Q: I had my baby six months ago and have lost most of my pregnancy weight. But my stomach area seems to be the hardest part to get back in shape. Is there anything I can do?
A: Most new moms suffer from what I call the “post-baby belly blues.” The good news is that you can firm and restrengthen your abdominal muscles by doing core exercises that target your transverse abdominis (the deepest abdominal muscle), such as crunches, pelvic tilts and planks. [For descriptions of these exercises, go to fitpregnancy.com/postnatalworkouts.] Correct technique is key. For example, when doing crunches, keep your neck and shoulders relaxed while supporting your head, pull your abs in toward your spine as you exhale and relax them when you inhale. Work up to 20 reps, doing each one slowly. You won’t be able to see your tight abs if they are buried under a layer of fat. Translation: Focus on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein, practice portion control and do aerobic exercise. I recommend using a heart monitor that will help you stay in your fat burning zone and track how many calories you are expending.