11 March 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
During my pregnancy, I attended numerous baby fairs, parenting talks and pre-natal classes and in one of the goodie bags that I came home with, I found a booklet from the Singapore Sports Council, detailing how to lose weight after giving birth.
The booklet featured various exercises that a new mum could do while carrying her baby for additional heft – not unlike a set of dumb bells at the gym. Of course, the baby has to be of a minimal age for each of the exercises, starting from about 3 months old. The booklet espoused the virtues of bonding with your new baby over a simple fitness routine and just as importantly – the woman featured in the photos looked really trim! Inspired, I kept it for future reference.
I still have the booklet stashed away in a box somewhere and I’m pretty sure that it has accumulated an impressive layer of dust over the past 6 months.
Prior to giving birth, we held lofty ideals of how we were going to include Coco in our weekly exercise routine and how quickly the both of us (yes, Dan included) were going to get back into pre-pregnancy shape. In our daydreams, we were cruising along East Coast Park on our inline skates while nonchalantly pushing our baby in her pram, looking as cool as cucumber. Or we would take turns to swim laps in the pool while Coco splashed about happily under the watchful eye of the other parent.
HAH. YEAH RIGHT.
IT NEVER HAPPENED.
Unfazed, we devised alternative ways to plan our exercise routine around the baby’s schedule instead. We decided to brisk walk around the neighbourhood after we bathed Coco and left my mum to put her to bed. We also talked about coming home early and letting Coco watch us exercise while playing on the X-Box Kinect. It would be so hip to get back into shape while jumping around to Dance Central or Ravin’ Rabbits.
I have only been on TWO post-dinner walks so far. As for Kinect-ing, it still hasn’t happened.
But while we aren’t too happy with ourselves over our complete lack of self-discipline when it comes to exercising, I’m happy to report that I’m back to my pre-pregnancy shape (yes, I’m speaking for myself only… heh.) Well, more or less the same shape – squish and squeeze a little.
Being the generous person that I am when it comes to sharing information, I’m going to tell you just how I did it! 😀
1. Have a sticky baby
Because clingy babies like to be carried and cradled and bounced and rocked throughout the ENTIRE day. Even with a 3kg newborn bub, that’s quite a bit of physical effort to spare in keeping your baby happy – and quiet (and your neighbours will thank you for it too.)
2. Have a sticky baby who likes being walked
Okay, this may sound like a bonus on top of having a clingy baby – but it really isn’t. As a newborn, Coco wasn’t content with just being carried and rocked on the spot, I had to walk round and round the house while bouncing her in order to pacify Her Royal Highness. If walking with the added weight doesn’t help you burn more calories, channeling all your effort into fighting insanity caused by circling the same pillar for the 247th time in a day will.
If you are able to, breastfeeding is THE number one fastest way to lose a good part of that baby weight. I put on a hefty 16kg during the pregnancy. While that is an acceptable amount of weight gain, the thought that a good part of it will stay with you even after delivering is a scary one.
Think about it: the baby weighs an average of 3kg. Even after subtracting the weight of the placenta, the amniotic fluid, miscellaneous blood loss and various other unidentified bodily bits and blobs, you really do not look like you have already given birth. Looking at how pregnant I still looked after having Coco, one would suspect that I was harbouring a secret second twin still squirrelled away in the depths of my body or that Coco herself weighed just 500 grams. Bah.
Breastfeeding, thankfully, is a magical process that converts all that extra weight hanging around (literally) into your baby’s primary food source. Even better, you are entitled to eat an extra 500 calories every day to fuel your body’s valiant attempt to produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs! Fantastic!
However, weight loss through breastfeeding, although rapid, hits a plateau after the first couple of months and soon enough, you’ll be left wondering how to get rid of the remaining 357kg (well, not really, but it certainly feels that way.)
4. Return to work early
If you have all your caregiver arrangements in place and you can afford to space out the use of your maternity leave, returning to work early gives one incentive to squeeze back into your pre-pregnancy office wardrobe as quickly as possible. After all, you don’t want to mark your return to the office in maternity wear, nor do you want to spend too much money on new clothes while you’re midway through your weight loss attempt.
