How I Lost My Pregnancy Baby Weight – Part 2 | 11 Exercise Tips to Transform Your Body

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In the first part of my How I Lost My Pregnancy Baby Weight series (and I have no idea how many are coming, so we’ll just define “series” rather loosely), I mentioned how counting calories was not all that it was cracked up to be. Just to be clear, I absolutely believe eating nutritiously and modestly are critical components in living a healthy lifestyle and should not be discounted. But for those of us trying to reclaim our bodies after having a baby, or for anyone who’s trying to lose 15-30 pounds (give or take), exercise is really where the magic happens.

Dieting won’t make much of a difference alone, so save yourself some agony. Of course there’s always a caveat. Don’t go sabotaging your workouts by going ape shit on some Sprinkles cupcakes. Just don’t go there. Remember, eat modestly.

After stewing on this post for a week, I tried to narrow the most important things I learned along the way to losing my baby weight down to these 11 key tips that made the biggest impact on my results. I apologize for the dissertation. I was debating if I should break up this novel into two shorter posts, but in the end it seemed important to keep these tips together because each piece connects with the other.

11 Exercise Tips That Transformed My Body

 

1.   Cut the bullshit

Seriously. Suck it up. Pity parties drive me nuckin futs. So much so that I’m actually straining right now not to use my potty mouth, so instead I just used a spoonerism (btw, that is a real word that I just learned 30 seconds ago). Make the commitment and get off the excuse train. Hey, I’m no stranger to excuses. When I get on that path, I hate myself for it and I know. I absolutely know I can do better than I give myself credit for. And I’ll bet you can too.

Make the commitment to workout 6 days a week for at least 30 minutes each day. Don’t say, “Oh, just tonight I’ll catch up on my DVR because I’m so tired anyway.” When I’ve been on my feet with an energy leeching 2-year-old ALL DAY, the last thing I want to do with the few precious hours I have left is get in spandex and puff on my inhaler for dear life. But when I put it into perspective – for example, I spend “at least” 30 minutes each day checking Facebook or watching Dora the Explorer – I know I can find half an hour to work out at my maximum ability. And sorry folks, taking a walk around the neighborhood doesn’t count as your maximum ability. Don’t sell yourself short.

2.   Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

It’s a common misconception that cardio loading will help you lose weight fast. For most people, running ends up being the go-to exercise because it’s easy to do, accessible and free. But putting all your eggs in one basket (like only doing cardio) isn’t going to get rid of your belly – fast. Yes, you will lose weight and it is a great activity to incorporate into your daily or weekly workout routine, but almost all fitness experts will tell you that it is simply not enough (unless you’re running a marathon), nor is it the most efficient way to burn calories fast and get your metabolism going. So where do you put all those eggs?

3.   Pack a 1-2 punch

Mix cardio with regular strength training to get the fastest, most impressive results. This was a hard concept for me to accept until I saw the results firsthand. Building lean muscle (not the bodybuilding kind) boosts your metabolism. In other words, the lean muscle you accumulate doing strength training will burn more calories and fat even when you’re not exercising. Pretty sweet deal, right?

Here’s how it works (in noob terms). After you’ve done your strength training, the muscles go through a recovery and repair phase (the soreness you feel the next day), which eventually leaves you with more muscle. That muscle then continues to burn more calories. Now if you’re working out your big muscle groups (such as your quads while doing lunges) with some smaller muscles (such as your biceps while doing arm curls) you are getting more bang for your buck – or a 1-2 punch as I like to call it. On the other hand, if you’re running six days a week with no form of strength training, the calories burned over time aren’t as high because you’re working out just a few muscle groups over and over again, primarily for endurance.

I was never fond of strength training or lifting weights until I understood the mechanics behind it. Honestly, I didn’t even own hand weights until I started The 30 Day Shred. Like many other women, I thought that strength training meant bulking up and doing whey protein keg stands. But after reading many fitness magazines, websites and books such as The Abs Diet or Winning By Losing, I was assured that it would take a ridiculous amount of body building for a woman to bulk up. We’re just not built like men and our hormones translate the muscle differently than with men. It makes sense to me… even Jillian Michaels, who lives eats breathes fitness doesn’t look like the Hulk – yet.

