It's no secret that pregnant women easily put on a few pounds each month until their bundle of joy arrives —unfortunately getting rid of that weight is not so effortless. Along with eating right, exercise is a sure way to getting your body back to the way it was pre-baby. Our basic postpartum exercise time line helps you determine how and when to slowly add exercise so that you can watch the number on the scale drop as your baby grows.
That chubby little tushy on your newborn baby is probably the most adorable thing you've ever seen, and although pregnancy has left you with the same squishy tush, for some reason it's anything but adorable to you. Once you hit the six-week mark, your doc has likely given you the green light to start exercising, and you're excited to get on the road to getting your pre-baby body back. Here are some obstacles you might encounter when heading back to the gym and how to overcome them.
- Fatigue: Always having the feeling like you could use a nap doesn't exactly give you the get-up-and-go you need to do an intense butt-blasting workout. Cut yourself a break and start off with shorter, low-intensity workouts such as walking, yoga, or swimming. A 20-minute walk around the neighborhood every day for a week (or longer) will feel like plenty. Gradually increase the intensity and length of your workouts as your strength and stamina increases.
- Engorged and/or leaking breasts: Nursing moms not only have to find sports bras and fitness tops that are big enough to handle their fuller bosoms, but there's also the pain of engorged breasts and the oh-so-embarrassing leakage. Plan ahead and nurse or pump your baby immediately before heading out for a workout. Invest in a supportive, full-coverage nursing sports bra like this one from Motherhood Maternity ($17) so you can empty your breasts without having to waste time getting your workout clothes on.
- Feeling self-conscious about belly fat: It took you nine months to grow that belly, so don't expect it to diminish right after the birth. A healthy diet, exercise, and time is the key to getting your body back, so in the meantime, wear tops like these that hide your pooch. And before heading to the gym, sip on this flat belly smoothie made with ingredients like pineapple and kale that can help diminish fat around your waist.
- Being away from your baby: Hormones coupled with the insane love you feel for your baby make it tough for some moms to even think of leaving them, even if it's for only 20 minutes. Don't let the bond you share get in between your workouts — bring your baby along. When your baby is still small, wear him or her in a Moby Wrap for walks or hikes — it's lightweight and super supportive for new moms often sore backs. You can also take him or her to a postnatal yoga class or do some poses at home following this yoga sequence. Once they're a little older, invest in some baby gear like a Bob Jogging Stroller or Chariot trailer for biking. You'll not only be burning calories together, it instills in them at an early age that is an important part of a healthy life.
- Weak abs: Core exercises aren't recommended during pregnancy, plus your muscles get completely stretched out as your baby grows, which leaves you with weak, flabby abs that can hardly do one crunch. It also makes for an achy lower back. Don't get frustrated — get strong. You can quickly build ab strength by spending time during each workout on core-building moves. Try this 10-minute core workout.
After gaining weight during a pregnancy, you may have a beautiful baby to bounce on your knees, but you haven't necessarily bounced back to your prepregnancy self. With barely enough time to shower or sleep, who has the energy to work out and cook healthy meals? It seems difficult, but these tips can make the process easier.
- Remember, you're no longer pregnant: If "eating for two" gave you an unofficial green light to eat anything you wanted, then it's time to start a new eating plan. As a mom, it's essential to take care of yourself; taking care of your little one requires energy, and a diet based on pizza, chips, chocolate, and late-night pints of ice cream just won't cut it.
- Eat small meals: Moms who breastfeed need about 500 extra calories a day to make milk. Since your hunger level is likely to be high, instead of eating three larger meals and two small snacks, eat six to eight small meals (about every two hours) to keep hunger at bay.
- Plan ahead: Since your free time is spent changing diapers, doing laundry, or sleeping, it's difficult to make time each day to prepare wholesome meals and snacks. Set aside an hour or so each week to write out a weekly meal plan, complete with a shopping list so you'll have the ingredients to whip up nutritious food all week long. Cut up fruits and veggies and store them in the fridge to make preparation easier, and when you find the time to cook, make triple or quadruple the recipe and freeze the leftovers for a quick meal later.
- Eat a salad for a meal once a day: This ensures that you eat veggies at least once during your busy day. Start with nutritious baby spinach, and add a variety of fresh veggies, beans, a lean protein such as grilled chicken or marinated tofu, and some diced fresh fruit, and go easy on the high-calorie toppings such as cheese, seeds, avocado, and dressing.
Keep reading for more tips on how to lose the baby weight.
Work that body! Of the many pressures new mamas face after giving birth, the desire to get back to their pre-baby bod ranks pretty high for many women. New mamas want to get back in shape for more than aesthetic reasons (although that's clearly one motivating factor); moms have a lot of responsibility; they're often taking care of a newborn with very little sleep, and a healthy, strong body is essential. Even the most committed pre-baby gym rats will likely have a hard time making trips to the actual gym or yoga studio a priority, which is why at home workout DVDs are a major life (and butt) saver. Check out five workouts tailored to meet the needs and tastes of different mamas, and tell us: how did you get back in shape post-baby?
