Burn, Baby, Burn
During pregnancy, your body has to make room for your expanding uterus and the precious life within, so your outer abdominal muscles stretch and separate. But even after birth, when your uterus has shrunk back to its original size, your ab muscles can stay separated.
You may think the solution is stomach crunches to get back into shape, but Julie Tupler, coauthor of Lose Your Mummy Tummy, says crunches can do more harm than good.
“Crunches put pressure on the tissue that connects the outermost abdominal muscles, which can further separate them,” she warns.
So what’s a new mum to do? According to Rhian Allen from www.losebabyweight.com.au, looking for ways to add 30 minutes of incidental exercise per day is the way to go.
She knows the frustration involved in getting back into pre-baby clothes only too well. “When I was losing my own baby weight, I experienced firsthand how hard it is to lose weight when you’re sleep deprived and you have a whole new list of priorities on your plate,” she says. “I created my website as a way to support mums and help them lose their weight in a healthy and safe way.”
Allen’s tips for getting into shape are simple and easy to slot into your daily routine, as “it’s about getting used to incorporating exercise into your life, so it’s not a big task,” she says. Here’s her top three baby weight exercises for busy mums:
Squeeze in secret squats
Your "spare tyre" is “the last part of your baby fat to go,” Allen laments, so you have to build lean muscle to trim fat in this region. If you’re not ready to hit the gym just yet, she says squats offer a sneaky short cut.
“Doing squats uses the largest muscle groups in your body, in your bum and your thighs, so if you start doing squats it will burn your stomach fat as well,” she says. Doing squats when you’re making a cup of tea or preparing veggies for bub is an easy habit to create.
Exercise added to your day: 5 to 15 minutes
Participate in playtime
Don’t sit on the sidelines while your kids play: Put your phone and laptop away and actively participate in playtime instead. “I used to put on nursery rhymes and dance around and play with my baby, and do ‘waste twisties,’” Allen says. You could also jump on the trampoline with your older kids, play hopscotch, or get on the ground and roll around with your toddler. If you do something active like this three times a day for 10 minutes at a time, you’ll notch up 30 minutes of incidental exercise, and all without “trying to fit in a big gym session.”
Exercise added to your day: 30 minutes
Be creative when getting from A to B
Where ever possible, try to walk instead of driving. For instance, one of Allen’s devotees – who dropped 20 kilos after following her advice – made a simple change by walking her kids to school each day instead of driving. Sure, it requires some extra organisation to get the kids out the door a little earlier, but walking and taking in the scenery and fresh air has plenty of benefits – for you and your kids!
Exercise added to your day: 20 to 30 minutes