You're power-strolling with your baby regularly and deskinning your chicken -- but you've still got leftover pregnancy pounds that just won't budge. What's going on? One possibility is that you're expecting too much too soon. "To get back to your prepregnancy weight, give yourself a year," says Fran Grossman, a registered dietitian at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. It can take that long, especially if you're not breastfeeding and you gained more than the recommended 25 to 35 pounds.
Still, if pregnancy weight lingers past your baby's first birthday, it's time to examine your lifestyle for habits that may be unwittingly doing you in, says Grossman. For Ilise Kesslin, a mother of two from Riverdale, New York, her nemesis was old-fashioned deprivation dieting. "I realized that when I restricted the food I could eat, I binged later in the day on snacks," says Kesslin, who now eats whatever she wants, just in smaller portions. As a result, she says, "I'm skinnier than I was before my first pregnancy." Kesslin lost 40 pounds this past year.
What's preventing you from dropping that extra weight? Here, we reveal seven common diet traps -- and how you can keep them from holding you back.
Your mother-in-law always shows up on your doorstep with one of her yummy pies. The other mommies bring treats to playgroup. You help yourself to bites from your child's lunch and snacks, or eat leftovers so they don't go to waste. "This kind of environmentally induced impulse eating is a big trap for dieters," says Daniel C. Stettner, PhD, a weight management psychologist in Troy, Michigan. You eat food just because it's there -- not because you're hungry -- and those unconsciously consumed calories can add up fast, Stettner says.
Food fix: To guard yourself against a "see-food" diet, don't keep edibles out in the open or on the kitchen counter. If you find yourself, say, foraging in your cupboards when you're chatting on the phone, talk in another room. When you're at play dates, mothers' groups, and birthday parties, carry a water bottle so you can take a swig instead of nibbling on something. "Drinking water serves as a reminder that you're doing something healthy," says Stettner. Water also fills you up. If someone gets pushy about asking you to sample her food (Don't you want a piece?), avoid saying "Well, I really shouldn't," which implies you want to be convinced. Instead, suggests Stettner, repeat this concise and convincing phrase: "No, thank you. I'm not hungry right now."
As for finishing up leftovers, make a mental note to prepare less food next time. Meanwhile wrap up the extra rice and peas and put them in the refrigerator immediately -- or toss them. In fact, teach your kids to empty their plates into the garbage once they're old enough -- around age 3. And rather than mindlessly munching at snack time from, say, an open box of Goldfish, have something that's calorie-contained by design, like a piece of fruit or a carton of yogurt. Or consider foregoing snacking altogether. "When my girls have their snack, I tell myself that it's their snack time, not mine," says Carrie Williams, a mother of two in Newport Beach, California.