The baby belly is an inevitable left-over of pregnancy. You are given a precious new baby and a not so precious pooch. The mid section is the number one most requested body part to change after having a baby. This is hard to do when you consider that you are not supposed to be dieting, you are too tired to exercise and your body doesn’t feel like it belongs to you. But that’s no reason to throw in the towel. We know many moms who have amazing abs (even six-packs) after having babies. It takes commitment and patience. Remember, it took 40 weeks for your belly to grow so don’t expect it to be flat as a board in a few weeks. Here are some must do’s to get your body back…
Just because you aren’t counting calories does not mean that you shouldn’t watch what you eat.
· Eat foods in their natural state. This means an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. If it’s been processed by man, then it’s not a good food choice for you.
· Fuel up on fiber. More and more research is pointing to fiber as an important part of a weight loss plan. It will make you feel full and will aid in digestion. More and more research shows that a high fiber diet may be important to fighting diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
· Hydrate. Yes, I know you’ve heard this before but that’s because it was and still is true. Water is essential to helping you lose weight. It helps with digestion, nutrient absorption and waste elimination. Proper hydration can curb hunger and help you to feel full. The general recommendation is to drink 8 8-oz glasses of water but you will need to increase this amount if you are nursing or exercising.
The reality is that you need to start slow after having a baby. You probably won’t even get clearance for traditional exercise until 6 weeks.
· Be Active Always. Even if not a traditional exercise routine, be active most if not all days of the week. This may be a walk, a swim, a bike ride. Listen to your body and build slowly after having a baby. Increase intensity as you feel comfortable. Once you have full clearance to exercise, commit to getting fit. Find ways to fit fitness in to your everyday life. Exercise with your baby in a front pack carrier, take a stroller fitness class or a mommy and me fitness class.
· Get Engaged. It’s important to learn how to engage your abdominal muscles. We often lose that ability to activate those muscles as they were stretched and inefficient during pregnancy. As soon as your baby is born, you can start doing hollowing exercises. To do this, draw in your waistline towards your spine as you exhale. Practice breathing while the abs are drawn in. Most of us think of only the front of our tummy when we bring our abs in. But your deepest layer of abdominal tissue circles your waistline. Imagine drawing your abs in as if you were tightening a corset.
· Plank. A favorite ab restorer is the plank. This is an exercise where you are face down on your forearms and toes. Do your best to square off your shoulders and hips and “engage” your abdominals. Keep your spine and head in neutral. We want you flat as a board. See how long you can hold without losing form. One minute is your eventual goal. If it’s too difficult, modify the position by starting at your knees.
Lisa Druxman, MA, Founder of Fit4Mom
All of us at PAM, including our guest authors, are mom’s with experience, NOT Health Professionals. Please consult with your Medical Provider before starting any exercise program. And if you are newly post partum, check in with your Health Provider to makes sure you have the “ok” to start doing a daily walking routine.