How to Lose Your Post-Baby Belly Fat
It's tough to find the time to exercise after having a baby. But what if you could incorporate baby into your fitness routine? Guest author Kristin Hackler has a fun, easy, and effective routine that can help any mom tone and slim her postpartum body.
I remember screaming this in my head as I stared in the bathroom mirror, poking at my post-pregnancy tummy which wibbled and wobbled like, well, a bowlful of jelly. It had been three months since my son was born and I still felt like a stranger in my own body. Not only was I constantly hungry and thirsty from 24-hour-a-day nursing, I was also finding fat in places I never really had to worry about before. And it worried me.
I had to start exercising. There was no way around it. But I had to figure out how to do it with an 11 pound munchkin who started bawling if his stroller ride went longer than half an hour. I didn’t mind going for a brief jog, but that was only a small portion of a full body workout and I was way out of shape. I needed a routine that not only burned calories, but also toned my flabby belly and added some definition to hips that were starting to resemble Hefty bags full of pudding.
After talking with some personal trainer friends and researching scores of websites in the odd minutes I could catch while my little man was napping, I was able to come up with the following routine. Each day’s exercise takes about 30 minutes and cardio days are interspersed with toning days so your muscles have time to recover. Not only does it help me feel better about myself, my son loves the interaction, cheering me on by smiling, laughing and clapping along.
NOTE: With all of the stroller activities, make sure you are doing them with a sturdy stroller on a clear, flat surface in a safe, traffic-free place such as the front yard or driveway.
Day 1: Cardio
Once you have your little one comfortably and safely strapped in the stroller and ready to go, engage him or her with a couple of interactive stretches:
Row, Row, Row Your Calves (1 minute): Holding on to the stroller handles, keep your feet flat on the ground and lean forward, keeping your back and body straight, to stretch your calves. Then bend at the waist, sticking your rear out behind you, folding your body at a 90 degree angle. Your back should be flat and your head should be between your arms as you continue to hold the stroller. As you do the stretches, sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” gently rolling the stroller forward and back with each stretch.
Twinkle, Twinkle Toes (1 minute): Move to the front of the stroller and place your feet together, swinging your hands above your head, smiling at your little one, and then stretching down to touch your toes. Sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” as you reach down, repeating twice for a 30 second stretch.
Warm up Walk (5 minutes): Keep a brisk pace and try to engage your little one in some back-and-forth babbling.
Run and Walk (18 minutes): Repeat this routine 6 times: Walk for 90 seconds, run for 90 seconds. Keep babbling with your baby! Talking is a great distraction and if you’re starting to get winded and can’t talk back anymore, then you know it’s time to take a break and drop back down to a walk.
Cool Down (5 minutes): Slow down to a comfortable walk to wrap up your workout.
Day 2: Toning
These exercises are much more baby-interactive and are great for your core! Start off with a five minute warm up walk and then run through these exercises 4 times for a total of 29 minutes:
Paddy Cake Back Extensions (2 minutes): Making sure baby’s stroller is locked into place, get in front of the stroller and stretch your legs in front of you, bending them at the knees. You should be sitting on the ground with your back straight. Crossing your arms in front of your chest, lean back as far as you feel comfortable and hold this position for the length of “Paddy cake, paddy cake, baker’s man, bake me a cake as fast as you can,” clapping along if you feel sturdy enough. Then lean forward to finish the song, moving your little one’s hands to the song: “Roll it and pat it down and mark it with a B. And put it in the oven for baby and me!”
ABCrunch (2 minutes): While still in Paddy Cake position in front of the stroller, lean back and rest your back on the ground, placing your fingers lightly behind your head. Keeping your feet flat and knees bent, pull up into a crunch by bringing your ribs to your hips and then laying your back flat on the ground. Vary these with side crunches, pointing your elbow to the opposite foot as you crunch, to work your stomach side muscles. As you do your crunches, sing the ABCs: you don’t have to do a letter per crunch, but it’s a great goal!
Pop! (2 minutes): Standing tall and facing baby, make sure your spine is straight and tall, then bend at the knees until your legs are at a 90 degree angle and then return to standing. Do this rhythmically to the song “Pop! Goes the Weasel,” adding in a jump from the squatting position when you get to the “Pop!”
Continue to switch between day 1 and day 2 so your muscles have time to recover from the various exercises. And even if you’re like me and don’t have the best singing voice, don’t be bashful. Engaging your little one through song while exercising is a great way to bond while still getting a solid workout.