Tips to Getting in Shape and Losing Weight

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Getting a workout in can be tough. Especially if you are a working parent, there never feels like enough time in a day to get it all done. Here, working parents share how they manage to squeeze in exercise and get back in shape.

Wanna lose some baby weight? Be sure to read these PSP member post-partum specific fitness tips here.

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Please note that weight varies from person-to-person. There can be a variety of medical reasons that lead to weight gain. Talking to your doctor is an important first step before you embark on any weight loss program.

The information is for educational purposes only. The content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

Change your mindset:

  • Think of it as a daily routine
    • "A big change for me happened when I stopped thinking about workouts as these hour long, shower-requiring things that I'd struggle to fit in once or twice a week, and instead thought about exercise in terms of a really short part of my DAILY routine."
  • Put exercise time in your calendar

 

Exercise Advice:

  • Get a personal trainer
    • “I have def been there! I used a trainer which helped immensely. My hour with my trainer (got to be the right one) worked me to the bones for 2 years and I ended up losing a lot of weight and am now in better shape than pre baby. I also swam a lot which helped. I did not adjust eating as that is unsustainable but I generally eat healthy but do not believe in dieting through cutting down food.
    • “I have just booked sessions with a personal trainer who I can thoroughly recommend. I knew that if I didn't set the time aside then I just wouldn't exercise so it's been really motivating, and she's fantastic (and affordable). I figured that a strong Mummy makes for a happy baby.”
  • Take advantage of classes at the gym
    • “I have since joined the Y, both locations, and if your schedule allows, they have a number of really great classes and it's affordable. So many of us have been there in this struggle!”
  • Get membership to a gym with childcare
  • Have workout buddies to help with motivation
  • Join a Running Club

 

Connect with other PSP parents to get in shape with!

 

Create a workout routine into your daily life:

  • “I also walk a lot these days with my commute and ALWAYS take the stairs when there are stairs, or walk the escalator if that's my only choice. Sometimes I get off a subway stop early to get some more walking in too.  Recently I've gotten in maybe one workout a week and that's me getting up at 5:15am to make it happen.  I just REALLY want to fit into my clothes again so I'm putting a little more effort in when I can.  Sh*t ain't easy, that's for sure, and I try not to focus too much on it cause then it just becomes too hard.  Hang in there!  Hope all else is going well, and hope to see you again one of these days!”

 

Be efficient with your time:

  • Do cardio/strength DVDs/ streaming service at home
  • Do shorter workouts/ 20 mins a day can make a difference.
  • Weight and resistance is effective and minimal.
  • Bike or run to work
    • "I second biking or running to work and also doing errands.   Sometimes that's the only way I can get in exercise.   I'll put my running clothes on and run my daughter to the zoo, for a haircut, to get groceries etc...  It may not be the longest run but on a day when it's the only exercise I'll get in its better than nothing."
  • Do short, intensive sprints
    • “If you're short on time in the gym, utilize compound exercises to get the most from your workout. A compound exercise combines different exercises to target several muscle groups at once. One example is a squat, with a bicep curl as you stand straight, and overhead press at the top. You're working glutes, hamstrings, biceps, pecs and delts all in the same exercise! Bonus: Compound exercises are particularly effective for weight loss goals!”
  • Do what you can on weekends
  • Do it early in the morning. Start and finish your workout, shower and be dressed, before the kids start waking up.
  • Take advantage of your lunch breaks to do a workout
  • Exercise after the kids go to bed

 

Exercise in non-traditional ways:

  • Wear a fit bit, which can encourage you to walk more.
  • Get off the subway a stop early
  • Take the stairs
  • Do a combination walk and run to all your errands
  • Or, walk or run everywhere.
  • Keep small weights at home to do at sporadic times
  • PSP words of wisdom: "It's motivated me to up my walking quite a bit, and I find walking to be very helpful for my sanity as well. It's the only "me" time I get most days. I add in walks where I can during the day or walk to the next subway stop."

 

Loop in quality kid time with working out:

  • Do a baby Pilates class
  • Dance with your kids
  • Get a jogging stroller
  • PSP words of wisdom: "We sometimes put on today's favorite dance songs on YouTube (poker Face, Gangnam style etc.) turn up the volume and we all dance together!  It's fun for everyone.  My kids are 2, 4 and 6.  Only takes 5 minutes and you will be sweating.  Can do any time."

