Bounce Back culture is a real thing in modern societies. It puts very serious pressure on moms to get back to their pre-baby weight ASAP and go back to living their life before as if nothing changed. But trying to lose weight immediately after having a baby isn't the smartest idea for your long-term health.
The reality is that your body just created a new life and has completely transformed, as has your life. Neither will ever be the same again... and it's not realistic to expect it to be. For starters, if you're breastfeeding, you need to eat quite a bit more than you would normally just to have enough nutrients to nourish your baby. In fact, I was eating close to 3,000 calories/day for nearly a year! Another reason is that your uterus expanded exponentially. Yes, it does go back down; however, it may not ever be as small as it once was. That and other changes inside your body can cause your belly to protrude more than you're used to. And finallly, you're simply no longer that person anymore. It can't be expected for you to go back to how things were. Have you noticed your friend's circle change or expand since starting a family? Exactly. You're not the same person so it's harder to relate with who you were, and the friends you had, before.
I admit that I fell victim to this "bounce back" mentality too. A couple of weeks after I had my baby, I was trying on my old clothes and was so distraught because they didn't fit... and I couldn't stop comparing myself to other professional models I know who had their abs back and were back to work by then. For the longest time, I tried on my old favorite clothes every week. And every time I was an emotional wreck. Here I am, a professional model and a health expert, and yet I wasn't bouncing back... or so that's how I felt.
So why do we go on a diet so quickly and expect our bodies to bounce back to the way they once were?
Once my hormones leveled back out and I started to break down why I felt so challenged by not "bouncing back" the way I wanted, I started to realize that it simply wasn't the right time for me. And it may not be for you either.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before attempting to go on a diet. Whether you're a new mom or a mom of many... whether you just had a baby or it was a few years ago, these questions still apply.
01: Do you have an upcoming big life event?
Right after we had baby Beckett, we moved into a house that we built. Talk about stress upon stress. Any event that adds a significant amount of stress to your life likely means it's not time to go on a diet. Diets and exercise put your body under stress, as do big life events. Coupled together, you'll likely slow your metabolism in the long run... because chronic stress causes weight gain (especially in the mid-section!).
This doesn't mean, eating all the comfort and junk food in sight, just that it's probably not the right time to go in a calorie deficit or make any significant changes to your diet in order to shed unwanted pounds.
02: How much time do you have to dedicate?
It's crazy to think we can so easily jump on a bandwagon without thinking about what it actually entails. So you want to go on a diet... but do you actually have time to meal plan for the week, meal prep multiple meals and workout consistently?
I'm willing to bet that if you've recently had a baby, you just don't have time to focus on losing weight. Instead, consider what do you actually have time for? Maybe that's walking with your baby around the block. Or babywearing, because those of us who have done it, know it's a workout! And instead of having a goal to lose weight, consider having one to nourish your body and give it what it needs right now that you know you can make time for. Maybe it's as simple as adding bone broth to your breakfast for now.
03: What do you value?
I realized I wanted my familiar body back because that's what was expected of me. I wanted to look the way that others perceived me as being healthy. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized that what I really wanted was to nourish my son (and I needed to eat a LOT to do that while breastfeeding). I realized I really wanted to spend quality time with my husband which means weekly beer and pizza I'm not willing to sacrifice. And ultimately, I realized that I want to be healthy so I can truly connect and be one with my family... oh, and that I didn't need to look like my old self to do that.
So what's the real reason why you want to go on a diet? Why do you feel you need to lose weight? What's your core why?
Sixteen months after having baby Beckett, I still don't look like I did before (and I definitely don't live my life the same). But I'm healthy and my body is slowly balancing out exactly where it should be. Will I still want to do a body recomposition one day? Sure, but when I'm ready and not because of others' expectations.