4.   Skip the gym membership and invest in some good workout DVDs

This day and age, we have so many good resources at our fingertips whether it be on YouTube, blogs, websites, DVD, and even Video on Demand with your cable company. It seems like spending a lot of money on a gym membership is just not practical anymore and is not a great fit for mothers or body-shy folk like myself. The only exception would be if your gym offers some really excellent classes that would be cheaper than going elsewhere, say through your city or local clubs, or if they have reliable child care for you to workout with baby nearby.

I am big on workout DVDs because I get sick of the same old thing pretty quickly. I enjoy cycling through my favorites throughout the week in the privacy of my own home. I also think gyms are totally confusing if you don’t have a personal trainer to show you how to use each piece of equipment. So here are a few of my favorite DVDs that I recommend to everyone. You’ll notice I love Jillian Michaels:


I love her programs because they utilize circuit training (strength + cardio) and often a 3-2-1 format – 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute abs. You get a 1-2-3 punch. Mo betta!

These DVDs are a good place to start out if you’re moderately in shape. You can always modify your workouts to fit your ability. You’ll notice your clothes fitting looser and your arms becoming toned. After 30 days though, you’ll probably be ready to move on. This is why I transitioned to a more intense … ok …. much more intense … workout program after 30 days. See #5.

5.   Invest in a copy of P90x

P90x deserves a number all on its own. It is the “mother of all workouts,” and while it already has a few successors, I think it will forever remain a cult classic. This workout is intense. It requires serious commitment, but it will bring you serious results. I never thought I’d be doing chin ups in my free time. I never thought I’d be curling weights – 10s baby – ohhhh noooo she di’int! And I never thought I would be working out for 90 days with Noob Daddy, who I’m pretty sure has bragged about his high cholesterol as if they were SAT scores.

It’s 6 days a week, about one hour each day, with a different workout each day for 90 days. Can you imagine anything more detestable? Yet, if you commit to it and can find someone to commiserate with you, you will absolutely lose your baby weight and probably look better than before. Every person I know who has done this for the full 90 days has shown incredible results, so I know it works for men and women alike. And no, ladies, you won’t become a body builder unless you’re supplementing MRE bars for each meal.

6.   Find a workout you love

When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter what workouts I love, you need to find something active that you enjoy doing (or can tolerate the longest) and keep it in rotation. Whether it’s yoga, Zumba, Crossfit, running, hip hop, ballroom dancing, hiking, spin, Pilates, surfing, Muay Thai, Capoeira, Yoga Booty Ballet, swimming, etc. there are endless options out there. Most places offer classes in the evening, which is great for working people and moms who have to trade parenting duties with the hubby to get some personal time. Once you find something you love, mix it in with some other go-to workouts to keep your routine fresh and interesting. By alternating your workout, you keep your muscles confused (the strategy behind P90x), which in turn builds more muscles and revs your metabolism! I love switching between my workout DVDs, running at the park, and taking some dance classes during the week.

7.    Use a heart rate monitor

I love my Timex heart rate monitor watch. It allows you to set a target heart rate zone for yourself so that you can work out at your optimum level depending on what your fitness goal is. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, then you would want to shoot for endurance and stamina. If you’re trying to lose weight fast, then a high heart rate during your workouts would enable you to lose more calories. Now that I have my heart rate monitor watch, I can also keep track of how many calories I’m burning during each workout. Not only do I end a workout with a “tangible” calorie count, but I’m able to set more goals for myself. I’m not gonna lie … it’s gratifying when I beat my numbers.

