If you’ve ever found yourself resenting celebrities that seem to lose baby weight after mere weeks of giving birth while yours still clings on to your hips years after the fact, you’re not alone. Lack of sleep, busy schedules, and the feasibility of actually getting to a gym can make a workout seem like a luxury. Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t like to exercise and having kids offers a semi-acceptable excuse not to do it. But if you want to like fitness and actually engage in it, here are a few ways to incorporate exercise and nutritious meals into your life.

Losing weight doesn’t happen by accident. It requires deliberate and well-planned actions. As soon as you let up on those efforts is when the weight creeps back on. If you fail to plan, you are essentially planning to fail. What this means is that you must plan out what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks should be brought with you in your bag. You pack snacks for your kids, so why shouldn’t you care for yourself in the same way? Most importantly, your kids’ leftovers should not be included in this plan or consumed.

Write down what you eat. If you want to keep track of calories, I recommend the MyFitnessPal smartphone app. Even if you don’t want to count calories, jotting down your meals in a journal is extremely beneficial when it comes to shedding pounds. Measure out proteins and calorie-dense foods like chicken, beef, peanut butter, nuts, and especially frozen yogurt or ice cream if you must.

When it comes to fitness, aim to get at least 120 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week, although 180 would be best. Walking by itself won’t tap into the weight loss side effects of exercise unless it’s on an incline at a brisk pace at the gym. Invest in a running stroller so you can multitask, and alternate between two minutes of walking and two minutes of jogging when using it.

One of my favorite ways for new moms to fit in a workout is to do it while the baby is napping. Physique57.com has a library of challenging 30- minute workouts that you can rent. Most programs do not require any equipment at all, and they are just as hard as the in- studio versions. YouTube is also a great resource for free exercise videos. My channel, SarahsFabChannel, provides 10-to-15- minute, follow-along workouts that can help target certain areas like your belly post baby. New York City gals Rebekah Borucki and Tara Stiles offer great yoga videos on their channels. Tone It Up and Blogilates will also leave your muscles shaking. If you have enjoyed boutique studio classes, make them a regular part of your week as a date with a girlfriend. These classes are more fun than work when they become a social hour. Plus, reserving a class spot online and facing a potential cancellation fee will ensure you get your butt to the gym.

Just as you will plan for meals, you should also schedule your workouts. Allow yourself cheat meals but not days. If you succumb to a sugar craving, get back on track with your next meal or workout. These little tips and tricks can add up to big, positive changes over time.

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Travel, September 2015
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