Easy Ways to Get Your Body Back

Are you longing to return to your pre-baby body but have no idea where to begin? Our simple tips and quick workout will get you there fast.

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You've pored over baby books, scoured the Internet and read every possible article about how to care for a newborn. You and your partner have navigated the (sometimes rocky) road back to intimacy. You've been to your six-week post-delivery doctor's visit and been given a clean bill of health. You and your baby may even have begun to fall into some sort of routine during the day and are grabbing a few winks at night.

Now it's time to start getting your body back into some semblance of order—which typically means losing a few pounds. The question is, where do you begin?

If you're not sure where to start, we've got proven steps for working your way back to your prepregnancy bod—or even better! Read on for six tips to losing the baby weight, and a really doable exercise program you will be able to find time for. We think you'll like what you see.

Lose the Baby Fat

Get up and move: Most new moms are too sleep-deprived and overwhelmed to even think about exercise. That's OK, says Renee M. Jeffreys, M.S., an exercise physiologist in Covington, Ky. Most women's bodies aren't ready for serious exercise until six weeks after giving birth, anyway—longer if they've had a Cesarean section. Once you do feel up to exercise, try our complete post-baby workout on pg. 80.

Breastfeed: Breastfeeding burns an astounding number of calories: 500 to 700 a day. This means that many women can actually increase the number of calories they take in and still lose weight quickly and safely. But be aware that as soon as you stop breastfeeding or begin to taper off, your calorie needs will plummet. You can really pack on the weight if you don't adjust your diet downward and/or your exercise routine upward.

Watch calories and fat: Say no to empty-calorie foods like sodas and chips, as well as fad diets that eliminate entire food groups. Instead, aim to eat a variety of lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of low-fat dairy products, says Tammy Baker, M.S., a registered dietitian in the Phoenix area.

Eat healthful snacks: Eating too much sugar can send your blood-sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride, and when your blood sugar drops, you're more likely to eat the first thing you can get your hands on. To avoid temptation, keep only nutritious foods at your fingertips. Also stock up on low-fat milk and yogurt for snacks, as studies have shown that calcium from these sources can aid weight loss.

Here are some ideas for tasty, healthful snacks to help keep you on the right track:

  • Celery, carrots and peppers with low-fat ranch dressing
  • Egg or chicken salad on whole-grain bread
  • Whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk
  • Whole-grain bread with nut butter
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Fruit smoothies

For other great snacks, plus complete nutrition advice for breastfeeding moms, see "Still Eating for Two" on pg. 36.

Get with other new moms: Carolyn Pione of Cincinnati just didn't feel as if she had the time or energy to exercise after she had her baby. Then, some pals who had formed an early-morning running group showed up on her doorstep urging her to join. At first Pione couldn't keep up. But she kept at it and eventually lost all her baby weight. And now she runs in 5k's, something she never would have been able to work up to without the help of the group. Take naps: "Getting plenty of sleep has been shown to help with weight loss because you're not compelled to binge on high-calorie, high-sugar foods for energy," says Sheah Rarback, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Strange sleep cycles like those forced on you by a newborn can upset your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose your pregnancy weight, Rarback adds. So take a nap anytime the baby does, housework be damned. That way, you'll keep your energy levels—and your potentially naughty cravings—in check.

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