8.     Skip the scale

When you start working out regularly, I advise you skip the scale for a little while. Your weight is going to be increasing a bit as you gain muscle, and it might freak you out or make you feel discouraged. Your weight might not change too much in the beginning, and I don’t want you to throw in the towel. The best way to gauge your progress? Pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. For me, I could feel my pants and shorts getting baggier after a few weeks even though my “numbers” weren’t changing too dramatically. If you use P90x, you will have to take before and after photos (which is uncomfortable as all hell, but actually a great idea) and keep detailed measurements of your chest, arms, waist, legs, etc. Using a tape measure is another good way to see how your body is changing. My biceps got bigger (which I didn’t think possible) as did my legs. I didn’t mind that at all since I could see it was muscle and not cellulite! By the end of my 30 Day Shred and P90x regimens, I had dropped a pant size and had to update my wardrobe (not a bad reward!).

9.     Don’t be a perfectionist

Remember that you can’t do it all, but you can give it your best. I get many emails from perfectionist parents (like myself) who feel that any deviation from a schedule or what a parenting book says is equivalent to failure. I always try to remind them to give it their best and be flexible. Modify. The same goes with working out. You’re going to have to adapt and modify your workouts till you are at a comfortable, but challenging level.

Put the perfectionism aside. Working out isn’t all or nothing (I need this reminder very often). All excuses aside, if you’ve only got 20 minutes one day to be active, it’s better than nothing! Don’t skip a move or an activity because you’re afraid of embarrassment. You’ve got to put the ego aside. If there’s something that looks too challenging, do half of it or just one rep. Skip it if you’ve got a solid medical reason to do so or if you’re tweaking something big time. For example, when I’m doing a workout video and the instructor is demonstrating something I can’t keep up with (ahem, side arm plank), I will substitute a move that I know I’m successful at (like regular plank or bicycle crunches).

10.    Be dedicated and consistent with your workout time

Trying to squeeze in a workout with a noob or several noobs is super difficult. If you don’t have a newborn or kids, seriously…. carpe freakin diem. Once your noob has worn you to a nub and finally fallen asleep, working out is the last thing you want to do (that or ironing laundry. Shudder). But you have to find at least 30 minutes where you make the magic happen. I highly recommend a mommy group or Stroller Strides if you want to work out with your noob during the day. Stroller Strides is a group of supportive moms who get together and work out with their little ones. You can stop your workout to deal with a diaper blowout or toss Cheerios at your baby’s adorable face, and no one will think less of you. Their workouts include cardio, strength training and abs, and most groups plan weekly playdates as well. Also, some gyms have child care, there are mommy and me yoga classes, or maybe you want to bribe your family members to come babysit. Just “keep pressing play,” as they say in P90x.

11.    Ditch the Negative Nancys and get yourself a solid support system

It’s hard enough getting yourself motivated and committed, you definitely don’t need any whiners trying to hold you back. Stick to your guns (those sexy ones you’re going to be getting with your workout) and don’t let anyone talk you out of your goals or burden you with their complaints. The Negative Nancys are usually just projecting their own insecurities.

Surround yourself with a strong support group and a good workout buddy if you can. I have a fabulous cousin who takes hip hop and PureBarre classes with me, Zumba by herself, and we go biking to the farmer’s market when we’re feeling overambitious. It’s like training with the Terminator. Love it. I’ve even convinced my sis to go biking with me on occasion, and the only kind of “outdoors” she tolerates is an outdoor mall. If you prefer to commiserate and share your accomplishments online, then find a health forum like Sparkpeople.com to connect with others who have made a similar commitment.

Do you have exercise tips that have worked for you? I’d love to know what helps you stay fit and healthy, or if you’ve lost weight recently with some good old-fashioned sweat and determination.

Lastly, I’m inviting you to come back here and share your trials and tribulations on Noob Mommy. I’m planning to embark on a new 30 Day Fitness Challenge where I’ll be working out at least 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week for 30 days. I plan to primarily use my new Ripped in 30 Jillian Michaels video, but will also cycle through some old favorites as well. I’m looking for workout buddies who want to make this 1 month commitment with me! Will you participate and leave updates here on my blog as a way to rehash our experiences? If you’re ready to join me on this 30 Day Fitness Challenge, leave a comment here so I can acknowledge you on my next post.