 

Try a program like Couch to 5K:

  • For exercise I started running the "Couch to 5K " program, and when I checked in last time I mentioned the "200" series on the internet, which breaks down some simple exercises (pushups, situps and squats) into doable portions. But eating this way I'm not quite the self-sabotaging perfectionist I once was. If I miss a workout, or a week of them, like I did this past week, I know my eating is not out of control, so my weight won't spike up. I did hit a plateau a while back and it was frustrating, but I know that's a natural part of the process and I really just focused on the psychological impact cutting out the sugar has had. I was much more patient with my family, I had a ton of energy and the ice cream in the freezer had stopped calling my name. I feel so good the weight loss just feels like a side effect at this point.”

 

Use workout DVDs:

  •  “I am also struggling with this, and I have decided what I need is to do something very regimented. Because I have been eating well and working out, but I need a final kick. I need to be told what to do. I have loved the insanity DVDs and other workout DVDs, and I tried the Kayla Itsines workout program (Bikini Body Guide). For that one, you pay a one time fee and get a workout book + you can get a nutrition book for another fee. While the workouts are nice and short, they made my knees hurt too much, so I didn't actually buy any of her stuff. BUT, I am going to start the Tone It Up 30 Day Challenge. Its sort of the same thing, but there is a huge focus on what you eat. So you pay $150 and you get not only this meal plan but all past meal plans + a bunch of workout videos - and I think all digitally. I am better if I am at my house, because I don't lose any time making it to a gym, so it may not work for everyone. This meal plan comes with a food list and meal prep activities. I cannot tell you if it works, but based on their Instagram account - I am ready! The next 30 Day Challenge starts Oct 1...so I can tell you how it goes!”

 

Use a health tracker app:

  • “I'm a big fan of myfitnesspal.com. it is free, big plus. It is s tool that keys you track what you are eating and how much exercise you are getting and then calculates how long it will take you to get to your goal weight. You have to set up an account and enter some information about yourself like height, weight gender, etc but setup is easy. I found it to be a really helpful tool to help me make better choices.
  • “One more thing I have done in the past is wear a fit bit, which definitely encouraged me to walk more. I have also gotten off an extra express stop away to add in down walking time.”
  • “Also, the Nike Training app has good workouts of varying difficulty and durations starting at 15 min.”

 

Change your diet

  • Try a weight loss program like Weight Watchers or Atkins
    • “I used Weight Watchers after the birth of both my kids and found it very helpful/practical. Although counting points is a pain, I found that I quickly discovered a handful of breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner options that I knew approx how many points they were. So, as long as I ate rotated those same things, I lost and then maintained weight. That might not be for all people, but I was perfectly happy having enough variety, but also being able to track without having to calculate points with every single meal. The other thing that I like about WW is that it doesn't judge the food. No food is off limits. You can eat a burger and fries (and sometimes I did) or ice cream, you just have to eat fewer points at another meal that day or week.  Finally, I feel like I've been able to maintain my weight loss (plus/minus a few pounds here or there now and PSP words of wisdom: again) without having to stay on the program. Like I said, I know what are things I can eat and maintain my weight.”
    • “I used WW to drop 40lbs after I had 2 kids in 13 months and then a year of chemotherapy and steroids. I love WW! I never went to a meeting, I just downloaded the app which makes it super easy! Like the previous poster, I quickly figured out a few breakfast, lunch, and dinner options (mostly from www.skinnytaste.com who post points with every recipe) and just rotated the meals. I found it very easy, with tons of variety. I also want to point out that I did not exercise OR count my coffee or wine ( I still had to feel human and not like I was in total deprivation bc that would not have been sustainable for me) I still loosely follow their points system and have been able to maintain my weight easily for the last 3 years. If I ever feel like I've fallen off (usually after the holidays) then I just and super accountable with my pints for the month after and get quickly back on track.”
    • “I can't tell you about losing weight after 2 years.  But I lost over 40lbs after 7 years following the Atkins plan.  I was motivated by my fathers open heart surgery following years of steadily increasing weight (him).  I read "how we get fat and what we can do about it", then bought the new Atkins book.  I found the first couple of weeks tricky.  After that I was fine and the pounds melted off without me feeling hungry.  I've kept the weight off over a winter (which is when I previously piled on the pounds) and am maintaining my new eating plan in the midst of an international move.  I also feel more in control of my body and no longer have energy dips in the afternoon.  I feel so thankful for this program because for years I felt discouraged about my body, but didn't know what to do.” 
  • Reconsider what your eating choices:
    • “I noticed that I wasn't paying attention to my eating habits AT ALL and just would tell myself "I'm breastfeeding so I'm more hungry".  I had to stop doing that and focus on eating well.  Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments, but for the most part, I try to not eat poorly or over eat.” 
    • "My husband just lost 20 pounds in the past two months by eating more fruits and vegetables and legumes, etc...cutting out most meat and carbs.”
  • Make dietary changes sustainable
    •  “I would like to add to the conversation. I have researched just about every diet out there and in my teens and twenties tried many diets myself. The important thing about wanting to lose weight or simply be healthier is to make changes that you can sustain for your life time. We work hard in our house to instill in our daughter (almost 9 years old) to eat everything, especially sweets and fried foods, in moderation. They key for us to make it a family affair, this way we can be supportive to each other. My daughter tried a kale, pear and banana Nutribullit drink this morning with me. I am proud of her.
  • Give it time
    • “Re; the motivation to give up the MUCH LOVED foods. It's amazing how motivating 'finally feeling good' can be.  Even more surprising is the fact that when you restrict certain foods, you expand your food variety. It sounds odd, but you begin to be creative when you can't eat cheese, cookies, biscotti, etc.. AND, your taste preferences actually change when you eliminate/reduce sugar, yeast, gluten, etc. etc.  Your body re-balances itself and you begin to crave other things. I remember CRAVING broccoli just a couple of weeks after I went no sugar/no yeast/no gluten. And now I love and crave things I just 'sort of liked' before, like onions, green peppers, lemon, olives, pickles, spinach, oil and vinegar.  I believe it's because my body went from being acidic to more alkaline. Whatever the reason, I know I want to eat many foods that I used to think I SHOULD eat.”
  • Cut out processed carbs and sugar
    • “As gimmicky as "Dukan Diet" and eating "Paleo" diets might sound, I realized they are all kinda versions of low glycemic index/low carb diets which had worked well for me in the past. Sugar is an enormous trigger for me. I eat it and then I'm cranky, tired, and of course then I eat more to combat feeling lousy, and I never feel full or satisfied, so it makes it easy for me to overeat. The cycle also amplifies whatever garden variety anxieties I may have, and I am not above using food to try and quash those too. Even though all of the food in my cupboard had "organic!" ingredients, was "baked! not fried!", was "artisanal!", with "no HFCS!", the truth was I grazed on snacky foods and their "whole grain!" ingredients quite a bit while I was home with my infant son (who has just now turned 3!) and my weight went up.
    • "Eating low carb seems like it could be restrictive and boring, but I really think I've had more of a varied diet now than before I started. For one thing, I'm not coming home STARVING and shaky at the end of the day, so I have the patience to cook something. This time of year is great for roasting vegetables and meats. I hope all of you Park Slope carnivores are frequenting "Fleisher's" on 5th (www.fleishers.com) -- fantastic butcher shop with amazing meat, and open til 8pm (closed Monday). Also I look at the blog Kalyn's Kitchen http://www.kalynskitchen.com/ for recipe inspiration. She is all about the South beach Diet, but there are some good ideas there.”