The Muppets star Amy Adams admits that 18 months after giving birth to Aviana Olea she's OK with the baby weight, "I have a muffin top, and that’s OK right now." Most new moms can relate to holding on to post-baby weight since they're sleep-deprived and way too tired to exercise, or are too busy taking care of their little one to hit the gym, but if you're ready to get rid of your post-baby muffin top, here's how.
- Ramp up your cardio sessions: Unfortunately you can't just do back exercises and expect a muffin top to disappear as fast as you can eat one. To slim down trouble spots like love handles and back rolls, you must reduce overall body fat. Aside from eating a healthy diet, you need to burn fat through heart-pumping cardio. Aim to do 60 minutes, five days a week. Mix it up with running, swimming, cycling, hiking, and cardio classes. Be sure to include speed intervals as these are proven to get rid of stubborn belly fat.
- Pay attention to your core: Once that layer of fat disappears, you want to reveal sleek, toned muscles underneath. Be sure to complement your cardio workouts with strength training moves that target your entire core. Include crunches for your abs, deadlifts and Supermans for your back, side bends to target the sides of your waist, and push-ups for your abs and upper back. Try doing moves on an exercise ball or Bosu as the instability forces you to engage your core. Building muscle is also a great way to burn calories and rev up your metabolism.
With the exception of a baked good, a muffin top is not something most women are usually OK with — unless you're Amy Adams. The Muppets star recently told InStyle that the last few pounds of baby weight have been hard to drop. But she's in no rush (Amy gave birth to her daughter in May 2010): "I read about these actresses who get on a stationary bike two weeks after giving birth and I'm like, 'What? Where did you push your baby out of?' Since having Aviana, I have a muffin top, and that's OK right now."
Amy's comments are definitely spot on; given that Hollywood puts an emphasis on beauty, there can be a lot of pressure to maintain a tight and toned bod — even after delivering a child. And regardless of whether you're an actress or not, extra weight gained from pregnancy may be enough to spur any woman into a ramped-up fitness regimen. This isn't the case for everyone, though, as Amy illustrates. For the moms out there, how did you deal with losing the baby weight?
We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Fitness Magazine here on FitSugar!
Ah, motherhood. You've gained a new little bundle of joy — and to go with it, some extra pounds. Don't let food worries add to your stress and sleepless nights as you adjust to your new schedule. We sought out the best foods to keep you going and slim you down in the process.
Rev Up Your Engine
The key to your energy isn't just how much (or little) you sleep each night, but instead, what's on your plate. "One of the main things a healthy diet can do is give new moms energy," says Kathy McManus, RD, a Fitness advisory board member and director of the department of nutrition at Brigham Women's Hospital in Boston. "It's important to spread food throughout the day so that you get an even amount of calories. This will give you lasting power to take care of your baby and yourself."
See more tips after the break!
Pregnancy and motherhood can definitely lead to weight gain, but there are many reasons being a mom can make you a healthier person. Aside from eating right and exercising to set a good example for your children, all that running around and cleaning up burns tons of calories. Curious to know how many? Check out the chart below.
|Running after/playing with kids (20 min.)|
|Playing outdoor games like hopscotch or dodgeball (30 min.)|
|Carrying your infant on a walk (30 min.)|
|Walking while pushing a stroller (30 min.)|
|Picking up toys (10 min.)|
|Vacuuming up the plant, food, sand or whatever else your toddler dumped over (10 min.)|
|Mopping up milk, maple syrup, and other spills (10 min.)|
|Washing dishes (10 min.)|
|Sleeping while they nap (45 min.)|
|Putting away groceries (10 min.)|
|Dance party to The Wiggles in the living room (15 min.)|
|Reading stories before bed (10 min.)|
Aside from burning all those calories, here are some other tips to prevent momma weight gain.
The pressure in Hollywood to bounce back and lose the baby weight sometimes seems like a competition, but one new mom is not playing the game. Selma Blair, known for the movie series Hellboy, my personal fave Legally Blonde, and her latest film Dark Horse, says she didn't have time to hit the gym after having her son, Arthur Saint Bleick, in late July. She told Us Weekly:
"I actually haven't lost any weight since the day I left the hospital. I still weigh the exact same number. I haven't really been focusing on that at all, because I've been running around to different things like Toronto [International Film Festival] and Venice [Film Festival]."
She still looks pretty darn amazing for having had a baby almost eight weeks ago. Her secret? The 39-year-old actress says, "I've been following Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. It helps with my clarity and endurance. In a few weeks I think I'll start getting into [the gym] when things slow down a bit — it'll be Pilates in L.A.!"
I find Selma's attitude refreshing. I don't know about you, but this makes me feel better about wearing my maternity jeans until well after my daughter's two-month birthday!
Just two weeks after giving birth to daughter Haven, Jessica Alba is already back at the gym. Last night Jessica tweeted: "I did my first day of wrkout [sic] since I had the baby, just cardio for 40 min. — it's a start. Anyone else starting a fitness regimen?" Jessica went on to tweet that her doctor gave the OK to resuming a fitness routine. Jessica is keeping it light though by sticking to the stationary bike and elliptical machine. Jessica debuted her postbaby body a few days ago, and it looks like she's having no problems dropping the baby weight.
When it comes to exercise after pregnancy, it varies from woman to woman depending on her birthing experience. After delivery, always check with a doctor before resuming any exercise program and make sure to approach it with caution and moderation.