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Love Your New-Mom Body: Instant Energy

If you frequently find yourself thinking back to the days when you wore a pair of pants without an elastic waist and wondering how you're ever going to slip back into your pre-pregnancy jeans, never fear: Our ultimate body-after-baby plan is designed to help you lose weight, gain energy and feel great in just three months, without having to devote hours to the gym or slash hundreds of calories from your diet.

This month kicks off with an anyone-can-do-it series that will help you firm your core and regain strength -- not to mention tackle some of the stress that's an inevitable part of having a new baby in the house. Our experts provide easy ways to burn fat and smart, simple nutrition strategies to follow, even if you're nursing. Most of all, we've kept it easy and lots of fun because right now, you don't have the time or inclination for much else!

Start here:
• Get the OK. Make sure you check with your doc before beginning any exercise routine -- especially if you've had a C-section or given birth within the past few weeks. Generally speaking, most OBs advise waiting six weeks to allow your body time to heal from the rigors of birth.
• Find a few minutes. Practice our core-strengthening moves just two or three times a week, and you'll reap benefits. Squeeze them in during naptime or any time you need an energy boost.
• Move it and lose it. Try boosting your activity level whenever you can. Walk with the stroller to do nearby errands, or park in a central place and walk to each destination. Turn this into a steady-pace workout by walking for about 30 minutes, two to three days a week.

Core Connection (5-10 minutes)

For about nine months, your baby called your belly home. Now that you're once again the sole occupant of your core, it's the first place you should focus your fitness efforts. "Regaining core strength is critical for new moms," explains Elena Brower, owner of Virayoga [one word] in New York City and creator of the DVD, Element: Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga.

During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles stretch to make room for your ever-growing offspring. To regain lost strength and rebuild muscle, it's important to strengthen all of the muscles of your core, including the deep transverse abdominals, the external and internal obliques (sides), the rectus abdominals ("six pack") and the lower back. "You can do these strengthening and stretching moves almost anywhere, even if you have just a few minutes between feedings, changing diapers and laundry," says Brower. As you try the movements, "Focusing on your breathing can help you regain a sense of calm and control." Begin by taking a few breaths while staying in each pose. As you build strength, try to increase the number of breaths you take. "Stop when your breathing becomes too short or feels difficult," adds Brower. The whole routine should take only five to 10 minutes.

To see the moves, click here.

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