Read an Excerpt
Get Your Body Back
PART ONETHE INGREDIENTS OF WEIGHT LOSS AND FITNESSCHAPTER 1THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE GET YOUR BODY BACK PROGRAMPerhaps you've tried other diet/exercise programs to take off your baby weight. Or at least you've gone as far as buying the books, watching the television shows, checking out the advice on the Internet. But you haven't been able to stay with any of the plans.Well, who can blame you? If your baby is still waking up many times a night, you're so tired that you can barely think straight. Your hormones are fluctuating and your body is recovering in other ways. You're getting used to the emotional realities of motherhoodthe incredible highs and lows that one tiny innocent baby can create throughout the course of a day (and night).Maybe you're marooned at home with a fridge full of tempting food. Or you're stressed out from juggling work and parenthood. You don't have the freedom to relax in the ways you used to enjoy and food is a quick fix, the only indulgence available.In addition, there's a physiological challenge. During pregnancy, high estrogen levels signal the cells to store fat instead of releasing it. The cells can stay programmed to store fat throughout the breast-feeding period and beyond. From a survival standpoint, it makes sense for a woman's body to store calories for nursing, in case of famine. But with today's cultural pressure to be thin, along with our knowledge of the health benefits of maintaining a moderate body weight, it can be a problem.It's always hard to stay with a nutrition and exercise program.But the first year or two of motherhood is the most difficult time. That's why the Get Your Body Back Program strives to make it as easy and safe as possible. The meal plan is not revolutionary. It uses time-tested principles of healthy eating. The workouts do not demand that you "go for the burn" or reach new heights of aerobic intensity. Best of all, they do not even require that you have a baby-sitter or relative on call. Your baby can be right there with you when you exercise. Plus, the program addresses the emotional aspects of eating, and provides better ways than bingeing to relieve stress and get satisfaction.This is not the only nutrition and exercise program that will work for you. If you have the time and perseverance, there are many plans that might work. But the Get Your Body Back Program may be the one you find easiest to follow at this point in your life. The difference is that this plan is baby-friendly. It acknowledges reality: You have very little time for yourself and limited attention and energy. Your baby is always on your mind. You need a plan that matches the reality of this special time.THE BASICS OF THE HEALTHY EATING LIGHT PLAN (HELP) FOR MOMSThere are four basic HELP rules for weight loss.RULE #1: EAT EARLYMost Americans eat about 70 percent of their calories in the evening. No wonder there's an epidemic of obesity!Your metabolism is much faster in the morning and afternoon, and dramatically slows down about twelve hours after you wake up.The later you eat, the more likely calories are to be stored as fat, instead of burned. In essence, anything you eat at night is twice as fattening. For optimal weight loss and maintenance, the goal is to finish eating by 6:30 P.M. You can also opt to save your dessert and have it later in the evening. If you're breast-feeding, have a snack around 8 P.M.RULE #2: EAT LESS, BUT MORE FREQUENTLYStarving yourself as a diet strategy always backfires. It will make you short-tempered and low on energy. In addition, you're more likely to go off your diet and overeat if you've been depriving yourself. And if you're breast-feeding or caring for a baby, it's not fair to either of you.The meals in this program are designed to ensure that you are never hungry. They provides three modest meals and two snacks or "mini-meals," spaced throughout the day at two to three hour intervals. The first meal should come no more than one half hour after you wake up so you won't start the day hungry. The five meals add up to a daily calorie count of 1500 to 1600 calories. Breastfeeding moms will add 150 to 500 calories of high-protein, high-calcium bonus foods (the caloric amount depends on whether you're breast-feeding full-time or just once or twice day).The key to eating frequently without gaining weight is to control your portions. The meal plans will leave you satisfied, not stuffed.RULE #3: EAT LOW-FAT FOODSIt's hardly surprisinghigh fat foods are most likely to become stored as fat in your fat cells. Fat is also a relatively inefficientenergy source for your body. Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for most of your cells. Protein is the optimal building block of muscle cells.A diet that provides a balance of carbohydrates and protein will allow you to gain strength and energy as you lose fat. You're going to need all the energy you can get to keep up with that little baby, especially when he starts crawling, walking, and running in quick succession. You'll both be better off if you limit the amount of fat you consume.The meal plans in this book are low in fat and high in nutritional value. They emphasize protein and complex carbohydrates, whichcontrary to popular beliefare not fattening if eaten in controlled portions without high-fat condiments.RULE #4: DRINK LOTS OF WATERIn the quest for a magic diet trick, people will try almost any type of cream, pill, or potion. But in fact, there is only one diet elixir that really workswater. Water curbs your appetite, breaks down fat, flushes out toxins, and performs a host of other miracles.Very often, we think we're hungry when we're really thirsty. Consuming lots of fresh, filtered water will help you stay in control of your appetite. This is especially true during lactation, when a woman's ravenous appetite is often a symptom of dehydration. Nursing mothers need plenty of water for rehydration, as well as optimal milk production.During the three months of the plan, you'll be drinking water all day long. Eight glasses for nonnursing women and ten glasses for breast-feeding mothers is recommended. It will become second nature to sip a bottle of water at the playground, take a water bottlealong on play dates, and keep a frequently refilled glass on your desk at work.THE WORKABLE WORKOUTSWhenever I was tired, stressed, or depressed during Belinda's babyhood, my sister Janette, an incredibly fit woman (with no children), would tell me to take an aerobic exercise class. Spin classes, kick boxing, aerobic salsa dancing ... Janette was always running out to these classes, which kept her spirits up and her clothing size down.It all sounded greatbut I never went. Since my husband is a freelance cameraman/producer, I never knew when he'd be home from work and