As many experienced moms will agree, the term “baby weight” can be as misleading as the term “morning sickness.” Just as morning sickness can plague a pregnant woman at all hours of the day, baby weight tends to hang on to mom long after the baby’s evolved to a toddler, preschooler, and beyond. And there’s a reason for that. Here, 12 factors that may be inhibiting your ability to ditch that extra “baby” bulk — whether it’s been a few months, or a few years since your bundle of joy was born.
1. You’re Too Busy to Exercise
A completely valid reason why many moms miss out on exercise is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. If you’re a working mom, you’re most likely rushing in and out of the office at the beginning and end of every day. And if you stay at home with your kids, it can be a struggle to find the time (or childcare!) necessary to swing a trip to the gym.
2. You (Unintentionally) Take Your Meals Twice
A trap that many moms fall into around mealtime looks something like this: Feed the kids dinner. Nibble on whatever while they’re eating. Put the kids to bed. Sit down for grown-up dinner. It’s an incredibly easy way to consume 100 or more extra calories a day, without even thinking about it.
3. You Sit Down to Eat With the Kids at 6
. . . and are starving again at 9. Late-night noshing is a pitfall that many moms fall into, and it’s easy to see how it happens.
4. You Stopped Breastfeeding
If you exclusively breastfed your baby, you may have noticed the added benefits that come with burning an impressive 380-600 calories per day. But when the nursing ends? Sometimes the pounds come right back. Completely unfair, we know . . .
5. A Stroll in the Park May Feel Like Exercise, But . . .
It may not be doing much in the calories-burned department. To put it into perspective, a 60-minute walk at a brisk (15 minute/mile) pace burns 243 calories. To lose a pound per week, you need to either cut out or burn 500 calories per day. You do the math!
6. Too Much of a Good Thing Is Still Too Much
If you’ve been eating healthfully and can’t figure out why the extra pounds are still hanging around, the secret may lie in your portion size. See just how many calories even those good-for-you foods are hiding, and act accordingly.
7. You’re Short on Sleep (We Can’t Imagine Why?!)
A recent study found that women who sleep five hours or fewer per night are 32 percent more likely to experience major weight gain over 16 years, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology. We’re willing to bet that a good percentage of those are moms!
While we can’t offer you the magic cure-all to get your baby to sleep, we can emphasize the importance of catching up on those zzz’s whenever you get the opportunity.
8. This Is the New Definition of Date Night
For many new parents, the most romantic Saturday night that you’ll share as a couple involves your couch, Netflix, and takeout. Don’t get us wrong, you’ve definitely earned it, but you may want to consider swapping out the cartons of greasy noodles for a homemade meal (or at least substitute for brown rice).
9. You Skip Breakfast
No one knows the stress of the morning rush quite like a mom. While you’d never send your kids to school without a healthy, nutritious start to their days, the likelihood of you skipping breakfast yourself (or calling your latte “breakfast”) is pretty high. You’re actually doing yourself a disservice though, as smart a.m. eats give your metabolism a jump-start for the day ahead.
10. You’re a “Vertical” Eater
We completely and totally know how it happens, especially during those first few months when you can’t put the baby down. But consuming your meals and snacks while standing up can lead to mindless eating, which is a habit you should try to avoid.
11. You’re Still Wearing Maternity Clothes — Two Years Later
While this may sound like the effect of not losing the baby weight, it can also be a cause for keeping those excess pounds on. Wearing clothes (maternity or otherwise) that are too big for you can lead to decreased motivation to get to the gym and make it feel like it’s OK to choose a cheeseburger over a healthy salad.
12. You Have a Singular Focus
Right now, it’s all about your baby. We get that and think that it’s amazing. But a happy, healthy mom sets the tone for a happy, healthy family. Do your best not to lose yourself in the time that you devote to your little one. Don’t be shy about asking for help, be sure that you’re eating as regularly and nutritiously as your baby is, and by all means sleep at every opportunity you get. Your own well-being is just as important as his or hers!