No matter whether you’re pregnant (at any stage), or post baby, there’s never a better time to make simple lifestyle changes to get healthier.
You might’ve just found out you’re pregnant. Or been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Or just want to lose some postpartum weight.
Whatever the trigger, there’s no time like right now to start.
But what do you do? What does ‘get healthier’ even mean in these days of CrossFit, Paleo, Keto, gut health and mindfulness? And do you need to make drastic changes to see results?
Personally, while I love to go hardcore 100% into whatever changes I’m making, I have to admit that doesn’t tend to result in lasting change. Which is what’s most important.
Here’s the thing: you don’t need to make big changes to see a real impact. In fact, baby steps are easier, more manageable, and more likely to be permanent. If you can improve your life by just 1% each day, you’ll have made a 10% difference in 10 days. That’s crazy, right?
Here are some simple changes you can implement immediately for quick results. They’re practically painless!
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1. Swap Your Regular Soda for Soda Water
You know it. Soda is full of sugar and has zero redeeming qualities. Even diet soda is bad for you (some say it’s even worse).
But it’s hard to give up. The bubbles. The sweetness. The fizz. Mmmmm.
What I did when trying to quit soda was to wean onto soda water – or mineral water. It’s got the same bubbly fizz, but zero bad stuff. If it doesn’t quite do it for you, try adding a slice of lemon, muddled berries or (my fave) stick a fruity tea bag in your glass and let it infuse for a few minutes.
Soda water is usually cheaper than soda, but you can save yourself even more money over the long run by investing in a Soda Stream.
Start small: buy a bottle of soda water this week and have it ready in your fridge. Drink some soda water the next time you’re craving a soda.
2. Quit Sugar and Eat Real Food
Less junk, more real stuff. It’s a strange world we live in where so much of our food has had all the good stuff stripped out and then artifical additives pumped into it…
Eating more real food can only be a good thing.
If in doubt go back to basics. If it comes wrapped in plastic it’s probably bad. If it’s straight from the farm it’s good.
3. Get More Sleep
Have you met pregnancy insomnia? Or a newborn? Baby? Toddler?
Sleep is a real challenge when you’re pregnant or taking care of babies. But, it’s important to prioritize sleep when you can. It’ll improve your mood, help you heal faster and you’ll just function all around better with as many hours as you can get under your belt.
Start small: if you find it hard to get to sleep, try listening to a sleep hypnosis or meditation track (there are apps for that). If you do this regularly you’ll create an association between the track and sleep and will be able to get to sleep faster using the track.
4. Disconnect From the Tech
Seriously – disconnect sometimes. If you can make it a habit to disconnect regularly, do it. The online world never sleeps and the busy-ness of it gets into our brains making it difficult to concentrate or relax.
Disconnecting from social media gives you time to just be. No comparisons. No worrying about the next milestone (whether baby has arrived or is on the way). Just relax. Breathe deeply. Live. Enjoy where you’re at.
5. Move Your Body
Depending on what trimester you’re in… easier said than done right? Moving your body has a lot of benefits. Notice I didn’t say lift weights or set personal bests at the pool, just move.
Walking is one of the best options both during pregnancy and when you’re in the newborn phase. Fresh air, sunshine, change of scenery, they all do wonders for your mental health and the walking is good for the physical health too.
But. Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard and stop immediately if something hurts.
Start small: get up, set your phone’s timer for 1 minute and pace your room. Going for a walk outdoors isn’t always feasible – so do what you can with what you have!
6. Take Your Vitamins
Vitamins – you either love them or you think they’re an expensive way to make your pee change color. There’s no middle ground.
However, there are some very good reasons to take vitamins during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Firstly, becoming a mom is a huge drain on your body’s resources. Building a human isn’t easy and takes a lot of protein, calcium, iron, and other bits and pieces. Eating a balanced diet full of whole foods is great, but if you’re not (or your nausea is stopping you), taking a pregnancy and breastfeeding multivitamin is essential. After a ridiculous amount of research I ended up choosing this brand for the Omega 3’s.
There’s always so much going on it’s hard to find the time to really relax. But it’s so important to do it. We need to unwind!
If you’re pregnant it’s not always easy to find a comfortable position to relax in. One of my favorite ways to relax was listening to a hypnobirthing recording. It often sent me to sleep and helped prepare me for labor.
Small step: download a relaxation / mindfulness app and spend a few minutes every day with it.
9. Have a Morning/Evening Routine (If You Can)
This is a little easier when you’re pregnant than when you’re in the newborn days. If you’re able to wake up and sleep at around the same time each day you’ll start to train yourself into the routine. The theory is that you’ll sleep better and be happier and healthier as a result. If you’ve had results like this, let me know ok? I’m not great at the whole routine thing.
If you’re in the thick of things with a newborn, hold onto your routine if it helps you. If it’s just adding stress to your day then give it up and go with the flow for a while. You’ll find a new routine some day. Trust me 🙂
10. Have a Hobby
It’s nice to have an interest that isn’t baby related in your life. That you can still do without having to arrange a baby sitter. It helps pass those moments that aren’t dedicated to baby care in something productive and satisfying.
Possible hobbies: blogging (learn how to start a blog!), crochet, writing, scrapbooking, adult coloring, reading…
11. Eat More Vegetables
If you struggle to eat enough vegetables, here’s some quick ways to sneak more in:
- Eat carrot, cucumber, or cherry tomatoes as snacks
- Add grated carrot, celery, and other vegetables to bolognaise sauce
- Master cheese sauce and smother steamed vegetables in it
- Throw in some baby spinach leaves when you’re making a breakfast smoothie
12. Spend Time With People
Sometimes when you’re pregnant you’re just too tired or uncomfortable to want to hang with people. You want to hang in your PJ’s at home. But it’s helpful to get out and spend time with others.
When you’ve got a new baby, leaving the house becomes a bit of a production. But, if you’re able to get to a mother’s group that has babies around the same age as yours, you’ll find it worth the effort. Being home alone with a newborn can be isolating and it’s great to talk to others who are in the same boat as you are.
If you’re stuck at home, technology is your friend. Set up a chat with your family and friend groups on Messenger and make sure to video chat when you need a little connection time. You can also join Facebook groups for new moms to spend more time with others in your situation.
13. Be Kind to Your Gut
Have you paid much attention to all the crazy new research and theories about the gut microbiome? It’s amazing! To think that our gut bacteria can affect our health – everything from mood to weight and everything in between.
That’s why it’s good to be kind to your gut. A healthy gut means a healthy you.
You can improve your gut health by:
- stopping eating those bad for you foods – sugar, white bread, soda… etc.
- eating more vegetables, especially leafy greens
- adding fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to your diet
- drinking kombucha, kefir or water kefir
- taking a probiotic
Small step: ask your local health food store to recommend a good probiotic. Buy it and take it every day.
That’s A Wrap!
If your lifestyle isn’t where you want it to be, try taking these small steps to get things to where you want them. Baby steps are key, so you start making progress in the right direction without feeling like you’re giving up or making a huge effort. Luckily, even small changes can make a huge difference.