Beyoncé has appeared in public looking incredibly slim, and showing little sign of her recent pregnancy. She only gave birth to Blue Ivy Carter six weeks ago, and fake-bump rumours aside, she looks incredible!
Another celebrity, Amanda Holden spent a traumatic time in intensive care after the birth of her daughter, and just three weeks later looks equally slender.
As a personal trainer, I admire anyone who has the tenacity, drive and self control to eat well and exercise consistently. That said, is the public's obsession with celebrity looks and weight loss a healthy one? And is it realistic for 'real women' to attain such perfection?
In defence of the stars, celebrity can be somewhat of a poisoned chalice. They have the finances and means to employ the very best personal trainers, nutritionists and child minders. On the downside, they carry the constant weight of expectation to appear in a certain way, often transforming their bodies in impossible time frames.
Think of how magazines love to ridicule celebrities, papping them off guard without make-up on, or looking a little heavy! I can only imagine what this must feel like. Surely we should be judged on our contribution to society, how well we do our job, or how good a parent we are.
So how do the stars bounce back?
Because they're in the public eye, many celebrities pursue an exercise regime (and in some cases eat too little) prior to getting pregnant. Once they have conceived, many continue their 'healthy' regime as long as they can. This trend has produced the über-slim, celebrity mum-to-be!
I've even heard unconfirmed reports that a few celebs elect to have their babies early, thus avoiding the weight gain associated with the last month of pregnancy.
The above circumstances mean that once their babies are born, many celeb mums are already ahead of the game, and slimmer than most. If you add in round the clock personal training and diet plans, it's no wonder they achieve miracle transformations in a matter of weeks. Beyoncé is reportedly doing six mini-workouts a day while her daughter is asleep!
Is the celebrity approach safe?
Sensible exercise during pregnancy, particularly if you were exercising prior to conception, is generally regarded as very safe, and in most cases beneficial for the mother and baby. Obviously, it's essential to consult your doctor before partaking in any strenuous activities.
However, not all celebrity practices are safe. Too much exercise, unhealthy eating habits, or unnecessary dieting are all potentially damaging. Furthermore, early delivery should only be considered where medically indicated, and should not be a lifestyle choice. A great deal of foetal development occurs in the final stages of pregnancy.
As a personal trainer myself, and having trained many new mums, I would definately warn against starting an exercise regime too quickly! Always consult your GP first, but as a guide you can return to exercise six weeks after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, or 12 weeks after a C-section.
My Top Tips for New Mums in the 'Real World'
- Be realistic and don't set yourself impossible goals. Unlike the celebs, most new mums will be trying to grab a well deserved nap while their baby is asleep
- Avoid all crazy diets, instead try eating healthy foods in sensible portions
- Be generally active, not normally a problem with a new baby on the scene
- Try walking with your buggy, this is perfect for those initial six weeks when you should avoid formal exercise. It will also help release 'feel-good' endorphins, elevating your mood
- Begin doing your pelvic floor exercises, these gentle strengthening movements are quite safe and offer long term benefits
- Breastfeeding burns additional calories and helps you bond with your baby
- Try not to stress too much as it releases cortisol which inhibits fatloss - so relax!
And once you have the all clear from your doctor...
- Increase the speed or duration of your buggy walks to help burn fat
- Introduce some cardio exercises like cycling, swimming or even light jogging if your pelvic floor allows
- Incorporate bodyweight exercises to help raise your metabolism and tone up your muscles - think squats, lunges and tricep dips
- Build on your pelvic floor exercises with some Pilates style core exercises designed to flatten your stomach and strengthen your back
Don't try to emulate celebrities, they have lots of money, lots of time and lots of help. As for baby weight, it's perfectly natural to carry some extra weight after pregnancy. Do what you can, when you can. Everyone is different, and it will take some women longer than others. Don't heap extra pressure on yourself that you don't need, it won't help you or the baby in the long run! Relax, and enjoy motherhood.
For more postnatal exercise info, please check out the NHS's guide to Parenting in the Early Years.
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