Did you know that 50-70% of women gain too much weight during pregnancy and on average retain 40% of that weight one year later. After going through three pregnancies myself, I frequently thought worried about my weight (and dreaded those weekly weigh-in’s during the last month). If I could go back in time to the start of my very first pregnancy, there are some simple steps I wish I WOULD HAVE TAKEN to get a better grasp on what to expect, how to prepare and when to be concerned. Many other moms (new and veterans) have expressed similar feelings. With that in mind, let’s focus on what you can do before the baby arrives to set yourself up for post-pregnancy weight loss success.

Postpartum Fitness Checklistthe plan before your plan

The Postpartum Fitness checklist that follows offers ten steps to take BEFORE you begin your post-pregnancy weight loss efforts. A few might be obvious, but hopefully these will make a difference and keep you from becoming a statistic. We’re rolling out the rest of the list as we go, and are almost a third of the way through. Step 3 in the series focuses on using a food diary. While this might seem like a big pain or annoyance, let’s dig deeper on how logging your meals might actually help you eat smarter.

Postpartum Fitness Checklist

Sticking with good nutrition habits after a newborn arrives is HARD

You’ve just had a baby, life as you know it has been turned upside down. You’re already battling a number of headwinds. Stress, sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts. At postpartum week 6, you may even be heading back to work. Nutrition might not be at the top of your priority list. But using a food diary can help!

Even if you’re a very nutritious eater, imagine this scenario. You are three months postpartum and you’re NOT losing weight. Frustrated, you visit your doctor for help. Guess what one of the first questions is he/she will ask…what are your eating habits like? How many calories a day are you eating? Pretty hard to have an informed conversation if you’re not keeping track of what you’re eating. AND if you walk into the office with your food diary info, the doc will be able to much better assess what is going on and better grasp how serious you are about your goals.

Solution: log your food!

Holy Cow! LoseIt says I maintained a calorie deficit for the week...yay ME!

Holy Cow! LoseIt says I maintained a calorie deficit for the week…yay ME!

Log my food? Huh? Logging your food means record what you are eating all day, every day. Over time, you’ll learn how many calories you’re consuming, macronutrients, etc. If you are trying to lose weight much of the trick is simply maintaining a calorie deficit (consuming less than you burn off).

But…Why log your food?? Can that SERIOUSLY make a difference?? Short answer is yea, probably. One recent clinical trial found that reducing junk food intake was one of two factors statistically linked to successful post-pregnancy weight loss. Not age, not breast feeding, not income….reducing junk food. (*Note: other factor linked to weight loss success….increasing physical activity. Wow. Eat right and exercise. Ground breaking stuff…I know.)

Studies show logging food can help you follow a more nutritional diet AND AVOID JUNK FOOD.  For example, one recently published study showed that app-based food diaries helped people lose over 6kg (that’s over 13 pounds) in six months. Interestingly, another trial reported weight loss was SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER for people who logged food >60% of the trial, versus those who logged meals <30% of the trial. Takeaway – consistency matters.  I’m the first to admit that I go in fits and starts with logging my food.  Sometimes, I’m just busy….sometimes, I’m cheating and really hate to admit it to myself. :)  When I’m honest and consistent, it goes a long way to keeping me on track.

The makers of one app called LoseIt claim the majority of their users who log food LOSE weight. Some possible reasons why….keeps you accountable, encourages you to make responsible choices.

Where do you start?

The solution you use ultimately depends on YOU. My only recommendation is that if you’re implementing this BEFORE kids arrive, make sure you pick something that is very simple, low maintenance. Your life is about to escalate in chaos. Make it a HABIT now, save trouble later. Simply put, if the food diary is too much trouble it will fall by the wayside pretty fast. My personal favorite is a free food diary called LoseIt. There are others (MyFitnessPal, MealLogger, My Diet Diary). I’ve just personally had the best experience with LoseIt. You can read more about how I’ve used LoseIt here.

One suggestion is to start using it for a week. Don’t make any nutrition changes…just get into the habit of logging your meals. At the end of the week, how did you do? Eating more or less than you thought? Having trouble with portion sizes? The experience is usually an eye opener.

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