Dinner Ideas Under 20-Minutes: 5 Easy Low Calorie Meals

When you have a baby to jump around ( and another older kid or more), it can be a challenge to cook and eat a decent meal. Who does have time for that, right? You are glad you made it out of your pajamas before lunch and managed to make yourself (and your older) some breakfast – like me, today. My baby boy is teething so I didn’t get a proper sleep for 3 nights in a row (by “proper” I mean at least 3 hours uninterrupted :), so I spend my days just aimlessly wandering around the house, carrying the baby. My body is sleep-deprived and all I want to eat is SUGAR. And pizza. Luckily I have some super easy low calorie meals that are soo yummy and will save you tons of time and calories. Most of them are ready within 20 minutes or less and provide you with nourishment and energy that your body desperately needs.

I love creating easy meals. Although they might not be a top culinary experience, they’re tasty, satisfying and healthy. So do yourself a favor today: instead of ordering that pizza, try one of my recipes! Oh and of course they are breastfeeding friendly! 🙂

 

1. Tuna “risotto”

This is actually not the Italian style risotto, but I didn’t know what else to name it. Great lunch, full of lean protein, healthy fats slow burning carbs. You will need:

  • rice – cookedtuna risotto
  • canned tuna in water or olive oil – drained
  • frozen peas (or any vegetable of your choice)
  • mushrooms
  • leek
  • Parmesan – grated

1 serving (250g) = 450 Kcal

Boil the rice with a pinch of salt. If you want to have a super-healthy meal, opt for a brown rice. But keep in mind that brown rice takes a lot longer cook than white rice, so it is better to have it prepared beforehand. I cook my rice in a rice cooker – it’s a lifesaver! You just put your rice inside, pour water, press the “cook button” and forget it. It cooks the rice and when ready, it keeps heating it for another 24hrs. So you can prepare it even overnight and it will be fresh for your lunch. You don’t even have to be at home when your rice is cooking.

While the rice is cooking, simmer the vegetables for a couple of minutes in salty water – if not using peas, cut your veggies into small pieces, this way a quick simmering is enough. You can also use a microwave for this. Cut mushrooms and a piece of leak into pieces and put fry them on a heated pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. After 2 minutes, add the cooked veggies, mix together with the mushrooms and turn off the heat. Add the rice and drained tuna, add some more salt or seasoning of your choice and your lunch is ready!

 

2. Leek soup

I am a soup person. My mom used to serve the soup with every meal. She said warm soup helps your stomach to get ready for the next course. If you are in a hurry and you need a satisfying, healthy meal you can eat with just one hand (because you are carrying your baby with your other hand), a creamy, thick soup is a great choice. You will need:

  • 1 leek
  • 2 small sweet potatoes (or regular ones)creamy leek soup
  • chicken or vegetable broth
  • butter
  • 2 spoons of red lentils
  • salt, pepper

1 serving (250g) = 250 Kcal

Cut the leek including the green part into pieces and fry it with a piece of butter. Add chopped potatoes, red lentils, salt and pepper and let fry for another minute. Add water/broth just to cover the vegetables and cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Mix with a blender until creamy. If the soup is too thick, add some more hot water. Add some more seasoning of your choice if desired (I use a herb soup mix seasoning). Serve with fresh parsley leaves, a mix of seeds or croutons, and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil. Yum!

3. Roasted veggies with cottage cheese dip

This one is super easy. I love roasted meals because you just put them inside the oven and you can do something else until it’s finished (the only downside is that you can easily forget you are cooking something 🙂 For this recipe, you can use basically any veggie that is suitable for roasting, e.g. eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, beets, cauliflower..etc. I personally love this meal with pumpkin and sweet potatoes: Here is how I do it:

  • 1/2 butternut squash or Hokkaido pumpkin – peeledroasted veggies with cottage cheese
  • 1 bigger sweet potato
  • 1 cottage cheese
  • olive oil, salt
  • herbs: parsley, chives, garlic, thyme

1 serving (300g veggies + 150g cottage) = 320 Kcal

Peel the pumpkin and cut out the seeds. Cut it into slices. Peel the potato and cut it into thick chips. Put the veggies in the bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add some salt and thyme. You can also add rosemary if you like its taste (I don’t). Mix the veggies thoroughly so they are well covered in oil and seasoning. Put them on the roasting sheet and bake for approx 15-20 minutes (depends on your oven). The veggies should be slightly brown on the top when ready. To prepare the dip, mix cottage cheese with salt, fresh parsley, chives and crushed garlic.

4. Tuna salad with apple

This is a fantastic summer dish that requires no cooking (apart from the eggs) and will keep you full for longer thanks to loads of proteins. I love the sweetness of an apple combined with onions and tuna. If you don’t breastfeed and are not allergic to nuts, switch pumpkin seeds for some walnuts. This combination is just heaven! You will need:

  • any green salad leaves or spinach leavestuna salad with apple
  • 1/2 of apple, diced
  • 1 canned tuna
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • 1/4 avocado
  • red onion
  • pumpkin seeds or walnuts (only if you do not breastfeed)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar glaze

1 serving = 350 Kcal

Dice apple, avocado, onion and egg. Mix it with green leaves and drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Add some salt and fresh ground pepper to taste and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top.

