Practical steps to get back into fitness post-pregnancy
The first priority for new moms post-pregnancy is to regain core strength and tone so you can safely build total body fitness. The abdominal muscles endure obvious trauma during pregnancy and childbirth. Due to the strain of the growing uterus on the abdominal wall, most pregnancies result in some degree of abdominal separation, a condition known as diastasis recti. This condition does not resolve on its own, no matter how many crunches you do or how skinny you get. In fact, this is the main reason many women show sooner in a second pregnancy. Fortunately, core compressions (which happens to form the basis of my approach) can both prevent and reverse diastasis recti.
Following pregnancy, many women also see unwanted changes in other areas, such as the upper arms, the butt and the thighs. Building from solid core technique to develop total body fitness, I encourage you to incorporate a range of resistance workouts to restore strength, healthy posture and pre-baby tone throughout the entire body. Incorporate at least 25 minutes of resistance training a minimum of 2 days per week to direct your body to burn fat, not muscle, as you lose the baby weight.
As far as cardio goes, do what you love – walk, run, dance, swim, bike (when you feel ready to sit on that seat again!). Listen to your body and ease into things, especially if you avoided activity during pregnancy. While doing cardiovascular exercise, it’s important to allow the abs to relax sufficiently to breathe – aerobic exercise demands a lot of oxygen. However, you can still protect your back and tone your abs by drawing your belly button to the spine with every single exhalation. For runners who suffer from back pain, this simple breathing technique often entirely eliminates the low back soreness previously felt after a run. As a new mom post-pregnancy, aim for about 30 minutes a day of moderate cardio 3-5 days a week.
When it comes losing the baby weight, food choices are important. Post-pregnancy, your body enters a new hormonal landscape, especially in terms of fat regulation. To shed the excess weight while deeply nourishing your post-pregnancy body, emphasize healthy fats, protein and non-starchy vegetables. For example, a veggie omelet and berries for breakfast, an open-faced turkey & Swiss sandwich for lunch (just ditch one piece of bread – empty carbs & calories), grilled fish with a side of sautéed spinach and a green salad for dinner. Simple, healthy, real food. Avoid sweet beverages, even 100% juice. And keep sweets to an absolute minimum.