I’m back at it again after a few weeks’ hiatus while working out the logistics of moving the family back to Florida. Phew! I forgot how exhausting and mentally consuming the process of moving can be! As a result, my nutrition has somewhat taken a back seat while my family settles into our new way of life down here. We’ve eaten out and hit the drive-thru a lot more than I would prefer, and I got away from tracking my nutrition throughout the day and semi-planning meals for the week ahead.
Now, I don’t normally track my macros, and I don’t prep food for the week, but I am currently involved in an 8-week nutrition coaching group to help get myself back on track. And while I don’t like spending hours in the kitchen on Sundays prepping food for the week, I do just enough to make it easier on myself for making meals throughout the week and to keep my family’s nutrition on par as much as possible.
I used to be a grab and go kinda gal when it came to eating, but now that my life has become much more hectic with raising 3 kids, building a business of my own, and keeping our household running, I find that it’s much easier to eat healthy when I am prepped ahead of time, even if it’s just a little bit.
Considering how crazy life is right now, I am doing the best that I can with the resources I have right in front of me. And somehow all of the moving chaos actually inspired me to write this piece! It’s a bit of a shift from the usual nutrition advice that you may frequently hear (e.g. you have to consume so many calories per day, eat â€œ xâ€ number of grams of protein per day, drink so many glasses of water per day, etc.). And while I believe that it’s good to iron all of those details out, especially your daily caloric intake and macros, sometimes life gets in the way and we need to get creative and find â€œnot so technicalâ€ ways to help us eat better.
So with all that said, here are five unconventional nutrition â€œhacksâ€ that can help shed some post-pregnancy fat, and more importantly, help you FEEL healthier without needing to count a single calorie.
1. Organize your plate
When you put together a meal, what percentage of your plate is taken up by protein? Grains? Vegetables? Here’s a simple hack: half your plate should be covered in veggies, one quarter with protein (lean proteins like fish, chicken, steak, pork, and eggs are great, and only one quarter with starchy carbs. Extra points for making sure those starchy carbs are high quality, like quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat. Loading up on veggies first helps your body get the right kind of complex carbs, vitamins, and minerals that it needs to run efficiently, which prompts it to store less fat around your middle.
2. Get some sleep
If you have a newborn, you’re probably laughing at me, and I get it! My first baby didn’t sleep solidly and through the night until he was about 1 year old, and my 1 year old daughter is still waking up during the night at times.
But seriously -Running tired increases your cortisol level, whichâ€”you guessed itâ€”prompts your body to store belly fat. Catch a nap with your little one whenever possible; the reality show will carry on without you, an the laundry will still be there, ready to be washed, when you wake up.
3. Move your body
But not just cardio. We’ve known for a long time that high intensity resistance workouts are much more effective at reducing body fat than just plain cardio. Now this doesn’t mean that I am saying to go out and do a boatload of burpees and box jumps, run sprints, or go for max effort weight lifting -especially for new postpartum moms.
I have mentioned this before, and will continue to stress that during the first few months after your baby is born you will want to focus solely on resting, recovering, and rehabbing your body with gentle to moderate exercise. When you are ready and feeling up to it, start moving as much as possible. Get in some walking at least every day, and SLOWLY build in some total body/core and pelvic-floor-friendly resistance training workouts a few times per week.
Once you are ready (i.e. you have healed any core and pelvic floor issues, are feeling supported through the core and pelvic floor, and have built up your strength) for â€œhigh intensityâ€ resistance training you can start to include it more into your workouts with a few sets of interval training or rest as little as possible between sets of exercises (i.e. circuit style training). Resistance training workouts will give you more energy, encourage your metabolism to kick back into gear, and reduce your cortisol levels…so you’re knocking out that belly fat from two different directions.
4. For the love of all that’s precious, don’t go low-fat
Your body needs high quality fats in order to work properly. Your brain needs essential fats in order to function. The kind of food that’s packaged and marketed as low fat is generally junk anyway. Put it down and opt for full fat foods, especially those with more mono- and polyunsaturated fats. And again, moderation is key as usual, so it’s still better for you to have SOME full fat foods rather than more highly processed “low fat” foods that are loaded with sugar.
5. Moderate your mood
While motherhood is a very fulfilling role, it absolutely can be a very stressful one as well! In order to be the best mother that you can be, it’s sooooo important that you find a way to manage your emotional stress and release your tension, because if you don’t, you’ll find yourself short-circuiting more often than not. Maybe this means that you get a long and luxurious bath while your partner takes care of the wee one; maybe you get an hour of uninterrupted reading time before you go to sleep; or maybe you take a night out of the house every week where no one’s allowed to talk to you. Whatever works for you and recharges your batteries, you need to do it. Your entire family will be healthier and happier when you take the time you need to support yourself.
What is the one thing you struggle with post-pregnancy whether it be fitness, nutrition, or mindset? Let me know -I’d love to hear from you!