Sure, you're itching to shed those post-baby pounds ASAP. But take a hint from Karen Nordahl, MD, cofounder of Fit to Deliver International, who suggests cutting yourself some slack. "It took nine months to put it on; give yourself at least nine months to take it off," she says. To make the most of that time, focusing on fun activities will definitely be more effective." If [exercise] is something that a woman has to do, she'll be less likely to do it regularly," says Dr. Nordahl. So, to aid the bulging battle, here are a few mommy workout ideas with a little extra spice.
It's amazing how much more enjoyable a workout can be when it comes in video-game form. "Love the Hula Hoop and boxing," says KG91705. The Wii won't give you all the exercise you need, but it can be a fun supplement that concentrates on your core. Get your partner to join in — to lose a little "baby fat" of their own.
Choose free-time activities that necessitate walking. Hit up local festivals, schedule lunches with friends and explore nearby parks, museums and playgrounds. Before heading out, La Reine Chabut, author of Lose That Baby Fat!, suggests that you start the day with a 10-minute walk in your neighborhood. "It will help put [you] in the frame of mind for exercise and get [your] circulation going for the day ahead." And for maximum benefits, pay attention to your stance. "It's easy to get hunched forward [when pushing a stroller]," warns Nordahl. "You have to be conscious of posture." If you can't get motivated to hoof it alone, try a class. Nordahl is a big fan of Stroller Strides, a fitness program that not only involves baby, but inspires some great (and much needed) interaction with other moms. Either way, strap on a Fitbit, and you'll know just how far — and how fast — you've wandered. Talk about multitasking.
Yoga, Pilates and barre
Postnatal yoga, Pilates and barre classes are great ways to tone up and empty your mind of burp cloths and diapers for a bit. According to Holly Jean Cosner, instructor at YogaWorks, NYC, and author of PeeWee Pilates, "Pilates targets the core which consists of three layers of abdominal muscles — all of which are overstretched to make room for baby — [as well as] the hips, buttocks, lower back, and pelvic floor. Basically all the areas hit hardest during pregnancy." And there's good news on the child-care front: mommy-and-me classes abound. "Babies love having mom on the floor with them, at their level," says Cosner. Baby will learn to value exercise, and you'll have a little partner smiling up at your Downward Dog.
Come on, there's nothing more fun (or better for your legs) than good boogie. And there's no greater excuse to make a fool of yourself than playing with baby. "Put on the music for 10 minutes, twirl your baby and have a ball," says Chabut. "It's a great way to get in some cardio and your baby will love it!" (Remember to spend a lot of time grooving at baby's level — it'll give you killer thighs.)
You have to take it easy for a few months, but not forever. Once your body has healed and you have your OB's permission for strenuous exercise, go for whatever workout gets you going. If you like a good challenge (and a lot of sweat), check out martial arts classes. Kickboxing, karate, and capoeira are great exercise, and the focus (and burn) can make you feel like one uber-powerful and put-together mama. Just make sure your doctor is on-board with the plan, and ease in slowly to avoid injury.