I recently had a client share with me that she didn’t eat her first meal until 3:oopm the day before. Her reasoning was because she had a busy day: Mommy & Me class, house hunting, packing for vacation, grocery shopping, and chasing after her newly crawling baby. I’ve been in her shoes and we both agreed that by 3:00pm you’re famished, exhausted, weak, maybe even a little “hangry”, and your decision to eat healthy goes out the window because you just want to stuff your face with anything in site or whatever is fast to order and quick to eat. However, if your goal is to ditch the baby weight and get your body back, then you need to make sure you are getting enough food to metabolize your body and give yourself the energy you need as a Mom.
Here’s what I like to recommend to my new clients who are trying to juggle life with a baby, working out, and losing weight.
HYDRATION IS KEY
Water is your new best friend. A women should consume around 2.7 liters of water daily (9 cups/8 oz each), however, if you are postpartum and breastfeeding, the Institute of Medicine recommends breastfeeding women consume 13 cups a day. When you factor in an active lifestyle, like a workout routine, then you’re looking at drinking even more to replenish the water lost during physical activity; especially if you are working out in a hot environment.
Feel like your drowning in water? First, keep in mind this is just a guideline, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach 13 – 15 cups a day. Secondly, I know it may seem like a lot of water, but when you break it down throughout the day it is achievable. Here’s my tip: buy a large water bottle and carry it around with you all day. Whether you’re in the house, at the park, or running errands that water bottle should be at your side. I personally carry around a 32oz water bottle and fill it up 2x throughout the day and then drink 2-3 glasses of water with my dinner and while I’m relaxing at the end of the day. Lastly, while drinking water in the form of fluid is fantastic, water intake can also come in the form of foods that you eat. Vegetables, fruits, juice, milk, tea, and other beverages are a source of water, too!
Any trainer will tell you that water is a key player in your weight loss plan, but for breastfeeding Moms it’s vital. If you’re working out and not drinking enough water, you’re leading your body down the path to dehydration which can cause headaches, irritability, muscle spasms, and just feeling like crap. Not to mention dehydration can affect your milk supply which is the last thing you want to avoid if you are a breastfeeding woman.
MEAL PREP SUNDAYS
There are so many reasons why I advocate meal planning and prepping on Sundays. It saves you time, money, and keeps you on track with eating healthy.
On Sunday morning, plan out your schedule for the week. Plan each meal, write it down, and stick to it. This includes afternoon snacks. By listing out your meals, you know exactly what you are making each day so you can get right into cooking and you aren’t wasting time deciding what you have in the fridge to whip up.
After your grocery store run, give yourself one hour to start prepping your meals to help you save time during the week. I always have a salad for lunch so I’ll grill some chicken tenders, wash veggies, dice them up, and even make some hard-boil eggs for the week. This allows me to quickly eat my breakfast and make my lunches when I have little time between client sessions and an active, crawling/walking baby who I need to lock down and feed.
Meal prepping also helps you save money since you are eating at home. Meeting a friend for lunch can get quite expensive, especially if you live in a major city like Los Angeles, and your bill can quickly add up when you include a beverage, tip, and parking. Not only that, but eating at a restaurant usually means the meal can have more calories/carbs/fats/etc so it won’t help with your weight loss goal. I’m not saying ALWAYS eat at home, definitely treat yourself once a week or so, but eating most of your meals at home will save you a tremendous amount of money. The money saved could go towards a date night with your partner, a cute outfit for baby, a Mommy & Me class, or something for yourself!
Tip: Need to socialize and get out of the house? Ask your friend to meet you for a picnic at the park and bring your own lunch. If it’s colder weather, offer to host a lunch and play date that way you can make her one of your healthy lunches and it keeps you on track.
Keep healthy, grab-n-go snacks in your purse/diaper bag or in the closet so when you’re on-the-go and feeling hungry you have something healthy to snack on. Try making individual plastic bags filled with a handful of almonds. Keep fruit like apples and bananas out on the counter or vegetables like pre-cut celery and carrots in the fridge. Want something heartier and more filling? Try brown rice cakes with almond butter and slices of banana on top. This is a great snack to fill up on and fuel your body especially before a workout. You’re less likely to reach for a bag of chips or whatever your vice is when you have something ready and available for you to grab.
PROTEIN AT EVERY MEAL
Why at every meal? First, you need protein to regulate the body and help build and repair your tissues and structures. Protein aids in muscle building so if you’re participating in a strength training class like my Body After Baby class or any other workout program, protein will help repair your muscles that you just broke down. By eating protein at every meal you control your blood sugar, optimize your muscle health, and it aids in weight loss by satisfying you longer, reduces unhealthy snacking, and fat loss. According to The Journal of Nutrition, people who consumed 30 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner saw major gains in developing and building muscles.
Protein comes in many other forms other than poultry so you don’t have to worry about getting sick of eating chicken. Vegetables, eggs, milk, yogurt, beans, and fish all contain some degree of protein. Try scrambled eggs (1 whole egg, 2 egg whites) first thing in the morning mixed with some vegetables. Don’t have the time to cook? Make hard-boiled eggs and grab two or three (same format as before – 1 yolk/1-2 without yolk) and pair them with an apple and a little almond butter like Justine’s (my personal fav) or grab a yogurt and toss in some fruit. Have chicken in your salad at lunch and switch it up for dinner with some salmon and a roasted or stemmed vegetable.
The recommended intake for athletes and
individuals who exercise is 10%-35% of total caloric intake. There is a range
depending on the individual’s goal, activity, intensity of the workout, and the
protein source. Keeping it in this range, though, can help you see gains in
your overall health and weight loss goals.