It takes time to get back into your bikini-body shape after having a little one, but the key to settling into a happy weight may be more about making time for pleasure than going on a deprivation diet. “If you aren’t living a joyful life—despite getting enough rest, watching what you eat, and exercising regularly—you won’t be able to reach or sustain your happy weight,” says Erin Cox, author of the new book, One Hot Mama, who struggled with her weight after having three kids.
That's because studies show that stress can trigger your body to hold onto belly fat, crave fatty or sugary treats, and even slow your metabolism. Follow Cox’s five real-world tips for fitting more bliss into your daily life, and shedding some unwanted pregnancy pounds.
1. Pinpoint Your Passions
“A key to happiness is to nurture your interests and relationships outside of your children,” says Cox. “Being yourself and staying fabulous and interesting only makes you a better mother, because happiness is contagious and sets a great example for your kids.” Give yourself 15 minutes each morning to flip through magazines and journal before the baby is awake to help figure out what really brings you satisfaction and joy. You might be reminded about how much you love crafts or fashion, or discover that you’d like try your hand at web design. Find like-minded people in your area on meetup.com to help nurture your passions. Also focus on your most important relationships outside of your kids. “Do you want to make your relationship with your husband a bigger priority in your life? Then try to live in a way that is in alignment with these things as much as possible,” says Cox.
2. Make Time for Guilty Pleasures
“An easy way for moms to add a little fun and joy to their lives is by partaking in a guilty pleasure—or an enjoyable activity that you recognize as a treat,” says Cox. “At the end of a particularly trying day, I relish putting my feet up for a few minutes and watching some mindless TV with a glass of wine.” Here are some more feel-good ideas from Cox for motivation: Slowly sipping a latte dusted with cinnamon; getting a babysitter so you can take a yoga class; catching up with the Twilight books and movies; designing your dream house on Pinterest; and indulging in a massage with a girlfriend.