able to watch the baby. When he was available, I usually felt frantic to catch up on laundry and writing, or to succumb to the ever-present urge to nap. Belinda was too young to be left with a strange baby-sitter at a health club. And it was too extravagant and complicated to get a sitter so I could dash to class. I knew that the only way I was going to exercise was if I could do it with Belinda. And that's the premise of the Workable Workouts.It's great if you can find baby-sitting coverage and go out to an exercise class or gym on a regular basis. If you have this luxury, you're probably doing it already. But if you're like the vast majority of new moms, with limitations on free time and disposable income, you're better off learning to exercise with your baby. Then you'll actually find the time to do it.Another benefit of the Workable Workouts is flexibility. You can do these workouts at any time that's convenient for you and your baby. This is crucial, since babies have a way of throwing a monkey wrench into schedules and appointments.I remember visiting one of my baby club friends when her son was six months old. She had gathered exercise schedules from four different dance schools, gyms, and yoga centers and pinned them neatly to her bulletin board. When I complimented her efficiency, she said, "Oh, I've had the schedules for three months now and I haven't gone to one single class. Something always comes up."Unless you're one of the lucky few with a live-in nanny or local grandmother, you may not have much freedom in baby's first year or two. But you can still enjoy many different workouts:• Outdoor fitness walking, the number-one exercise for new moms• Strength-building and stretching exercises you can do at home• Dancing around your living room• Indoor treadmill• Exercise videotapesAerobic exercise will help you control your weight by using excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat, and by speeding up your metabolism. Establishing exercise as a healthy habit will also enable you to keep your figure after the three months of the Get Your Body Back Program. Many studies have shown that people who combine regular exercise with a moderate reduction in fat and caloric intake are the mostly likely to maintain weight loss.In fact, if you reduce calories and fat intake without exercise, there's a risk that your body will react as if it is starving and reduce the number of calories it burns. This will make it easier to regain weight in the future.If you lose weight through dieting alone, 25 to 50 percent ofthe weight lost is muscle tissue, not fat. Then if you continue to be sedentary and regain the weight, all of the regained pounds are fat and your resting metabolism falls. This makes it harder to stay trim as you age, and with each subsequent baby you carry. A vigorous exercise program will let you avoid this all-too-common syndrome.Another benefit of the Workable Workouts is that they promote flexibility and help prevent back and neck pain, the bane of many new mothers. Holding that wonderfully chubby baby, bending over the changing table, feeding, and nursing, all wreak havoc on a mother's spine. Flexibility exercises and movement will let you realign and recover.There's also a strong psychological component to the Workable Workouts. Aerobic exercise influences the production of brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and endorphin that affect mood. Research also suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin becomes more readily available in the brain with systematic physical activity. The workouts will reduce your stress level, strengthen your resolve to stay on the diet plan, and alleviate the "baby blues."If you suffer from postpartum depression, exercise can be an important element in your recovery. Researchers are finding that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in reducing symptoms of depression, and have a faster effect. In addition, people who exercise regularly have a lower rate of relapse of depression.There's another advantage. Exercising will provide you with more energy to keep up with your baby. When you exercise aerobically, you burn oxygen at a faster rate. In turn, your body becomes more effective at producing and storing energy. You'll be less tempted to eat sweets for a quick spurt of energy and better able to maintain a steady level of stamina.During the program you'll learn how to structure your workouts so that they produce noticeable toning and strengthening results,speed up your metabolism, elevate your energy, and boost your self-esteem. Plus, you'll be entertaining your baby and passing the time happily, since babies love to watch people moving. And before too long, the little one will be keeping up with you and then some!MOMMY CAREWhen a woman has a baby she often forgets about pleasing herself. Everything revolves around the baby's health, happiness, and needs. To some extent, this is natural, necessary, and admirable. But you have to devote just a tiny bit of time and effort to doing something for yourself. Otherwise, resentment arid frustration can build upand often your only outlet becomes overeating.The Mommy Care component of the program offers a structure for giving yourself a little pampering and pleasure. Each month, activities are suggested that can reduce your tension and improve your mood. These ideas are purposefully designed to be neither expensive nor time-consuming. They are simple ways to give your spirit and energy a lift, realistic for a busy mommy.In Europe, many wealthy women go to a hydrotherapy spa for a week or two a few months after giving birth. They relax in beautiful surroundings, tone their bodies in exercise classes, have the tension kneaded away by masseurs, rejuvenate their skin with seaweed wraps, and savor light cuisine. Doesn't that sound divine? Unless you're a member of the jet set, however, this may not be an option. You're lucky if you have time to wash your hair, let alone go to a spa resort and bake in a mud bath.Well, there is a middle ground between the luck of the leisure class and the relentless demands that most new mothers face. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. Giving yourself brief breaks can make a big difference in your mood and self-image.You are more than a metabolism, a collection of fat cells and muscle tissue. Your mental/emotional state has a tremendous influence on how you eat and how well equipped you will be to follow the diet in this book, or any good advice for that matter. Attention to the emotional demands of motherhood is essential for success. A little self-indulgence in a long, busy week of babycare will do both you and your whole family a world of good.GET YOUR BODY BACK. Copyright © 2002 by Anita Weil Bell. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.