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During my first pregnancy, I gained about 50 pounds and had to work incredibly work to get back to my pre-baby weight.
And I’ll be honest– It didn’t happen very quickly.
It took a lot of failed attempts before I figured out what worked for me and what didn’t.
But slowly I started to figure out a few simple things that made a huge difference overall.
In this post, I want to share every bit of what I learned with you!
Why is it so hard to lose weight after having a baby?
That’s the real question we’re all wondering, right?
The truth is– There are numerous possible reasons you haven’t dropped the baby weight yet.
Adjusting to life as a new mom is hard (here are a few ways to make it easier, by the way).
Stress may be at an all-time high. Baby may not be sleeping well (tips to the rescue here!). YOU may not be sleeping well. Your eating habits may be not be as great as they could be. Wonky hormones, etc. The list goes on.
Losing weight after having a baby may be hard, but doable? Absolutely.
Related: 5 Hidden Reasons You’re Gaining Weight While Breastfeeding
My top tips for losing weight after pregnancy
And, yes, these tips apply even if you have had a c-section. I’ve had two and successfully managed to lose the baby weight both times. It just took a little time, a lot of patience, some planning, and consistent healthy choices.
Here are the top tips I feel helped the most.
Disclaimer: I am not a health, weight loss, or fitness professional. These tips are what worked for me personally.
Make a plan
Not only should you write your goals down, but you also need to figure out the exact action steps that’ll get you there.
If you have a goal to fit into your old jeans, what specific things are you going to change or do each week or day to make that happen?
Do you love printables? Here are 21 health and fitness printables to help you plan and keep track of your progress.
Stop drinking soda
A huge change you can make, if you haven’t already, that can help boost your weight loss efforts is to stop drinking soda.
One soda has roughly 140-170 calories and 46g of sugar.
Empty calories. No nutrients.
Assuming you drink 3 sodas per day (one with each of your meals), this tip alone will save you an extra 420-510 calories and about 138g of added sugars per day. That’s crazy, right?
Swapping out soda for water and herbal tea helps tremendously! Just be careful if you are nursing because some teas may contain certain ingredients that may hinder your milk supply.
Staying hydrated can help with losing the baby weight because you won’t be mistaking hunger for thirst.
Skip the crash diets
I cringe every time I come across someone saying they’re only going to eat 1,000 calories per day or ONLY eat this or ONLY eat that.
I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything like that, but I do know that there are no shortcuts. Starving yourself or attempting these insane fad diets will only land yourself in a vicious binge cycle and that’s just not worth it.
Not only that, if you do not consume enough, it can affect your milk supply if you are breastfeeding as well.
So, how much is enough? That will vary from person to person based on your activity level, etc. You’ll also want to consider the extra calories you’re burning from nursing. According to the CDC, breastfeeding moms require an additional 450-500 calories daily.
At the end of the day, numbers are just numbers. Try to be mindful, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to make tweaks here and there until you figure out your own personal “sweet spot.”
Focus on eating real food
There’s a difference between eating real food and eating food products.
Real, wholesome foods will help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to keep your energy levels and milk supply up.
What about moderation? Everything is usually fine in moderation, but for the most part, I’ve found that it’s much easier to stay on track if you’re focusing on real foods, rather than food products, because you’re going to feel full instead of hungry all the time.
A good rule of thumb: If it’s pre-packaged (even if it’s marketed for weight loss), it’s probably best to avoid it.
A piece of fruit with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter beats 3 bites of 100-calorie crackers any day!
Fill up on veggies
Speaking of real food– One easy trick you can try is to fill half of your plate with your favorite veggies.
Vegetables are filled with fiber and other nutrients and are low in calories– Basically the holy grail for losing the baby weight.
Tip: An easy way to get more veggies in your diet is to serve up veggie noodles. My favorites are zucchini noodles (you’ll just need a veggie slicer to make these!) and using spaghetti squash as a noodle replacement.
Start moving (once you’ve healed)
Make sure you have been cleared by your doctor before you begin any new exercise regimen! This is usually done at your 6 week postpartum visit.
The more you move, the more you burn… but the trick is to find an exercise you actually enjoy. It may sound painfully obvious, but this will do wonders for your motivation.
Forcing yourself to do something you hate or realistically don’t have the time and energy for is a recipe for disaster.
Set a step goal
If you’re not quite ready to hit the workouts yet, committing to a daily step goal is a simple way to start losing the baby weight.
