These days, celebrity moms are stealing headlines by shedding their baby weight and getting camera-ready before their babes outgrow their newborn clothes. Dropping 60 pounds in few months? No problem for these super-celebs, no doubt surrounded by a bevy of trainers, chefs and stylists.
These famous and almost-famous luminaries make us real-world moms look lazy. But let’s face it: Hollywood standards are unrealistic. And trying to lose the extra pounds in a hurry can be unhealthy and ineffective.
Fitness professional (and new mom) Sara Dean of Sync Fitness and Fit Healthy Moms specializes in weight-loss programs for busy moms. She says women trying to lose baby weight typically underestimate the power of nutrition and overestimate the power of exercise.
“Nutrition accounts for 80 percent of your physique,” says Dean. “If you’re not eating well (a whole-foods-based diet of unprocessed foods), no amount of exercise will counteract your indulgences.”
Getting the weight off quickly shouldn’t be your goal. The University of Washington Medical Center advises new moms to wait until they’ve had a six-week checkup before resuming or starting an exercise routine.
Once the weight is off, developing a healthy lifestyle is the key to keeping the weight off. “Initially, it will take some sacrifice — exercising and giving up foods that don’t benefit you — but ultimately, you’re creating a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain. Most importantly, you will be modeling healthy habits for your children,” says Dean.
How can new moms, who are dealing with (endless!) competing priorities, find time to get fit?
No one is telling you to sign up for the newest ninja-kicking, body-bending, dumbbell-flinging trend out there. You’ll have to work with the free time you have — 15 minutes? Dean says it can be done. “It’s how you use your time, not how long the workout is that matters.”
Studies show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — for instance, warm up, jump rope for 45 seconds, rest 15 seconds, and repeat 10 times — burns more calories and fat in 20 minutes than an hour of a steady-state cardio session. Dean says incorporating strength training along with cardio creates the leanest figures. “Since muscle is metabolically active, building muscle mass impacts the ability to burn calories even in a resting state. This is so important for busy moms.”
Sharlyn Gehrs is a Seattle-based freelance writer and editor.
JANUARY’S LIST: 10 ways to lose 10 pounds
1. Do some heavy lifting. You must include strength training to lose weight. Choose a weight with which you can perform no more than 10–12 reps to build lean (not bulky) muscle mass.
2. Divorce your old cardio routine. Steady-state cardio sessions on an elliptical machine are less effective at burning stubborn belly fat than high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
3. Drink more water. Even slight dehydration can slow your metabolism by 3 percent. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day (a 150-pound woman should drink 75 ounces of water).
4. Go green. Veggies are dense in nutrients, meaning you can eat a ton of them for very few calories and lots of fullness. Be creative and substitute veggies for higher-calorie foods.
5. Good-bye to grains. Get rid of all grains, even the ones that are marketed as weight-loss products. For the most part, whole-wheat breads are still processed and refined. Unprocessed foods will provide you with better fuel.
6. Get more z’s. While you sleep, your hormones do wonderful things that allow you to recover from the day and prepare you to function optimally for the next day. It’s not easy for moms to control a night’s sleep, but strive for uninterrupted sleep.
7. Use natural diuretics. Pill diuretics deplete your body of water, but natural diuretics are foods and drinks that help you shed water and bloat. Foods that are natural diuretics include cucumbers, celery, lettuces, asparagus, cabbage, fennel, beets, tomatoes and green tea.
8. Say no to salt. Minimize your intake of processed foods that have tons of salt, such as prepackaged foods and canned soups. Sea salt sprinkled on your freshly prepared food is a good alternative.
9. Load up on protein. Upping your protein intake is essential for weight loss. Make sure every meal and snack contains protein — especially breakfast, to help regulate your blood sugar for the day.
10. Commit to your healthy program. Change won’t happen overnight, but if you’re committed, you can see dramatic changes in a matter of weeks. Being “good” for one day and then eating junk food the next will get you nowhere fast.