Just when we thought it was safe to reclaim our post-baby bodies, the holidays loom and threaten, not only to keep the baby weight in place, but perhaps even add to it. If that doesn’t inspire a “bah humbug,” nothing will.
Top that off (like a dollop of whipped cream!) with the idea that Mother Nature has programmed us over the eons to crave fatty, sugary foods when the weather turns cold—well, it’s a recipe for dietary disaster.
It’s not all bad, though. In fact, consider the holidays our very own fitness coach; they can give us a head start on maintaining basic healthy habits year-round. Family life is beyond busy, banishing forever (okay, at least for a decade or so) the lazy Saturday afternoon for hitting the gym. That’s why it’s important to make healthy habits part of daily life with babies.
DivineCaroline’s holiday gift to you: seven tips to ensure that the only holiday fluff still hanging around after the New Year is what’s inside the new stuffed animals.
1. Indulge … but just a little.
Telling ourselves “no cookies!” is a great way to turn the most even-keeled mom into the Cookie Monster first, and then into Oscar the Grouch. To the extent you can, plan the day—know where the sugary pitfalls will be—and then plan a mini-indulgence each day. Just knowing that a small slice of pie is allowed after dinner makes it easier to pass on sweets earlier in the day.
2. A backslide isn’t a complete derailment.
We’ve all done it: one too many cookies and we figure, “Well, I may as well eat the remaining dozen.” Rather than letting a minor transgression derail you completely, just begin again. Realize that you went overboard once and use it as a reminder to choose better next time. Easier said than done, but with practice, it becomes second nature.
3. Log it.
There’s no need to count every calorie, but it can help to chart your progress with a brief food log. The simplest form notes only the date, the food, and the amount consumed. Moms with stronger Type-A tendencies might also include the time of day and the emotions surrounding the meal. The idea here is twofold: first, to show ourselves that we’re really not wolfing down entire cakes each day; and second, to bring more awareness to what we are eating. Knowing that it will show up in writing—even if our eyes alone see the log—often puts a craving in check.
4. Our bodies have become someone else’s temple.
Breastfeeding moms have extra incentive to eat wisely: keeping breast milk as nutritious as possible. Even if the baby gets everything she needs, pouring all those nutrients into the milk sometimes causes our own bodies to be deficient. If we aren’t well-nourished, we can’t be our best for our kids.
5. Think outside the gym …
It doesn’t have to happen at a gym to be exercise! Anyone who’s ever vacuumed the entire house in five minutes because the highbrow neighbors were coming over knows this to be true. Incremental exercise is the name of the game—whatever the activity, make it just a bit tougher. Carrying groceries? Lift them five times when you pick them up, five times before setting them down. Break out the rake instead of the leaf blower. When getting up from the couch, lift your hips just a few inches from the cushion and hold the position ten seconds. Power-shop: don’t just walk through the mall, stride long and fast. Little bits of exercise add up over the course of a day and a week. Consider logging your activity alongside your food intake, then review at week’s end for a real boost!
6. Get Baby in on the action.
Playtime for kids can be workout time for mamas. Picking up Baby? Bend the knees deeply to scoop her up, and do five more knee bends—she’ll love it! By the same token, older kids are thrilled when Mom joins in the game. Toddlers and even crawlers can play hide-and-seek or a version of tag. With a young baby, become his favorite jumping toy by hiding behind a chair and leaping out with a funny grin. (Really leap—it’s great for the legs and core!) Get out and walk with your stroller; recruit other moms to join you and challenge them to a few mini-sprints of fifteen to thirty seconds each. Before long, you’ve racked up a serious calorie burn!
7. The icing on the cake.
All the strategies that work during the holiday craze can last through the rest of the year! Taking care of our bodies is no longer a self-centered goal—our well-being benefits another now, so it’s more important than ever. When we’re lacking motivation to do it for ourselves, we can just glance at those beautiful babies and know that staying fit is more important than how our jeans fit. Lucky for us, we can make exercise and healthy eating fit our lives.
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