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20+ Proven Exercise Strategies for Busy Moms

More energy? Smaller waistline? Able to lift a small child with a single hand and still have the strength to carry laundry, shopping bags and your phone? We're in the third month of our Love Your New Mom Body plan, and by now you should be seeing some significant results in how you look -- and feel. (Latecomers, please join in! Just make sure your doc approves, and modify the exercises as necessary. Go to for a look at parts 1 and 2.)

In our final workout, you'll build on the strength and aerobic gains you've made over the past two months. This month's program is all about maximizing your time, something most new moms don't have a lot of, so you can spend more minutes having fun with your little one. We've also got loads of tips on eating right, boosting energy, blasting fat and building endurance, so you'll be ready to take on the challenges of infancy and beyond!

Maximize Your Muscle Power

Every new mom knows how to multitask -- we juggle work, family, home and a dozen other obligations daily. So apply that same concept to your workout. This month's moves work several muscles simultaneously for maximum efficiency. "It takes about half the time as a typical strength routine," explains Suzanne Bowen, certified fitness instructor and creator of the DVD Long and Lean Prenatal Workout. These challenging moves will shape all of your major muscle groups in just 10 to 15 minutes. Do them as a circuit to raise your heart rate, and you'll also earn an extra calorie-burning boost.

5 Ways to Burn 500 Calories or More

Do three of these high-energy workouts each week to blast fat, build endurance and maximize results.

• Ride a bicycle at a speed of at least 12 mph (one hour).
• Run a 12-minute mile for one hour or a 10-minute mile for 45 minutes.
• Play tennis (singles match, one hour; doubles, 75 minutes).
• Walk briskly at a 15-minute-mile pace for 90 minutes.
• Swim laps at a moderate effort for 65 minutes.

4 Food Rules for More Energy

In addition to regular exercise, what you eat can make a big difference in helping you get through the day without a nap. Start with these simple rules.

1: Never Leave Home Without Your Water Bottle

"Hydration plays a major role in energy," notes Ashley Koff, R.D. That's especially true if you're breastfeeding, since nursing places even more demand on your fluid levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, so less blood reaches your organs -- including your brain -- leaving you light-headed and dizzy. Drink water or seltzer, or shop the produce aisle. "Aim for at least 6 'hydration occasions' a day, which can include water-based vegetables," says Koff.

2: Don't Forget to Eat

With all the hullaballoo that comes with getting your little one fed, changed, and dressed, it's no wonder many moms grab a quick snack instead of a healthy meal. "Aim to eat a balanced meal or snack every three hours," says Koff. That means a mix of healthy carbs, protein and fat -- like whole-grain cereal with milk and chopped nuts, or plain Greek yogurt with berries and almonds -- to keep you satisfied.

3: Don't Use Coffee as a Crutch

Sure, you'll score a quick buzz from a double-shot latte, but prepare to bonk shortly thereafter. That's also true for energy drinks and sweets. "Energy fixes are often energy zappers in disguise," says Koff. "You'll spike, but then you'll be set up for a major crash."

4: Get the Right Mix of Nutrients

For a more natural, long-lasting boost, consume plenty of vitamins and minerals -- especially B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid, which help break food down into energy), and vitamin D, which plays a role in blood sugar regulation. Key foods include leafy vegetables, whole grains, eggs, grass-fed beef, shrimp, scallop and sardines.