Why do mums gain weight?
I was nervous about writing this blog post, because it's not aligned with the current popular narrative and I know that even talking about this will offend some people.
But many women I’ve worked with have found this list to be quite illuminating - and the only way for them to really gain control of their weight is to understand which of these six factors are relevant to them (and then find solutions to them).
Over the years of working with mums, fat-loss is one of the biggest topics that comes up.
It's also probably the topic with the most shame and guilt attached to it.
Many assume that it's JUST to do with self-control and discipline.
It's also the one with the most BULL attached to it. Most women gain weight after having a baby/babies, and then thy get dragged into a lot of complicated explanations of hormones, insulin and metabolism.
And they hear silly tropes that don't actually mean anything, like:
"You have to reset your metabolism"
They are sold lots of nnecessary detoxes and cleanses.
I'm a big fan of the expression "if you hear hooves, think HORSES, not unicorns"
i.e. the simplest explanation will usually do (and most people will look for the most complicated)
"Hormones" and "metabolism" usually get blamed in a very vague and unhelpful way. I think this is a mistake and that there are some more simple factors that we’re not considering.
Have a read through this list of 6 factors:
1. LESS SLEEP
Less sleep means 3 things:
It fucks with your hunger/satiety hormones - so we tend to eat more.
We crave more carbs and sugar.
More hours awake = more hours to EAT in.
It also makes us as grumpy as fuck, so we’re more likely to turn to food/alcohol (especially when the little darlings are in bed)
2. WE ARE LESS ACTIVE
While we FEEL like we’re running around like a headless chicken all the time, often we’re LESS active than we used to be.
We tend to do less exercise.
And we’re less active in our day-to-day lives.
3. DECISION FATIGUE
We spend so much time and energy making sure that our kids (and sometimes partners) have everything they need/like to eat.
Mums rarely pan their own meals and end up grabbing whatever’s there - a piece of cake, last night’s leftover schnitzel, a muffin…
4. PREGNANCY & POSTPARTUM
During pregnancy, most women gain fat.
In evolutionary terms, this would help us survive the next famine.
The same is true of breastfeeding.
The postpartum period is characterised by lower activity levels and often, total overwhelm! There isn’t much time to think about diet or exercise.
5. INCREASED STRESS
Becoming a mum (or dad) is stressful.
Parenting is stressful.
Food (and alcohol) often become an easy go-to way of soothing yourself when you don’t have any energy or the option to get away.
It often becomes a tool for managing stress.
While this may be unhelpful for body composition goals, we need to recognise (and maybe even appreciate?) the role it plays in our stress management.
6. LESS TIME
Less time to plan meals.
Leads to a “grab-and-go” mentality.