 Have goals

  • “So, how do we keep our resolutions? I encourage my clients to do SMART goal setting: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  Instead of “this year, I’m going to lose 30 pounds” we break it down. How are they going to lose 30 pounds? Maybe it’s cutting back on soft drinks, exercising regularly and eating more veggies.  The resolution becomes those things, not the weight loss.  So, in SMART terms: “I’m goingt o limit myself to one soda a week, on Saturday afternoons, I’m going to Spinning class every Sunday at 10am and to yoga class every Wednesday at 6am and I’m going to have a salad with dinner three nights a week.”
    I’m a process person, so this works well for me.  Some people are product people and really only want to focus on the end result. Thirty pounds, gone.  So we still set SMART goals around the weight: “I will lose thirty pounds by July 4th.I will weigh myself Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and will lose 5 pounds by February 1st, another 5 by March 1st and fifteen total by April 1st.” The key is not to set yourself up for failure. Ambiguity, lack of accountability and setting an impossibly high bar don’t do us any good.  Does anyone have a plan of attack for 2013 they’re excited about?”

 

Wait on the weight loss:

  • "I didn't lose the last several pounds until we stopped nursing at 24 months. It seemed like a long time not to fit into my clothes (I wore maternity clothes for the entire first year of his life!), but looking back, it was so short, and I wouldn't trade any of those nursing sessions to have lost the weight earlier. This time around, I lost the initial weight more quickly (so it's not necessarily harder with the second!), but I think I've plateaued and it will probably be similar in that I'll have to live with an extra few pounds until we stop nursing. But again, it is 100% worth it to me, because I know how quickly this time passes.
    So, in the interest of taking my own advice: please, let's be gentle with ourselves. We are in the midst of an incredible transition, our bodies have done the truly phenomenal work of creating and feeding another human. They know what to do, and no amount of beating ourselves up (which we do in so many ways--from not eating when we're hungry to the little sigh of disgust when we look in the mirror) is going to trick them into losing the weight faster than they need to in order to keep us and our babes healthy.”
  • “I think our bodies deserve AT LEAST 40 weeks to recoup from changes that took 40 weeks to set in. In fact, start the clock at the end of the pregnancy YEAR, after the fourth trimester, to allow for the physiological, hormonal, and emotional transition from pregnancy.”

