It's time to start shedding the lingering 15 pounds of "baby weight" that my body seems to be holding on to. I'm in that awkward "what do I wear?!" stage and have hit a bit of a plateau in my weight loss, which is understandable considering I have not changed much in my diet and activity since I was pregnant. Now that my milk supply has been established, I can go ahead and start slowly shedding this remaining extra weight. My goal is to lose no more than about one pound per week, as this will likely not affect my breastmilk supply.
As a second-time mom, I've found that it's a bit more challenging to make sure that I'm eating well and staying active. Let's just say, it was A LOT easier to workout and focus on what I was eating when there was only one baby in my life. Two kids is a whole new ball game. What this means is that I have to be a little bit more creative this time. Here are some of my weight loss "secrets" that in no way involve dieting or depriving myself of the foods that I love.
Drinking enough water is not only crucial for maintaining your milk supply, for proper digestion and for staying hydrated, but it's also important for losing weight. Thirst is often confused as hunger, which leads to mindless snacking, when really, all your body needs is a good drink of water. You will drink more water if you always carry a water bottle around with you, as seeing it will remind you to drink it. I bought a pretty purple water bottle and it never leaves my side.
The best purchase I ever made was my baby carrier. Instead of putting my baby in a swing or bouncy chair, I wear her most of the time. While I'm cleaning, cooking, playing with my son, out for a walk or in the grocery store- she is attached to me. Aside from the closeness and extra bonding that I feel with my daughter while carrying her, I'm also adding an extra 11 pounds to my body, which will help to burn a few extra calories throughout the day.
If I see a yummy food, I automatically want to eat it. I talk about the "see-food syndrome" often, and just because I'm a Dietitian, that doesn't mean that I'm immune to it. I fall victim to it often, so instead of leaving homemade cookies on the counter, I keep them in the deep freeze (or don't make them at all). Because I love not-so-healthy foods just like anyone else, I don't purchase them unless it's a special occasion or unless I REALLY want it.
Eating a healthy breakfast containing protein can help us to control our appetites and cravings all day, and prevents unhealthy snacking later in the day and into the evening. It also gives our metabolisms a kick-start first thing in the morning. I know how easy it is to get caught up in morning survival-mode with babies and toddlers, so having something quick and easy to grab like a smoothie that was made the night before or Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit and a high-fibre muffin, may come in handy.
Eating enough veggies is key for general health, but even more so for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. They are filling, nutrient-rich and low in calories. Because time is precious these days, I buy ready-to-eat veggies. Organic baby carrots, snap peas, mini cucumbers, and baby tomatoes are my faves. I aim for at least 4 servings per day and at least 3 different colors.
I used to take my son to my gym daycare, but now that I have two kids, it will be a bit more challenging to do that. OK, a lot more challenging. For me, being able to exercise at home during nap time or when my husband gets home from work makes a lot more sense and likely increases the chance of me fitting in a daily workout. We found a good quality and lightly used elliptical trainer and some free weights on kijiji for a very reasonable price (and we're saving by not buying gym passes too!).
This one isn't exactly a secret. If you're able to breastfeed, it will definitely help you in the post-partum weight loss department. Aside from the many benefits of breastfeeding, by exclusively nursing, you will burn up to 500 extra calories per day. Need I say more?
By using smaller plates, and bowls, you will automatically serve yourself less, but still feel like you're having a satisfying amount of food. I almost never use our larger dinner plates unless we are having company over.
Yes, I have a crazy toddler and a fussy baby. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to completely neglect my own health and settle into a weight that doesn't feel right. I truly believe that part of being a good mom means taking care of me, and slowly getting back to my healthy and comfortable weight is part of that.
If you are interested in more nutrition tips and "secrets," I post a "tip of the day" over on my Facebook Page. Feel free to check it out!
What is the easiest and fastest way to get your child to do something that you want or behave in a certain way, NOW? By offering some sort of treat food, right?! We've all done it. I see it time and time again—at the grocery store, in the mall, at the playground, during a play date etc. Desperate parents pleading with their children to stop misbehaving by offering a treat food, or by withholding a treat food: "No dessert tonight if..." Or, parents offering up a food reward for future good behaviour: "If you are a good boy at Grandma's house, we'll go for icecream later." It is most certainly a quick and easy way to get your child to behave a certain way, at least for the short term. And so many well-intentioned parents do it.
But at what cost?
If you are constantly rewarding your child's good behaviour with unhealthy treat foods, or using food to bribe your child into behaving well, your child will begin to associate positive feelings with these types of foods. This often translates into emotional eating patterns later on where your child may eat to feel good or sooth himself when he is upset, anxious or frustrated. Furthermore, this could lead to disordered eating patterns, health concerns and an overall unhealthy relationship with food.
Chances are, a food bribe or reward will be offered when a child is not hungry. However, offering a yummy treat immediately triggers hunger (when you think about something delicious, you automatically start to crave it). This is why you start to salivate when you see an advertisement for a delicious food. There is actually a physiological response that happens inside of our bodies that triggers our blood sugar to drop, making us feel hungry. It's the same concept as the "See-Food Syndrome." So no matter what time of day it is, or when your child's last meal or snack was, they will start to crave the desired food that you have offered as a reward or bribe.
