Healthy Eating Postpartum

healthy food in fridge

To Diet or Not to Diet?

This has been a major struggle for me lately, trying to find a good balance between eating healthy and dieting. Now the word diet as defined by google means

a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

In the crossfit community there is a big emphasis on ‘going paleo’. If you aren’t familiar with the paleo diet it restricts you to eating meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit and..well that’s pretty much it. To be 100% paleo you must cut out all grains, legumes, dairy, and processed food. You can read more about the paleo rules here. Now there is another diet which is gaining popularity, called the Whole 30, you can check that out as well if you’d like. Personally, I have adopted a lot of the concepts from these diets without being 100% strict on what I can and can’t eat, since that hasn’t worked for me in the past. Now dont get me wrong these diets are fantastic if you want to lose weight, increase energy and get out of a slump and on your way to a healthier lifestyle. But can be difficult for some people to sustain if this is a drastic change from their usual way of eating.  An effective diet is one that promotes you to have a permanent change in the way you think about food, and hopefully have you on your way to a healthier lifestyle! 

So, what do I eat while breastfeeding!?!

Can you go paleo, or do the Whole 30? Well, I did for a week, my milk supply dropped and I am still struggling to get it back up. So I’m going to say it’s probably not a good choice. Any drastic loss of weight after having a baby can negatively effect your milk supply. You want to aim to lose 1-2 pounds a week and no more. Remember breastfeeding burns approximately an extra 500 calories/day which you MUST eat in order to sustain this. Here’s a quick little math lesson on weight loss….

what goes in > what goes out = weight gain
what goes in < what goes out = weight loss

So if you take a woman my size (these numbers are approximate by the way)
800 calories- basal metabolic  –> this is what you need in order to live even if you just laid in bed and did nothing.
500 calories – breastfeeding
500 calories – workout
200 calories – extra walking around/picking up baby/cleaning the house, etc ,etc
= 2000 calories/day.

That means that if you want to stay the exact same weight you should eat 2000 calories a day. I usually aim for 1600-1800 to promote a slow and steady weight loss. Now I have a vague idea of how many calories are in various foods based on my previous experience in the field but I highly recommend using a calorie counting app (like MyFitnessPal) for a few weeks to get an idea of how many calories you are actually eating. Make sure you pay attention to portion size! You would be surprised how many servings you are actually eating if you measure what you eat. After doing this for a couple weeks I no longer feel its necessary to track calories everyday. By this point  you should have a general idea of how much you can eat and stay under that 2000 calorie a day goal. I actually found by using this app that I wasn’t eating enough! I would have days where I would have a salad for lunch and chicken  and vegetables for dinner and hardly reach 1200 calories for the day.

So when people ask what kind of diet I follow I tell them I eat by the Canada Food Guide (I’m from Canada, gotta represent eh!). What this means is that I eat a variety of foods from different food groups each day. I try to eat whole, non-processed foods when possible and limit the amount of junk in my diet. You can read more about the Canada Food Guide here.

canada food guide Image Source

Now this is also not a one size fits all for everyone! I made some changes to suit my own nutritional needs. I like to eat slightly less grains and more protein to satisfy my hungry muscles, I also don’t each much dairy so I replace this with vegetables that provide me with necessary calcium. I also require a slightly higher fat content because of nursing so I eat an extra serving of grass fed butter or coconut or olive oil with one of my meals (usually breakfast). So as you can see this is simply a guideline that helps people understand the importance of eating from all 4 food groups.

What foods are best while breastfeeding?

Fish (low mercury content like salmon) – high in Omega3’s essential for brain function
Lean Beef – high in Iron and B-12 for energy
Fruit – healthy carbohydrates and high in vitamins, fruit like blueberries and Oranges are a great choice.
Whole Grains – for energy and calories
Eggs – for protein and DHA (if they are fortified)
Leafy Greens – vitamin A, calcium and Iron
Prenatal vitamin – keep taking those vitamins to make up for the nutrients you may of missed during the day
WATER- this is #1. You MUST drink enough water everyday. And when you think you drank enough have a little more. It’s important to stay hydrated especially if you are sweating it out at the gym.

Now just a reminder, I am not a nutritionist (I have taken 2 courses in nutrition which by no means makes me an expert) but I am a mother and a health coach so these recommendations are based on what works for me. See your dietician or nutritionist for more personalized recommendations if you have special diet needs!

