Post-pregnancy weight: Baby bulge, be gone!
MANILA, Philippines - When I found out that I was pregnant for the first time at age 35, I was ecstatic! I didn’t expect that I would get knocked up so fast just a few months after my wedding.
I felt very blessed to have been able to conceive so easily in my mid-30s, and I believe my fertility had a lot to do with my healthy and wholesome eating habits and lifestyle.
READ: Eat well, start a family
As vice president for product development of health food delivery company The Sexy Chef, I felt pressured to live up to the name. Fear and self-doubt quickly crept in. What if I did’t lose the baby weight fast enough? My credibility as the Sexy Chef would be tarnished and I would probably have to rebrand myself as the Siksik Chef!
I believe that one of the reasons why The Sexy Chef continues to be successful is because the owners themselves practice what they preach. Rachel Alejandro, my sister and business partner, and I basically walk the talk.
As a direct result of our clean eating habits, we have maintained slim figures. Have you heard of the expression, “Never trust a skinny chef?” In the diet food industry, the only chef you should trust is someone who is at a healthy weight.
So what did I do to get rid of the baby bulge?
1. I breastfed for as long as I could
Not only is breast milk the best gift you can give to your baby, but studies show that breastfeeding can also help you lose weight. Nursing sessions can burn as much as 500 calories a day, since the body uses up a lot of energy to produce milk.
On top of that, the process of lactation causes the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. In other words, breastfeeding rocks!
The Eat Clean Detox Plan is a 7-day program that allows for weight loss of up to 6 lbs in 7 days. It features vegan cuisine combined with detoxifying juices from Juju Cleanse.
It prepared my body to eat nutrient-dense food again. God knows how many boxes of pizza and ensaymada I had when I was pregnant. The program really helped me kickstart my weight loss and get rid of my craving for sugar and processed foods.
3. I did my best to consume only 1,200 calories a day
My breakfast, lunch and dinner were about 350 calories each; my snacks had another 100 to 150 calories.
READ: Easy healthy recipes for 2013
4. I made sure to eat food with fat-fighting nutrients such as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D, which targeted my belly fat
For example, I included the following items in my diet:
- Fiber - Whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, beans, fruits, green leafy vegetables
- Omega 3 - Salmon, tuna, shrimp, flax, chia seeds, walnuts
- Calcium and Vitamin D - Fresh malunggay leaves, malunggay powder in smoothies, reduced-fat cheese, low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt
5. As soon as my baby started sleeping through the night, I started practicing early morning yoga 3 to 5 times a week
Eating healthy can definitely make you lose weight, but your weight loss will eventually hit a plateau. In order for the body to lose the last 10 pounds, you have to rev up your metabolism by building muscle mass through exercise.
There is no magic pill that will make you reach your weight-loss goal. I had to make wise food choices everyday, which included not buying that jar of cookie butter at the weekend market or avoiding cronuts at all costs.
With focus, discipline and my eye on the prize, I was able to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight in just 7 short months! It also helped to own a business that doubled as my diet food provider. With my beautiful baby girl in my arms and my reputation as a health food chef intact, life couldn’t get any better!
Here's a great recipe that has fat-fighting nutrients:
Malunggay Fried Rice (serves two)
- 4 t canola oil
- 2 T onion, chopped
- 1 T garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup celery, chopped
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup string beans, chopped and blanched
- ¼ cup cabbage, chopped
- ¼ cup carrots, shredded
- ¼ cup green peas
- ¼ cup malunggay leaves, chopped
- ½ t sesame oil
- 1 t soy sauce
- ½ t no msg chicken powder
- 2/3 cup day-old brown rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a non-stick skillet, heat the canola oil. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and peppers until soft. Add the string beans, cabbage, carrots and peas and cook until all the vegetables are tender.
2. Add the malunggay leaves, sesame oil, soy sauce and chicken powder. Cook just until the leaves turn bright green.
3. Add the brown rice and mix well. Cook for one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chef Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck is vice president for product development and co-owner of the health food delivery company The Sexy Chef, OBC 5Star, Inc. (@thesexychefph on Twitter). Her upcoming projects include authoring a cookbook of healthy recipes, hosting a TV cooking show as well as teaching vegan cooking at their Eat Clean Love Detox Weekend in Pico De Loro, Hamilo Coast. It is slated for October 2013 and will be conducted with her sister, singer Rachel Alejandro.