Activity trackers are perfect for helping you stay motivated to move. There are a tons of activity trackers to choose from, depending on your goals and budget.
Right now, my husband and I both are loving the Fitbit Inspire 2— Highly recommend! I’ve found myself walking way more than I normally would just to hit my step goal.
You can even squeeze more steps into your daily routine. Make more trips as you’re putting up the laundry, take baby for a short walk in the stroller, etc.
Find healthy substitutions
If you live for your daily milk chocolate candy bar, it’s not very realistic to say you’re going to cut out all sweets completely, right?
Instead, look for substitutions that align with your goals and your style of eating. There are substitutions for everything. You just have to do a little bit of searching to find them.
Speaking of chocolate, the Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups are the best!
At the end of the day, watch your portions on sweets and remember that balance is your friend.
Meal plan + prep
Do you ever find yourself stressing over what to cook? Maybe you’re like me and it’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation when the 5 pm hunger strikes.
Planning your meals ahead of time (especially dinners) will help you stay sane.
If you can prep some of your meals ahead of time, that’s even better. Sometimes I use meal prep containers to prep lunches from dinner leftovers. (They stack neatly in your fridge and are microwave, dishwasher, and freezer safe too.)
Also, heading to the grocery store with a plan will prevent you from buying things you really don’t need, which is also a plus for your pocketbook.
Keep a food diary
And finally, one of the biggest tips that will help you stay on track to lose the baby weight is to keep a food diary.
Keeping a food diary is beneficial for so many reasons.
- It helps you stay on track. Let’s be honest… nobody likes to log or write down a Big Mac and large fries!
- You can refer back to it for future meal ideas.
- If something isn’t working, you can use your food diary as a troubleshooting tool and figure out why.
I love Myfitnesspal for this, but pen and paper works perfectly fine too.
Create healthy habits
Next, if you want to start losing the baby weight and keep it off, creating new healthy habits is key.
Success doesn’t come from saying you’re going to lose X amount of lbs in Y amount of days.
The Compound Effect goes into this in more detail, but success actually comes from doing those small, daily tasks consistently over a period of time.
Like exercising consistently, drinking plenty of water consistently, making the right food choices… consistently.
Celebrate non-scale victories
Listen, I know you want your jeans to fit and the scale to go down, but it is imperative that you strive for more wins than the ones you can see on the scale.
The amount of weight you’ll lose isn’t something you always have FULL control over. One week, your weigh-in might be awesome. The next, it might be half of what it was the previous week. Or exactly the same.
Instead of beating yourself up when it happens, it’s much better to focus on non-scale wins too like the step goal that you demolished for the week… Or the fact that you exercised 4 times. Are you forgetting that you completed an entire workout this time without having to take a break?
These things matter, too.
Track your measurements
At times, it might seem as though you’re making zero progress, especially if you’ve been fixated on the scale.
No matter what the scale says– measurements don’t lie. If your measurements are going down (even if it’s painfully slow!), you are making progress.
You can use an app, store it all in a designated notebook, or even use a printable template.
I’m a huge fan of setting mini goals. And when you crush them? #treatyoself
Giving yourself little mini rewards is a fun way to keep yourself motivated.
And, yes, there are tons of things you can reward yourself with that are not food!
Here are some ideas:
- The new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeballing
- A new planner to organize your life
- A massage
- New shirt/jeans/dress
- New book
It can literally be anything.
After baby #1, I “started on Monday” so many times. I finally stuck to it and took action after one of my best friends agreed to jump on board with me. It’s SO nice to have someone to talk to that’s going through the same thing as you.
If you don’t have an accountability partner, there are plenty of online groups and forums you can join.
There are also numerous new moms on Instagram posting about their fitness journeys that you can follow for inspiration.
OR– Start your own fitness journey account on Instagram or TikTok to motivate yourself and other moms.
Take progress pictures
This adds on to the previous point, and I cannot stress it enough. Take progress pics! The scale might like to troll you, but pictures also don’t lie.
A lot of new moms don’t want to take pictures of themselves when they first start because they feel embarrassed and don’t think they’ll ever want the reminder.
If this is you, I promise you will thank me later. You can hide them somewhere or download a locking app on your phone. Just please take the pics.
Kick the all or nothing mindset
Finally, if there’s anything I’ve learned about losing the baby weight, it’s that you MUST kick that perfectionist voice out of your head.
If you “slip up” and eat a whole box of cookies, your whole week isn’t ruined and you don’t have to starve and skip dinner.
Instead, make healthier choices the next day and move on with your life! ❤️