 

5. Pumpkin soup

This soup is just pure delight and you are done in 15 minutes. If you omit the intense seasonings, it is a great toddler meal too! I like to use Hokkaido pumpkin for this, but butternut squash will also do. Here is how to prepare it:

  • 1 pumpkin/squashpumpkin soup
  • 1/2 onion
  • butter
  • 1 medium potato
  • chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt, pepper, curry seasoning, paprika, cinnamon
  • pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil

1 serving (250g) = 300 kcal

Saute diced onion on melted butter. Add pumpkin and potato peeled and cut into small pieces. Fry together for 1 minute, then add the seasoning. Pour over the broth, just enough to cover the veggies (you can add some more broth or water later on, if too thick). Cook approximately 10 minutes, then mix with a blender until smooth. Serve drizzled with pumpkin seeds and oil.

 

So, what do you think? You can prepare yourself a decent, healthy and satisfying meal in less amount of time than it takes to deliver pizza 🙂 Give your body some nutritious fuel to keep that metabolism working the right way.

 

Do you have your own favourite quick lunch or dinner recipe? I would love to know so I can try it! Just drop me a comment 🙂

 

 

How I healed my postpartum core: 4 best pelvic floor exercises

The core is the most important part of our bodies. Its muscles help us to stay upright and support the whole body. And it’s not just the abs. The whole core involves all the muscles that surround your midsection, including your back and pelvic floor. Let’s be honest here: recovering from the baby is hard. Growing little human inside you changes your core muscles beyond recognition, including your pelvic floor. Fortunately, regaining its previous strength IS possible and I want to share with you the best pelvic floor exercises that helped me to heal my core.

 

After my second son was born, I noticed some pelvic floor weakness. I was kind of surprised by that, as I didn’t experience that after my first childbirth. Not only it surprised me – I was literally baffled when I realized a couple of days postpartum that I am not able to control my bladder the same way I was used to. And it got even worse a few weeks after birth. I could not squat down, sneeze, laugh or even stand longer without wetting myself. I refused to settle for that and I knew I had to do something, but I just didn’t know where to start.

The first thing that came to my mind was obviously to ask my doctor. So there I was, 6 weeks postpartum at my doctors’, asking for some quick solution to my problem. “Just do more Kegels” he said. Okay. Wait. What the heck is that? Of course, I headed to google typing “postpartum urinary incontinence” in the search bar and after reading a few articles, I finally had some idea about what I needed to do. My pelvic floor was injured and it needed to be repaired.

I know you want to get back in that pre-baby shape as soon as possible but pretty please, do take my advice:

Don’t even think about getting back to your pre-pregnancy workout or starting a new exercise routine without healing and strengthening your pelvic floor first!

Don’t hope that it will improve by itself somehow. Don’t neglect it. Don’t settle for that. Don’t settle for life where you have no control over your body. A life where you have to know beforehand where the toilet is every time you go somewhere. Being afraid to laugh out loud on a good joke or jump around with your kids. If you can make your mom body stronger and healthier, you can do just the same for your pelvic floor. You deserve it, and so does your body.

 

What happened to your pelvic floor after giving birth?

A pelvic floor is a group of muscles around your bladder, vagina and anal passage. It supports your pelvic organs and, during pregnancy, also the baby inside your womb. Pregnancy and birth can cause the pelvic floor to weaken as the weight of your baby and the labour put a lot of pressure on these muscles.

Too weak pelvic muscles can cause more serious health issue called prolapse – this happens when one or more pelvic organs (uterus, bladder or rectum) sag down into the vagina. In most cases, prolapse can be treated without surgery by strengthening the core and pelvic muscles. Just like any weakened or injured muscles in our body, also the pelvic ones can be repaired. And even better – they can be strengthened beyond their previous condition.

 

Find your pelvic muscles

OK. First things first. You want to make sure that you know which muscles you actually need to train. There are two most common and I’d say quite easy ways how to identify the pelvic muscle group:

  1. When lying down, try to squeeze the ring of muscle around the anal passage as if you were trying to stop passing wind but do not squeeze your buttocks.
  2. When sitting on the toilet, try to stop the flow of the urine for a second or two and then start again. This will help you to locate the right muscles to exercise. Please be aware that this test should be performed only to identify the pelvic floor – it is not a regular exercise! Stopping the flow of the urine midway too often is not good for your bladder.

Ready for the workout?

Before you start doing any of these exercises, make sure you talk to your doctor to make sure you can safely begin working your pelvic muscles again.

While in most cases Kegels are safe to perform just days after birth, I would wait with squats and bridges until 4-6 weeks postpartum. It all comes down to your health condition, so I highly recommend to check with your doctor to be sure.

I have studied tons of information about the most effective ways to strengthen my pelvic floor, I even joined some online courses focused on pelvic issues. After trying many techniques I found out what’s working for me. Check out my favourite 4 best pelvic floor exercises that helped me to heal my postpartum core.

1. Kegels or “Squeeze and release”

This is actually the most important pelvic floor exercise in first days postpartum as it will help your perineum and vagina to recover faster. Exercising pelvic muscles improves blood circulation to the pelvic area which helps to reduce swelling and bruising. I started doing a “squeeze and release workout” the second day postpartum, during breastfeeding sessions. My nipples were cracked so badly the first days that every nursing session has hurt like hell. Concentrating on Kegels while nursing actually helped me to keep my attention away from that pain.