How to Prevent Diastasis Recti

So I have had a lot of questions after my previous post on Diastasis Recti on how to prevent it. Well the short answer is, you can’t really prevent it. Now I can’t find much research on this but I would think that having tight abdominals, having a large baby, gaining a lot of weight, and how you are carrying your baby (to the front or side, etc) would all attribute to how likely you are to develop it.

BUT… even if you have a diastasis, you can still prevent it from getting worse!! There are many things you can do to prevent your abs from continuing to separate. First off get some proper support, I recently discovered the ‘Belly Sports Bra’ from Bao Bei Maternity. You can buy one here. Also using the Kinesiotaping technique I describe in my previous post here helps great deal both before and after pregnancy! Even if you find it does get worse, don’t stress, this can be helped after the birth with specific exercises that target your Transverse Abdominis (TA) like the ones I mentioned in some of my other posts.

What makes the biggest difference is monitoring and modifying your EVERYDAY activities. Even if you don’t workout you can still be making this worse just going through your normal routine! The worst culprit is getting out of bed. Most people have the abdominal strength to simply sit up and get out of bed like you normally would, this puts a HUGE amount of pressure on that midline essentially tearing your abs apart slightly more each time (not a pretty picture right!). Some things you can do to help this include log rolling when you get out of bed. A log roll is kind of how it sounds, you want to roll on your side, hang your legs off the bed, and use your arms and upper body to assist with getting up. I also got a very handy bedrail. Yes, the same ones I prescribe for my elderly patients, but I LOVE it and still use it today. It especially helps for when you are super pregnant and can’t roll over. You can get them on Amazon here. You also want to avoid any heavy lifting or holding  heavy items overhead. This can put outward pressure on your abdomen if you don’t have the proper strength and support  in place. Also, check out my video on neutral spine. By engaging your TA muscles in a neutral spine position while doing all your daily activities, yes this includes cooking and getting dressed,  you will help protect that abdomen and keep those muscles together where they should be ! Find a therapist near you to help with this if you are having trouble. If you learn how to activate the right muscles while you are still pregnant it not only helps with labor but will put you in a great position for recovery afterwards!

diastasis recti

As I mentioned before some exercises to avoid include
– crunches
– planks
– V sits
– leg lifts
-Bicycles
– Yoga poses like up-dog, cow pose, and triangle pose.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below. 🙂

Hope this helps!!

The Benefit of Group Classes

 

Check out my little babe watching us today! I am so glad that I can bring her with me to workout, makes it SOOO much better! crossfit baby How many times do you go into a gym thinking, I just CAN’T do this today. Today was one of those days, I was still a little sore from my workout on Saturday so as I walked into the Crossfit gym and saw the WOD (workout of the day) on the board and I nearly walked out. Now let me tell you, even before pregnancy I was never much of a runner, actually, I hate running. I don’t mind doing power intervals but just normal outdoor running is not my favorite. And today I went to the ‘intense’ class where my Swolemate (haha, that word makes me laugh) and I were the only women in a class of very fit men. Anyways, so today the WOD was

1 mile run
50 wall balls (14 lbs)
800 m run
50 KB swings (30 lbs)
400 m run
50 Double unders
200 m run
50 squats

FOR TIME – 30 minute cap.

Now, as I started my run everyone else immediately took off and left me to run by myself (which I was totally okay with!), and I started off my usual way, thinking “ahhh…I should just walk it…I just had a baby…I haven’t run in over a year…etc, etc, etc”, then something clicked. I thought to myself….”you can do this, its only a mile…you’ve done this before, just one foot in front of the other”. As I kept repeating this mantra to myself I found that I was already halfway around the block, I focused on my breathing and in an almost trance like state made it back to the gym..1 mile down! I ran that mile in 9:12 and then went on to complete the workout in 25:56, which I thought was pretty darn impressive. Because I am still getting back into it, I modified it to suit my current level in terms of scaling down the weight, but overall I feel like I KILLED this workout. Today was the first day where i felt much more like myself, I am no longer the postpartum mama who can’t even lift a 35 pound bar, but rather the fit, athletic mom who can (almost) keep up with the boys!!