Comments

  1. 19

    Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came
    to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be
    tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and amazing style and design.

  2. 20

    OMG! I’m so glad I found you! Stubbled across ur website at 3am in a haze of breastfeeding ;) I was interested in the EASY method as I’m feeling really “discombobulated” (not sure if this is a real word!!). My second bub is 5 weeks now & I feel ready for a routine which now should include some exercise as I can’t stand what I see in the mirror. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on a downward spiral of self loathing (I’m too tired for that)!! But I love your first tip, so I’m just going to suck it up and do it! Luckily I have a large workout DVD collection to tap into, including your fave, Jillian, which I’ve never done as I found out I was pregnant the day it arrived in the post ; p
    Also, in hindsight it probably would have been beneficial for me to have exercised throughout this pregnancy (as I did with my first) and just stopped with the excuses of being tired, hungry, sad, nauseous, greys anatomy is on tv etc etc.
    Thanks for some great info…..I’m off to see if u have anything on dealing with colic- grrrrrrrrrr

  3. 21

    Thanks for the aricle it was quite encouraging. I started my regiment 2 weeks ago. I workout for an hour 5 days a week. I workout at Lifetime fitness and for me it works bc I love coperate workouts and I love Zumba. i have changed my diet. I use myfitnesspal on my ipad to track my calories and weight. I havent lost any weight yet but I can see my muscles changing. I cant wait for the extra pounds to gooooo!

    • 22

      Hi Whitney – Glad you found my site! It sounds like you are doing amazing things with your health. Congrats! I haven’t heard one person who doesn’t love Zumba! I also love that you are tracking your progress and calories so you can stay accountable. Good luck with your goals. I hope you’ll keep us updated!

  4. 23
    Michelle says:

    Hi Noob Mommy,

    I started the E.A.S.Y. routine last night with my 6 week old daughter. After reading the Baby Whisperer I realized that I had fallen into “Accidental Parenting” and my hubby and I were the examples in the book. My daughter has Reflux but I found that I learned to soothe her through Breastfeeding. At six weeks, she didn’t have a routine – except coming to Mommy every time she wanted to sleep or calm herself to get some Breastmilk. She doesn’t sleep in her own crib either because I allowed her to sleep in the bed with my husband and I. Now at 6 weeks she doesn’t know how to soothe herself to sleep without assistance of the boob and she has gained tremendous weight. She is already 10 lbs and was 6 lbs when we left the hospital. I hope the E.A.S.Y. routine does work. We are having trouble with the “S” in the routine, but I hope as the days go by, it will get easier. Otherwise I will just go stark crazy!

    It’s good to find blogs like yours, since I am a new Mom and feel that I don’t have that many resources out there since my friends do not have any kids of their own.

    Michelle

  5. 24

    I wanted to share a new FREE website with you.

    http://www.exercise.com

    A great resource for videos, ideas, and plans to help you with your fitness goals. Enjoy!

  6. 25

    LOVE IT!! You’re great with words. From a fellow health enthusiast I say congrats on your fabulous blog! I’d love to be part of your 30-day challenge!

  7. 26

    Count me in! I have two children – 2.8 yrs old and 8 months and I NEED something to help me lose the baby weight. I was an avid gym goer pre-parenthood and now only go occasionally on the weekends which is not cutting it. I am looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to getting committed to exercising again.

  8. 27
    Virginia says:

    Your article was very informative and entertaining. I love the perspective it’s written in and your no non-sense approach to getting things done. I started “working out” today also and hope to keep it going (no excuses). Muscle confusion does seem to be the way to go in order to get the results most of us want (slim yet toned). Good luck on your goals for this month and I’ll also be checking in for my much needed inspiration and motivation.