You can perform Kegels sitting or lying down, whichever you prefer. To start, contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for 5 seconds and release for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Try to do this small workout routine ideally 3 times a day.

2. Bridge

The bridge is a great exercise as it combines workout for your glutes (hellooo peachy bottom), hamstrings and your pelvic muscles in one move. I just love multitasking, you know..:)

To do bridge, lie on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, arms straight at your sides. Raise your hips off the ground alongside with squeezing your glutes, hamstrings, and pelvic floor. Pause for a second at the top and then lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat at least 10 times in 2-3 reps. As your pelvic and core muscles get stronger, you will notice that you are able to do more repetitions.

3. Narrow squat

Another great exercise that not only trains your pelvic floor, but it also tones your legs and bottom. For strengthening the pelvic floor, narrow squats are more beneficial as it is harder to maintain the pelvic contraction when doing a sumo (wide) squat.

To perform squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees to move the buttocks toward the ground as if you were going to sit on the chair. Go as low as comfortable and try to keep your knees in line with the toes. When returning into the standing position, focus on squeezing your glutes and pelvic muscles. Repeat at least 10 times in 2-3 rounds.

4. Core exercises

The abdominal muscles support the pelvic floor. If you have exercised before pregnancy, the chances are that strength of your abs may exceed the strength of your pelvic muscles. That is why it’s important to start working on the condition of the pelvic floor first and then slowly build up to harder core workout. Be careful not to overwork the outside core muscles without previous pelvic floor strengthening!

When dealing with the weak pelvic floor, it is important to know which core exercises are safe for you. Forget crunches, sit-ups or double-leg lowers. Any challenging or strong abdominal exercises are a no-go until your pelvic muscles are healed and strengthened again. Opt for gentle exercises that tone your abs while placing minimal pressure on the pelvic floor:

Arm and leg lift on all four

This move provides great toning to your abs as well as strengthens your spine. To begin, put yourself on all fours and then reach your right arm in front of your body and at the same time, extend your left leg behind your body. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat on alternate sides. Try to do as many reps as comfortable (10-15 reps)

Leg lift sitting on the ball

This exercise looks so easy, but it actually puts your deep abdominal muscles into some serious training. Sit on the exercise ball, hold onto it with your fingers. Make sure you have a good posture throughout the exercise. Slowly lift your right knee and put your left foot off the ground. Alternate sides. Do 10 reps to each side.

pelvic floor and core exercise

One exercise, that is super important and has a great impact on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is simple, yet most of us tend to overlook it. It is the good body posture. Try to watch your body alignment throughout the day – not only it helps to tone your pelvic muscles – perfect posture makes you look slimmer, taller and more attractive! And that’s what we want, moms. Right? 🙂

 

There are so many benefits you will get with a stronger core and pelvic floor. Apart from eliminating leaks, a strong core will take the strain off your back, you’ll have a slimmer waist and flatter stomach. Your period will be less painful and what is even better, your sex life will improve as well! Investing some time in your core and pelvic floor definitely pays off, what do you think? 🙂


How have you managed to heal your pelvic floor after birth? I would like to read about your experience in comments below!

 

 

 

Wondering how to lose pregnancy weight naturally? Try walking!

It does not matter whether you are a new mom or multiple one already, the truth is, you are busy. So extremely busy sometimes, that you barely have time for yourself and even if you manage to squeeze ten minutes long precious break, you’ll rather enjoy your coffee while it is still hot than taking out that yoga mat and doing a workout.

walking fow weight lossThe good news is that sneaking a cardio activity into your busy daily schedule isn’t that impossible as you might think. You don’t have to go running 10 miles to get proper fat burner cardio (personally, I hate running lol) There is an activity, that does not require expensive membership, visiting a gym or looking for a babysitter while you work out. Yes, it’s walking! The easiest way how to lose pregnancy weight naturally. As a matter of fact, there is a study that shows walking is just as good as running in terms of health effects.

There is so much more to it than just a weight loss. Walking outside helps you to fight the postpartum blues by reducing your stress levels. In fact, walking an hour a day can work wonders for you! It has an amazingly positive impact on your cardiovascular system, as it reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke.

I just love spending time outside with my kids, enjoying the peacefulness of nature. There is so much more to exploring nature with your family than sitting at home staring at TV/phone/tablet – you name it. Besides, you never get to see so much of your neighbourhood as when you have a baby. I’ve been living in a small town for almost 8 years and I never knew we are surrounded by such amazing nature – until I had kids. So what are you waiting for? Your baby needs some fresh air, and so do you. Put your trainers on, pop the baby in a stroller or a carrier and get out for some cardio!

Start easy

First of all, before doing any exercise after birth, you should get a green light from your doctor. Especially, after C-section. When your doctor gives you OK, you can start with short, light walk as soon as you feel like it. I had a vaginal delivery and didn’t have any major wounds or other problems, so I went for a walk about a week after birth. It was a beautiful summer weather outside so I just could not resist 🙂

Remember to start easy, walk at a slow pace and stop immediately if you feel pain or exhaustion. Try for example 15 minutes walk pushing a stroller around the block or in the park. If you feel fine, you can add 5 more minutes to your walking time the next day. As your psychical condition improves, you will naturally build up your walking time and intensity. Aim to walk every day – your baby becomes your biggest motivation 🙂 My son loves sleeping outside, although he is not a huge stroller fan, so I carry him around in a carrier. He usually sleeps much longer outside compared to when he naps at home. Even if I have those lazy days or the weather is not so good, I make myself go out because of him. I know the fresh air will make him sleep better. As with every other physical activity – consistency is the key. If you really want to see results, try not to skip more than one day in a row. Being consistent is the best way to improve your metabolism which naturally leads to greater fat burn.

