Another day, another pregnancy and exercise story!
Recently I wrote about a disgruntled women who called Jessica Alba a bad role model because she started an exercise program just two weeks after giving birth.
Then, just the other day, we debated Amber Miller – the woman who drew national attention by participating in the Chicago Marathon at 38 weeks pregnant!
And now new mom and former Spice Girl Mel B is in the news for her own pregnancy related exercise story. Mel’s the new Jenny Craig spokesperson and has set a goal of losing 30 pounds in 13 weeks. But some critics are saying that’s too much weight to lose in such a short time frame. But is it? Hmm… let me give my Angry opinion.
Actually I think it’s very interesting. On the one hand we have women chastising Jessica Alba for exercising too soon, and on another we have women and doctors applauding Amber Miller for exercising excessively. That seems a bit odd to me! As for Mel B, in all honestly women are only supposed to gain between 15-30 pounds during pregnancy. Yet we’ve seen or know women who’ve gained much more. But guess what? The more weight a woman gains during pregnancy, the less likely she’ll be to lose it, and the increased chance she’ll become obese. That’s not my opinion, those are the facts.
Now when it comes to the former Spice Girl, some experts are saying it should take her a year to lose the baby weight! That’s truly nuts, a year? Let’s think about this for a moment – the recommended amount of weight loss is no more than two pounds per week, multiply that by the 13 weeks Mel is aiming for and you reach 26 pounds, almost her goal. So what’s the issue here? In an article I read on the Daily Telegraph, University of Newcastle nutrition and dietetics professor Clare Collins says in one sentence that the weeks following birth are “the perfect time to focus on healthy eating,” but then says, “It’s not the time for extreme dieting. A woman’s body is designed to take six to 12 months to return to a healthy weight.”
I’ll agree that post pregnancy is not the time for extreme dieting, but then again, there’s never a good time to follow an unrealistic eating plan. And I think that 12 months to return to a healthy body state is stretching things. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t take that long for hormone levels and skeletal changes to normalize.
Once again I have to refer to our ancestry here – do you really think millions of years ago new mothers took it easy and laid around all day for a year? Heck no, they went right back to work and helping out within the community. They simply had no choice.
What’s also missing here is the fact that Mel B has always included fitness in her lifestyle, and therefore will bounce back and return to her former self much sooner than those moms who don’t exercise. You’ve got to remember that less than 15% of people exercise regularly, so when you hear recommendations for recuperation times for surgeries, injuries, and various procedures, those are for members of the general population who are sedentary. As I’ve said before, I’ve known many women who were fit, became pregnant, gave birth, and within 3 months looked amazing.
It seems to me that everybody has an opinion on post pregnancy exercise and likes to point fingers. But truthfully over the course of my career, I’ve probably seen dozens of my clients go through the process. So let’s be honest here for a minute. Some things, like running a marathon at 38 weeks pregnant are just nuts, while starting to exercise and eat intelligently a few weeks after giving birth is fine in my opinion. Remember, you shouldn’t have that much weight to lose anyway, and should have been eating well all along!
What’s missing most here is common sense and a misguided trust in our doctors. I’ve received so many comments from readers saying, “If a doctor says it’s okay, it must fine”, or vice versa. That’s scary to me. Doctors are not well versed in exercise and fitness programs. They are by and large, disease specialists – when you’re sick, they know how to get you back to normal. But in most cases, if you were to ask one for exercise suggestions, they’ll tell you hire a personal trainer. And that’s the truth.
So don’t listen to the critics Mel – you know what you’re doing. Good luck to you!