 

Remember:

  • Go easy on yourself until your baby sleeps through the night
  • -Don't be hard on yourself.
  •  Everyone is different 
    • “I just want to add, for anyone who feels like weeping and gnashing teeth when they see "calories-in; calories-out!", because they've tried and it hasn't worked, you are not crazy and it it not that simple for every single body.  Due to hormonal function, aging, other aspects of physiology, food and chemical sensitivities and the presence of chemical endocrine disrupters, medications, stress, trauma, other health conditions, and the fact that all calories are not created--or responded to--equal, some people will find that they can cut calories, hit the treadmill and not see major changes in their body or weight.  Do not despair, if your goal is to be as healthy as possible, you can still reach your goal- you may need to do a little more investigating and trial and error to see what's actually going on with you and your body, what you really need, and what works best.  Also, you may need to recalibrate your goals and timeline. Find doctors with experience in endocrine health and treating weight loss resistance, as well as practitioners with experience in nutrition and weight loss resistance.  Try a food elimination diet to see if certain foods are creating weight gain/weigh loss resistance.  Remember calories do count- just what that looks like may be different for each of us.  And accept that it may take a while to figure out the best diet and a healthy, effective weight loss path for you and that it might not look like every one else's.  Oh and if you think it will help, connect with others who can support you while you figure this out-- even online forums can be a great source for this.”

 

Post-partum specific tips:

  • Wait until you are healed; be patient and kind on yourself
    • From a personal trainer: "Speaking from both personal and professional experience here: my rule is to wait until your lochia (post partum bleeding) has stopped for a week before returning to exercise. That's usually 4-6 weeks. Then another 10 weeks before returning to high impact work like running and jumping so your pelvic floor has adequate time to recover. You also want to check for diastasis recti before returning to core work (see how: https://youtu.be/uzIrt82maws). With my first, I did a lot of mom/baby classes at the Y until she was old enough to go to child watch. With my second, we've mostly been doing long walks together and I hit the gym on my own when I have a sitter or they're with their dad. Or I work out at home while she's napping with a Fitness Blender workout or the 7 Minute Workout. Fitness is totally different with little ones! Be kind and patient with yourself and remember it's all temporary."
    • "Make sure you are healed first and your pelvic floor is back to normal. I am 17 weeks pp and just now lifting again!  You also don't know what kind of delivery you will have (stitches , csection) so don't set a date just go with the flow.  I also found that I always had to hire a sitter when I wanted to go to the gym during the day while on leave and that can get expensive. Most gyms sitter services start when baby is 6months."
    • "As far as recovery, I jumped right back in at six weeks with running after a C-Section. I "felt fine," but I wish I had taken it slower, especially because of the surgery. I just wasn't aware of all the hidden complications that can arise postpartum, from an unstable uterus to a tight/loose pelvic floor, to adhesion formation after surgery. As a result, I landed in prolonged PT when my son was 18 months old. I would highly recommend a consultation with a Pelvic Floor PT as you return to exercise just to check your body. I've also done Arvigo Massage at Slope Wellness and that has done so much to help me regain stability in workouts."
    • "My experience of c section recovery was that it was very quick. I danced (ballet) all the way through my pregnancy and was back at class as soon as I got the 6 week all clear. The only problem I had was the tiredness, I can't remember feeling any pains from the scar. My dr told me to wait for six weeks before exercising but I did yoga (from online videos) and ran before then. I had so many people beforehand tell me horror stories about c section recovery so I was very pleasantly surprised. Hopefully you have an easy experience too."
  • Run with a stroller
    • "If you can run with a stroller - running with a stroller at that 5/6 month mark is gonna be priceless!! This mark is simply because of head control and and the running stroller movement. A wait (I think there may be other models that may allow it sooner) but this will be so helpful."
  • Get a stationary bike for home
    • "To supplement running in the beginning whether you do that with help of husband or sitter, I recommend considering a stationary bike at home. This is great in the beginning and wonderful either fitting in early am / pm workouts or workouts during nap time."
  • Find some books to guide you
    • "During my last pregnancy but more so during this pregnancy I've been using the book 'The Pregnant Athlete' by Brandi and Steven Dion. I use it mainly for the conditioning and strength exercises. I find it a great guide to modification but also pushing yourself a little bit. She also has postpartum recommendations."

 

Resources & Further Reading:

PSP member recommendations for PERSONAL TRAINERS

PSP member recommendations for GYMS

PSP member recommendations for NUTRITIONISTS

Words of wisdom from the real "I don't know how she does it" PSP Moms

 

Last laugh:

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