No matter how old your “baby” is, shedding the pounds that came with pregnancy can take a long, long time. Still have some weight to lose? We asked the experts for tips that will make all the difference.
1. Swap the Stroller for a Carrier
Los Angeles celebrity trainer Teddy Bass says strapping baby into a carrier (or backpack if your kids are bigger) can torch calories and build muscle, since you’ve just turned a casual walk with your kid into resistance training.
2. Find some stairs
Climbing stairs for an hour burns up to 800 calories, says Michael Tosto, owner of Title Boxing Club in New York City—no fancy gym membership or equipment required. Start small and find a set of steps (in your office building, in the house or at the library) and go up and down for two minutes. Add two minutes the next day and the next, and challenge yourself to do it every weekday for a month. Try to work up to 30 minutes a day.
3. Make Your Next Class a Hot One
To maximize every second of your workout, turn up the heat, says Mimi Benz, mom of two and owner of The Sweat Shoppe in the L.A. area. Exercising in a heated environment—like in a “hot” yoga or spinning class—increases your heart rate, which makes your heart pump more blood and oxygen to muscles, forcing you to burn more calories, says Benz.
4. Focus on Slow-Burning Carbs
Pick snacks full of slow-burning carbs when you’re hungry like hummus (add cucumber and carrot dippers) or nut butter with banana and dark chocolate or a whole grain tortilla wrap with sliced turkey, sprouts and avocado, says Mareya Ibrahim, nutritionist, author of The Clean Eating Handbook and founder of eatcleaner.com. They’ll keep you satisfied for hours because they burn off more slowly so you feel fuller longer.
5. Assign Every Task An Exercise
Jen Raymond, a personal trainer and the owner of FitGirlsNW in the Seattle area, suggests assigning an exercise to every ordinary task you do throughout the day. When you’re folding clothes, do 20 standing side-leg raises on each side. Every time you change a diaper, do 10 burpees. Refilling your water bottle at work? Do a deep sitting squat and repeat three times. Brushing your teeth at night? Do 15 plié squats. (feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing out.) By the end of the day, you’ll have logged a chunk of exercise without setting foot in the gym. And since the effects of working out are cumulative, every little bit adds up.
6. Listen To Music
Listening to soothing music, even for a few minutes, can help lower your cortisol level, which can in turn help you eat less, says Sharon Rekieta, PhD, fitness director at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin. Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is released by the body in times of hardship to signal that it needs more food to keep its energy level high, which is why we eat tend to eat more when we’re feeling anxious. Less cortisol, less stress eating.
7. Skip the Crunches
Kristian Henderson-Hayes, wellness coach, fitness instructor and health blogger, says doing crunches isn’t an efficient way to tone your abs, since that move targets such a small muscle group. Instead, try exercises that work multiple parts of your core at one time, such as push-ups, planks and lunges. Commit to doing three sets of 10 every day and build from there.
8. Breastfeeding? Drink water
Water is a key component of weight loss because it helps you feel full. Since breastfeeding dehydrates you (an average six-month-old consumes about one quart of milk—mostly water—a day), you need to replenish. Celebrity trainer and lifestyle coach Basheerah Ahmad recommends drinking 24 ounces of water every single time you nurse. Keep a water bottle nearby and try to finish it before baby is done—it’s good for baby and your weight loss goals.
9. Lunge Wherever You Go
Going from the living room to the kitchen? From the kitchen to the nursery? Don’t walk—lunge, says holistic lifestyle fitness coach Carol Whitaker. It’s a great way to burn calories and build muscle at the same time.
Lindsay Tigar is a journalist in New York who writes the blog Confessions of a Love Addict.
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