1. Give Yourself a Break
It takes time. Even though it seems movie stars shed their post-pregnancy pounds in a week, in reality it doesn't happen that fast or easily. Your body has been through massive changes over the past nine months; don't expect it to be like your pre-baby self for a while.
If it's possible for you and your baby, breastfeeding makes it easier to lose those pregnancy pounds (you can burn up to 500 extra calories a day).
3. Get Moving
Make sure to talk to your health care provider about when it's safe to start exercising again following your pregnancy. When it's time to get moving, take small steps to get started—try a walk around the neighborhood or look for local classes like post-partum yoga or aerobics, or even mom and me stroller strides. Try to get 30 minutes in at least three times a week.
4. Eat Small, Frequent Meals
If you wait until you're starving to eat a meal, you'll likely consume way too many calories. Avoid overeating and keep your metabolism on an even keel by having five to six small meals throughout the day.
5. Snack Smart
Replace sugary snacks with fruits to satisfy that sweet craving. Keep washed and cut fruit and veggies on hand for easy picking. Try frozen grapes or apples with peanut butter for a satisfying alternative. Stock your cabinets with high-fiber and low fat snacks and dump the chips and ice cream. If it's not there, you won't eat it.
6. Think Ahead
It can be hard to find the time to prepare meals with a new baby at home. Instead of bringing in take-out food, spend a few hours on Sunday preparing food for the week, then divide it into individual servings and freeze them. Ask family and friends to help you get started. This can be easier if you have a place for baby to watch you work in the kitchen—then cooking is a family affair from the start!
7. Load Up on Fiber
Keep things moving and stay full longer with a high-fiber diet. Eat lots of soluble fiber foods such as oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose bread with at least three grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole grain pastas and brown rice
8. Eat Lean Protein
Replace fatty meats with leaner options like chicken and fish. Wild salmon is a great source of Omega-3s, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and help with weight loss. Women with breastfeeding infants should limit tuna intake to 6 oz. a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels.
9. Drink Lots of Water
Water is like the oil that keeps the wheels turning smoothly. Hydration is essential for weight loss, helping digestion and suppressing your appetite. If you can press your skin and it doesn't spring back quickly, you might be dehydrated. Aim for eight glasses a day.
10. Get Support
Ask for help, whether it be talking to your family about keeping the junk food out of the house or working with a nutritional expert to come up with a more specific diet plan. See if your partner can watch the baby while you take a walk or a nap (don't underestimate the power of restful sleep). And make sure you're getting the emotional support you need as well, because we all know that feeling sad often times equals a pint of ice cream.