How to Get Your Pre-Pregnancy Body Back

Darling pregnant women. We’ve all known one. We love to hate them. I met a sickeningly cute, expectant lady at a party when I first got married. She ruined pregnancy for me.

Jenny looked like her usual size 2 self, but with a basketball stuffed inside a fashionable Michael Stars tee. She droned on and on about how much she loved being pregnant. She glowed like a bioluminescent sea turtle on the sandy beaches of Florida. I tried to like her.

I wish I could say I had the same joyful experience with pregnancy. There were a few wonderful moments when I felt the baby move, but the majority of the time I felt like a sick or ravenous dog. The first giveaway I was with child? Cheez-Its and Sprite for breakfast at the office. Every day. They were my only hope. Otherwise I felt trapped on a ship of drunken sailors.

Next came the cravings. The most devoted vegetarian couldn’t've held out against my desire for red meat. I’d stop on the way home from work at my favorite dive, belly up to the bar and wait for my burger. Occasionally I would drink an O’douls on tap. You can imagine the looks!

My second pregnancy was similar to the first, only this time I had to have ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The baby was born, my husband was traveling, and I entered a time warp. I kept using the excuse “I just had a baby.” But when my youngest was two years old I looked in the mirror and realized: I was in the worst shape of my life. I had to do something about it.

I made simple changes to my habits. After a few months I was in even better shape than before my first tummy tango. The following ideas were key:

  • Find a form of exercise you love. You won’t workout if you don’t like the activity. Find something fun! For me it was kickboxing. I found a crazy instructor and made new friends in the class. I looked forward to seeing them twice  a week. I absolutely hated when I had to miss. I was also a more patient and balanced person after hitting things for an hour.
  • Challenge yourself with a new sport. Find a type of exercise you’re not good at. Yet. I despise distance running. It’s just me and the road. My mind says, “This hurts! Your legs are like cement blocks. Stop this instant!” Yeah, I’m more of a group sport girl. I registered to run a 5K for a great cause. I had to train to avoid complete embarrassment. It forced me to stick to a schedule and push through the negative self-talk.
  • Put exercise on your calendar. Literally put it down as an appointment. But that’s not enough. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment. You wouldn’t cancel unless you had a true emergency. Don’t let life or other people allow you to cancel. When someone begs your time simply say, “I can’t. I have an appointment.” (This point was THE key for me).
  • Eat more. Eat more often and spend more time eating. Small children create an insane pace. But you have to take the time to sit down and eat. Don’t go too long between meals. If you wait too long, suddenly you’re starving and reach for the Doritos bag while preparing steamed carrots for your children. I did not go on a diet. I simply started eating what and when my kids were eating. What: a variety of healthy foods including whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. When: every two to three hours. Kids need to eat often. I sat down to eat with them 6 times a day. This is better for your metabolism and also prevents hunger. I ate a lot of boiled eggs, avocado, almonds, broccoli, fish and chicken. I let myself have dessert when the kids had dessert.
  • Display your favorite pair of jeans. You own a pair of fabulous jeans you’re dying to wear again. I hung mine up in a prominent place. Instant motivation. Seeing them every day helped me make good choices. I never weighed myself. I don’t even own a scale. The jeans were the perfect measurement for my goal.
   What strategies have you used to get back in shape after having a baby? 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or fitness expert. Results will vary based on a variety of factors. Consult a registered dietician or physician before starting any diet or exercise plan.

 
 
  • lesliez

    Thanks for the wise words and inspiration! I just forced myself to begin working out, 7 weeks after delivering #3. I’m doing it out of sheer terror that the skin on my stomach will never come close to the muscle again. (Am absolutely guilty of eating Doritos while steaming vegetables!) We shall see how it goes…. I just discovered – courtesy of a super-fit friend- the Tracy Anderson post-pregnancy workout DVD. Check back with me in 6 weeks and see if my skinny jeans fit yet! :)

    • Tracy

      Well, after baby #3 you look better than most 25 year olds I know, so I’m betting you will be back in those skinny jeans in no time! Let me know how you like the DVDs. I am looking for something new to do at home when I just can’t get to the gym.

  • http://www.beachbodycoach.com/mikegoebel Mike Goebel

    Great advice Tracy. Guys pack on the sympathy weight too. I gained ten with each kid eating ice cream sundays along side my beautiful wife. This year we have both made a commitment to eat healthier and get back into shape. It’s true that you need to find somthing you love to do. Running on a tread mill was not it for me. We have also found a great support network through facebook and friends. Sharing things on-line has kept our accountability at maximum. We have been so inspired by our own journey and how it has affected those around us that we became Beachbody coaches. We just finished a great cleanse program called the Ultimate Reset. Lost a combined 30lbs in three weeks! Now we are getting ready for P90X and looking forward to seeing six pack ab’s again. It takes three things to be succesfull… proper nutrition, a workout program, and support. Once you commit to making a change don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.

    • Tracy

      I love this comment, Mike! I was going to include something in the post addressing the guys. Because we all know you gain sympathy weight during those midnight Krispy Kreme runs. You added the male perspective better than I could have, so thank you!

  • Robert Taylor

    Tracy, to throw in a bit more to Mike’s point… I too put on about 20 (25?) pounds during our first kid. It wasn’t until he was almost 2, and I was taking him to the pool and saw some pictures of us that I realized I needed to do something. For me, 100% of the problem was quantity of food. I was KNOWN for (and took pride in) being the guy who never seemed to get full. I’d finish the pizza… the bucket of chicken… the other people’s plates on the table. When I was in high school, that was fine. The older I got, though, the more my metabolism slowed down, but my eating habits stayed the same. NOT a good combination. So, I made a conscious decision to NOT eat seconds from that day forward. I would just eat what I was served and that was it. I wouldn’t get EVERYTHING supersized. The medium fries were plenty big. What I found was that I was completely satisfied after meals, even after eating only half of what I may have eaten in the past. And as a bonus… weight just fell off. Easily. And with no change in any other way (no MORE exercise; no real dietary restrictions; just portion control). I lost 30 pounds in about 14 months. Not quick, but slow and steady… and I’ve been able to keep it off because it wasn’t a “diet” — it was a lifestyle change.

    • Robert Taylor

      One more little thing that I’ve found interesting… Since the above situation (I lost all of the weight by about 2008), I started running last year (and lost about 5 pounds more, but that wasn’t a goal). I have been running in a group, with 2-3 runs of 4-7 miles each, per week. Even in THAT group (so, I would think that would be a fit group), there was a consensus that what you ate meant more than the miles you ran (people would not miss runs, but still gain a little weight).

      So, the intake<output equation that most diets run off of (you decrease the intake, and even if your output remains the same, you'll lose weight, OR if you increase your output significantly, you can keep your intakethe same) may not be 100% valid. It seems to be weighted heavily toward the intake side. Whatever you can do to cut it down (but not drastically, because that's not sustainable) will help more than increasing your output. JM2C.