Pay attention to how you walk and try to keep your spine straight. The handle of your stroller should be at least the height of your waist or a bit higher for the best comfort. If you decide for a walk with a baby carrier, make sure it is properly adjusted so you or your baby won’t get uncomfortable whilst walking. Walk dynamically, try to “feel” your movement and your breath. If you walk at a right speed for fat burn, you should start to feel warm after 15 minutes or so.

 

How much does it burn

Walking is a great way to get back into shape after pregnancy, but you need to understand how to do it the right way. Leisure stroll at the shopping mall or around the block certainly burns some calories, but it won’t make your body to shed those extra baby pounds so easily.

To lose pregnancy weight walking, aweight loss walking strollerim for a brisk walk in a duration of at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 hour. Your walking pace should be about 3,5 mph (this is a pace when you are still able to talk while walking but you need to catch the breath after a couple of sentences)

The total amount of calories burned during a brisk walk depends on your weight. The more your body weights, the more calories it burns. This means carrying your baby while walking makes you heavier, therefore you burn more calories! Yay! According to Mayo Clinic, for a 130-pound person, walking briskly burns around 160 to 180 calories per hour. For a 200-pound person, brisk walk can burn up to 240 calories per hour.

A great way to keep track of your walking sessions and your progress is using a pedometer app to track your distance and pace. For me, keeping track of my physical activity is an awesome way to stay motivated. Having all your walking efforts written down and being able to compare days to see improvement makes you more confident about what you do for your body.

Add that extra burn

When you feel confident with your walking routine, you can start to slowly add some toning exercises to speed up the calorie burn and build yourself some nice, lean muscle. I usually do lunges and squats during my walking sessions. If you are a super-introvert like me, you might find a bit odd to do squats in front of other people passing by. I always try to find a quiet spot to do this part of my workout, as I feel much comfortable when no one is watching. Find your “private spot” in a park or a forest – simply a place where you feel good and confident. I have a few walking routes, usually involving forest, so I do my walking lunges whilst on a forest path.

My usual walking + toning workout looks somewhat like this:

  • 15 min brisk walks until I get to the forest – also serves as a muscle warm up to prevent injuries
  • 3×15 walking lunges in the forest
  • 15 min brisk walk
  • 3×15 squats or standing leg raises (holding onto a tree)
  • 15 min brisk walk
  • 5 min leisure walk to cool down
  • 5 min stretching

That put together is about an hour walk. This way you get the most out of your baby walk – cardio and some toning as well. This particular workout is great when you practice baby-wearing as the extra weight of your baby makes your workout more intense. It is like holding a sandbag or a kettlebell whilst squatting!

If your baby is more of a stroller type, you might want to plan a less rough route – a pavement in a park for instance (as forest path can be a bit difficult for a stroller), There are many other ways how you can intensify your stroller walking. For example, if you live in an area with several hills, pushing a stroller up the hill is a great way to tone your butt and legs.

For an extra fat torching cardio workout, you can also try interval walking. For this type of walking, choose a route with a flat surface. Begin with an easy light walk for 5 minutes to warm up the body. Continue with a moderate walk for another 5 min. Then switch to a speed walk and try to maintain as fast pace as possible for 3 minutes, then switch again to 5 min moderate walk until you can catch the breath. Aim for at least 5 speed walk intervals in 1 walking session – that’s about 45 min walking workout in total. Don’t forget to add 5 min easy walk to cool down and a few stretches at the very end of your session.

Enjoy it

I’d love to share with you some tip to help you get the most out of your walking sessions apart from that calorie burn we all want and need 🙂 Over the years, walking with my kids became one of my favourite free time activity. It clears my head, helps me to think and learn. It makes me happy!

walking for weight loss nature

  1. Put your phone away – we tend to check our phone all the time, or even read while walking. Try to put the phone away and just look around. Watch nature, listen to the sounds. Be like your child – unspoiled by technology – open your eyes and perceive the world around you. Youll enjoy the walking much more this way. You can check that pedometer and calorie counter app later on 🙂
  2. Exercise the brain – although I recommend putting the phone away, there is an exception to this though. Use it for learning! Of course, you can just put your favourite music on when walking. But you can also give your brain something to work on. Put your ear pods on and listen to educational podcasts, audiobooks, or learn a language! I usually listen to podcasts with internet marketing topics or I practice Spanish. I just looove multitasking! 🙂
  3. Explore – plan your routes to explore your surroundings. You never get to see more of your neighbourhood than when you are on a maternity leave 🙂 Check the map and plan your daily walks. I have 4-5 routes to choose depending on weather, time, purpose (shopping route for instance) or equipment (stroller or carrier). Try to plan most of your walks in green areas, away from busy roads, with a point where you can stop, rest or feed your baby

 

Walking to lose weight IS possible

Moms, this is the ideal time for you to start! You have everything you need for this to happen – the time (baby’s nap time) and the means (a stroller to walk with)! No gym membership, no fancy sports clothes, no babysitter. Just get yourself, the baby and go. If you combine everyday walking with a healthy, balanced diet to nourish your body, you’ll be wearing those pre-pregnancy jeans in no time!