This is the reason that I love going to Crossfit. Many people ask me why I pay to attend classes when I am a trainer myself, I have equipment and places to workout, why would I bother to pay someone else to train me? Everyone, regardless of how much you know or how good a trainer you are, needs some external support and motivation to succeed. If I had gone out for a run by myself I would of NEVER pushed to run that much! But it is human nature that when you are around other people you want to do your best, look your best, and overall just be a better person. Well I shouldn’t say everyone is like that, haha, but you know what I mean. Attending group sessions or having someone else train me allows me to push myself just a little outside my comfort zone, it is in this small little space that you get remarkable results. Lastly, this develops a huge sense of accountability. If I say that I am going to workout I will be there, regardless of what else is going on in my life, because I don’t want to let someone else down. I know that my workout partner or coach would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, and therefore I probably workout 25% more than I would of if no one cared if I showed up or not. Think about this next time you contemplate spending money on your fitness and well being, it’s worth every penny!!

Cheers,
Natasha

Lactation Cookies

Paleo lactation cookies

So I hate baking but decided to take a shot at some lactation cookies since I hear all the galactagogues (milk producing foods) in them are great for maintaining milk supply, and hey… It’s a treat I don’t feel bad about eating!

Here’s the recipe I used, I adapted it from this one I found on mama natural.

PS, If you don’t like the taste of fennel you can substitute it for 2 tbsp of flax seeds, I personally like the taste but it can be a bit overbearing.

Recipe

Ingredients
4 cups organic rolled oats (blended or whole, I’ve used both and it works fine)
1 cup organic coconut sugar
1/2 cup organic cornstarch
1/2 cup Brewers yeast (I got this in the supplement section at whole foods)
1 TB fennel seed, ground (can sub for 2 TB of ground flax)
2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup, plus 2 TB coconut oil
4 eggs
2 TB organic blue agave
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/2 cup of organic dark chocolate chips

Yield 20 large cookies

Directions

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Put your 4 cups of rolled oats into a high speed blender or food processor (I used my nutribullet). Blend until the oats are ground but not completely smooth.
Measure out 1 TB of fennel seeds and grind until fine powder. ( or use 2 tbsp of ground flax seeds)
Put dry ingredients into large bowl and mix.
In a smaller bowl, put your almond butter, melted coconut oil, honey, eggs and vanilla extract. Mix well.
Pour the contents of smaller bowl into the dry ingredient bowl. Mix well with spoon or clean hands.

Grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil. Form flat balls, I made mine pretty big because I wanted them to be more like a breakfast bar but you can make them smaller if you want them to be more like cookies.
Bake cookies in oven for 8-10 minutes. Check for slightest browning on outside of cookie.
Take out and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
Enjoy warm, or let cookies cool to room temperature.

Stroller Walk

Today I took the baby and the pup out for a nice walk. My muscles were pretty burnt out so I know if I did another strength workout it might be too much. Walking is the perfect exercise for the day after a tough workout, it helps stretch tight muscles, clear the lactic acid out of your system (that is what causes muscle soreness) and helps prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), you know that feeling when you wake up two days after your workout and can’t move? Yeah…that’s DOMS. Along with all the other health benefits of cardio exercise I really just like to walk to explore our city.Santa Barbara I moved to Santa Barbara two years ago, and I have to say I haven’t really been taking advantage of just how great it is here! When I first moved I was slightly reluctant and didn’t think I would ever feel at home. Now that I have made some friends, got used to a new gym, know people around town, it’s really feeling more like home everyday! I’ve decided that since the baby loves the stroller and our dog is getting bigger so he needs his walk everyday we are going to try to venture out and try new places instead of just around the neighborhood! Today we hit up Shoreline park. This is the perfect place to workout by the way, lush green grass, amazing views, stairs and a jungle gym… What more do you need?! We did an hour power walk, I took the stroller instead of my tula this time, and made sure we stopped occasionally to take in the breathtaking scenery. When we got home we all crashed, dog included, for a nice afternoon nap. It was really nice to have an hour of uninterrupted time, yes I had the dog and baby in tow but they were quiet, I silenced my phone and just took it all in.

I feel this is when I get my best thinking done, I can really refocus on what I want to do with the rest of my day, week, year and feel less like a chicken running around with their head cut off. I have a tendency to always take on a little too much, I’ve gotten used to having multiple jobs at the same time as going to school and having an active social life. Now that I’m a mom I have to fight that urge to want to do it all. I can’t say yes to every social event we are invited to and I can no longer take on that 3rd job because ‘they really needed me!’ I count being a mom job #1 by the way, I’ve never had a job with so much responsibility! I find it’s when I take the time to really dial in on what makes me happy. When I focus on doing my best at that I end up feeling more fulfilled than ever. I read a great quote today, I’ll share it below! So now, where should we walk next?! I’m thinking its time to go hiking again…maybe bring my husband along this time!

clinton kelly quote Click for Source

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