So Mom, you’ve had your sweet bundle of joy and now that your back on you’re feet again you’ve probably noticed how much your body has changed. You may have gained a lot of weight while you were pregnant, and even if you didn’t, the weight you do have has shifted around and you may feel as if you look like a deflated balloon.
Feeling sorry for yourself or thinking this is just how it is, is not going to make you feel better and is not what is best for your body, so it’s time to work and whip yourself back into shape.
Okay, so maybe work is not a good term to use right now. Your bound to be feeling wore out and exhausted at this point, but you’ve got to get moving, as this will actually give you more energy.
Walking is one of the best ways to loose those excess pounds of baby weight. There are many healthy benefits to walking as a form of exercise; not only will walking burn calories, but it will also give you more energy, rev up your metabolism and help you to feel happier too.
The secret to loosing those baby pounds, or any extra weight for that matter, is a simple equation. The calories you burn must be greater that those you take in. Simple equation, yes, but not always easy to do.
Some women try to do this math by taking in fewer calories, but this is not the best for you right now. Your body has gone through a lot and it needs extra nutrition right now to get back to optimal functioning. Most women are somewhat anemic after having a baby, so you need to make sure that you eat plenty of iron rich foods and plenty of protein to help heal the muscles and tissues that may have been damaged during pregnancy and birth.
Fats are important too, the good kinds found naturally in wholesome foods, not the trans-fats that are added to so much of the junk that is passed off as food today. Fats play an important role in the stabilization and transportation of hormones throughout your body, so for women in or just past the post partum period, fats are definitely something you do not want to cut out completely, especially if you suffer from post-partum depression, otherwise known as the baby-blues.
One of the best ways to burn some extra calories is by walking. The great thing about this type of exercise is that it is one that you can do with your baby. Often heard it referred to as “strollersize” or as of late, “stroller walking”, walking your infant in a stroller can be rewarding for the both of you. The fresh air and sunshine that surrounds you is very healthy for both you and your little one, and your baby’s brain will be stimulated in the process by all the variety of sites and sounds while on your daily walk. At the same time, it can help to increase the bond between you and your baby.
When deciding on a stroller to use for stroller walking, be sure to choose one that is comfortable for you to push. The handle you push with should be at least the height of your waist or a little higher and the ability to adjust it for comfort is even better. When pushing the stroller, your arms should be bent slightly with your elbows turned outward. To increase the bonding experience with your baby during stroller walking, opt for a stroller that has your child facing you. This will be the best position for when you baby is very young, as they get bigger and are able to stay awake during the walk and take in more of the world around them, a forward facing stroller may then be the best option.
Walking is also a great way to burn up those excess calories. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking at a leisurely pace of just 2mph burns 204 calories per hour for a 160 lb. person, (burns even more calories if you weigh more, yippee), and if you up the pace to 3.5 mph, the calories burned would increase to 314 per hour. Not that you are necessarily going to walk for an hour straight, but if you can, great.
In order to burn up one pound off body fat, you need to expend approximately 3,500 calories more that you take in with eating. To figure out how much walking you need to do to loose the baby fat, calculate:
How long you walk, total, in one week, (convert this number to hours, for example, 150 minutes, would be 2.5 hours).
Multiply this number by the amount of calories burned in one hour for the approximate speed you walk and your weight. The number you get in this calculation will tell you how many extra calories you have burned off by walking each week.
Now, if the amount of calories you are consuming is greater than what is needed to sustain you for the rest of your week when you are not exercising, you will not see any fat loss, so it is important to take this into account. If you are not seeing results, download a calorie tracker app to see where you stand as far as calorie intake is concerned. Additionally, you can also get a digital pedometer to track how far you walk each day as well as see how many calories you actually burn for your regular day-to-day activities outside of exercising.
In addition to losing those baby fats, walking works your muscles and helps to build them up. Carrying your baby around will help to build up the muscles in your arms, and walking will build up the muscles in your legs and buttocks. Both of these will help to build up the muscles in you stomach and back.
When you have more muscle, as happens with exercise, you automatically burn more calories even while resting. This is because muscle burns calories just by existing. On the contrary, fat burns no calories.
This brings us to another way to walk off the baby pounds, the treadmill. A treadmill can be a great investment if you actually use it. It can limit your excuses for not walking because it won’t matter if it is raining outside, or if it is too cold, too hot, too windy, or too humid. You can walk on the treadmill while watching TV, listening to music or a podcast, or while cooing to your baby as he or she sits safely nearby watching you. For the sake of safety though, make sure your infant is not too close to the treadmill as loose blankets can easily get caught in this apparatus and there is always the possibility of you tripping and falling and you want to leave enough room so that you do not fall on top of you little darling.
If you do choose to walk around the neighborhood, walking with a friend is a good way to ensure some accountability. Bringing a new baby home is likely to throw all of your prior routines out the window and you will find yourself busier and more tired than ever before. This makes it way to easy to talk yourself out of going for your daily walk, and before you know it, one day will turn into two, and then, three, and four… and so on. A good friend who won’t listen to your excuses can be a big help to get going when you’re not in the mood, and can it can be a big motivator because if you don’t get up and go, you’ll feel like you’re letting your friend down.
Even if you are happy with your body after giving birth, or have already toned up and lost the baby fat, walking is still a great way for every mom to increase their feelings of happiness. Walking, as with any form of exercise, releases endorphins, which are the feel good hormones our body makes during exercise. These hormones give us feelings of well-being and also relieve stress.
Walking can help moms in so many ways. Between losing the baby weight, toning your muscles and releasing those feel good endorphins, you are going to be a happier, healthier mom and this is good for not only you, but your baby too.