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Body After Baby: Learn to Love the Curves

By Charlene O'Hanlon

It's a universal lament of every new mother: "I need to get back topre-pregnancy weight!" For some, that means watching their diet, and forothers, that means hitting the gym as soon as the doctor gives theokay.

Both are noble endeavors. And both are highly recommended. After all,a healthy diet and regular exercise is good for the mind as well as thebody. But when you're averaging five hours of interrupted sleep anight, sometimes the last thing you want to do is tie on your runningshoes and instead want to curl up on the couch and snack on a pint ofrocky road ice cream while your baby naps.

I know. I've been there.

I exercised regularly throughout my first pregnancy, but I didn'treally watch my diet. In fact, I craved comfort foods such as grilledcheese sandwiches and, yes, rocky road ice cream. Consequently, I gained40 pounds that took me about a year to lose through regular, intensiveexercise and by watching my diet like a hawk. I also joined a weightloss support group, which helped my husband lose his "pregnancy weight"but didn't do much for me.

With my second baby, I didn't exercise as much, but made an effort toget out and walk every day. I also was very selective in what I ate andhow I rewarded myself for getting through another day of being pregnant- rather than have a cannoli, I indulged in guilty pleasures such aschick flicks, prenatal massages and long naps (when I could fit themin). As a result, I gained only 25 pounds, which I was able to lose intwo short months.

I credit the relatively rapid weight loss to the daily walks myhusband and I took with the baby, starting the day I got home from thehospital. Obviously, it was too soon for me to start exercising rightaway, but for me, the daily walks were enough to keep me feeling healthyand help me clear my head I was feeling a bit overwhelmed byparenthood.

Above all, I didn't stress over the extra weight, which I firmlybelieve hinders many a weight loss regimen. In fact, I approached myextra rolls with a "love my curves" attitude. My body had done somethingamazing, and I had the stretch marks to prove it. Of course, knowinghow important exercise and a healthy diet is to both my physical andmental health, I did what I could to eat right and some days I forcedmyself to take the walks. But they did the trick. And when my doctorgave me the thumbs up six weeks later to hit the gym, I went because Iwanted to, not because I felt as though I had to lose the weight. Andthat turned out to be the best weight loss plan ever.

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