Nothing throws a wrench into a girl's workout routine like a new baby. So if the only thing you've crunched lately are lost Cheerios on the kitchen floor, fear not. You can make exercise part of your new life. Babytalk asked Mary Beth Knight, president and chief fitness director of StrollerFit -- and one of the country's top experts in new-mom fitness -- to design a strengthening and toning program just for you. If you signed up for this plan last month, you already know what we're pitching, but for those new to the concept, our goal is simple: to help you love, or at least embrace, your new-mom body. That's because a healthy mind-set will help blaze the trail toward a successful new fitness plan. (Take our Body-Image Quiz from Part 1.)
Feeling ready to get started? Let's go!
Check in with your M.D. You can usually begin exercising as soon as you feel up to it. But most of us need at least a solid few weeks to recover -- and even more if you had a cesarean section. Either way, be sure to get the official green light from your ob-gyn before beginning (or resuming) any fitness plan.
Feel free to customize. Knight organized this workout, which you can do with or without your baby, by body region. That means you can mix and match moves according to your fitness needs, time, and interest. Plus, each move is designed to help you in a specific new-mom area of life -- from reaching on your tippy-toes for diapers at the grocery store to toting your little one on your hip.
Do what you can. Ideally, you'll aim to complete this 15-move resistance-training routine twice a week to see visible changes in your body; three times a week to accelerate those results. You'll also do all the recommended repetitions. Realistically, you'll start where you start and build from there. These are just guidelines. The ultimate goal is to build your spirits, boost your body, and bust out of that postbaby fitness rut.
Keep a few things handy: a blanket or mat; bouncy seat or high chair; stroller; filled water bottles, jumbo soup cans, or hand weights (three to five pounds); a rubber ball (about the size of a softball).
Try mini-workouts. If carving out 45 minutes twice a week seems too daunting, you can get the same benefits by breaking it up into rotations: Monday is arms, Tuesday is core, Wednesday is legs, repeat. The only rule: Avoid working the same muscle groups two days in a row.
Add cardio for quicker weight loss. Shoot for 20 minutes of cardio, like fast walking, three times a week. Add five to ten minutes a week to one of those sessions, and you'll melt even more fat. Dig out those prebaby jeans -- you'll be shimmying into them in no time!