Well, now that baby #2 is almost officially 9 months old and has spent as much time on the outside as he was on the inside, it is more than time to get serious about shedding the baby weight (before it becomes toddler weight). I fall into the same category as many second (and third, fourth, etc) moms who hadn’t lost all the extra weight from the first time around, so naturally, starting the journey this time is even more overwhelming. After starting and stopping more times than I can count, I am working on some strategies for long term success and commitment since every time I “quit” it seems to be that much harder to rally the motivation to start again. I’m in no real place to give advice or tips on this topic (the health and fitness industry would cry if I did), but I am happy to share my journey, tools, and plans in the spirit of accountability and we’re-in-this-togetherness. With two children, the task has certainly not gotten any easier since there is one more person that now comes before my own self care. On the bright side though, as a veteran Mama I also have a better understanding of what I can sacrifice in order to make ME a priority and work towards these goals. Here are some of the strategies I am working to implement to make this second time a charm.
Realistic but Real:
The time in my life where I can devote all of my energy towards healthy eating, meal prep, and exercise is gone, and this weight took several
months years to gain, so it is not going to come off quickly. It will be a slower-than-I’d-like, challenging, frustrating process that will require more dedication and commitment than ever before and I need to be easy on myself. That’s the realistic part. Now, comes the REAL talk. Motherhood is hard. Labour is hard. Toddlers and tantrums and waiting to drink wine until after bedtime is hard. But I’ve done it all and have come out fairly unscathed. I can do hard things if I am willing to try. So, like a child at bedtime, I am going to put all my energy into not giving up and remember that the hardest things usually have the best rewards.
Don’t Believe the Breastfeeding Lie:
If it worked for you, then that is fantastic (and I will pretend to still like you), but the rumour that weight just melts off if you’re breastfeeding is certainly NOT true in my case. If anything, I feel like it stacks the cards against me. I am constantly hungry, I now need to wear two sports bras to contain that bouncy milk supply, and I am tied to the baby with a feeding schedule that limits when I can exercise and eat. BUT, I know that my nutrition is key to a healthy supply and also to passing those healthy nutrients on to baby, and that for me is a motivator to make good choices. Knowing that breastfeeding alone will not allow me to lose the weight takes it mostly out of the equation and I will stop eating chocolate chips while I am nursing, thinking that I am burning them off as I go.
Channel Your Inner Dad:
I’m sure there are many biological and hormonal reasons for it, but it seems in most cases women have a much harder time leaving their children than men do. This must be the reason that I am grocery shopping on a Sunday with two children while my husband is home alone watching football. (Or maybe I am just a really great wife?) The point is, Dads seem to have the ability to love their children immensely but to also leave them on occasion in order to fit in time for themselves/sports/friends/beer/gym/hour long bathroom breaks, etc. Now that this is my second go around, I’ve started to let go of the mom guilt when I leave at bedtime (and surprisingly don’t miss getting my child her 32nd glass of water in bed). I can take some time for myself to go to the gym or on a walk with a friend in order to relieve the stress that can make losing weight very difficult. Whether it is your partner, your mom, your sister or your friend, accepting help with your kids allows you time to take care of yourself and recharge those batteries that have been running on empty. You will likely return happier and in turn, less likely to eat all your feelings.
The Problem is the Solution:
Those adorable little monsters that got you into this predicament can also help get you out. There will never be more than 24 hours in a day but you can make the most of the time you do have and include your kids in your activities. One of the best investments I’ve made in my health is in my running stroller. I have a Thule Cross 2 jogging stroller that allows me to keep both kids contained and comfortable while I get my sweat on. The best part is that I can use this for multiple activities (bike, walk, jog, and even ski) so that it switches things up for us all. I used to try longer walks with my regular stroller and after a while the kids would get restless, cutting our trip short. With the jogging stroller the ride is smoother and they also have more room to relax so they can last for a 5km run with no issue. I also use my baby carrier for more leisurely walks or activities where my older child roams free and I have the benefit of carrying an extra 20 lbs to increase that burn. Involving your kids in your plans also sets a great example and teaches them about healthy eating and exercise from an early age.
Once you decide what methods you will use to cut calories/ lose the weight, be accountable and write it all down to stay on track. I use an app to track my calories and stay within my daily range and I also keep a written journal to write down the way I am feeling. I write my “why” on the first page and whenever I feel myself faltering I revisit the reasons that I want to achieve a healthier lifestyle and body. As much as I dislike writing it down every day, it is somewhat cathartic and sometimes I find I write things down about the day that I didn’t even know I was feeling in the moment. Taking the time to reflect on how my choices throughout the day were tied to my emotions also helps me identify triggers and create strategies to maintain my healthy habits even when I want to eat all the chips in the house. It may also turn out to be a pretty interesting record of what life was like with littles when you read it ten years from now.
So, here is to our success! Whatever goals you are working toward, be they big or small, may you find a strategy that works for you and maybe one of these above will help you in your journey too. And, by all means, if you have some great tips you want to share, I am all ears!
Katie is a new mom of two and will be sharing her experiences in parenting a toddler and a newborn though this series “New with Two”.