Lose Those Stubborn Baby Pounds

6 Steps to Lasting Weight Loss

Before you even think about losing weight, remember: You needed to put on extra pounds to give birth to the miracle who is cooing at you right now. Also, being the mother of a new baby, though joyful and exhilarating, is too busy and stressful a time for complicated diet plans or rigid exercise regimens.

With the following easy program, you can lose a pound a week—which over the months really adds up. Moms who keep the baby weight off do a combination of watching their mealtime portions and getting moderate but consistent exercise. Here are six easy (honest!) steps to getting your pre-baby body back.

  1. Ease into it. Your doctor doesn’t want you to exercise until at least your six-week postpartum checkup. Don’t rush it. Once you get the green light, start slowly. Take walks with your baby in the stroller or front carrier—outside when it’s nice, around the mall when it’s not. Pushing or carrying your baby has double the benefits: You don’t feel guilty about being away from your newborn and your muscles are engaged with pushing or carrying a the baby.
  2. Buddy up. Got a friend who also has a new baby? Strolling together lets you socialize while you’re exercising. Check out Strollercize groups in your area, or call moms from your hospital birthing class or Mommy and Me group to walk with you. You’ll look forward to your workout dates!
  3. Be smart. If you’re nursing, your body expends 500 calories a day to make breast milk. But you need to take in an extra 500 calories to produce good quality milk and enough of it. Plus, most nursing moms are very hungry and thirsty; their bodies know they need extra fuel. Talk to your doctor if you’re nursing to find out how many calories you can drop a day without compromising your milk quality and supply.
  4. Take it up a notch. Start with easy 20-minute strolls, and gradually work up to half an hour. Next, pick up the pace until your heart rate (pulse) is in the target zone. How to know if you’re in the zone? Subtract your age from 220, then take 70 and 85 percent of that number. Between the two numbers is your target zone. To check your heart rate while exercising, stop in the middle and take your pulse. Count how many beats there are in 10 seconds and multiply by 6. If the number is in your target zone, you’re doing great! Stay in the zone for two-thirds of your workout time; spend the minutes before that working up to your pace and the minutes afterward doing gentle stretches. Make sure you can talk to a friend easily when you’re in your target zone; if you can’t because you’re out of breath, go slower and talk to your doctor just to be safe.
  5. Every bit counts. First, your goal is to do an hour of aerobic exercise 3 to 4 times a week. How can you go from a half hour power walk to a whole hour of exercise when you’ve got a baby? After you put your infant down for a nap, dance around the kitchen to the radio. It doesn’t matter whether your exercise is done in several spurts or done consecutively. What does matter is the total number of minutes you spend moving. Everything that makes you huff and puff a little—including going up and down stairs with baskets of laundry—counts. Make sure that you’re also doing some simple strength work. Many moms pop in a DVD that combines aerobic and weight training exercise. A half-hour DVD combined with a half-hour walk and you’re golden!
  6. Eat to lose. Those trendy no- or low-carb diets can work for a little while, but they’re not sustainable—or healthy. Instead, follow the rule of sensible portions. For instance, a serving of meat should be no bigger than a deck of cards; a serving of rice or pasta (whole grain is best) should be about the size of your fist. Eat as many veggies and fruits as you want, and eat treats sparingly. You won’t feel deprived and as the months fly by, you’ll shrink while your baby grows!

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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