6:00 a.m. Start the day off right Your morning can set the tone for your entire day. Make more days healthy ones with this easy wake-up routine. * Do the twist. Each morning as your brush your teeth, stand with feet hip-width apart and twist back and forth. This side-to-side motion engages the oblique muscles along your sides and helps blast away love handles. * Have a healthy breakfast. You've fed your baby, but did you feed yourself? Quick picks include whole-grain cereal with skim milk, low-fat cottage cheese with fresh fruit, or two hard- boiled eggs with wheat toast or crackers. * Sneak in a speedy workout. You only need ten minutes; see "Shape up with your baby!" sidebar. * Break out in song. Belt out those cheesy '80s lyrics in the shower -- singing burns 59 calories per half hour. 7:40 a.m. Water works Stay hydrated: You need about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day or more if you're breastfeeding. If you're hungry in between snacks and meals, have a drink of water first because it can be easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, says J.J. Virgin, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist based in Pal Desert, California. 8:30 a.m. Spend tummy time together When your baby plays on her stomach (under your watchful eye), it helps build muscle strength that she'll need to crawl. When you join her, you've got an ab-strengthening Pilates move called The Plank: Put your forearms under you and lift your body up using your forearms and toes for support. Keep your back flat. Hold two to three seconds. Repeat. 9:50 a.m. Take a power nap Sleep loss can affect your weight loss: Being drowsy can increase your appetite as you confuse tiredness with hunger, according to The National Sleep Foundation. When your baby goes down for her mid-morning nap, skip the laundry and drop the phone; it's time to get a catch-up snooze. 10:45 a.m. Snack savvy Eating frequently can keep your metabolism revved, offset hunger, and prevent bingeing. "Many new moms go too long without eating before lunchtime, then eat too much in the afternoon and evening," says Molly Kimball, R.D., a nutritionist at Ochsner Clinic's Elmood Fitness Center in New Orleans, LA. As a rule of thumb, fuel up with 200- to 300-calorie mini-meals every time you feed your baby -- about every three hours. Opt for quick, easy snacks like string cheese, nuts, slices of lean turkey, and whole-grain crackers. 11 a.m. Shop smart When you're running errands, remember that every step counts. Park in a spot farther away from the store entrance when you don't score a "With Infant" space. Take the stairs to your ob/gyn appointment, wear a baby carrier when walking, and try these food shopping strategies: * Get in the groove. Believe it or not, pushing the shopping cart burns about 68 calories in 30 minutes. * Don't buy it. Avoid putting junk foods like cookies or chips in your cart -- or choose healthier treats with individual portions, like low-fat ice cream sandwiches or Fudgsicles. And think of ways to indulge yourself that don't involve food: a manicure, fresh flowers, or a new fragrant shampoo. * Think green. Tampa, Florida-based nutritionist Cynthia Sass, coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy, suggests coloring your grocery receipt -- use a green highlighter for healthy "unprocessed" foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean meats, and yellow for all others. Aim for more green than yellow on your receipt next week. Colleen Moriarty is a mom and writer in Washington Depot, CT. She gained 45 pounds during her first pregnancy and details the slimming secrets she used in the year after in her book Shortcuts to Sexy Abs: 337 Ways to Trim, Tone, Camouflage and Beautify.
