The Postpartum Slim Down

Post Pregnancy can be a tough time, both physically and emotionally. If this was your first baby, you may have had grand dreams of leaving the hospital in your favorite pair of skinny jeans and getting back to the gym after a lazy week of “vacation” with your new new babe at home. Seasoned mothers, (aka, anyone who is on baby #2 or greater), know that your post baby body can leave a lot to be desired and that aside from drinking wine before noon, maternity leave is anything but a vacay. 

Two weeks post baby #2 I had lost the baby weight (but not the baby tummy, which looked and felt like a squishy blob of jelly), yet was still feeling pretty good about my progress. That is, until my all-to-honest 6 year-old told someone “my mom is still pregnant…” When prodded, he explained that my tummy was “still fat” which is why he thought there might be another baby hiding out in there. Kids… you gotta love ‘em.

But it does beg the question, what can you do to start feeling like your old (pre-squishy-stomach) self, when the gym is not yet an option? Well, turns out, there are many things you can do to kickstart the slim down process, which will not only leave you feeling better physically, but will help your mental state as well. Remember, confidence starts from the inside out. There is no reason post-baby you can’t be even happier, more fit, and healthier than pre-baby you. NOW is the best time to jump start healthy habits… little eyes are going to be watching your every move very soon.


The postpartum slim down process - Steps you can take when going to the gym just isn’t an option (yet):

Be a Conscious Eater

Hopefully you were already doing this during your pregnancy, but if not, now is definitely the time to start. Practice conscious eating by being aware of what, and how much, you are consuming every day. Mindlessly eating snacks in front of the TV is a no-no, as is eating only junk food (I don’t care how convenient it is). Getting rid of that baby weight all comes down to a simple formula: Calories consumed < Calories burned. You must burn off more than you take in every day, otherwise that number on the scale will never budge...at least not in the direction you would like it to. 

WHAT you eat is nearly as important as HOW MUCH you eat. While the calorie may be king, meaning that ultimately the amount you consume is most important in determining your weight, what you consume runs an extremely close second. 2000 calories of chips, soda, and honey buns will look very different on a body than 2000 calories of lean protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Eating right is not rocket science and doesn’t have to be difficult. 

How much should you consume? This will vary for everyone, and varies even more dependent upon whether or not you are breastfeeding (breastfeeding mothers need about 400-600 extra calories per day). Fit to Be Pregnant (www.fittobepregnant.com) has a great calculator for determining baseline daily calorie numbers for pregnant and postpartum women. If It Fits Your Macros (www.iifym.com) has an excellent calculator for those who track specific macronutrients in addition to total calories consumed. When you can’t work out (and even when you can), following a proper diet is key in controlling your weight. 

Walkabye Baby

Just because the gym is off-limits doesn’t mean the sidewalks are. Depending on what type of birth you have and whether or not you had any complications, you should be able to do some light walking by week 2 or 3. Until you know how your body will respond, think more like tortoise and less like hare (slow and steady wins the race). LISTEN to your body; if you get light-headed, feel increasingly sore, or notice an increase in bloody discharge, you are trying to do too much too soon. Rest up and try again in a couple of days. And if your doctor said walking is off-limits, don’t push it. The sidewalk isn’t going anywhere. 

Stroller walk with baby- Mutsy Evo

Assuming the weather is nice and you’re feeling up to it, take your baby out with you. Morning stroller walks with your babe can be incredibly stress-relieving. Besides, a little Vitamin D helps to boost your mood… and after sleepless nights with a newborn, new moms desperately need any added boost they can get. Most strollers have sun shades to keep your baby protected from harmful sun rays, but be conscious of when you go out and try to avoid the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are the most direct; your newborn should not be in direct sunlight for more than 10 minutes per day. Plan accordingly. 

MapMyWalk is a great app for finding walking routes or for tracking your own route. 

