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Winning at Post-Partum Weight Loss: Six Simple Strategies for New Moms ? Part 1

A healthy pregnancy almost always involves weight gain. But now that baby's here, you're probably wishing those extra pounds would hurry up and disappear! While it won't happen overnight, these six simple tips can help you lose that extra weight in a healthy way. (If you're looking for parts 2 and 3 of this article, you can find them both at http:// www.mambomoms.com/articles.html)

1) Try to relax and don't be in too much of a hurry to lose your extra pregnancy weight. Remember, it took 9 months for you to put it on, and you should give yourself at least half that amount of time to take it back off. In fact, eight to 12 months is not an unreasonable amount of time to give yourself. And even if it does take a year to get back to your pre- pregnancy size and shape, those pounds are all the more likely to stay off because you've lost them gradually.

You definitely should not be thinking about weight loss at all in the early post-partum weeks. Your body needs this time to recover from giving birth, readjust to its pre-pregnancy state, and establish a milk supply for your baby. Besides, most new moms find that a fair amount of weight tends to melt off all by itself in these first few weeks as excess fluids retained in late pregnancy are gradually shed.

Remember that gradual weight loss based on sensible nutrition and enjoyable physical activity is the best path to permanent weight loss. This applies whether or not weight gain is due to pregnancy, but when you are dealing with all the changes and adjustments that come with having a new baby, it's all the more important to take a slow and steady approach so you don't add to your stress level.

And speaking of stress, recent research shows that when you're stressed, your body releases hormones that can contribute to weight gain. So try not to add to your stress level at this time by putting unreasonable pressure on yourself to lose that extra weight too fast. Instead, take a long term approach and be sure to incorporate some kind of relaxation into your day, whether it's having a nap, a warm bath, or receiving a relaxing back massage.

2) Eat well and nourish yourself with healthy foods so you'll have the energy you need to care for yourself and your baby. If you restrict your calories you'll probably get tired, cranky, and lose energy, making you less apt to exercise and less able to take good care of your baby.

Cutting back too much on your caloric intake can also sabotage your weight loss efforts by forcing your body into "starvation mode." When your body isn't getting enough fuel, it becomes much more efficient at using what you do give it, so that over time you will actually gain weight rather than lose it. You are much better off to eat well and get regular, moderate exercise to help shed those extra pounds.

Remember though, that there is a big difference between eating and eating well! If you eat nourishing foods you will probably feel full sooner and you will likely need fewer calories than if you eat "empty calorie" foods like white bread and french fries. Eat a variety of healthy foods, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and make sure you are getting a proper balance of the major nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats). You may want to talk to your doctor or midwife about continuing to take your pre-natal multivitamin, or other supplements, at least during the immediate post-partum period.

Snacking is something you'll probably want to do a lot of, either because you may not always have time to prepare a meal, or because the demands of caring for a new baby mean you get hungry more often.

Here are a few ideas for good, nutrient-dense choices for snack foods:

? apple slices spread with low fat cream cheese and sprinkled with crushed walnuts

? yogurt with chopped fresh fruit and nuts

? whole grain toast with nut butter

? cheese with whole grain crackers or rice cakes

? tomato or mixed vegetable juice with a hard boiled egg

On the other hand, try not to overdo it. Being pregnant or nursing a baby is not a license to indulge in a non-stop buffet of foods, even if they are nutritious! Eat when you are hungry, make healthy food choices most of the time, and remember that your baby is counting on you to choose wisely if you're breastfeeding, so make those calories count nutrient- wise.

In part two of this article, you'll learn why drinking plenty of pure water is important to weight loss in general, and to post-partum weight loss in particular. You'll also find out how many calories a day you'll use by breastfeeding your baby. Part three will teach you how you can burn extra calories easily and enjoyably without huffing and puffing at the gym. You'll also learn the secret that savvy new moms use to effortlessly burn up to an extra 200 calories a day -that's 2 pounds a month with no extra effort!

Susan Peach is a retired La Leche League Leader, a dance and fitness instructor, and mother to two teenage boys. She is also the creator of Mambo Moms, a fun and gentle Latin dance based fitness program that helps new moms get back in shape while spending quality play time with their babies. Find out more at http://www.mambomoms.com

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