A few years ago _being a newly-wed, mid-twenties Cairene female_ my concerns regarding motherhood were unappreciated, even more, frowned upon. (I am fairly certain that a lot of other Middle Eastern ladies can relate to that!) Expressing my fears of losing shape and vigor out loud, even to those close to me, was out of question, a big tsk-tsk!
I really dreaded the notion: The notorious stick actually turning blue! It meant restrictions on general activity, exercise, and food. I started experiencing nausea, dizziness, and crazy cravings! Hormones started fluctuating intensely. Belly fat became the name of the game. Bloating due to water retention, among other things, declared its presence. My body was a freak show..a circus on wheels! If I could go back in time, I would have probably invested a little bit more into educating myself about the whole thing. Major do’s and don’ts can really save the day and make you enjoy the experience a whole lot differently. And you know what, even a few years down the road is not too late. So invest a few minutes into digging these tricks:
– First things first. Your mommy glamor journey begins when you first learn the jolly news. Exercise some subtle control over your cravings. We are often tempted to indulge in over-eating during pregnancy; given that weight gain is bound to happen either way. But trust me; the difference between 7 kilograms and 27 kilograms is worlds apart! So, if you can’t control the items, at least watch the quantities and the frequency! Break down your meals. 3 meals is so old school. Make it 5 little ones instead.
– Don’t take your stress out on food. Voice out your fears & concerns to your loved ones. Go out. Exercise (after consulting with your OBGYN). Go shopping. Enjoy yourself!
– Take your food supplements regularly as prescribed and get the necessary physical tests (complete blood picture, blood sugar, etc.). It will compensate the nutrients flowing from your system to your baby, hence, making you feel healthy and less stressed. Consult with your physician as to how frequently and for how long you should keep taking them. Don’t just pop up the pills haphazardly, or else, you can suffer from a few unpleasant side effects (the least of which could perhaps be chronic constipation!
– Once you give birth to your beautiful healthy baby, stick to the meals timings and portions as per the doctor’s orders. Don’t skip meals, or over indulge. Your body needs this to restore its natural balance. You also need it for breastfeeding. Proteins, milk, complex carbs, dried fruits & nuts, and fibers are very important in every meal at this stage.
– You need your beauty sleep! Actually, you need ANY sleep you can get. Learn to nap when the baby does. Otherwise, you will lose it!
– Cut down your caffeine intake. Same goes for sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you absolutely need to have some, make it in the daytime rather than in night-time. 2 cups is your daily limit, so use it wisely!
– Water. Water. And I’m going to say it one more time WATER!
– Treat yourself every day to as much herbal drinks as you feel like. Add a table-spoonful of honey and you are good to go. Keep the relaxing cups for right before the longest nap!
– Replace the soda with some lemon-mint drink. The zest will keep you freshened, without the damaging effects of caffeinated soda cans. It doesn’t have to be freshly squeezed every time. You can throw a few lemons in the blender with some water and a few tablespoons of sugar, drill the mixture, and refrigerate it. When you feel like some, shake it well, pour some into a chilled glass, and add some mint syrup, or a few fresh leaves (if available). Yummy!
– Eat as your baby does. That’s the key to managing your time, food intake, and appetite; is ! Let your snacks be fruit, carrots, nuts, yogurt, low-fat dairy products, or whole-grain bakes.
– If you feel like you would rather not eat than having to cook every day, just muster up your zeal for once a week and go ‘frozen’ afterwards! Now is not the time to be picky. Cook up, freeze up, defrost, and enjoy!
– You will occasionally feel tempted to ‘order in’. Well, guess what, go with your whim! The trick is to limit fast food to a maximum of twice a week. Opt for grilled beef/ chicken/ fish, and hold the mayo! J As for the coke and fries, either share it, or none at all! And why not salad??
– The one thing that could take the phrase ‘too late’ to a whole new level is: slacking off when it comes to exercising! When and how you should get to it, varies according to whether you gave birth naturally or had a C-section (Check with your doctor). I have five wondrous words for you: strolls, push-ups, stretches, crunches, and weightlifts! When the baby is 2-months old and counting, it’s gonna love being lifted for weights! Remember when you used to suck in your tummy to look firm and neat in a new tank top?? Now is a good time to suck it in, release, repeat, do over, and multiply J Do it when you are watching T.V., talking on the phone, preparing lunch, lying down in bed, or taking the baby in its stroller for some window-shopping in a nearby mall. Also invest in home sports equipment, if you are up to it. You will love the endorphins occasional kicks. Satisfaction guaranteed!
– Walk like a soldier. Sprint like a ninja. Bend like a ballerina. Chin high. Wide smile. Swagger like you’ve all the time in the world. Skip along like you’ve got nothing to lose. Flaunt yourself like you have never done before! It’s all a state of mind really: If you feel graceful, you will probably end up looking graceful! Fake it till you make it, baby!
– Together we stand. Divided we fall. Get your spouse on board for the weight loss mission. Exercise together if you can. Diet together if you have to. Ask him to hide the candy bars if you must!
– Urban legend has it that breastfeeding burns up calories (something like 500 cal. A day). So, don’t give up breastfeeding unless you absolutely have to. It is useful for you, just as much as it’s useful for the baby. Sit up straight when you are feeding the baby. A great deal of back pain could be induced by wrong postures during nursing.
– DO NOT, at any cost, resort to completely abolishing your ‘love life’! (wink wink) As much as you might feel tempted to, given the baby blues and everything, try to snap back into the game once you feel physically capable and once your sleeping hours (along with the baby’s of course) have started to get into rhythm. Just like exercising, making out and lovemaking DO help you burn up calories, train your muscles, release ‘happy hormones’, and get you back into shape quickly.
– Take it easy on yourself and don’t stretch yourself too thin. You don’t have to wear the clothes from the year before, right after you give birth to your little one. You have been through a life-altering experience. People will understand if you don’t bounce back into your skinny low-waists and heals right away!
– Last but not least, when in doubt, consult with a specialized trustworthy nutritionist. You don’t wanna play it by ear when your health and your baby’s are at stake!
I speak in good authority when I say: The rule of thumb here is ‘perseverance’. Baby steps. Slow but sure. Don’t panic. Forget crash diets. The weight that took 9 months to be gained probably needs just as much to be lost. The proper definition of a ‘diet’ is not an aggressive fat burner, just as much as it is a balanced healthy life style. Remember: Rome was not built in a day. AND, Easy come, easy go!
By Sara Haroun