.
6. Move with Intention. When I pushed myself to the treadmill, it caused me stress. I wasn’t enjoying my movements at all. Adding that stress to my workouts was ultimately working against me. This is why I am a huge fan of doing what exercise feels right for you at the time. Some days for me that means just taking a 30 minute walk, some days it means busting my butt in the weight room. Five days a week sweating at the gym is not required when it comes to making sure you’re moving every day.
7. Sleep. Give your body rest. Your brain needs it. Your metabolism needs it and you will see and feel great benefits from taking the time to get yourself a good night’s sleep. The recommended amount is between 7 and 9 hours a night. I know this isn’t always easy, but if you can find a few tweaks in your usual routine, it is well worth it. I myself choose to shower at night which saves me huge from having to wake up early in the morning. I also get really strict with my bed time. If I need to be up by 6, I am in bed at 10.
8. Go Slow. When I was drinking weight loss shakes my body got smaller, but like I mentioned, I really struggled with the looser skin on my tummy. Well, considering that the fat on my body dissolved almost over night, I deprived my body of the chance to adjust slowly to the weight loss. Just like popping a balloon. If you take a pin to a balloon, you’ll be left with a droopy, saggy leftover. If you were to slowly let out a little air, the change may not be so obvious and the balloon would maintain more of it’s firmness.
If you have recently had a baby or are currently pregnant, to help get your post baby body back quicker without the repercussions of rapid weight loss, I highly recommend starting with the Tauts Belly Wrap. Adding this to a healthy diet with lots of water will do wonders for your recovery. Belly bands are also becoming more and more common to add to your workouts. The Baboosh Unisex Body Wrap is another great one. The good thing about the body wrap is that it is designed to be something you wear during workouts, not just something to have on hand after having a baby. It could prove to get a lot more use out of it.
Take the time and do an elimination diet for gluten and dairy. Those are people’s two biggest triggers for undetected food intolerances. Take a 2 week break from both. After 2 weeks, reintroduce one back into your diet. Make note of any changes. The next week reintroduce the other and see if anything happens. Eliminating a food from your diet can be a complete game changer. Not only could it be messing with your stomach and causing leaky gut, it can also make a huge impact on your mind. To look your best, it is crucial to feel your best and that means thinking clearly.
Cut back on inflammatory foods. This includes sugars, dairy, fried foods, processed foods, and refined flours. Often times people believe they have a gluten intolerance but really they just aren’t eating a high quality wheat.
Work on eating a whole foods, plant strong diet, like “The Whole 30.”
Make sure you get your water and sleep in every day!
Go slow, take steps and give yourself grace.
I guarantee that if you stick to this cleaner, healthier way of eating you will see and feel big changes in your body. Not only that, but there is far less restriction than if you were to do a fad diet that requires cutting carbs or fats. In fact, both of these things are good for your body if you eat the right amounts.
I am amazed every day at how flat my stomach stays when I stick to healthy eating pattern. Not only that but clean eating has made a difference in my skin’s tightness as well. I have more confidence in a swimsuit now than I did when I was at the gym every day and drinking weight loss shakes. All it takes is a desire to love your body, feed it what it deserves and treat it with love.
Hating yourself or what you look like will always slow you down. Telling yourself it will be too hard or too restricting is a false belief. Yes, it will take effort, but you can do it and you are worth it. If you’re anything like me, and you dread the idea of cardio, then it’s definitely worth a shot!