Part 6 – Isn’t it easy for a breast feeding fitness instructor to lose weight?
(Note: This is a self indulgent post but I’ve had some comments on how “it’s easier for me” because I workout for a living. So feel free to not read. I just wanted to clear this one up in case you were all secretly thinking it …… You can always skip down the page for just the food & training detail)
The short answer to this very sensible question is: No. The long answer may cause controversy and rub the odd person up the wrong way. So here goes.
Group Fitness classes are AWESOME. They are a great way to enjoy exercise and can produce amazing results. I’m not bagging group classes and I have a huge amount of respect for the Les Mills programs I teach AND I LOVE TEACHING!!! However ….. doing group fitness classes vs professionally teaching group fitness classes for a living are a very different kettle of fish.
Breast feeding a baby is also pretty damn cool. It doesn’t help your bikini body though.
Are you saying you don’t work as hard when you’re teaching??
Nope. I work harder than 99.9% of my participants. Guaranteed. I sweat buckets and am often completely shattered at the end of a class. I also do the class on less oxygen which makes it harder again. It’s like altitude training! That being said it is irresponsible to push yourself to the limit throughout the whole class – you are there to provide a safe & enjoyable workout for others. You can’t do that if you are too smashed to be aware of the people in front of you.
So why wouldn’t you lose tons of weight teaching lots of classes?
When you first start teaching you probably lose some weight and feel improvements in your personal fitness. It’s down the track when you are taking 6-16 classes per week it can go a little pear shaped (literally). Here’s some of the reasons why:
1. Your body acclimatises to that volume and intensity of training. To put it simply your body gets more efficient at using less energy. In fact your body now expects you to take 3 classes a day. If you don’t it slows down and you probably put on weight!
2. You have to fuel the fire if you’re gonna do the equivalent of a marathon 3+ days every week. A professional athlete would plan out their meals & training to achieve peak performance, body condition and energy levels. A professional fitness instructor doesn’t have that luxury. You take back to back classes, help a participant with a problem and then go straight into taking PT sessions (and possibly another class). All of a sudden it’s 4 hours later and you haven’t eaten. This messes with your energy & blood sugar levels. Your metabolism slows to a crawl, you feel exhausted and are more likely to get serious food cravings later in the day/evening (mmmm coffeee ….. just one more coffee….).
3. Professional Fitness Instructors work crappy hours. Early mornings through to late evenings. You’re exercising into the night, you don’t get to eat until late and chances are you are too wired to go to bed so you only get 5 hours sleep (less if you have a baby in the house). Sleep is important to keeping hormone levels balanced. Sleep is when your body burns the MOST fat. Sleep is when you recover enough to be able to do it all over again.
4. Lots of high volume training and High Intensity Training can cause big increases in blood cortisol levels. Cortisol is an important hormone in the body and does some great stuff (it’s a bit unfair that it’s been labelled the “Stress Hormone”). However, consistently elevated Cortisol levels can lead to metabolism and health issues. Muscle breakdown, fatigue, sugar cravings, poor sleep quality and inability to lose fat (or even inexplicable weight gain) can be side effects of ‘overtraining’. I’ve been here before, experienced how bad it can be and don’t want to go back (See Jill’s Journey Part 3 – Here Before).
5. You are so exhausted from all those classes that the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is your own workout of any kind.
These issues can also affect serial gym junkies and hard core runners. The key is to listed to what your body needs and balance intensity with recovery. Easy said, but seriously hard to do.
But I’ve heard that Breast Feeding helps you lose weight faster?
Sorry but this is well and truly myth busted. It’s a nice marketing ploy for breast feeding advocates but this is not the reason to be breastfeeding. In fact some studies have shown the opposite – that the hormones and extra fat cells laid down for milk production mean that breastfeeding mothers are on average ‘fatter’ for the first 12 months, before it evens out between breastfeeding and non-breast feeding mothers.
Breastfeeding mothers get less sleep since they can’t offload feeds to other people (see point 3 for fitness instructors above. Sleep is important for weight management), and are more subject to serious food cravings to prevent mineral deficiencies. Sugar & salt cravings are the most common as the body communicates via food you know – it’s unlikely you will crave spinach even though you probably need calcium & magnesium! More likely that you’ll crave chocolate …. very helpful.
Breast feeding and non breast feeding mums alike are all over the shop with when they can eat. which totally messes with their metabolism (see point 2 for fitness instructors above). We’re also often dehydrated due to the vampire sucking the life out of us every 3 hours. Dehydration is also a total metabolism killer.
