There's lots of advice for dropping pregnancy pounds, but what really works? After interviewing women who lost 10 percent of their body weight and kept it off for at least a year, Diane Berry, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Nursing in New Haven, CT, found that the following patterns were linked to success:
Be ready to change. Sounds obvious, but unless you're committed to turning over a new leaf, your efforts won't be effective.
Embrace proven health habits, such as eating smaller helpings, tuning in to hunger triggers (your baby's crying jags, midday mood slumps), exercising regularly, and keeping track of your weight. "Successful losers paid attention to portions, decreased the number of calories they consumed, and exercised -- almost every day," says Berry. Postpartum women should also weigh themselves once a week at the same time in the morning and note the results in a log.
Give yourself a break. While the participants occasionally slipped up, Berry says, "they learned from past mistakes, made adjustments, and moved on. Many of the women in the study made multiple attempts to shed weight before they finally succeeded." Bottom line: Don't set unrealistic expectations, and allow yourself to make mistakes.
Have a cheering section. Support from friends and family reinforced healthy new patterns and boosted the women's self-esteem and sense of control. Note to Dad: That means you keep the Cool Ranch Doritos in your car.