If you're like the average new mom, you look at your baby and can't believe the perfection you've created. Then you look in the mirror and think, "Oh, what's happened here?" On the one hand, you'd love to get your body back. On the other hand, you're tired. And pulled in 20 different directions. Who has the time to head to the gym, or whip up spa cuisine? When baby's napping, it's just easier to flop onto the couch and munch on whatever's around. (Leftover mac and cheese, anyone?)
Sometimes all you need is a little push and a plan. We found three new moms who wanted to lose weight -- but couldn't quite get started. Each met once with nutritionist Sophie Pachella and trainer Eric von Frohlich, both of New York City, to come up with a diet and exercise plan. They checked in periodically for progress reports, but each mom was on her own to make the plan work. Here's what happened in 12 weeks.
Pachella, who specializes in sports and pre- and postnatal nutrition, is the founder of eatstrong.com. She bases her advice on what she calls "clean eating" and emphasizes that it's a lifestyle, not a diet. Pachella encourages clients to cut out processed foods in favor of lean protein paired with complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, plus three daily servings of low-fat dairy. Simple carbs such as white rice and pasta are limited, along with the usual suspects like cookies and full-fat dairy. That's not to say you can't eat the foods you love. "Everyone has something she's reluctant to give up. You can work around that -- as long as you understand the trade-offs," she says.
When it comes to exercising for weight loss, von Frohlich says you have to commit to working out at least four days a week for 45 minutes at a time. If he's training a client, he'll mix resistance work (weights) with cardio, but if you're on your own, it's pretty basic: Find an activity -- one you like -- that gets your heart rate up, and do it. His big piece of advice for new moms: "Don't always put your baby first -- you need to take care of yourself too. You can find the time to exercise. And you need to get enough sleep." You can't work out if you have no energy, he says, and lack of sleep slows down your metabolism. And it's no fun being a mom when you're running on empty.
5'5", 33, mom to Gavin, 1, still nursing
Starting weight: 159 pounds
Ending weight: 134 pounds
5'4", 35, mom to Ella, 2, and Noa, 4
Starting weight: 144 pounds
Ending weight: 132 pounds
5'8", 28, mom to Olivia, 13 months
Starting weight: 137 pounds
Ending weight: 120 pounds
Originally published in American Baby magazine, October 2006.