Whether you gained 25 or 50 pounds during pregnancy, you're probably wondering if you'll ever wear those prebaby Levi's again. These tummy-tightening tips can help, not to mention give you more strength for picking up the beloved reason you have a bigger waistline. (Get the green light from your doctor before beginning.)
* Let your baby be your trainer. When you walk with your baby in a front carrier, you're working your core ab and back muscles, says Colleen Moriarty, author of Shortcuts to Sexy Abs: 337 Ways to Trim, Tone, Camouflage and Beautify. When your little one has head control (at around 6 months of age), you can tone your love handles with this exercise: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abs and lift your chest, holding your baby securely under the armpits and facing you at belly-button level. Slowly twist side to side without moving your hips. Airplane sound effects can help keep your "trainer" amused.
* Eat around the clock. You should not only sleep when your baby sleeps but eat when your baby eats. Having six mini-meals a day (300 to 350 calories each) can prevent you from feeling starved -- and reaching for the pint of Chunky Monkey at 4 p.m. Keep healthy snacks, such as sliced turkey, cubes of cheese, wheat crackers, and cut-up vegetables around for fast fuel.
* Watch out for "mummy tummy." Pregnancy can cause a separation, known as a diastasis, of the muscle in the middle of your stomach. You can decrease it by working your innermost abdominal muscle, the transverse, by squeezing your belly button in toward your spine, says Julie Tupler, who details her "Tupler technique" in Lose Your Mummy Tummy. Try doing 25 squeezes a few times a day and aim for 100 squeezes ten times a day.
* Keep stress in check. Frazzled feelings can foil your weight-loss efforts. Deep breathing or visualizing yourself on a sunny beach can give you some inner tranquillity anytime, anywhere -- except maybe when all eyes are on you during a grocery-store meltdown.