Q: Hello,
I have been following u for a good while. I’m secretly changing everything about my eating, sleeping and working out slowly. I recently got married and just had a baby by emergency C- Section. I was told by the doctors  no lifting and I can only do limited cardio. I was wondering what u would suggest I do?

Well, first and foremost, congratulations!!!

Secondly, do exactly what your doctor has said—no lifting, and limited cardio. There’s a reason for that—chances are high your doctor knows your previous activity levels, and chances are also high that your activity levels (much like virtually every other pregnant person out there) lowered over the course of your pregnancy. The more sedentary you were towards the end of your pregnancy, the more difficult it’s going to be for you to physically bounce back—not just in appearance, but in physical capability—and simply starting out slow protects you from further injury to an integral muscle group.

C-sections are major medical procedures. I know first-hand—I’ve had two of them now. (Oy.) The recovery is a slow and careful creep towards fully healing, and it requires thoughtful care. Because of this, it makes total sense to merely take your time recovering normal non-pregnant functions like sitting up in bed without using your hands to prop you up (which is basically a sit-up with no added weight) sitting down in a chair without using your hands to brace you (which is basically a squat) before you go whole hog in a way that endangers your recovery.

That being said, we grossly underestimate the value and benefits of… merely taking a walk.

I’m so serious! I lost my first 80 or so pounds merely walking my ass off every day. 45 minutes. Rain or shine. (And I lived in Miami then, so you know it was a lot of rain!)

Walking burns calories—though not as much as running or cycling, for that matter—but walking is an easy, low impact, and uncomplicated introduction to committing to an active lifestyle, especially when we’re talking about an active lifestyle that now involves a beautiful little baby in the journey. That’s why so many of my photos—especially my current photo in the sidebar—is me with Baby Sprout wrapped and strapped to my chest: it was an easy, inexpensive way to help me get out the door with my little one annnnd baby wearing with a nice, thick fabric with a little stretch to it was an awesome way to help my tummy heal and recover from pregnancy.

(Not to mention, baby wearing is a great way to soothe the little one and reduce the crying and stress they—and you—feel in the beginning. Everything I got done in those first 6 months was because I wore Sprout while I did it.)

Read more about tummy healing post-pregnancy, either through vaginal or c-section delivery, here.

Honestly, two of the best things you can do for yourself actually has very little to do with being active, at all: breastfeeding and proper nutrition.

Read more about my insights about breastfeeding and weight loss here.

Breastfeeding can raise your metabolism by at least 300 or so calories, because your body is constantly burning energy (read: calories) in order to make milk for your baby. Don’t get me wrong—you don’t have to exclusively breastfeed in order to boost your metabolism. Even a little will make a meaningful difference.

Read more about what anyone considering breastfeeding should know.

With proper nutrition, you can create a situation where you heal faster and more thoroughly, meaning you can get back to business as usual much faster. One of my favorite meals to cook was a giant pot of soup—about 10 quarts of water, a half pound of carrots, a half pound of chopped, a quarter-pound of celery, three pounds of chicken drumsticks, and two or three pounds of collard greens (or kale, no difference.) Add a couple tablespoons of paprika, a quarter-teaspoon of cayenne, and a quarter cup of peanut butter (that’s right—I said it!), and a tablespoon of salt (more or less, depending on your tastes.) You should get a good 8 bowls of a delicious soup that will give you virtually everything you need to repair your tummy incision and the connective tissue inside that kept your baby snug while you were pregnant, on top of having a rich soup that will keep you properly nourished, give you energy, and help get and keep your skin (and hair!) healthy.

The recovery period for c-sections is traditionally approximately 6-8 weeks, and that’s just enough time for your incision to heal without a bunch of pulling, tugging, or bouncing from what you’d expect out of high-energy activity. Regular walking combined with maintaining your healthy diet and making my healthy healing soup will not only ensure that you heal healthily, but also that you are ready to get into something more intense once your 6 weeks are up.

Give yourself some time! Trust me: your body—and your baby!—will thank you for it!