Getting Back in Shape After Childbirth

Motherhood is a beautiful thing; however the toll it takes on your body is not. So, while every woman wants to regain the body she had before becoming pregnant, the process of pregnancy and childbirth can be extremely hard on the body; hormonal changes, cravings for less-than-healthy foods, lack of energy, and decreased mobility make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, no matter how athletic or nutrition conscious you were before your pregnancy, there is a good chance that it will take some time to get back to where you want to be after you deliver your beautiful bundle of joy.

It can be easy to succumb to the belief that the baby is born, so now it is time to get to work with heavy exercise and get this baby weight off! Still, it is crucial that you give your body time to recuperate after having a child. The most vital thing at this juncture is making sure to take care of you. Ensuring proper healing takes time. Now, you may be thinking, “I do not want to be one of those women who never loses her last 20 or 30 pounds and continues to blame it on the baby, even after he has started elementary school.”

No one is saying you cannot begin the process of getting back in shape, however timing is a key element in this plan. You just had a child, and we all know that is not easy, so take your time, heal your body properly, and once it is safe and comfortable to do so, you can begin some kind of exercise to get back in shape. The first thing you want to do is speak with your physician. You want to make sure you are ready to begin a moderate fitness regimen. If he gives you the green light we have some suggestions that will help you reach your goal.

 Easy Ways to Lose Weight

Some of the most useful weight loss suggestions are also the simplest; watching what you eat and increasing physical activity. Still, the methods of executing these basic guidelines are where many people have difficulty.

 Watching What You Eat

During pregnancy many women experience cravings for sweet or fattening foods and there is no shortage of people who are willing to cater to those cravings; husbands and boyfriends will take a late night trip to the 24 hour market for chips and ice cream, grandmothers-to-be will bake for hours to make sure the mommy-to-be has a surplus of her favorite double fudge cookies, and friends of the expectant mother regularly supply pots of homemade mac and cheese. It is wonderful to be pampered. This is the only time things are all about you. But once the baby arrives, it is time to get back on track so you can keep up with your little one. After all, he won’t be a newborn forever and once he starts crawling and walking, you will need all of the energy you can get!

Experts agree that keeping a food journal is the best way to keep track of daily nutrients, vitamins, calories, and fat, but keeping track of what you eat also keeps you accountable. For some reason it is harder to overindulge if you know you will have to look at it in print later. Not to mention that keeping a running list of what you have eaten reminds you how it all adds up and making little notes about when you ate an item and how much you had can help you pinpoint triggers of emotional eating, which can sabotage efforts to lose weight and keep it off. Although many individuals claim they do not have time to keep a food journal, there are countless cell phone apps, computer software and websites that take all the guesswork out of tracking daily intake. Moreover, these programs allow you to track your physical activity, weight, body inches, as well as offering you the chance to list goals and look back at the progress you have made.

 Increasing Physical Activity

Fitting in a structured workout while taking care of a little on can seem impossible, but working out does not have to happen in a gym or in the presence of a trainer to be effective. There is no reason why a mother should be forced to choose between bonding and exercising, why not combine the two? Take the baby for a 20-30 minute walk in a stroller or strap on carrier; bonding, exercise and fresh air, what could be better? Additionally, playing with your child can burn calories without any planning whatsoever. Though there are days when you feel that you do not have the energy to exercise, find a way to push through. It is an often forgotten fact that exercise actually gives the body energy. Exercise also enhances your mood, so if you feel down or depressed, exercise could be the key to feeling better.

Any activity is helpful, but, when you want to target specific areas, there are some simple reps that can be incorporated into your day with no equipment and without the need to get on and off of the floor.

 Rowing

With knees slightly bent and feet about 3 feet apart, close hands, as if paddling or rowing a boat. Do not move your hips or trunk. Raise hands to chest level and “row” 10 alternating reps for each side. For added resistance, use dumbbells or 16 oz bottles of water in each hand.

 Standing Diagonal Crunch

With feet shoulder-width apart, simultaneously bring your right arm down and your left knee up until they meet. Switch to left arm and right knee and complete 10-15 alternating reps.

 Squeeze Then Reach

Close hands together and stand with feet 3 feet apart. Begin with knees bent, abs tightened and clasped hands lowered. Bring clasped hands up to right side of head while stretching abs and extending legs. Lower hands, squeeze abs and bend knees to starting position. Repeat on left side for 10-15 alternating reps.

However you choose to go about it, the critical part is making sure to exercise 3-5 times per week on a regular basis and remember that while bonding is essential, so is taking time for you. While some women worry that needing a break is selfish, this could not be farther from the reality. To fend off stress and be the vibrant, healthy mother you want to be, try to devote at least a half hour to you.

 Take Your Time

Just as you did not gain the weight in a month or two, you will not lose it in a month or two. Do not let it get you down if the scale is not moving as fast as you would like. Be careful not to try to do too much too fast. It can be easy to become overly enthusiastic and overdo it, but you will gain nothing by injuring yourself. Take your time to slowly, but in a healthy way, regain your former weight and body shape. It took your body nine whole months to get to your current weight and it may take you another nine to get back in shape, but with a little effort and commitment to yourself, you will get there.

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