Sleep deprivation can make your resolve to eat well and exercise dissolve. Stay the course when you're ready to crash with these very realistic suggestions.
Put something fun on the calendar. Plan a rejuvenating lunch with the girls. Or book a date with your husband. The less stressed you are, the easier it will be to remain focused on your weight-loss goals.
Imagine how you'd look in your favorite outfits. "Fitting back into my fabulous pre-baby clothes was one of the major motivators for me to lose the weight," says Holly Tedesco, a mom of two, of Forest Hills, New York.
Jot down the rewards you'll reap. For Melissa Fleming, of Canoga Park, California, remembering how terrific she felt after exercising inspired her to work out after the births of each of her three kids. "My skin felt better, I slept better at night, and even my hair felt better!" she says. These side benefits are easy to forget when you're running on empty, so tack up a list of them.
Simple rules for getting in shape again
Now that you've settled into a more predictable pattern of chaos, you might be thinking about exercising. Where to begin? With this fab cheat sheet from Tom Holland, M.S., exercise physiologist and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets -- Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag.
Don't overdo it. "Use your first workouts to gauge your fitness," Holland suggests. You might try jogging for three minutes and then walking for one or two. Repeat the cycle for a total of 20 or 30 minutes.
Do pop in a DVD. "DVDs give you access to some of the best experts in the business," Holland says. You don't necessarily have to exercise along with them; watch for ideas and techniques you can borrow.
Don't fall for fuzzy math. When people in a study at the University of Ottawa were told to eat to replace the calories burned in a workout, they helped themselves to two to three times more calories than they'd scorched. (Gulp.) Set calorie goals, do your workouts, and then, if you're hungry, add healthy snacks.
Do try circuit training. Cranking out a series of exercises with a little rest in between keeps your heart rate elevated, allowing you to combine cardio and strength training in one time-efficient session, Holland says. Try to fit this in several days a week, doing 20 minutes of circuits that rotate through cardio, abs, and a strength move.
Don't get in a rut. Speed-walk with a friend one day; use your dumbbells while baby naps the next.
Do sneak in a shorty. Brief bursts of intense exercise with breaks in between may get you fitter faster than working out at a steady, moderate pace for longer, a study in The Journal of Physiology finds. Got 10 minutes free? Seize 'em!
Don't make yourself crazy. "Listen to your body and don't be so hard on yourself," Holland says. "You will get back in shape!"
Originally published in the October 2011 issue of American Baby magazine. Updated July 2013.
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