 

Did walking help you to lose weight? I would love to read your thoughts. Just drop me a comment below!

 

 

5 tips to help you tighten loose skin after pregnancy

 

skin care after babySo, after long months your baby is finally out and the bump is gone! All of a sudden your stomach looks like a deflated ball with squishy skin all over. No wonder – it has been stretching for over 9 months to adapt to the growing little human. Although you might be eager to get back into your pre-baby shape and looks as soon as possible, you have to be realistic here. Tightening loose skin after pregnancy is a long run, it just does not happen overnight. It will be challenging, but if you stick to a couple of rules, it is totally doable. I know what I’m talking about. I have been there twice 🙂

It was very frustrating for me to look down and see all the sagged skin that once used to be my flat stomach. I was working hard to lose the pregnancy weight and the scales have finally started to move, but the skin was just …. hanging around. We tend to forget what our body and skin have been through for the past 9 months. Those months have been very demanding for your body and it now works hard to restore itself. However, it will need your support to achieve better recovery and speed up the rejuvenating process of your skin after pregnancy.

There are a couple of factors that determine the ability of your skin to get back into its previous shape. It pretty much comes down to skin quality you inherited from your parents and the way you treated your skin before and during pregnancy.

Genetics

Let’s face it. Sometimes, it is just out of your hands. You can try out all the tricks out there to avoid that saggy skin or stretchmarks but you still end up having them. And that friend who has had 3 children and her belly looks like she has never been pregnant? I bet her mother looked the same. You just have to be prepared to fight these flaws by all means available and not giving in. Take me, for example. I always thought my belly will be covered with stretchmarks after pregnancy as my mom has them too. I have stretchmarks all over my buttocks and tights. So I was prepared that my belly will meet the same fate, but at the same time, I was determined not to give up and try my best to avoid them. And, two pregnancies later, my belly skin did not crack at all! I was over the moon when I checked my skin few days postpartum.

Collagen and elastin are your best friends

These are most common proteins found in the skin. There are plenty of ways how you can improve skin´s elasticity. Number one is hydration. Your water intake is crucial to maintaining skin´s natural properties. The good news about collagen is that you can easily boost its levels by eating foods that stimulate the body to increase collagen production (high-protein foods, nuts, Aloe Vera, Algae, vitamin C). The amazing thing about collagen is that the more your body has, the more it is able to produce and preserve. Apart from getting collagen into your body, you can also try applying it onto your skin. There are plenty of collagen lotions and serums available that can help to improve the appearance of your skin. I use this amazing collagen body oil that contains vitamin C and E. It leaves my skin amazingly plump and smooth, I absolutely love it.

Careful with those extra pounds during pregnancy

Putting too much weight on quickly during pregnancy significantly affects the skin’s ability to “shrink back”. During my both pregnancies, I’ve gained around 27 lbs each time. I have to be honest, I ate everything and didn’t strain from indulging foods at all 🙂 I was lucky enough not to have any health issues so I could exercise and do yoga until the 7th month of pregnancy. After my first pregnancy, the skin on belly returned to its previous shape approximately 9 months postpartum. Right now, I am 4 months after the birth of my second son, the skin is starting to look better, but there is still a lot of fat underneath that I need to get rid of. So it’s work in progress 🙂 I am eager to find out if the skin is still able to shrink back the same way the second time around.

Bottom line: if you want to increase your chances of ending up your pregnancy with crinkle-free belly skin, it is very important to watch out on your weight gain. If you gained weight slowly, little by little, your skin was stretching gradually without ruining its elasticity.

 

So, after one successful skin tightening and another one in progress, I want to share with you what I’ve learned so far about restoring my postpartum skin. Here are my 5 useful tips for a tight post-baby belly:

1. HYDRATE FROM THE INSIDE AND ALSO OUTSIDE

Waters helps the skin to be more elastic. Only skin that maintains elasticity is able to return into its previous shape. Apart from improving your skin’s condition, staying hydrated will help you to burn calories more effectively and reduce water retention in the abdomen area.

In addition to water intake, you can also improve the appearance of your skin by applying lotions or oils. Aim for skin care products that contain collagen, vitamins C, E and A. Massage them into the skin with circular movements at least once a day, ideally after the shower.

2. EXFOLIATE

Scrubbing or brushing helps to stimulate better the blood flow, removes dead skin cells and improves the quality of your skin. Using an exfoliation brush also helps to reduce the appearance of stretchmarks. I know that for a new mom, it can be hard to squeeze in a shower every day, but try to practice exfoliation as much as possible – your skin will thank you. I use a brush with coffee scrub postpartum skin tighteningnatural bristles for dry brushing my belly, tights and bottom just before I hit the shower.

