You were pregnant and you gained a little extra weight along with the baby weight. (Or maybe a little more than a little). Then you gave birth to your precious baby and now you’re ready for all of that extra weight to come off. So when the heck is that going to happen?? Unfortunately, the weight that you gain while you’re pregnant doesn’t instantly evaporate (no matter how much you wish it would). But the good news is that it will eventually come off! It just takes a little time. Are you worried that it’s not coming off fast enough? It may not be—and there are certain things that you may be doing that are keeping the numbers on the scale from budging. Here are the five most common reasons that women don’t lose baby weight quickly.
You’re too stressed.
Stress can not only make you feel crazy…it can also make you eat more. When you’re stressed, your body goes into emergency mode and experiences fight-or-flight syndrome. Your heart rate increases, your metabolism goes nuts, and your body produces a hormone known as cortisol in order to deal with it. Unfortunately, this hormone can do a number on your body. It causes your insulin to spike, which can cause your blood sugar to drop, which in turn makes you crave carbs and sugary items. Studies have also shown that when you gain weight due to increased cortisol levels, the fat deposits right to your midsection (the area most of us are trying to tone). Try to keep your mental health in check by implementing some stress management tools such as meditation, breathing exercises, or even some light walking or cardio.
You’re not sleeping enough.
Sleep deprivation can not only make you tired, but it can also make you hungry. When you don’t sleep enough, the hormones that affect your appetite become unbalanced and make you want to eat. A study presented at the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions in 2011 found that people who slept for only four hours ate more calories the following day (as opposed to when they had gotten a full eight hours). When you’re sleep deprived, your body overproduces a hormone known as ghrelin and underproduces the hormone leptin. Ghrelin’s job is to increase hunger, and leptin’s role is decreasing hunger. As you can see, this can be a recipe for a disaster when it comes to weight loss. In order to combat this hormone imbalance, try to nap whenever possible (like when your baby’s napping), avoid caffeine and adult beverages (which are known to disrupt sleep habits), and put off late-night chores so you can get to bed earlier.
You’re hitting the gym too hard.
Cardio and weight training are great at helping you burn calories and tone the muscles that have gone a bit flabby, but if you overdo it at the gym you may find yourself in a catch-22. You see, if you exercise too hard, your body turns to emergency sugar stores (not fat stores) for energy. These sugar stores need to be replaced and your body responds with lower blood sugar levels. Lower blood sugar levels can cause you to eat too much of the wrong foods (which make you gain back the calories that you just burned off). So you can never catch up, much less get ahead. The best way to exercise for weight loss is to do moderate weight training with moderate cardiovascular exercise. The “talk test” works well to make sure that you’re burning fat not sugar. You can test yourself by talking to someone else (or yourself) while you exercise. If you’re out of breath and you can’t carry on a conversation, you’re working too hard. If you can talk (with a couple of intermittent breathy words), you’re in the right zone!
You’re not eating enough.
When caring for a baby, a mom’s schedule is often erratic. Crazy schedules can cause you to forget to eat or eat at irregular intervals. Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, your body loves to be on a regular schedule. When you’re consistent with your meal times, your body’s metabolism is kicking, your blood sugar levels are stable, and you’re not craving unhealthy, sugary items. If you’re not remembering to eat, all hell can break loose, making it nearly impossible to lose weight effectively. Keep your body running efficiently by eating small, well-balanced, unprocessed meals every 3 to 4 hours. And don’t forget to keep your body hydrated as well! Often dehydration can mask itself as hunger and cause you to eat when you’re really just thirsty.
You have a thyroid issue.
Shockingly, studies have found that up to 30 percent of postpartum women have thyroid dysfunction due to an iodine deficiency as a result of pregnancy. During pregnancy, your baby takes iron from you, which can cause hypothyroidism (this is when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone). If this happens, your body processes slow down and you can feel symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and even weight gain. Ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel to see if you may be experiencing any thyroid issues.