Whether you’ve just had your first child or one of several, losing your weight after the baby is an important part of your health that’s all too easy to overlook. Shedding excess weight helps you feel good in your body again. If you’ve held onto pregnancy weight between several babies, now is the time to get your body back in shape. When you take charge of your own fitness, you may realize that you have more energy to go about your day — and to care for your child.
While you may be itching to lose baby weight right away, maintain your pregnancy eating habits for the first six weeks of your baby’s life if you are breastfeeding. During this time, you need a high caloric intake. Depleting this through diet or exercise may leave you feeling ragged. After six weeks, you can resume the type of exercise that you were doing pre-pregnancy. Since you’ve taken time off, you may want to ease into things. If you were an avid jogger, start with walking. If you went to five Zumba classes a week, begin with one class per week.
You didn’t gain all your pregnancy weight overnight, and it won’t come off overnight either. While you begin your quest to get back in shape, try to manage your expectations regarding time, activity level and life balance. You’ve got more obligations now and won’t have the same time to work out that you did before the baby. Your body may feel pain and discomfort when you work out, or may be craving certain foods. Work at your body’s pace and don’t beat yourself up.
It’s important to practice both cardio exercise and strength training to reclaim your shape. The former helps you shed calories and lose pounds, while the latter tones and defines your muscles. Aim for a half-hour of cardio exercise three to four times a week. If you hit the gym, think treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or gym classes like Zumba, spinning or other movement. Consider a sport like tennis, racquetball, basketball or volleyball where you can work out with other moms who are trying to lose weight.
You can even turn exercise into bonding time by including baby. Jogging strollers allow you to power walk or run with baby. Not only do you realize the fitness benefits of running or jogging, but you get an extra workout from the resistance of having to push the carriage along. Strength training exercises such as sit ups, lunges, squats and push-ups allow you to hold baby while you work out.
To help shed pounds, eat a healthy diet that consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Aim to cut 500 calories per day out of your diet to lose about 1-1/2 pounds per week — a slow but steady weight loss rate. Try to eat five to six small meals a day rather than three large ones, since this stimulates your metabolism and helps you take off more pounds. It’s important not to skip meal even though you’re caring for baby. Not eating reduces your energy levels and weight loss.
If you regularly work out, maintain a good diet and moderate your expectations, you will see the weight come off. Maintain your commitment to getting in shape to get back to the body you had before pregnancy and enjoy more energy.
Thomas is a health and fitness enthusiast. He spends his spare time blogging on behalf of Sears and other reputable brands he uses every day.