If you had a baby in the past year, you may be dreading hitting the beach or lounging by the pool. A long winter was a good excuse to keep everything covered... out of sight, out of mind. Don't worry — there's still time to help prepare your post-baby body for bikini season.
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet - It's a basic concept worth stating: If you are trying to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you're burning. Healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and lean proteins are lower-calorie options than sweets, fatty meats and starches such as potatoes, rice, bread and pastas. So swapping out those sugars and starches for veggies and protein can help you to create a calorie deficit and aid in weight loss. If you're breastfeeding, don't limit caloric intake drastically or your milk supply may suffer. But it's safe to substitute higher calorie foods with healthier options as long as you eat when you're hungry (which is often!)
- Focus on the Core - Pregnancy really does a number on your body, and the overstretching of the abdominal muscles is the most obvious of those body changes. To counteract the overstretching and weakness, do specific strengthening exercises for the core muscles (the abdominals, hips, and lumbar muscles). Toning and firming those abs will make you want to show off that midriff in a two-piece-suit sooner! Try an abdominal class at your gym or do a specific postpartum core class.
- Do Cardio Exercise Consistently - Cardio activities burn calories, plain and simple. Try to get in at least 20 minutes of cardio three to five times per week. A brisk walk, the elliptical or treadmill, swimming, or a low impact cardio routine are all good options.
While it's good to be proactive in your postpartum recovery, it's also important to not pressure yourself too much and to accept that your body may never be the same as it was before baby. You are a mother. Life will never be the same either.