Nicole Kidman I was not. It seemed like it took forever to finally look (and feel) like myself again after giving birth to my twins. For more than a year, I toiled with the scale and wrestled with the reality that my body would never quite be the same. Even though my shape is a little different two years later, motherhood has actually made me stronger and fitter.
My active son and daughter remind me every day of why I want to be as healthy as possible—so I can keep up with them! Still, it never seems to get any easier to keep the weight off. I feel like every mom I meet is going through the same thing. So with bathing suit season in full swing and celebrity moms parading around in skinny jeans, I thought now might be a good time to share some tips on weight maintenance for moms.
I’ve gathered this advice through my reporting for my weekly e-zine, The Well Mom. From nutritionists to diet gurus to trainers to regular ol’ moms who are working hard to maintain a healthy size, here are a few ways to keep the focus on what our bodies need instead of what we seem to be craving at that moment. There is a common thread in all of this advice. It’s about thinking before eating.
1. Have Your Cake (and Enjoy It)! Even the healthiest, most disciplined eater has her moments. But c’mon, there are times when nothing else will do besides chocolate! Personal trainer and eating disorder specialist Heather Rider of LA’s Rider Fitness Consulting agrees. Rider has a roster full of post-baby clients and says, have the chocolate cake (a little piece) and get on with your life. But before you do, make sure it’s what you really want. She tells the women she trains to be mindful.
“Before you eat, STOP every time and THINK. What does your body really want? Many times I assume I am in the mood for chocolate when I am stressed and nine times out of ten, I think and realize what I really want is a turkey burger,” Rider says.
2. Get Organized. Several ago, Julie Barrouhk, a mother of three, transformed her life when she took off forty pounds and launched a career in fitness, including her own Web site juliebfit.com and her DVD series, Moms With Muscle. She says her success is all about heading off those out of control moments by getting organized and asking for help. Here are some fast ways she eats well in a time crunch.
- Pick up the phone and order something.
- Pick up the phone and tell your husband to bring something home.
- Have breakfast for dinner.
- Overcook the night before so there are leftovers waiting for you in the fridge.
- Always keep an extra bag of mixed greens on hand and canned tuna, salmon, or any kind of beans for a fast salad.
- Make it a habit to wash and cut up fruits and veggies when you get home from shopping so they are ready to go.
3. Avoid Family Style. Instead of setting up a buffet in which two or three helpings can go by in a flash, plate everything before you sit down. When you want seconds, you’ll have to get up and serve yourself again—a great way to stay on top of how much you are really eating.
4. Don’t Eat Your Kids’ Food. Ashley Hartle, a Denver mom of two boys, lost fifty pounds when she started to pay attention to how much she was eating.
“I was eating leftovers of my son’s sandwich and my other son’s Goldfish (crackers). I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I sat down and tracked it,” she says.
She’s kept it off by exercising regularly and journaling what she eats.
5. Sit down. Your own mother probably told you this. But it really is true. When you take the time to sit down and portion out a serving of whatever it is you want to eat, you tune in. It is too easy to mindlessly polish off a bag of chips or finish off what’s left in the cookie jar when you are standing up. Put it on a plate. Take a napkin. Sit down and actually taste and enjoy your food.
6. Write it down. This tip got a lot of press recently when a recent study found that people lost more weight and kept it off when they recorded their food intake. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when you make yourself accountable, you stay on top of your calorie intake.
How do you stay mindful when it comes to eating?