Finally cortisol levels are biologically elevated during and after pregnancy (See point 4 for fitness instructors above). The theory is that you wanna be permanently alert to hear your baby when she cries or know when a tiger is near by. It’s more important for evolution that we are wired and slightly stressed than being skinny and svelt. So in part us new mums need to accept that weight loss is never gonna be easy without some help and some compromise. Easy to say…. hard to truly accept when you can’t fit into any of your clothes.
Lastly you are just tired. All the time. See point 5 for fitness instructors above.
Food & Training Details – Day 12, 13 & 14
Day 12 (Saturday)
Training: Morning: 15 minute boxing session in the morning @ 9:30am. 10 x 1 minute rounds with 30 seconds recovery between each one. I think Dazza went a little easy on me. Evening 10 minute Kettlebell workout: (10 x two handed kettlebell swing + 1 Turkish getup) x 10 repeats. Both these sessions would have been a lot easier without the Molly factor. And the dog. And the baby. But mostly Molly & the dog who both seemed very intent to be between my legs the whole time.
Food: I’m feeling out of control with my food for the last couple of days. I feel like I need more structure back around the when and what I’m eating throughout the day. And maybe some more crunchy food as well – everything feels soggy and unsatisfying. It’s time to re-stock the fridge and get back on the horse. More food earlier in the day I think and dare I say it: less coffee.
10:30am Coconut & Peanut butter porridge (post workout)
11:30 Coffee with cream, sugar & cinnamon
3:30pm Handful of buttered popcorn
4:30pm Coffee & 1/2 cup smoothie
8:30pm BBQ Chicken stir fried with Spinach, tomato, zuchini, avocado, parmesan & feta cheese with olive oil & 1/2 white bread roll. This particular combo was just a little too mushy. I possibly shouldn’t have put the stuffing into the stirfry as well …. Big serve.
11:30 Vital Greens with water
Day 13 (Sunday)
Training: No workout. I really wanted to do another short Boxing session today and a GRIT workout to measure my fitness but neither of them happened. Bummer because it looks like another big week for classes which will take away from my workouts. It was totally my fault too – I didn’t set a clear intention at the start of the day (my W.H.A.T do I need today), so it was all too easy for time to slip away, especially when you factor in a 2.5 hour trip to Melbourne. Bad Jill. Ah well.
10am Coffee with 1 sugar, cream & cinnamon
11am Coconut & Peanut butter porridge – well what Molly left me of it. Plus 1 cup of Dazza’s amazing smoothie.
1pm Some buttered popcorn
4:30pm Left over BBQ Chicken, cheese & Spinach salad.
5:30pm Coffee before drive to Melbourne.
10pm 1/2 bowl Vegetable tangine soup with natural yoghurt. I missed my extra vegies 🙁
11:30pm Vital Greens with water
Day 14 (The dreaded Monday)
Training: It’s that day of the week again. Our new timetable came back and majorly bit me in the backside. Lunchtime: 45 Min Step Class. 5:45pm BodyPump 6:45pm 1 hour Yoga class. It’s hard to explain but this volume really won’t help with my weight loss. In fact I have a suspicion that last weeks 9 classes were responsible for my slower weight loss on the scales. It’s not exactly that I’m putting on muscle – better to say that my muscles are ‘reactivating’ as they remember what I used to do before (right up till 36 weeks pregnant when I collapsed in a puddle of snot & swine flu. argggg).
Food: I have a hunch I need more salt in my diet – I was like a melting icy pole in Step today and I’ve been peeing like a racehorse (too much information??). Yes salt can cause dehydration & water retention but it is also a vital nutrient in the right dose to KEEP you hydrated and physically performing. Confusing yes – negotiable no. So I sweat *a lot* AND I’m breastfeeding a baby. Therefore I drink copious amounts of water but also need to replenish the salt & minerals that I lose as well. Hmmm salt.
8:30am Coffee with cream, 1 sugar & cinnamon
11am 1.5 bowls of Coconut & Peanut Butter Porridge. I’m trying to up my daytime food intake …. it’s quite hard with all the interruptions.
2:30pm 1/2 Cup of Dazza’s Amazing Smoothie with water & 2 tsps of Vital Greens
3:30pm A Bowl of beef Mince with veggies
4:45pm Coffee with small Coconut & White chocolate florentine cookie. Not that nice 🙁
(Pump & Yoga)
9:15 Beef Mince, Chicken Curry with 1/2 bowl of rice, tomato, spinach, yoghurt & some hummus. I’m out of mushrooms and it’s killing me!!! Oh yeah – I had a sip of Dazza’s beer too 😉