    Virginia your FB friend too :)

    • 28

      Virginia – Congratulations on your new work out regimen (no excuses :)! Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope to see you here regularly! It’ll be great to hear your feedback on how your workout is going while we start our 30 Day Fitness challenge here.

  9. 29

    Love this idea! I’m ready for my 30 day challenge!

  10. 30

    Thanks to everyone who has posted already about joining me on the 30 Day Challenge! I’ll update with a new post soon about the Challenge so we can all start adding our progress. Please invite any other friends or family members to join us on our 30 Day fitness makeover!

  11. 31

    I’m inspired!! I think this is the kick in the butt I needed. My fiance and I agreed and decided to start Sunday and work out in the morning before baby is up. and If he gets up we will put him in his baby Einstein and let him watch us. Sad part is I bought the 30 day shred about a month ago and it’s still in the wrapper. Besides our son turning 9 months this week, our wedding is May 21st. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and thank you!! I can’t wait to see where we’re at in a month!!

  12. 32

    Great blog love your candidness I will be joining you your 30 day challenge!

  13. 33
    Brian Tu says:

    This blog article takes the cake. It pretty provides with all the basic information to create that mindset and determination one needs to be proactive and effective at losing weight/getting fit. Every tip has valid reasoning behind it and makes sense. Granted, I am still a personal believer in gym memberships because gyms have certain equipment that are not easily attained at home (mostly monetarily). I know several people who mainly run to lose weight and then after a month or so they complain about their progress. It is because they are not utilizing their body to its full extent. Like the P90X videos demonstrate, you need to mix it up. Cardio + Strength = Maximum output. Also, you do not want to do the same exercise every day because that will only force you to plateau. You want to do different exercises to work the same muscle groups so that it doesn’t become muscle memory. For those people who are super busy, workout DVDs are your bread and butter. People believe they are so busy in their days that they do not have time to exercise. That’s a load of crap. Again, Facebook, television, technology, video games, etc. A television show is at least 30 minutes long. If you want, have the tv going on while you exercise, just don’t get too distracted. Before I go on my own rant, I’m going to stop here. Like they say, “no pain, no gain”. And if you really think you don’t have time or can’t afford to work out, look at the people on The Biggest Loser, they gave up their lives and lifestyles to better themselves so that they could live a healthier life. Get in shape, obesity is killing the world.

    • 34

      Thanks for the insight, Brian! I catch myself watching brainless tv ala The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or whatever and realize that I wasted an hour of my life that I will never get back. I could have been making my life healthier not junkier!

  14. 35

    Hi! You’ve totally inspired me to get off my butt and get active! :) I have a 5 month old daughter and have lost my baby weight, but definitely would love to get more toned and defined (and an energy boost would be great as well!). My friend was just telling me how much she liked Jillian Michael’s Ripped in 30. I’m going to order it and join your challenge!

  15. 36
    Kristin says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and love your style! Very timely too, as I have been at THAT’S IT! stage of trying to get my pre-baby body back and needed this inspiration. My DD will be TWO in May, so it’s taken me a while to get tired of the excuses. I work full time, have a teeny house and don’t feel like I can go full bore doing DVDs (you know, like I’m going to shake the house down jumping around), plus I’m lazy in the evenings and so very, very tired… BUT I actually LOVE to workout, go to kickboxing, hip hop, step and other cardio classes by a kickass instructor. I am not afraid to workout and love it, however, I gotta get the strength in there AND be more consistent. I am lucky to get to the gym 3 days per week. I go at lunch or just after work, which is REALLY tough, because I’m away all day and only get an hour or so with my DD before bed if I stay out later. Sad. But I’ve been making it happen more and more and feel better, but wish I had more hours in the day (or could quit work!)… This is a long and sad story to say that I’d love to join your 30-day fitness challenge. :)

  16. 37
    jacqueline barboza says:

    Sounds good! =) I am in!! I am already back to prebaby weight but when I was bf I noticed that I lost even more weight (which YAY was good to me) now I just want to keep at it and go from there!

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