Tackle your Postpartum Trouble Spots: Tummy

Written by guest blooger, Autumn Bonner, co-owner and co-founder of My Tailored Fitness.

Happy New Year Moms!  Now that the family is gone, holiday cookies are eaten, and presents are all opened, you are probably settling back into your normal life as a mom.  If you are like most people, you are probably thinking about 2014 and how you’d like to make it even better than last year.  One of the areas you might like to improve in the New Year is your health.  Let’s face it: as a mom, caring for yourself usually takes last place.  You make sure your baby’s needs are met, take care of your spouse/partner, and after that, if there’s time, you take care of yourself.  Sadly this often leaves us disappointed…with how our clothes fit, with how often we get to exercise, and with our lack of energy.

To be the best moms we can be, we must take care of ourselves. The good news is that by carving out just 20 minutes a day you can make some big changes this year!  It’s also important to know that your exercise routine can go hand in hand with your breastfeeding goals!  Research proves that exercise does not impact the quantity or quality of your milk supply.  All you need to do is make sure to eat at least 1500 calories per day and a few more to make up for the calories you burn on those days when you exercise. Here’s a great post dedicated to exercise and breastfeeding with some helpful tips. Exercise has so many other benefits for a new mom like relieving stress, helping you sleep better, and boosting your immunity, so it is definitely worth making a priority!

 Over the next 3 weeks, we are going to tackle the top 3 trouble spots for moms: tummy, butt, and arms. You’ll get a plan that you can do in just 20 minutes a day.  And the best part is that your baby will be right there with you as you use your baby carrier during your workout! So let’s get started with our first trouble spot: Tummy!

No other part of our body goes through as much change during pregnancy as our tummy.  Sadly, it doesn’t just bounce back to our pre-pregnancy shape easily.  It takes 3 key things to get a toned tummy post-baby:

  1. Toning – Since your ab muscles were stretched so much during your pregnancy, they lost a lot of strength. Toning exercises for your core will help you regain the strength you need in that area.  Think beyond crunches, as there are a lot more effective ways to work your core as you’ll see in the plan below.   
  2. Cardio – You also need cardio to get your abs back.  Sadly, you can do hundreds of crunches, but never see your abs because they are hidden under a layer of fat.  The best exercise for fat burning is a combination of strength and cardio.  So add some cardio to the toning exercises for maximum fat burning! 
  3. Healthy eating – This one goes right along with the cardio. You can exercise all you want, but if you aren’t fueling your body with good foods, you won’t see results. Fill up on fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, and whole grain breads.  As a new mom, you want to focus more on WHAT you are eating than on cutting calories.  Just remember, as I mentioned above, you have to make sure you are eating enough calories (at least 1500 per day) to ensure that your milk supply doesn’t drop. 

Ready to get started?  Here’s your 20 minute plan to tone your tummy!  Repeat this plan twice a week.

Note: As with any exercise plan, be sure to get your doctor’s clearance before starting any activity.

Warm up – Put your baby in a carrier and head outside for a walk.  Walk at an easy pace for 2 minutes to get warmed up.

Cardio - To get your heart rate up, alternate between 1 minute of fast walking and 1 minute of medium pace walking for a total of 8 minutes. If you have any hills nearby, include that in your route.  Pick a loop where you’ll end up back at your house at the end of the 8 minutes.

Strength – Head back inside, but keep that baby in your carrier for these strength exercises. 

1 – Zig Zag – Wrap your arms around your baby using your hands to support their head. Lower into a plie squat with knees and toes pointed out. Keeping your hips and legs still, lean side to side engaging the obliques. Repeat for 10 reps each side, rest, and repeat a 2nd set.


2 – Lunge with rotation – Regaining your balance is very important after pregnancy, and comes largely from strengthening your core. Lunges with rotation help challenge your core and balance effectively.  Step forwards into a lunge making sure your knee stays over your ankle. Then twist your torso towards your front leg. Push back to standing and repeat on the other leg. You are also getting some great leg work with this exercise! Repeat for 10 lunges on each leg, rest and repeat a 2nd set.


3 – Plank – This is probably the best exercise you can do for your core. Take your baby out of the carrier and lay him/her below you on the ground. Come into a plank position on your elbows and knees (if you are newly postpartum) or elbows and toes (if you are feeling stronger).  Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, rest, and then repeat a 2nd time.

 

Stretch – Finish by stretching as your baby lies nearby on the floor. Also, be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. 

If you are looking for more ideas for how to exercise with your baby in your baby carrier, check out this postnatal core video from my fitness program for moms. We have whole video series with exercises with your baby. We even have a free 30 day trial. (The workout website is compatible with Chrome or Safari, so please use one of those browsers. Make sure you have clearance from your doctor before beginning exercise. By clicking the link above, you are agreeing to the Tailored Fitness Terms of Use.  For some of the exercises, it is important for your baby to have good head control.  Modify or skip exercises as needed to keep things safe for you and your baby.)

 

Be sure to check back next week as we tackle our next trouble spot: the butt!