5. Being a nursing, working mum
Lugging your breast pump and cooler bag (complete with ice blocks) to and from work each day is exercise in itself. So is rushing from your desk to the nursing room numerous times a day in between replying emails and attending meetings. All that washing up (of pump parts, bottles, etc.) that you have to do also lends itself to the return to toned biceps and triceps. Plus, you now have less time to go in search of extra meals and snacks, so bid goodbye to those extra 500 calories that you have been enjoying guilt-free while on maternity leave.
6. Take public transport
It was a privilege and a luxury being driven to work every morning during the third trimester. Now that the baby is out, I find myself back on the MRT – and without a “reserved” seat to boot! Not that I’m complaining about having to take public transport. Walking to and from the MRT station and standing throughout the ride home is a great way to boost one’s fitness level.
7. Take on a major work project
Make an impact upon your return to work: Ask to be assigned to a big project that will require your full attention and concentration. (Well, I didn’t invite my boss to give me my current project, but it landed on me anyway!) If you are like me and tend to lose weight under stress, then that extra baby fat is going to melt right off!
Just to be clear, by “stress”, I don’t mean getting yourself into a crazily hectic schedule that is going to eat into your personal time with your new family (because your husband and baby need you around too), which is going to result in you burning calories and burning out.
But rather, finding a purpose and drive in the work that you do is going to get you enthusiastic and excited about giving your all towards a meaningful cause, and that in turn ramps up the adrenalin, that will send the numbers on the weighing machine into a downward spiral (while getting you into your colleagues’ and boss’ good books!)
8. Volunteer to travel for business
I didn’t exactly volunteer myself for the upcoming work trip but nevertheless, I’ll have to travel for business at the end of this month. The very fact that you have to be away for a period of time gives you plenty to do before your scheduled departure, taking multi-tasking to a new level, both on the home and work fronts. All that scrambling around to make all the necessary preparations before the dreaded deadline is enough to quickly whittle one back into shape.
9. Ride on Murphy’s Law
While it isn’t wise to splurge on a new wardrobe before you’re back to pre-pregnancy size, it’s probably necessary to invest in a few ultra-wearable pieces of clothing to see you through the first few post-baby months. I got so fed-up with being in-between sizes and either wearing maternity shorts that kept threatening to drop to my ankles or having a muffin top spilling over my size 26 shorts, that I walked into Giordano one afternoon and bought three pairs of size 28 shorts in one go because I was convinced that I was never going to lose the rest of the baby weight.
As Murphy’s Law would have it, I did lose the weight after I spent $100 on my new shorts. I can’t decide whether I’m happy to be slim or upset that my crotch appears to be dangling uncomfortably close to knee-level when I wear the shorts.
Plus, I now have to buy new shorts. Dammit.
10. Be vain
Vanity, for some, is the greatest driver in spurring one towards the ultimate weight loss goal. I will shamelessly admit that I love it when friends, relatives and colleagues stare and say, “Wow, did you just lose all of your baby weight? Looking good!”
Inside my mind, I’m going HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY! BEAM! HOORAY! YES! all at once.
But I manage to maintain my composure and reply modestly, “Really? Thank you! Well, it has been 6 months since I gave birth, you know...” Heh. But seriously, it’s GREAT to be called a hot mama!
Truth be told, I can’t vouch for sure that I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight – because I haven’t weighed myself recently. But one true way to test my claim is to try to fit into my Levi’s. Unlike my stretchy obscure-brand jeans, Levi’s don’t stretch that much after they are worn and won’t go all baggy around your knees and ankles – and that is exactly what makes them look good, doesn’t it?
And they fit. They fit perfectly.
Some people even ask whether I’m slimmer than I was just before I got pregnant. Well, I’m not that ambitious. I’m happy to be where I am already! Plus, a true test of pre-pre-pregnancy shape would be whether or not I can still fit into my scuba wetsuit… which I first bought a good TEN years ago.
I swear that I’m already breaking into sweat just thinking about squeezing my post-baby self into skintight neoprene. I think I’ll leave that test for a day when temperatures are cooler.
Like when it finally snows – here in SG.