12:15 p.m. Do lunch! Try to have lunch before you're actually starving -- you'll be less likely to overeat and more willing to make a healthy meal. Smart choices include vegetables and lean protein, such as a salad with turkey or chicken (to quicken prep time, buy pre-washed greens, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes) topped with low-fat cheese. Or a chicken or turkey sandwich with greens and mustard on whole-grain bread. Even canned veggie-and-chicken soup with whole-wheat crackers fits the bill. Try to drink water or skim milk with your meal; a 12-ounce can of soda contains 140 calories, all from sugar, the same amount as 3 ounces of lean beef, says Kimball. If you have to have soda, make it diet. 1:05 p.m. Fuss busters If calming the crankies means rocking your baby, then do it while marching with your knees high to tone legs and glutes. Stick it out for 15 minutes and you'll burn 96 calories. If your nerves are frayed by the time your baby goes down for a nap, grab a magazine and let yourself relax, even if it's only for five minutes -- you'll be less likely to head to the kitchen for comfort. "Many women say that comfort eating has to do with not having enough time for themselves," says Sass. "Budgeting in small amounts of 'me-time,' even if it's only to take a longer shower or read five pages of a novel, can make it easier to resist the cookies -- the treat no longer feels like the only reward you've had for days." But that doesn't mean you can never splurge. "I'm a big fan of occasional treats," says Kimball. "It helps people feel like they're not depriving themselves." She recommends small indulgences (portion size is key) like one fun-size M&M's or a small handful of Hershey's kisses. 1:40 p.m. Clean up It's fine to let the house slide once the baby arrives. But if the mess starts to challenge your sanity, get motivated by the calorie-burning benefits of 30 minutes of cleaning -- vacuuming, mopping, and bathroom scrubbing burn about 100 calories each. A word to the wise, limit cleanings to two days a week -- you need to rest, too. 2:15 p.m. Get moving! It's easy to feel like you need to entertain your baby, but she'll be amused just by watching you do something that you like. So pop in a yoga or Pilates video while your baby watches or relaxes in her play gym. If you want to get outside, bundle your baby up for a walk (see "Walk This Way," sidebar) or just pad around in the snow together. You can also invite other moms along to make your walking workout a moving playdate. Choosing different locations -- a zoo, mall, or art museum -- can add to the fun. (On days that you don't take a walk, repeat the ten-minute morning workout.) 3:10 p.m. Snack secrets As older babies start eating snacks like animal crackers or vanilla wafers, moms will grab handfuls for themselves, too. "Try buying snacks for the kids that you don't like, so you don't eat them," Kimball says. Healthier mom snacks include cut-up veggies with hummus or low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers, or a low-fat yogurt.
The Home Stretch
5:15 p.m. Chomp and cook To stave off hunger (and prevent overeating), nibble on the low-fat cheese or vegetables that you're including in your dinner. Remember to subtract what you eat from your dinner portion. (But you can eat as many veggies as you like!) 5:30 p.m. Treat your taste buds Often, our favorite snack foods are loaded with taste -- pungent salt-and-vinegar potato chips or sweet chocolate. Finding ways to incorporate these flavors into your meals can help keep cravings at bay. Use that vinegar flavor you love in tuna fish, top your chicken dish with salsa, marinate meats in lemon and rosemary before cooking, and try sweet sorbets topped with fresh fruit for dessert. 6 p.m. Use take-out smarts You can skip the guilt of fast foods if you choose wisely, says Carla Gray, the Orlando, Florida-based author of The Low Carb Fast Food Diet: Low Carb, Low Calorie Eating on the Go. "Today's restaurants recognize that over 70 percent of their customers want nutritious meals." And the ease of take-out can help new parents feel less stressed. Some smart choices for tonight, Gray suggests, include Boston Market's rotisserie turkey with sides of steamed mixed vegetables and creamed spinach; Subway's grilled chicken breast and baby spinach salad with Greek vinaigrette; or Pizza Hut's Thin 'N Crispy Cheese Pizza. As a rule of thumb with pizza, double up on vegetable toppers so it's easier to eat less of the white-bread crust. 7 p.m. Bedtime stomach slimmer To soothe your baby before bed and streamline your waistline, cradle her snugly in your arms while standing with your legs hip-width apart and your knees bent. Then gently twist from side to side while singing your favorite lullaby. Keep your abs tight and your back straight. 9:30 p.m. Rest easy As you get ready for bed, remember that it took nine months for you to put on the baby weight, it will likely take at least that long to lose it. You may not be able to drop every last pregnancy pound, but take a peek in the nursery and remind yourself that it happened for a delicious reason.