I also make a wonderful home-made body scrub that makes the skin look instantly  rejuvenated and helps to diminish the look of cellulite. I mix coffee grounds (fresh or used from a coffee machine will also do the trick) with coconut oil and add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil (optional). Apply this mixture with circular movements onto your skin and rub for a few minutes. Your skin will feel super smooth and moisturized thanks to coconut oil. The caffeine can dehydrate fatty cells which makes water disappear from the surface of your skin, leaving it looking smoother and tighter. Grapefruit essential oil is one of the best anti-cellulite essential oils out there. It contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps to reduce fluid retention and swelling.

3. EXERCISE YOUR CORE

Building muscle is an important part of skin tightening process. Building up a lean muscle underneath the loose skin helps to burn excess stomach fat and tone up the belly area which eventually leads to tighter, smoother looking skin. The reason is simple: there are two layers of tissue underneath the skin: fat and muscle. Both of them press-up against the skin and keep it from sagging. Strong core muscles fill in the looseness in the skin, creating a visibly tighter appearance. Try to squeeze in some extra core exercises whenever you can. I know it is hard to do entire core workout session when your baby’s naps are so short you barely even have time to eat a decent meal during nap time (my son hardly ever sleeps longer than 15 minutes during the day). What I do daily is squeezing the core muscles during walks with the stroller or carrier and 3x 30 seconds plank before I go to bed. It is better than nothing – every little helps.

4. WEAR GIRDLE or SLIMMING PANTS

I wore a postpartum girdle for about 6 weeks after delivery. It gives you great back support, helps the abdominal muscles to regain strength and return to its normal size faster. It is not a miracle device, though. Girdle won’t make you lose weight or fat, but it definitely supports your core and can provide you with a little extra self-confidence. With girdle, you can wear your regular clothes without feeling self-conscious. Most girdles are safe to wear all-day-long, but you might want to take it off for sleeping. Bear in mind that exercising while wearing girdle is not recommended.

5. EAT NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS

Elastin and collagen are two proteins that keep our skin elastic and healthy. They work together to give the skin its shape and texture. Eating protein-rich foods such as cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, legumes, tofu, nuts and fish can help to improve the quality of your skin, as they contain collagen and elastin forming components.

Another great way how to boost collagen is Aloe Vera. This wonderful plant has unique cell-growth stimulating properties that can help boost collagen production in your skin. Apply Aloe directly to the skin in pure form, or as a lotion or cream and massage well. I use a pure Aloe Vera gel that I bought during our holiday on Tenerife Island for almost every skin issue we have and it works wonders for me.

Make sure you get enough of vitamin C, as it works together with hyaluronic acid to boost collagen production in your body. Eating foods rich in vitamin C and amino acids can increase the levels of hyaluronic acid and collagen to help maintain healthy and youthful skin appearance.

 

I know that sometimes, it can be so frustrating looking into the mirror seeing all that excess skin just hanging around, but be patient. The skin on your belly has been stretching for over 9 months, so it might as well take the same time to regain its elasticity. In the meantime – be persistent, be patient and, what is most important – be good to yourself.

How did you manage to tighten your skin postpartum? I would love to read your experience!

 

Does working out while breastfeeding affect breast milk supply?

Physical activity is an important part of your postpartum weight loss journey. Not only it provides the additional fat burn, but it also helps you to recover a lot sooner, improves your health and energizes your body. Studies indicate that moderate exercise is safe for your baby and does not have any side effects on it’s growing. After my first delivery, I didn’t exercise until 6 months postpartum because I was told that my breastmilk supply could drop. It is natural for a first-time mom to have concerns and doubts about exercise while breastfeeding. You want to lose weight but at the same time, you don’t want to do anything to endanger the only food source for your baby. On the other side though, as a nursing mother, you need to care for your well-being to be able to satisfy that exceptional demand breastfeeding places on your body. Staying fit is one of the ways to look after yourself. So will working out while breastfeeding really affect your milk supply or your baby in any way? Will it change breastmilk´s taste or quality? Let’s find out.

Don’t worry about the taste or quality

The first question I’ve asked my personal trainer when I started my postpartum training was if the exercise will make my milk taste differently. Some of you may have heard that working out while breastfeeding can make breastmilk “sour” as the lactic acid level increases after exercise. This is actually true providing that you exercise very intensively. Lactic acid is the body´s natural substance that is not harmful to the baby in any way and disappears from breast milk quite quickly (in approx. 90 minutes). Studies have not shown a noticeable increase of lactic acid after moderate physical activity. So as long as you stick with some low-impact workouts ( up to 80% of maximal heart rate range), you will be fine. If your baby is fussy when nursing after exercising, it may be due to your sweaty skin, not the milk itself. I have always breastfed my son 15 minutes before I started my training and then usually about an hour after I finished. When your baby wants to eat right away after training, you might want to wash off your boobs a bit and express a little milk (3-5 ml from each breast) before nursing. I have to admit that sometimes when I was in hurry or my son would cry a lot, I didn’t fuss around with expressing milk or cleaning the nipple. But none of my sons seemed to be bothered by that.

Studies also show that moderate exercise does not have any effect on breastmilk nutrient composition – it provides the same quality of nutrients to your baby whether you exercise or not.

