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4 December 2012 | Health & Fitness

7 ways for new mums to get back in shape

7 ways for new mums to get back in shape

Breastfeed to lose baby weight

Some women are uncertain about the idea of breastfeeding; about people seeing, what it could do to their breasts, or perhaps it seems unnatural to them. But breast milk is considered the way forward. Not only is it exactly what your baby needs, readily available and free, but the best news is that it can help you shed the baby weight, as mums naturally burn calories to produce breast milk every time they breastfeed.

Zumba for new mums

Zumba combines Latin dance, pumping music and aerobic routines to help you trim down and tone up. Zumba is an excellent full body workout which really burns the calories; up to 500 an hour in fact. Not only do you lose weight but it's also a great time to de-stress; exercise releases endorphins so you'll leave feeling more relaxed – the perfect state for a new mum. It's also a time to socialise, as women of all ages can enjoy the classes. Take an hour out of your parenting schedule and join the Zumba craze.

Eat your way to a better post-pregnancy body

It's the same whether you want to lose your holiday weight or whether you're trying to get rid of your post-birth bump; what you eat affects your weight. During the pregnancy you should aim to eat healthily to keep your body and your baby's development in top shape. But the same applies after the birth. While it may be tempting to save time by eating fast food, this won't do you any favours in losing the baby weight or keeping you energised. Keep wholegrain, fruit, vegetable, lean meat, fish and water intakes topped up and try to maintain the pregnancy rules of no alcohol and limited caffeine.

Jog or powerwalk with your newborn

Jogging or powerwalking are not only excellent ways to keep fit but they also aid weight loss; roughly each mile the average person will burn around 100 calories. But what's better is that you can take your baby with you in their pram. This provides your little one with some fresh air and change of scenery, while you're able to slot in some calorie burning. Head to your local park and be a yummy mummy lunging and power walking your way to a slimmer body. Look out for prams designed for this kind of activity, called jogging prams, which are streamlined and designed not to topple.

Swim your way to a better post-pregnancy figure

Straight after the birth, it's not advisable to jump headfirst into an intense weight loss plan. Firstly, you won't have the energy, and secondly, you won't have the time – even if you did, it would come at the expense of your health and baby's care. Ease into weight loss by swimming, which is gentle enough on your tired body (it's been through so much!) but targets the areas you want to tone, such as thighs and stomach. The peaceful atmosphere of the pool is a great time to relax and release some stress, but you could also try water aerobics to exert your body further.

Sleep your way to a better post-pregnancy figure

As a new mum you will be sleep deprived and have an unusual sleep pattern, so it's natural for your body to crave more food (usually of the sugary or fatty variety) to give you the energy boost you desire. Aim to sleep every time your baby does rather than using the time to do chores, as lack of sleep can slow down your metabolism, increase appetite and makes you more likely to give in to your cravings. Furthermore, lack of sleep can increase stress levels, which can contribute to weight gain.

Relax your way to a post-pregnancy body

Perhaps the most important thing on this list is to remind new mums that putting pressure on yourself to snap back into your pre-baby body will do more harm than good. As mentioned, it's taken time for your body to change, so it won't revert back overnight. Feeling self-conscious about your tummy is natural, but stress can in fact hinder weight loss, particularly in that area. The body responds to stress by releasing sugars into your bloodstream, which are stored as excess fat if they are not used as energy. Focus on your breathing and do one thing at a time to minimise stress.
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