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Postpartum Weight Loss Tips

Becoming a new mom can be one of the most exciting and change-filled times in your life. Oftentimes, these changes may temporariy derail your healthy habits. Even if your new bundle of joy has put your healthy lifestyle on the backburner, don't worry — there are plenty of ways to bounce back.

Sleep deprivation, too much TV, missing out on regular walks and eating unhealthily makes it difficult for you to lose the weight gained during your pregnancy, even a year after having your baby. In order not to retain the "baby weight" that you gained, recent studies recommend limiting television to less than two hours each day, eating a diet low in trans-fat, walking for at least 30 minutes each day and getting at least eight hours of sleep every night.

These healthy behaviors can also help you prevent obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

By using the following food, body and mind tips to get back on track with your healthy eating and activity habits, you can get back to your pre-pregnancy weight in no time:

FOOD: Focus on Healthy Eating

For months now, you've been eating a little extra to support a growing baby — which is a good thing! During your transition from pregnancy to motherhood, you may feel exhausted, stressed, or emotionally drained, and these feelings can be increased if you aren't eating well. Be sure to eat a variety of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and nonfat dairy products throughout the day. Avoid crash diets or restrictive eating plans that may deprive your body of important nutrients. Instead, focus on eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks.

If you are breastfeeding, you still need to be eating extra calories to support your body and to produce breast milk. While you are nursing, the needs for most nutrients increase so it is essential that you eat a healthy diet including a variety of nutrient-rich foods. It is equally important to stay hydrated in order to maintain an adequate milk supply – so drink plenty of water, non-fat milk and occasionally 100% fruit juice. Chances are, you are going to have your hands full with a new baby, so to make things easy, keep plenty of one-handed healthy snacks around. Items like fresh fruit, sliced and pre-washed veggies, cheese sticks, single-serving size packages of nuts and whole-wheat crackers for eating on the go are great for new moms. Remember to sip on liquids and eat snacks while you nurse to help keep yourself energized throughout the day.

BODY: Get Your Muscles Moving...But Slowly!

Be sure to talk with your medical provider before starting any activity plan. When it comes to postpartum exercise, slow and steady is best. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that postpartum women gradually return to their pre-pregnancy activities. Some ideas to get moving include taking your baby on short walks around the neighborhood or at a nearby park, enrolling in a local "mommy-and-me" fitness class or using a workout or yoga DVD while your baby is napping. To add resistance to your workouts and help to restore muscle tone, use a light set of hand weights or dumbbells.

The key is to set simple activity goals, and plan activities that you enjoy so you won't get bored or discouraged. Always include time to warm up and cool down before and after any physical activity. If you can't find time for thirty minutes of consistent activity, break up your activity into three 10-minute bouts. There are numerous benefits to exercising after pregnancy. Not only can it help with weight loss, but it can also help to improve your mood, lower your stress level, help you feel better and give you more energy.

MIND: Give Yourself a Break, "Super Mom"

In taking care of your new baby, your partner, kids or other family members, keep in mind that you still need to take care of yourself! For new moms, it can be all too easy to fall into a "self-sacrificer" mindset. If you find yourself continually putting your own needs on the backburner to take care of others, you may be in this mindset.

These behaviors can lead to extra stress and fatigue, which in turn may lead to overeating and decreased energy. You don't want to let the stress of a new baby turn food into a comfort or escape. Remember that your family needs you, but you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first.

If you find that you need extra support, enlist the help of friends and family members. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and learn to recognize when you're feeling stressed or pressured. When you start to feel overwhelmed, get some fresh air and breathe deeply, take time to stretch or go for a quick walk. Set aside a few minutes each day for yourself and make yourself a priority – whether it is to read a book or magazine, take a nap or enjoy a bubble bath. It doesn't take much to recharge your batteries and remember - you're definitely worth it.

Get Help or Do It Alone?

Since everyone is different, the best way to lose weight is to find a program that you will follow. In a recent study comparing new moms enrolled in a treatment program for weight loss using diet and physical activity to new moms who tried to lose weight on their own, those in the structured program were more likely to lose weight. If you are a new mom and want to learn more about losing weight, Jenny Craig can help personalize a plan to meet your needs. Once you are six weeks postpartum, even if you are breastfeeding , you are eligible to enroll on the Jenny Craig Program with your physician's approval.