Weight Loss for the Busy Mom

For recently pregnant women, the barrage of weight loss gimmicks coupled with the celebrity moms who look fabulous two weeks after giving birth is enough to make you feel terrible. Keep in mind that those stars spend hours working out with a personal trainer every day because it’s their job to look good. For the average mom though, we don’t get paid to look good, we just feel better when we do. That’s not to say that you can’t shed the pounds too. Adding sure-fire weight loss ideas to your daily routine is all you need.

First, myths must be dispelled. Most of the weight loss and looking fit is about genetics. Not everyone can have a six-pack or a tiny butt. Losing weight is not really about losing fat because, in truth, fat cells can’t be lost. The fat cells that you had when you were a teenager are the cells you carry for the rest of your life; they get bigger and shrink according to your health regimen. When you start looking like you are losing weight, it’s really just tightening and building muscle combined with shrinking fat cells.

The only proven way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you eat. To put it into perspective: a pound contains 3500 calories. So if you can cut back or burn 200 calories a day, without replacing it, you still would only lose less than 1 pound a week. Even so, lean muscle creates heat and burns calories just to exist. So if you can get those muscles going, cut back on your calorie-intake and continue with some aerobic exercise, you’ve got a recipe for fitness.

Let’s start with the calories you consume. Be aware that what you drink can be the biggest culprit of calories in your life. Try replacing beverages with water if you can. Toxins specifically are stored in fat cells. Caffeine, alcohol, and food additives all contribute to fat cells. The best way to eliminate toxins and cut down on calories is to eat whole foods cooked at home. Since you don’t have a calorie count on the side of your celery stalk, here is a basic breakdown of calories in your common kitchen components.

It’s a good idea to keep very close count of your calories in a daily notebook or use a calorie app on your smartphone. Since you might not always have time to do this, just try it for awhile. Once you have the gist of what calories are in a week’s worth of meals and how many calories you need to burn, you should be able to stick to it loosely.

Next, you’ll need to find exercises that allow you to build more lean muscle. Some women worry about “bulking up.” You will only bulk up if you overeat or have a genetic leaning towards it but most women don’t. There are lots of ways to build muscle: weight training, Pilates, yoga, martial arts and many other practices.

As a mother, you’ll need to take into account other factors when trying to lose weight. Breastfeeding burns between 200-500 calories a day (depending on how much your baby eats). If you can’t get to the gym or want to supplement your workout routine, take long walks with a stroller or go for a run with a jogging stroller. You burn 5 calories for every liter of oxygen you consume. On average, running burns twice the amount of calories that walking does, although walking faster than 5mph actually burns more than running. Plus, pushing the stroller or wearing the baby adds to the burn.

Going to the gym isn’t realistic for everyone. Popping in an exercise video is a great chance for moms to exercise at home. Don’t be surprised if the baby is overjoyed to watch you and want to take part. Of course, dancing with the kids is a great way to burn calories. You can burn about 120 calories an hour just going up steps, picking up toys, doing laundry and chasing a toddler around. Cleaning can burn calories, vacuuming, scrubbing, washing dishes and even ironing. Approach your everyday responsibilities with more vigor. Other ways to be active include marching or doing sit-ups during the commercials, pacing while you are on the phone, parking at the end of parking lots, or doing simple exercises as you sit at the computer.

The main thing when trying to lose weight is to stay focused. You’ve got a lot on your plate as a mother of a newborn but just a little focus on what you’re doing with your body throughout the day goes a long way. You can lose weight if you truly decide to do it and don’t guilt yourself if you cheat here and there. Just do a little every day.

What’s your diet and exercise regimen like?