If you ask for good behaviour in exchange for a cookie, you will be increasing the desirability or perceived value of that food, thus putting treat foods like cookies on a pedestal. At the same time, healthier foods such as vegetables will be perceived as less valuable. If we put foods (healthy foods and not-so-healthy foods) on a more level playing field, offering less healthy foods randomly and with no attachment to a desired behaviour, these foods will not seem quite as wonderful.
Constantly offering your child foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat (which most bribing foods are) will not only displace healthier more nutrient-dense foods in their diet, but also contribute to poor dental health, overweight/obesity, and a whole host of long term health problems. Offering treat foods once in a while when your child eats an otherwise balanced diet is perfectly fine and shouldn't lead to health problems. Read more about how to manage treat foods in your house here.
I'm not a parenting expert, but I would imagine that if you are constantly offering a reward for normal "good behaviour" such as playing nicely with another child, sharing toys or treating other adults with respect, your child will begin to expect a reward for every good behaviour performed. This may become tricky when there is no reward to offer and may decrease your child's motivation to be well behaved unless there is a reward offered in return. You might also be unintentionally sending the message that you don't think your child is capable of good behaviour unless a reward is offered. As parents we want to send the message that good behaviour is normal and exptected—not just when Mom or Dad is there to reward them with a treat.
I would be lying to you if I said that I've never bribed my child with some sort of food (ahem...potty training) and sometimes it comes down to survival, which may mean offering a box of raisins or a gummy bear once in a while as a reward. Normal. Where it becomes unhealthy is when food bribing is happening consistently; daily or even weekly. What works for us (I have an almost 3 year old) is offering lots of verbal praise when good behaviour is performed. For example: "Good job for sharing your toys with Tim—you're becoming such a great sharer!" Instead of "if you share your toys with Tim, you can have a brownie when we get home." Or "you went to the potty all by yourself! You should be very proud of yourself! You're such a big boy now!" Instead of "if you go on the potty, I will give you a cookie!" I find that praise for good behaviour is just as powerful and effective as a bribe. Especially long-term. For more suggestions on how to encourage good behaviour in a healthy way, check out our resident Parenting Expert's blog here.
If you liked this post, you may also like 5 Things You Should Never Say To Your Kids About Food
After hearing about the tragic loss of Lisa Gibson and her two children, I thought to myself "Lisa was at a similar stage of motherhood as me, having just had a baby and also having a toddler. I can't imagine how bad it must have had to be..." But then, just yesterday, I had a moment where I felt extremely overwhelmed. Trying to get out the door (I was late for an appointment), my baby was screaming, and my toddler was taking everything out of his backpack and throwing it, despite me telling him not to a million times. He had already had two "time-outs" for misbehaving that morning and I was at the end of my rope, not to mention very sleep deprived. "Why does "sh*t hit the fan as soon as I need to leave the house?!" I thought. I grabbed my toddlers arm and yelled at him to stop doing what he was doing. In that instant, I felt out of control. I stopped myself, backed away and sat on the couch. I started feeding my daughter and cried. I took a few deep breaths and then talked to my son calmly. I felt awful. I would have never grabbed and yelled at my son before my daughter was born. Why was I doing it now?! Maybe the sleep deprivation and therefore lack of patience had something to do with it? Maybe I had, in that moment, caught a glimpse of what Lisa Gibson had been going through. And perhaps I felt just a shred of the pain that she had been feeling, all of the time.
In talking to friends and other moms, I know I'm not alone. Even if we're lucky enough not to develop post-partum depression, we all have moments that we wished we could take away. We all feel overwhelmed and frustrated and kind of like we want to run away sometimes.
Yesterday I was at my midwife's office for my daughters 6-week check up. After our appointment, I went into the lounge and nursed my daughter. There was another woman sitting with her son who about the same age as my daughter, trying to sooth him with a soother. Her shoulders were tense and raised and her whole body was bouncing up and down as she sat, holding her baby, in attempt to stop him from crying. As I was nursing, I kept wondering why she wasn't feeding him because it appeared that he was hungry. But then thought that she knew her baby best and perhaps he was just fussy or gassy or something. She glanced over at me, embarrassed, and hesitantly reached into her diaper bag to grab a bottle. She turned her body away from me slightly and started feeding her baby, who started desperately gulping the milk down. He was starved. But that poor mother thought that I was judging her. Because I was nursing, she thought that I was looking down on her for bottle feeding. I know this because I was once her. I had been in her shoes. I mostly bottle fed my son and felt extremely guilty and ashamed of it, despite the desperate measures that I had taken to breastfeed him. She glanced over at me and I smiled and started talking to her—asking her about her beautiful baby, about how she was feeling after having a baby and if she was feeling as overwhelmed with two kids as I was feeling (she had an older daughter there too). Her whole body started to relax. Her shoulders gradually started dropping and her body slowly started turning towards mine.
When other people (especially other moms) do simple things like flash a smile, open a door, make muffins and deliver them, or pick up a receiving blanket that falls on the floor, it makes overwhelmed moms feel like they're not going it alone. It eases their doubt that they are doing a good job. It brightens their otherwise hectic day and allows them to take a deep breath.
Perhaps if there was less judgement and criticism, and more empathy and generosity between moms, we would all be able to handle the hard moments a little bit better.