It won’t decrease your milk supply

There are series of researches that deal with how physical activity affects breastmilk supply. The results show that there is no difference between the mother´s milk supply whether she leads a sedentary lifestyle or is an extremely active athlete (e.g. marathoners or triathletes). Moreover, they discovered that women who exercised daily experienced outstanding benefits compared to inactive women:

  • their milk supply increased
  • their breastmilk had higher energy content
  • they had more energy and higher aerobic capacity

There is no reason why you should give up exercising just because you breastfeed. As long as you eat healthily and keep yourself hydrated, the workout should not have any effect on your milk supply. Hydration is key when exercising, so make sure that you stay hydrated before, throughout and also after your training. Dehydration can lead to producing less milk! Keep a water bottle with you at all times so you won’t forget to drink up.

Plan your workout time

This is actually the tricky part because once you turn into a mother, the timing becomes a hard task. You think you are all set up and ready to go and then the baby burps all over you, himself or the car seat. Sometimes, it is just completely out of your hands.

I’ve been always a “planning freak”, it just made me feel more secure when I had my day or week planned ahead. With kids, it obviously gets harder, but it is not impossible 🙂 When I started to work out, I had to plan my training around my baby´s feeding and sleeping schedule. When my son was 2-3 months old, he just wanted to eat all the time. So I used to arrive at the gym 15 minutes earlier and breastfed him. After an hour-long workout, I washed, expressed a little milk and fed him again before getting into the car. Now, being 4 months, his eating intervals are longer, so I always feed him at home before leaving to the gym and then again when we get back home. I try to plan my workouts in the morning from 9-11 pm, as this is the time when he usually sleeps. Most of the time, he sleeps in the stroller through the entire workout. And, if he doesn’t, my trainer carries him around the gym.

If you don’t feel comfortable with all this hustle, try to work out at home the first months. As your baby gets older his/hers feeding and sleeping schedules will get more predictable. You will find it easier to plan a workout outside your home.

What comes in handy

There are many things I wish I had known when I first tried to balance breastfeeding, the baby´s routine and workout schedule. Here are some tips so you’ll be better prepared than I was:

  1. Invest in a good supportive sports bra. Before breastfeeding, I had small breasts so I never really cared about supportive bra when working out (apart from those padded sports bras for maximum volume :D) I was taken by surprise when, during my first real training, my boobs hurt with every move. So my advice to you – get yourself a good, high-impact bra beforehand – you won’t regret it! Ideally, with easy-access openings for nursing. Don’t forget to take it off as soon as you finish your workout to avoid mastitis or clogged ducts.
  2. Work out with empty breasts. Simply because exercising is much more comfortable this way. Breastfeed or pump before you start.
  3. Carry along some nursing pads. Especially during the first months postpartum, the boobs leak unexpectedly. Mine leak a LOT so nursing pads always come handy. I use washable pads made from bamboo, as they are extremely soft and do not stick to the nipple. Also, bamboo fiber holds the body temperature much better than other clothes, so the wet nursing pad does not feel uncomfortable when touching your skin.
  4. Pack a snack. Before kids, I used to eat a protein bar after my training, but since these kinds of supplements are not recommended while breastfeeding, I always pack some fruit, flapjack or a smoothie. When my blood sugar level drops, I get dizzy. I try to prevent this state as much as I can when I have to run around with the baby.

The value of self-care

Every mama needs a “me” time and exercising is a great way of spending it. I know the first months postpartum can be overwhelming and it is hard for you to actually find a time for a decent shower. But try to squeeze in some physical activity if you can – it will work wonders for you, both physically and mentally. You NEED your “me” time to be able to care for your family. Because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

 

Do you have a different experience with exercising vs. breastfeeding? I would be happy if you let me know it the comments.

 

 

 

How to lose baby weight: Things you need to know

So, your little one has finally arrived and you are overwhelmed by the amazing feeling of becoming a mother. At the same time, however, you are being thrown into the ruthless cycle of feeding and diaper changing. The first weeks are exhausting and you don’t have time nor power to think about how to lose baby weight. But then, something happens. You realize you cannot fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy clothes and your wardrobe is significantly limited to pregnancy leggings and your husbands’ t-shirts. You want your pre-baby body back but you might be wondering about how to do it the right way.

During delivery, most women lose approximately one-third of the weight they have gained during pregnancy. The rest of the gained pounds come from the enlarged uterus, breast and fat tissue, water retention and enlarged blood supply. To get your pre-baby body back, you will be focusing on getting rid of the extra fat tissue your body stored during pregnancy. But let’s be honest here – there is no magic pill the will make you shed those extra pounds overnight. It takes 9 months to go through the pregnancy process, so you’ll have to expect the same amount of time for your body to return into its pre-pregnancy shape. You have to be realistic when it comes to losing the baby weight.

Breastfeeding is not a diet

Ever heard the breastfeeding will make the extra weight just drop off? Well, for some lucky moms out there, it sure works. But for most of us, it doesn’t. When my first son was born, I just thought that don’t have to do anything in order to lose weight because I breastfed. That is what the mighty internet says right? Breastfeeding = fat burning. Oh boy, I was so naive! The truth is, breastfeeding helps you burn up to an estimated 500-800 calories a day. Breastmilk is a unique mixture full of vitamins, fat and immunity boosters. As your body isn’t used to create this kind of fluid normally, it has to work harder to produce enough for the baby’s needs. So yes, breastfeeding is a calorie-burner, but it is not a diet. Now the baby is here you will need a lot of energy to keep your milk production flowing. So don’t cut back on your caloric intake too much!

