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Categories > Exercise and Fitness > Benefits of exercise

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Back to shape, baby!

» A healthy diet

» An active lifestyle

» Peace of mind

For breastfeeding mothers

If you are nursing your newborn, you need about 500 calories more a day now than you did before you became pregnant. Needless to say, you’ll have to wait until your baby is weaned before you can focus on shedding excess weight.

In the meantime, concentrate on providing yourself and baby with the best possible nourishment, just as you did while you were pregnant. Good food choices include high-protein foods like lean meats, skinless poultry, fish and legumes. Remember, too, to include plenty of calcium in your diet and to drink water throughout the day to keep well hydrated. Physical activity, of course, is recommended as long as you feel up to it.

“When are you due?” This is the last question you want to hear two months after giving birth. Losing weight is hard enough, much less having to do it while taking care of a newborn.

Women usually gain about 30 pounds during their pregnancy. While some go back to their old shape almost immediately, many are stuck with a few extra pounds that can be bad for their health—and their frame of mind.

If you’re about to give birth, you’ll be happy to hear that the first 10 pounds will come off before you even leave the hospital. Within the next six weeks, expect to lose another 10 pounds as your body returns to its nonpregnant state. The last 10 pounds can be stubborn, but with a little work you can lose them for good.

A healthy diet

Eating right will help keep your energy levels up and frustration levels low—a big payoff when you’ve got an infant to take care of.

Make it easy on yourself by buying precut or frozen vegetables and quick-cooking grains, like couscous. When you do have time to cook, make more than you need and freeze leftovers; pop them in the microwave for a quick meal. Ask family members to pick up some groceries for you when they come over to visit. If you have Internet access, try doing your grocery shopping online.

An active lifestyle

With a new baby in your life, changing diapers may seem like the only physical activity you can fit into your schedule. But as long as your obstetrician says it’s okay, taking even two 10-minute breaks a day to go for a walk or to do some stretching will do wonders for your sanity—and your waistline. Invest in a stroller designed especially for active parents, and you’ll be able to share this time with your baby.

When baby naps, take the opportunity to do some leg lifts and abdominal crunches (do not do full sit-ups, double leg lifts or knee-to-chest exercises during the six-week postpartum period). Consider enrolling in a postpartum exercise class, where you will also meet other new moms.

Peace of mind

Don’t feel guilty about taking time out of mothering to take care of yourself. Your well-being and self-image affect your kids. If they are raised in an environment that makes healthy living a priority, they will be more likely to adopt a similar lifestyle.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media