Before 29-year-old Page Powers of Los Angeles became pregnant with her first child, she was in the best shape of her life. "Cooper was conceived on my honeymoon. Prior to my wedding, I was doing cardio three times a week, yoga twice a week, and lifting weights with a trainer," she says. And now? "Since giving birth four months ago, I've gone to the gym four times."
The pregnancy plus the lack of exercise have left extra padding on Powers' abs, hips, buttocks, and arms. "I'm close to my pre-pregnancy weight, but my body is far from the way it used to be," she says. "My stomach got stretched out and my midsection is extra flabby." Her goals: Fit back into her jeans and look good in a swimsuit on the beach this summer. Her challenge: Finding time to work out, since caring for Cooper takes almost all day and night. "I'm majorly sleep-deprived," she confesses.
To help Powers reach her goals within her time constraints, Child scheduled a session with Kathy Kaehler, the Today show's fitness correspondent, who whipped Michelle Pfeiffer, Lisa Kudrow, and Meg Ryan back into shape after their pregnancies. "Page's problem is typical," says Kaehler. "Many new moms think, 'I can't get a shower before 2 o'clock, let alone get to the gym, so I'm not going to work out.' The reality is that you don't have to go to the gym or even do your exercise routine all at once for it to be effective."
So Kaehler devised this 15-minute, at-home workout regimen, which targets Powers' trouble spots (common to many new moms). Her advice: Perform this routine at least three times a week, and steal a few moments every day for super-short bouts of exercise -- 30 seconds of jumping jacks or 200 revolutions of skipping rope. "In several months, you'll not only tone up and drop a few pounds, but your cardiovascular fitness and overall strength will improve too," Kaehler says. For quicker results, add 30 to 45 minutes of aerobics three times a week.
Still, Kaehler cautions new moms to be patient -- it took her a year and a half to get back into shape after her twins and one year after her third child. "Resist comparing yourself to other women; you'll only end up stressed and anxious," she advises. "Your body is individual and it's going to change at its own pace -- just keep up your workouts and you will get your body back." Promise.
1. Summertime Stroll Take a walk around the house or around the block for at least two minutes. You can even grab the stroller and bring the baby with you. Or, if you have a treadmill, hop on. Kathy Kaehler's The Walkmill, a portable fold-up treadmill, is available at www.walkmill.com. We know it's tempting to blow off the warmup, but this makes your muscles limber and helps reduce the risk of strains and other injuries.
2. Standing Stretch Stand with feet slightly more than hip distance apart and arms by your side. Turn right foot out 90°. Exhale and slowly bend to the right, making sure to keep hips forward and left foot firmly planted on the floor. Gently rest right hand just above to slightly below the knee, depending on your flexibility. Extend left arm toward the ceiling. Concentrate on looking straight ahead. Take a deep breath and hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds. Release, return to starting position, and repeat. Perform on the other side, return to starting position, and repeat.
1. Bicep Curl Holding a 3- to 5-lb. dumbbell in each hand, sit tall in a sturdy chair without leaning back against it. Slowly curl up weights toward shoulders. Lower weights to starting position. Do 12 reps.
2. Bent-Over Row Sit in the middle of a chair looking down, holding a 3-lb. dumbbell in each hand. Lower chest until it almost rests on your lap. (If you can't get down that far, put a pillow on your lap and let your chest rest on it.) Lift arms out to the sides until they become parallel to your shoulders. Squeeze shoulder blades together. Do 12 reps; return to the bicep curl for 12 reps. Breathe through the exercise, exhaling on the effort.
3. Lateral Raise With a 3-lb. dumbbell in each hand, sit tall in the middle of a chair. While exhaling, lift up both arms until they're shoulder level. Return to the starting position. Do 12 reps. Stand up and sit down 15 times holding the weights by your side. Repeat another round.
4. Tricep Dip Hold on to the edge of the chair with hands facing forward, a body's width apart. Scoot your body off the chair, bending your knees and keeping your back right next to the front of the chair. Lower your body by bending arms down until they're at a 90° angle to the chair; raise to the starting position. Do 10 reps.
1a. Lunge, Deal, and SquatPick up 20 playing cards with your left hand. Step forward with the right leg and do a lunge. Deal one card down by the instep of the forward foot. Push back into starting position; repeat four more times until five cards are down. Pick up all cards and switch hands and feet, lunging with the left leg and holding cards in the right hand.
1b. Once five cards are down, take the last 15 cards in either hand. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower the body into a squat, placing a card in front of you between your feet. Repeat until all the cards are down. (Over time, gradually increase the benefits of each workout on your glutes, quads, and hamstrings by doing one or two additional lunges.)
2.Stairs on the Chair Stand up, facing a sturdy chair that has been pushed against a wall. (You can use the chair anywhere if you have a partner for spotting.) Put your right foot on the chair, then lift up and get your left foot on the chair. Step down with the right foot and repeat. Hold on to a partner or the wall for balance. Do five times starting with the right foot; repeat five times starting with the left foot. Repeat the Tricep Dip, and then perform another round of this exercise. If you find that the chair is too tall for you, use a sturdy stool or a step in your house instead.
1. Kneeling Push-Up Kneel on a mat or towel. Extend arms in front of you, with hands on mat. Holding stomach in while keeping upper body straight, do 10 push-ups. Exhale as you come up.
2. Reverse Ab Curl Lie on your back with hands at sides or under hips. Rock your hips forward and back 10 times. Straighten your legs and lift your hips off the floor 10 times.
3. Hiplift Lie on your back, keeping your hands at sides, knees bent, and feet on the mat. Raise your hips off the floor so that only your shoulder blades and feet are on the mat. Do 10 reps. (This exercise also helps tone your buttocks.)
4. Bicycle Abs Lie on a mat with hands together behind your head. Extend one leg while bending the other toward your chest. Simultaneously move the opposite elbow to touch the bent knee. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Do 10 reps. Perform the entire abdominal sequence twice. To help prevent injuries, wind down and relax your muscles by doing some gentle stretches.
Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the June/July 2003 issue of Child magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.