Breastfeeding itself can help you to lose weight provided that you don’t overeat. However, as a new mother, tired and sleep-deprived, you tend to snack a lot. Sleep deprivation increases junk food cravings, so you are likely to exceed the additional calorie burn that breastfeeding provides. This is exactly my case. When I breastfed, I was constantly hungry! All l could think of was what am I going to snack. I tend to look for a healthy snack, but I have to admit – I ate a LOT. I never had time to sit down and eat a decent food, so I snacked like every hour or two. Also, little did I know about the caloric value of food or how many calories I was consuming.

Later on, I came across an article about the caloric intake for breastfeeding women and I decided to download an app to keep track of my daily intake. I was shocked when I found out that was eating almost double of what I should be! If you realize those extra 500 calories from breastfeeding equal to e.g. 2 muffins, you binge before you know it. The total caloric intake of a breastfeeding woman should not go below 1,800 calories per day. If you lower this amount by dieting, it can affect your milk supply. That is why it”s good to keep track of what you’re consuming – and I don’t mean in the obsessed kind of way. Just to get an idea about the caloric value of different kind of foods. Only the way you’ll be able to make savvy substitutions for your snacks.

Your pelvic floor needs time to heal

A pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken. Allow for proper recovery time to eliminate bladder issues and don’t hurry into losing weight after birth. You can do Kegel pelvic exercises even a few hours after vaginal birth. Squeeze in the muscles around the front passage and vagina as if trying to stop the flow of urine. Contract these muscles and hold for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds. I did this “little workout” during my breastfeeding sessions. Stick to low-impact exercises for the first 2 months after giving birth, avoid jumping or running until the pelvic floor is healed.

Worked out before pregnancy?

Before pregnancy, I’ve worked out at the gym regularly. I even worked out until 7th month of my both pregnancies and I am so happy I did! My body healed from birth quite fast and I didn’t experience any complications at all. Your pre-baby shape can affect how fast you get your body back after pregnancy. The less weight you gain during pregnancy, the shorter it will take to lose it.

You’ve hit the wall. What now?

Many women experience this and I’ve been there too. You’ve been trying to lose your baby weight and because you have been doing it slowly and wisely, the scales and your measurements start to show some positive results. You think that you are on the right track to hit your goal but then it happens – the scales stop moving.

First of all, it is normal. I know it\s annoying and demotivating, but keep calm and don’t give up. When you work out and focus on healthy eating, your body becomes used to this new lifestyle and your metabolism slows down a little. Try not to focus on scales so much, because even if they’re not moving, at this point you might be able to see results in terms of your measurements. Also, the more fit you get, the more muscle tissue develops. The density of muscle and fat tissue differs, which means that muscle takes up less volume or space than fat. So even if the number on the scales is still the same, your clothes might fit better as the shape of your body changes.

Be patient and persistent, the weight loss usually gets moving again within a few weeks. Just stay focused on healthy eating, and exercising regularly. Remember not to cut your calories too much as it can send your body to starvation mode and if you are breastfeeding, excessive reducing of calories can lead to decreased milk supply.

Let’s get moving!

Now that you are realistic about your postpartum weight loss, let´s get you moving! You don’t need a celebrity trainer or a fitness expert to get you back into shape. There’s a lot of things you can do without even going to the gym! Here are some simple and useful tips and hacks the had worked for me and can help you to burn some extra calories too.

1/ Baby-wearing

My younger son didn’t want to sleep/lay in the stroller at all. I hated the walks around my neighbourhood since he was screaming all the way. Naturally, I started to wear him and we enjoy walks ever since. Plus, it is super-convenient while doing household chores or going to the playground with the older child! Wearing a baby is like carrying and gym sandbag or a dumbbell. During your walks, do some lunges and squats while carrying the baby. Baby will love the motion and your booty will get a great workout! Also, look for some baby-wearing fitness classes in your neighbourhood. They’re so much fun and you get to meet new mamas like you!

2/ Playtime workout

Multitasking – all women, especially moms, are multitasking queens right? There are many effective and energizing exercises that you can easily squeeze into the playtime with your baby. Besides, it is so much fun (mostly for the baby, ha-ha) and you’ll feel soooo productive for mastering to tick off two tasks at once. I know what I’m talking about. Try some crunches with your baby seated just above the pubic bone or push-ups with baby lying underneath you. Add kisses and funny faces and you’ll be a playtime hero!

3/ Walk it off

Walking is a great cardio exercise the helps you to lose the excess weight. Besides, it takes the stress away and helps you to relax and battle the baby blues. You can add some extra calorie burn by squeezing in some speed-walking intervals or an uphill walk. Pushing the extra weight up the hills is a great exercise to tone your legs and butt. So hit the roads and get some fresh air, you both need it!

The Bottom line

Your body has achieved an amazing thing – it has created a new life. In order to do this, it had to undergo some changes. This transformation took nine months, so be prepared the losing the baby weight might take the same amount of time. Even when you achieve your weight goals, your body might not look exactly the same as before pregnancy. Embrace your new body, be consistent with your weight loss journey and, what is most important – be kind to yourself. Give your body the time to handle the postpartum weight loss at its own pace.

What is your biggest postpartum weight loss struggle? Let me know in the comments!