Prep & Plan

If you’re like me, sitting around the house and taking it easy for a couple weeks is anything but easy. I was itching to get back in the gym and to do something… anything! But, proper rest and healing are critically important, so use this this time to prepare for when you get the green light to get back to your fitness routine. If you are a regular gym-goer, find some new exercises to mix it up and start fresh. If you are brand new to working out, use this time to research gyms and get your membership started. Build custom workouts via Pinterest, get on YouTube and learn some new moves, or buy those Dumbbells or that Yoga mat you’ve been eyeing. Start prepping and planning so that you’re ready to rock when you get the go-ahead. And again… slow and steady wins the race. You just birthed a human! Be kind to your body and ease your way back in. 

Look Good, Feel Good

Post pregnancy, many of your clothes won’t fit quite right for a few weeks, or even months. This even includes your stretchy gym pants. Don’t let this be your excuse to sit around for a few months waiting until they fit again. If you sit around long enough, they may never fit… Be proactive and get a pair or two of gym clothes that do fit, or wear your maternity ones for another week or two (no one has to know). 

I decided to go the route of new gym shoes and designed a pair of custom Nike IDs. I’ve had them for over a month now, just sitting in my closet WAITING to be used. But the point is, they make me excited to get back to working out because I can’t wait to put them on when the time comes, even if I can only walk on the treadmill and lift 5 pound Dumbbells for an entire month. Whatever it takes to motivate yourself, do it! When you look good, you feel good. 

Custom NIKE kicks - TRAIN HARDER

Say Bye Bye to {Most} Maternity Clothes

Aside from hanging on to a pair or two of maternity clothes to use as transitional pieces while your body morphs back to its pre-baby form, get rid of them! Keeping clothes around that you wore while pregnant gives you a crutch to lean on in case you don’t lose the weight. Wait… What? Take that crutch away. You ARE going to lose the weight. Instead, take your maternity clothes to a consignment store and earn money you can upcycle into a new pair of jeans that actually fit. 

Set Proper Expectations

Next to eating right, this is probably the most important. Be kind to your body. It just successfully grew a beautiful tiny human over a nine month span and will take some time to heal. And it may never look exactly as it did before, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be beautiful and healthy and fit. Set proper expectations of how long it should take you to lose the baby weight (once the the initial weight falls off from actually having your baby, followed by fluid loss over the next couple of weeks, weight loss should taper off and be no more than one pound per week). 

If this is your first baby, your hips may never be quite as compact as they were before. I know mine widened a size after baby #1 and never fully returned (though I actually like them better this way anyways). Your tummy underwent the most change and may not look anything like it used to. With proper diet and exercise you can make great headway into shrinking it back down. And if loose skin and stretch marks have you feeling down, rest assured you are not alone. (MOST mommies, aside from Gisele, have some form of permanent markings from child birth. It happens!) You can learn to love your new body over time, and if not, you can explore your options. It’s your body. Do what makes you happy. Just wait a few months before making any life-altering decisions...your hormones are all over the place and need time to settle. 

Setting proper expectations and a proper timeline gives you something to work towards in a realistic manner. This will allow you to set yourself up for success, rather than failure, and will make achieving your end goal that much more likely to happen. And remember, comparing your journey to someone else’s is almost always a bad idea. Every body is different. Set goals and compete against yourself, not someone else. 


Postpartum is generally a tough time for most women. Not only are you sleep deprived and emotionally spent, your body is undergoing some massive changes that can be hard to deal with. Remember that this phase is just that… a passing phase. And while you may be cooped up indoors and forced to sit still, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin making healthy decisions to help get you back on your feet faster. 

A healthy lifestyle begins with proactive planning. With that being said, enjoy your baby and get in every single snuggle that you can (time is a thief and will go way too fast anyways). Take it easy, let yourself heal, use your downtime to plan, and get back on your feet when you're ready. 

Dealing with abdominal separation? Fitness guru and star of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss (and one of my main fitness inspirations), Heidi Powell, wrote an excellent article about Diastasis Recti that can be found here. 

Still pregnant and looking for fit tips? Download this Fit Pregnancy Guide.

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