It’s only natural to have put on a few extra pounds during pregnancy and no doubt you’ll want to beat the bulge now your baby has arrived. Sound like an uphill struggle? Not with these common-sense tips that won’t interrupt your routine.
Step 1: You are what you eat
- Banish all biscuits, cakes and crisps form the house – willpower will only take you so far if fattening snacks lurk alluringly behind a cupboard door.
- Have an abundance of fruit and high-fibre, low-fat foods available instead – they will keep hunger pangs at bay without you piling on the calories.
- Good food choices to have around the house include soup; fresh fruit (especially apples, bananas and kiwis – all good sources of antioxidants and fibre, filling you up at the same time as giving you a sweet kick); and low calorie soft drinks and a variety of herbal teas that you can sweeten with honey.
- When the going gets tough, keep yourself busy – even if it’s just by doing housework. While you’re busy, mentally line up a non-food reward for not giving into temptation. This will ensure losing weight doesn’t become all about denying yourself the finer things in life.
Step 2: These boots are made for walking
Treating yourself to a pair of new walking shoes is a great way of encouraging you to get out and get walking. There’s also a health benefit, as old shoes will have lost most of their cushioning and there’s also a health benefit, as old shoes will have lost most of their cushioning and support.
- Always have a walk around the shop when buying to ensure the shoes are comfortable and wear the same socks you’ll be walking in to try your shoes on.
- Find a pair that are lightweight and breathable and look for a low, supportive heel that rounds at the end – a thick heel or one that sticks out will cause your foot to slap down rather than roll, making you more prone to sore shins.
- Make sure there’s plenty of room in your shoes. You’ll need at least a finger-width gap after the end of your longest toe, and don’t forget to measure when you’re standing up rather than sitting down.
Step 3: Reawaken your abdominals
If you were active through your pregnancy and had an uncomplicated birth, you can get started straight away. Before you start, however, do the ‘rec-check’: a check on your stomach muscle the rectus abdominus, to see if any gaps in the muscle have healed:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and, with you palm facing you, place the fingers of your left hand just above your tummy button.
- As you slowly exhale, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and slide your right hand up your thigh towards your knee.
- You should feel your stomach muscles tighten, and feel a gap between the two edges of the muscles. If this gap is three or more finger widths, you’ll need to delay abdominal exercises – if in doubt, check with your midwife or GP.
If your muscles are getting back to normal, try the following two-in-one exercise that will help strengthen and tone both your abdomen and pelvic floor.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and pull in your stomach muscles in the lower part of your abdomen.
- At the same time, locate your pelvic floor by tensing the muscles as if you were trying to stop peeing mid-flow.
- Maintain these contractions for a count of 10, relax, and repeat.
You can then add in another two-in-one move to tighten your tummy and inner thighs.
- Lie on your back, with your legs bent and a cushion sandwiched between your knees. Your arms should be folded behind your head.
- Breathe in and, as you breathe, out, slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor and squeeze the cushion as hard as you can, remembering to keep your stomach pulled in tightly so that your back is flat on the floor. Hold for five seconds before lowering and repeating.
- Try to aim for 10 curl ups, and complete this routine three times a week.
Step 4: Boost your metabolism
Toned muscles can help your body burn calories – or increase its metabolic rate. Muscle tissue requires up to nie times more calories to maintain than fat tissue: this means that with a few simple exercises, you can create a lean, mean, calorie burning machine!
Try doing two sets of 20 repetitions of the following exercises twice a week:
Wall slide with bicep curl: tones thighs and arms
- Lean your back against a solid wall, with your feet approximately 12 inches in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
- Hold cans of soup or bottles of water at either side, palms facing forward.
- Slowly slide your body down the wall towards the floor until you reach 90º at the knees and hold this position.
- Keeping your elbows close to your body, slowly curl the cans upward into your shoulders, before returning to the start.
Tricep dips with leg raise: tones thighs, calves and backs of arms
- Sit on a chair with your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge.
- Slowly lower your body off the seat, towards the floor, until your elbows reach 90º. As you do this, lift and extend one leg in front of you.
- Bring your leg back in as you straighten your arms and push back up to your starting position. Then relax your leg, before switching legs and repeating.