Shedding Pregnancy Pounds

My little girl lost her baby fat with ease. Maybe I had a thing or two to learn from her routine.

3 Weight-Loss Tips for Moms

Mom and baby in diaper

What could be more delicious than the chubby rolls and dimples on a baby's body? Unfortunately, the extra layers of fat that I love so much on my child are decidedly less cute on me. Our pediatrician says that as soon as our daughter starts moving around more, she'll drop the baby fat and become leaner. But what about her mom? Are the pregnancy pounds here to stay? Maybe not -- if I just follow my daughter's lead. Here's the plan:

1. Work in Some Tummy Time

When a baby is at play on her stomach, she strengthens her abdominal and back muscles. These "core" muscles are essential in helping her crawl and sit up. Moms need to focus on their core muscles as well. "Training the core is incredibly important and often overlooked because, like stretching, the benefits are very subtle," says Wendy Bryant, a Boston-based personal trainer. "But strong core muscles give you better control and support in all your daily activities."

It also makes you stronger so that you can benefit more from exercise. Children naturally move and stretch in ways that work their core. Many yoga moves could easily be taken from baby's playtime. (Child's pose, anyone?) Buy a yoga tape or take a class to reap similar benefits.

2. Eat Like a Baby

While most of us usually try to avoid getting food stuck in our hair and smushed across our face, eating like a baby can, in fact, be a key to losing weight. Munching small meals every three to four hours as your little one does keeps energy high and curbs cravings. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine found that athletes who ate all day long had less body fat than those who consumed all their calories at dinnertime. Babies also stop eating when they're full, even if there's more food left -- a good lesson in portion control.

Also incorporate into your own meals the well-rounded samplings of the food groups she gets in all those baby jars -- squash, green peas, beef and rice, banana, and pear. Co-opting baby's menu means that you're eating healthier and raising your intake of fruits and vegetables.

3. Take a Nap

Babies sleep a luxurious 12 to 15 hours a day. Enough sleep may be the missing ingredient in your weight-loss plan. According to recent studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Lancet, lack of sleep can affect hormonal levels, causing increased hunger and a slowed metabolic rate.

"Being too tired becomes an easy excuse to skip your workout and makes it harder to pass up foods you know you shouldn't be eating," adds Bryant. "And even if you do make it to the gym, chances are you're not going to have as productive a workout as when you're well rested. There is also a greater chance of injury because you're not as alert."

The answer: You've heard it before, but here it is again: Sleep when the baby sleeps. The laundry can wait.

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