If life were fair, staying up all night with a crying baby for three nights in a row would burn as many calories as running a 10K race. And breastfeeding would mean you could eat all the pizza and potato chips you wanted. But for most people, the postbaby pounds don't just melt off. The very time when your body most needs your attention is when you have the least amount of time and energy to attend to it.
So what's a new mom to do? We hooked up three lucky ladies with nutritionist Joy Bauer, author of The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan (St. Martin's Griffin), who offered personalized meal planning, and Jamie Norcini, group fitness director of Clay, a private gym in New York City, who gave the women training sessions, to help them lose those extra pounds. What they learned can help you, too.
Food & Nutrition: Bauer's nutrition plan is based on the theory that balancing meals with lean proteins and quality carbs (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and unsaturated fat) reduces cravings and bingeing. For dinner, she recommends limiting simple carbs like bread, rice, or pasta to one serving, or skipping them altogether. "This move forces you to load up on veggies, which everyone needs."
The other component to her plan is that "you can't omit everything decadent that you love, or you'll walk around like a time bomb waiting to eat 55 chocolate chip cookies."
Exercise: As far as fitness goes, for clients whose goal is weight loss, Norcini mixes high-energy cardio spurts (using a treadmill, bike, or stair-climber) with resistance work (weights, machines, or bands). "It's the most effective way to lose weight because your heart rate stays up the whole time," he says.
Before the training began, we asked each participant to write down everything she ate for three days. Then, over the course of 12 weeks, each woman met with Bauer every other week (six times altogether). On alternate weeks they had a training session (six times altogether). Finally, we asked the participants to record how they fared on their own, so we could see which advice stayed with them.