You’ve spent nine long months with your little one growing inside your belly… Now, it’s back to the basics of abdominal exercise to get that waistline back!
If you are a new mom, or a mom who would simply love to have flat abs again – here’s some great tips to get you started!
First 6 Weeks Postpartum
1. Right After Delivery, Wear A Belly Band!
If you’ve had a C-Section, find one that supports you and doesn’t hurt your incision area. Wearing one of these bands will help keep your stomach IN before you can do any exercises. The point is to have that support in your abdominal area to flatten your tummy and keep your stomach muscles tight! This can be done the first 6 weeks after your baby is born and then once in a while afterwards to remind yourself to contract your abdominal muscles and keep them flat.
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2. Get Into Some Form Of Exercise SLOWLY
I had my son naturally, so my recovery time was relatively short. However, I DID take it easy the first couple weeks, going for only 15 minute walks as I felt comfortable. Start slow. Go for walks with your little one to get some fresh air, rather than power walk and starting too fast that injury could result.
3. Pull Your Abs In Throughout The Day
Imagine your navel drawing into your spine. This teaches your abdominals to hold themselves in and STAY THERE, which is very effective, even if you don’t have time for an abdominal workout or you can’t do any exercises quite yet. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat throughout the day.
4. Focus On Healthy Eating Habits!
You may be exercising consistently, but you also need to look at your diet. Are you eating enough veggies and fruits? Are you eating lean meats? Are you including low-fat dairy in your daily meals?
Favorite “new” mom foods for energy and weight loss will include low-fat or skim milk, Greek yogurt (plain with honey or traditional), fruits (bananas and apples are all diet, energy, and busy-mom friendly!), tuna, grilled chicken, scrambled eggs, string cheese, Belly Bars, ground lean beef, foods with healthy fats made with olive or canola oil, original Cheerios, instant oatmeal with low sugar, and a piece of chocolate of your choosing 3x a week (you deserve a treat – which will also keep you from binging!).
Drop the soda pop (diet and regular) and drink water (add lemon for extra metabolism boosting effects) or green tea throughout the day to properly hydrate yourself. Stay away from diet pills and any significant calorie restricting diets especially if you are breastfeeding!
Remember: You need good energy to care for yourself and your new baby!
5. Breastfeeding? You Need 500 Extra Calories!
Breastfeeding DOES help you lose weight; however, you need to allow yourself 500 extra calories a day to maintain your milk supply! This is NOT 500 extra calories from the added 300 you need during pregnancy – it’s 500 extra before you were pregnant. Make sure these extra calories come from nutrients – not calorie – dense foods like a turkey sandwich, an apple, and glass of low-fat milk.
6. Multi-Task Your Exercise
Multi-tasking becomes automatic after you become a mother! However, so should your exercise. Play with your baby – all that lifting gives you excellent arms than any dumbbell can give you! Walk around more often rather than sit. Make standing become a habit rather than trying to find a chair all the time. When your baby is in bed, give yourself 30-60 minutes on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike while watching the next episode of The Bachelor. Alternatively, find a wrap or baby carrier to strap your baby and go for afternoon walks where you (can burn some extra calories) and your baby can get fresh air.
7. Leave The Kitchen After 8PM
The more we eat towards bedtime, the more extra calories we won’t be using to be stored as fat. If you are very hungry at 7:30-8pm, have a protein source, such as a piece of cheese, glass of milk, 3oz of grilled chicken, 100-160 calorie whey protein shake, or a scrambled egg. Protein takes longer for your body to digest, meaning you’ll be fuller longer and you won’t spike your blood sugar where your body immediately uses the energy (calories) to be used for later.
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8. Get On A Sleep Schedule
As a mom, it’s difficult to reach 7-8 hours of sleep a night, however, you NEED good rest to burn body fat efficiently and keep your energy high. Take naps when your baby naps, go to bed a little earlier – give yourself the gift of rest. When we get less than 5 hours of sleep a night, our cognitive abilities struggle along with our metabolism. The hormones leptin (the hormone that tells you you’re full) drops and ghrelin (the hormone that tells you that you’re hungry) increases, causing you to reach for sweets and way too much of them. Which leads to easy fat storage! When we do get sleep, however, our body produces the human growth hormone that burns fat throughout the night.
9. Consistency Is Key To Success!
Yes, having a baby around is very time consuming – however, you CAN make the time! Once you start getting into a routine of working out comfortably, make a point to work your abdominal muscles for 10 minutes three times a week and 5 minutes twice a week. This schedule will bring those abs back to their original state, even working towards that desired six-pack!
10. Keep Yourself Accountable
Websites that encourage healthy eating and fitness for moms are great to keep you accountable. Articles you can read, tips from other moms as well as message boards you can post on will help you find that motivation and encouragement to keep going and stay on track.
After 6 Weeks Postpartum
11. Got The OKAY From Your Doctor?
After your six week appointment, start with some good abdominal exercises that can help shrink that little “mommy tummy”. I personally recommend Pilates, ballet, and yoga that targets the abdominal region. My personal workout video recommendations includes:
- New York City Ballet: The Complete Workout, Vol. 1 and 2 for any moms wanting to stretch, lengthen, tone, firm their body.
- Denise Austin’s Mat-Based Workout Based on the Work of JH Pilates is more challenging but suitable for those who want to work on their core muscles of the abdominal and back as well as balance, flexibility and strength.
- For moms who wants to lose those post-pregnancy weight fast and whom your doctor already gives the okay, Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown is a stronger workout that will help you burn mega calories and shed those baby weight fast.
For additional weight loss results, I also recommend doing intervals for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week for maximum results. An example of this method is biking on a moderate setting for 2 minutes, then pushing hard for 1 minute. Jogging for 2 minutes, then sprinting for 1 minute. Make your body ignite with a cardio/strength interval in there too – such as push-ups for 1 minute then jumping rope for 2 minutes, and continue. This is one of the most effective fat-burning methods out there and I personally use this method to burn fat faster than jogging for 45 minutes. You save time and give yourself an excellent after burn!
Need time to exercise? Ask for help! It’s tough being a mom, especially a new mom! So when you just want 20, 30, or even 60 minutes to yourself to get your workout in for the day, ask your hubby or family member or even a friend to watch the baby while you work out. If this can’t happen, remember that babies do take naps, so if you feel the energy to work out while your little one’s asleep, go for it!
12. After Breastfeeding, Try Metabolism Boosters
If you have stop breastfeeding, go for all natural metabolism boosters that won’t negate that piece of cake you want to have, as these will boost your body’s ability to burn fat at a faster rate naturally. These lovely little helpers include: cayenne pepper, ginger , green tea, coffee (forget the creamer and sugar – but skim milk is acceptable!), grapefruit, apples, oranges, Greek yogurt (dairy, specifically), protein sources (lean chicken, eggs, whey protein powder), and a vitamin B complex (vitamins to boost energy in your body from the foods you consume).
For moms who want to lose those post pregnancy weight fast, remember this formula: have a healthy diet, go for 30-40 minutes cardio, 20-30 minutes strength training, and 10 minutes of ab work for 3-5 days a week, and you will see results!
Good luck, mamas!