The Exhausted New Mom’s Workout
From dawn to dusk, how to sneak fitness and healthy eating into your life
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.