As every new mama knows, those first few weeks after delivery are a relentless cycle of round-the-clock feedings and never-ending diaper changes. There’s barely enough time to take a nap, let alone work out. The good news: There are still tons of things you can do to drop the pregnancy pounds without _heading to the gym. (Yeah, we knew you’d like the sound of that.) Tracey Mallett, prenatal fitness expert and author of _ Super Fit Mama, spills her secrets.
Oh, the many wonders of breastfeeding — it increases your bonding time, saves a ton of cash, and studies suggest it can boost baby’s brainpower. But if you ask us, nobody lends enough praise to its glorious trim-down effects. According to Mallett, not only does breastfeeding help you burn up to an estimated 500 cals a day, it also releases the hormone oxytocin, which causes your uterus to shrink back to its normal size.
Bet you didn’t know: Breastfeeding requires around 800 calories alone. So don’t cut back on your caloric intake too much now that baby’s here — you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of energy to spare for your little guy.
#2. Wear Your Baby
From wraps to carriers and everything in between, babywearing has become quite the trend lately. And while it goes without saying that it’s the most convenient way to tote your tot and a great way to bond, it's also got the added bonus of being a top-notch calorie burner. "Babywearing is kind of like carrying an 8- to 12-pound medicine ball around while doing all your daily activities," says Mallett, who suggests breaking a few times in the day to do lunges, squats, and rotation movements while carrying baby. "Not only will baby love the motion, which will probably put her to sleep," she says, "you’ll start to build lower-body muscle and boost your metabolism.” (Hey, that’s reason enough for us.)
Bet you didn't know: Babywearing has actually been around for centuries and used to be a necessity for mamas who couldn’t afford to stop working — either in their homes or out in the fields — after they gave birth. Baby slings have been fashioned out of everything from scarves to bed sheets.
#3. Drink More Water
Sure, guzzling the recommended daily dose of eight glasses of water might seem a little daunting at first, but keep in mind it’s the best way to flush unwanted toxins from your system. Plus, getting enough fluids will make you feel fuller and help ward off cravings. Mallett suggests having a full glass of water before every meal, which will keep you from overeating, since your stomach won’t be as empty. And since it's easy for the body to confuse thirst with hunger, the next time you’re tempted to munch, try having a drink first to see if that does the trick.
Bet you didn’t know: Being even just 1-percent dehydrated can mess with your metabolism and slow your weight loss. Not sure when you’re dehydrated? Believe it or not, by the time you even feel thirsty, you already are. Carry a water bottle with you and drink up throughout the day to avoid dehydration altogether.
#4. Take a Stroll
Let's face it — you've plopped down enough money on baby's stroller and all its accoutrements, so you might as well get more bang for your buck, right? Look at your stroller as more than just a way of getting baby from Point A to Point B, but also as your best tool for keeping fit. Mallett suggests adding extra weight to baby's ride before you run errands or take a spin around the block. Even if you don’t add much, you’d be surprised how much heft you’re already pushing around, between your stroller's weight, baby’s weight, and your overloaded diaper bag. "Your baby needs fresh air anyway," notes Mallett, "so why not make the most of it?" She likes incorporating simple walking lunges and side leg lifts for a little extra booty lift — try it next time. (So what if people stare at you? It's for a good cause!)
Bet you didn’t know: Pushing a stroller loaded with 35 pounds can help burn 18- to 20-percent more calories than walking without one. So don’t be afraid to load that puppy up and feel the burn. You’ll thank us later.
Experts have proven that stress can lead to emotional eating. Don't let yourself slip into a cycle of munching your worries away. Instead, Mallett suggests trying easy ways to de-stress during the day — even when you’re busy. "Take a few minutes for yourself and practice some deep breathing," she says. "You'll be amazed how much this can revitalize you amidst your new, crazy schedule," she says. Even taking a five-minute break to stretch your muscles and relax, or just think about nothing for once, might be the perfect sanity-saver.
Bet you didn’t know: When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol, leptin, and other hormones that make us crave carbs and other starchy goodies. But you can actually get the same comforting effect when reaching for vitamin-packed foods, like blueberries, oranges, dried apricots, or even raw green veggies. Try it next time.
#6. Eat More Fiber
Wondering what’s up with the whole fiber craze? As you've probably guessed, it isn't just about staying regular (that's just an added bonus). Not only do fiber-rich foods keep you feeling fuller for longer, they also tend to be lower in fat and sugar (i.e. fruits and veggies), which will keep your diet healthy and help melt off the pounds. Just be careful not to go overboard: Mallett suggests introducing it slowly to prevent bloating and other not-so-fun side effects. Overloading on fiber will also cause you to become dehydrated, since your body will start to use up its water supply by trying to absorb all the fiber. Rule of thumb — if you’re upping your intake, make sure to up your fluids too.
Bet you didn’t know: While docs advise getting at least 25 to 30 grams of a fiber a day, most people only eat an estimated 10 to 12. Consider this: By upping your intake, you’ll protect yourself from such diseases as diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, and even breast cancer.
#7. Play With Baby
In those crucial first months, playing games with baby is the best way to boost her development and motor skills. Lucky for you, it can also be a great way to keep active. For example, Mallett suggests the next time you play peekaboo with baby, try mixing it up a bit. How so? Simply lay baby on the floor and do push-ups over her. Every time you move closer to baby, plant a kiss on her nose and say, "Peekaboo!" You can also strengthen your abs and pelvic floor just by lifting baby in the air. "Try baby press-ups," says Mallett. "Simply lift baby above you in a repetitive motion." You can do these in a seated position or lying down. Either way, your triceps will be sure to feel the burn and baby will definitely get a kick out of it.
Bet you didn't know: Twenty-six percent of women between 30 and 39 suffer from urinary incontinence caused by a weakened pelvic floor after pregnancy. Want to stay in the clear? We don’t blame you. Strengthen your pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises throughout the day. In addition to baby press-ups, Mallett suggests trying them when moving from a seated to standing position or even when walking down stairs.
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