As we discussed last month, we now understand the importance of not gaining too much weight during pregnancy and losing the baby weight soon after pregnancy. Not only does it contribute to your own health but it sets an example for what behaviors and you habits you are passing on to your child.
Now, how to lose the baby weight?
First, don’t be too hard on yourself. It is still considered healthy if it takes about a year to lose the weight. Your first priority is now the new life you brought into the world, and then your own fitness. A professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, Pamela Berens M.D., says, “Take it one day at a time and become a healthy role model for your child.” She has composed a three step guide to help walk you through this:
1. Move it, mama!
Start exercising now. In the past, doctors would prefer to keep women physically restricted after delivery. Today, that is not the case. 10-20 minute strolls are a great way to start movement without going too hard, even for Cesarean-section mothers who are not on painkillers. Wait about six weeks to begin the real workouts. For now, give your body a rest but keep those daily strolls.
Another reason to get in motion is that the new stress from taking care of screaming, pooping baby can prevent one from losing weight. However, exercise is a stress-buster. Dr. Berens says, “Getting some type of exercise will help you feel alive again. You’ll lower your risk for both postpartum depression and obesity.”
Kristen Horler, the founder of Baby Boot Camp, whose classes are offered nationwide, came up with a 26 minute workout for any new mom. The workout does not require a babysitter. If you breastfeed, she advises to nurse the baby before the workout. She refers to the following rate of perceived exertion (RPE) in the workout description:
- No effort
- Light effort
- Very easy/comfortable
- Light to moderate effort
- Moderate to strong effort (you become aware of your breathing)
- Strong effort (you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation)
- Very strong effort (you can only talk in short sentences)
- Challenging (you can’t utter more than a phrase at a time)
- Unable to talk (you can only keep up this intensity for very short shuprts)
- Maxed out (lightheaded even)
Beginner: The Crawl
Warm-up: 5 minutes
Walk at a moderate pace, keep your shoulders back and your spine long. Keep your stroller 6-10 inches from your hips.
Walk for 18 minutes total.
First 30 seconds: walk at a challenging pace, an RPE of 5 or 6
Next 60 seconds: walk at a slower page, an RPE of 4 or 5
Alternate these steps 12 times, totalling to 18 minutes
Cool down: 3 minutes, walk at an easy pace, RPE of 2
Moderate: The Cruiser
When you feel like your breathing isn’t challenged anymore, increase steps 1 and 2 to 45 and 90 seconds respectively. This increases workout time by 9 more minutes. Remember the cool down!
Advanced: Full-on Toddling
After you have adjusted to the new interval times – usually about 4 – 6 weeks for a woman of average fitness level – increase your intensity to a 6 or 7. Once you can handle that, increase both the duration and frequency of your stroller workouts. But never increase the duration, frequency and intensity all at once. Once you are comfortable, boost your workout with additional minutes, extra days or more RPE intensity but never all at once.
Tip: Make sure your infant is properly strapped in before this workout. When the infant is 0-6 months, use a stroller that reclines fully so the baby can lie flat on his or her back because infants do not develop good head and neck control until 6 months. After 6 months your infant should be able to sit up and withstand a bumpy ride. if you get a joggers stroller with three 12- to 16- inch inflatable wheels, that is the best!