A couple of months ago, a friend told me she had stitches from running and asked me for advice. It turned out she was trying to lose her pregnancy weight. During a trip to the mall with the husband, sans baby, the sales people thought she was pregnant and offered her a chair and products suitable for pregnant lady; her husband was so amused. She had only managed to lose 9kg (19.8 lbs) through breast feeding, and still had another 10kg (22.2 lbs) to get rid of. So she decided to try running, which she was told could have her lose the pounds.
Anyway I told my friend she was likely to be running too fast and depleted her glycogen as a result. She then admitted she hadn’t exercised for the past 3 years, and didn’t stretch before the runs. I advised her to go for brisk walking together with the baby to build her fitness, and alternate that with slow jogs. Once she’s got comfortable with the workout, she could then run faster or longer distance. I also recommended her to watch her diet, and download this app from the Health Promotion Board called iDat that provides calorie count of the food intake. Basically the principle is that the calorie consumption should be less than expenditure in order to lose the fat. But it is also equally important to build muscle mass to maintain or increase metabolic rate, and that is through weight training which also reduces risk of osteoporosis in women.
Since then, my friend has updated me occasionally on her status. She has been feeling the pressure to lose the weight and getting pretty antsy with the progress which she feels is a little too slow for her liking. It turns out that there is a dress size-reduction race going on within the mommy group that she is part of. The mommies are ‘competing’ on who loses the dress size fastest. She lamented that there was a mommy who was eating whatever she wanted, including the sweetened milk tea from Gong Cha (贡茶), and still able to revert to her pre-pregnancy svelte figure, and without even having to exercise. Well, that lady could have lost weight through total breast feeding and water loss. And anyway it’s not healthy weight loss, she is basically skinny fat. Slim but fat underneath the skin with little muscle.
My friend persists with running twice a week for 4km each, and a Pilate class once a week. She is getting result, albeit slowly. But she’s unhappy with her weight fluctuation, which I attribute to water loss, though she does feel her clothes are getting looser. She also has better muscle definition. Still when another mommy crowed about having dropped one dress size without extra effort, it’s galling to my friend. She sent me before and after pictures, and to be honest I didn’t think that mommy is slim. I suggested to my friend to increase the intensity of her exercise regime by running longer distance since she is comfortable with the current one, and to do weight training at least twice a week. She also has to watch the food she is taking when she dines out, which seems pretty often to me. At least she is now avoiding sugared drinks whenever possible, and tend to have meals at home during weekdays.
A lot of literature on pregnancy diet state that when you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean you can eat for two. But a lot of pregnant women have cravings and they just went overboard, and worst it often extends to post-pregnancy eating. And of course many don’t exercise. I know it is not easy to maintain a healthy and moderate diet (which should include lots of vegetables) with an exercise regime. Patience and discipline are required because healthy weight loss takes time. There are a lot of benefits to doing this which I tried to drum into my friend. Not only do you get physically and mentally healthier (yes you would be amazed at how running can improve mental health), you also benefit from anti-aging, better posture, and for men, higher testosterone level. But a lot of people want quick result. I was told that some mommies are now resorting to taking diet pills to get rid of the post-pregnancy fat. Next I’m sure some will opt for liposuction. They have absolutely no idea what damages they are putting their bodies through. I’m glad that so far my friend is taking my advice, sticking to the healthy route.