Women’s Health…answers to some of your most personal questions!

Women’s health topics can sometimes be a little taboo…weight gain, periods, hot flashes, pelvic exams, and vaccines. Last month I was able to touch on all of these topics in an article that I wrote for Indy’s Child Magazine, Dayton Parent Magazine, and Cincinnati Parent Magazine. While each article includes insights from specialists local to that respective city, the main points remain the same. So, if you’re wondering how often you need a pap smear, if you are about to start menopause, if you really need a multivitamin, if vaccines matter, or if your inability to lose weight is normal…check out this link for some straight forward answers!

Indy’s Child May 2015 Top 5 Health Questions Women Wonder About

From,

mimmd_master-logo_300px

10 Easy Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Busy Life

Finding time for daily exercise is easier said than done. As women, our days are not just full, they are jam-packed and overflowing with things to accomplish. Often times, exercise falls to the bottom of our To Do List and then eventually off of the list all together. Our jobs, our kids, volunteering, our social lives all demand more than 100% of our attention and energy. Do we have the sweat equity it takes to fit in not just 30 minutes 3 days a week, but now more than 30 minutes five times a week??? (Yep, the recommendations have changed…making it even harder to live up to our body’s healthy lifestyle needs). If the answer is, “NO,” then what consequences might we face? And, what benefits might we be missing? Is it worth making some changes to ensure that exercise always gets a check on our To Do List? Woman Stretching

BENEFITS TO EXERCISE: 

Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and tension, thanks to the amazing little endorphins that our bodies release with exercise. Running, Pilates, yoga…all amazing ways to let off steam after a stressful day at work, an equally stressful day at home dealing with a challenging toddler, or a day filled with the stress and uncertainty of infertility. Exercise also helps control our weight, decreasing our risk for an ever-expanding waist line…aka muffin top. So, if you want to stay in your skinny jeans, routine exercise is the easiest way to prevent the bulge. If those aren’t reason enough, exercise is a tried and true way to improve heart health. The number one killer of women in the United States is heart disease according to the National Institute of Health. While a lot of that is due to genetics, a lot of it is also due to lifestyle. Poor diet and a lack of exercise are a perfect set up for an unhealthy heart. Routine exercise is what the doctor ordered! Speaking of that…Beautiful Woman Doing Breath Exercises With An Autumn Background

NEW EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS: 

The recommendations have changed. For years we heard 30 minutes 3 days a week. Now we know that at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate cardio (for example brisk walking) per week, plus full body strength training with weights, Pilates, TRX etc. at least 2 days a week are needed to stay healthy. If you are an intense exerciser (for example a runner) then you may be able to get away with only 75 minutes a week of intense cardio along with 2 days of strength training. If intervals are more your thing, mixing moderate and intense cardio along with strength training, you can get away with 2 days a week. Check out the updated CDC guidelines for more details.

The good news is that instead of needing a 30 minute stretch to make cardio count, the CDC is now pushing for a good 10 minute workout. It’s okay to break things up into small time chunks during the day as long as you are making them count with moderate to intense activity. Run the stairs. Take a brisk walk around your office or through the mall. Dance in the kitchen with your little one. It all adds up!

10 WAYS TO MAKE EXERCISE FIT INTO OUR BUSY LIVES: 

1. Make it #1 on your to do list

If you don’t put it at the top…it isn’t going to happen. Making exercise one of your top daily priorities automatically increases the likelihood that you are going to fit it into your day. When you create your “TO DO LIST” always give exercise first place.

2. Book it and keep the date-make it about you

Make a date with yourself and the gym! If you don’t value exercise, you won’t exercise. Think of exercise as a well deserved reward for your overworked mind and body instead of seeing it as an annoyance. Think of it as YOU TIME! It is a time when you can clear your mind, listen to music, meet other people, glisten with sweat and be proud of it, feel healthier, wear tight clothes and get away with it, and even get away from the kids! Mark your weekly schedule with your exercise time. It is an appointment. You don’t get to cancel. You don’t get to move it. You work around it just like you would other important events on the calendar.Woman Boxing At The Gym

3. Let yourself have a preference.

It’s okay to dislike some forms of exercise. I am the first to admit that I hate running! I don’t just dislike it. I actually hate it. I’ve tried to change my opinion…but, I still hate running. Do I hate exercise? Absolutely not. A brisk walk, Zumba, circuits, Pilates, and TRX are all my thing. It’s okay to have a preference. If I set a running date each week, it’s the first thing I’m gonna cancel. If I book a Pilates class, I’m much more likely not just to keep the appointment, I’m going to look forward to it. Try new things out and see what you enjoy. Liking what you are doing is half the battle.

4. Make it count

With our busy lives, we don’t have time to waste. We need our workouts to be efficient. One of the best ways to get our bang for our buck is to find full body workouts. Interval training is a great way to incorporate both cardio and strength training. Running is a great way to get intense cardio, decreasing the amount of time that we need to exercise each week. Pilates is a full body strength training option that efficiently tones muscles even when done in short segments. Give your full attention to whatever exercise you choose. 10 intense Pilates style push ups done slowly and correctly are always going to be more effective and efficient than 100 sloppy ones.Young woman practicing yoga in a urban background

5. Be competitive

It’s okay to let your competitive side out. Collaboration is a great thing, but when it comes to exercise, competing against yourself and others can push you to the next level. Joining a team sport may be a fun way to feed your competitive side while getting fit. While I’m not one for comparisons, eyeing the super fit lady next to you on the treadmill may keep you on there for an extra 5 minutes. Every minute counts!

6. Make it Social

Making exercise part of your social life is a great way to fit your workout in and look forward to it! Meet up with a friend for an afternoon walk or join a fitness class together. You can chat while you down dog, squat or stroll. If you have a little one, you can take them along if you have to. Secure them in the stroller with some music to keep them occupied while you and your friend catch up on the week. Walking play dates are a great way to get out of the house! Consider joining a gym that offers classes for you and child care or programs for your kids. Find one that a friend already goes to so that you can meet up during the day or after work.

7. Make it intentional…no excuses allowed

If you don’t decide that exercise deserves a #1 on your priority list…you are going to find every excuse in the book to get out of it. Instead, make intentional decisions that won’t set you up for failure. Keep a pair of gym shoes, work out clothes, and a towel in your car at all times as a back up. Having this stash will keep you on track if you “forget” your stuff one day and decide to head straight home instead of stopping at the gym. Set alerts on your phone to remind you of your exercise appointment. Mark it out on the family calendar as a mandatory responsibility. If you absolutely need to cancel your workout, figure out a way to fit it in on another day. The solution may be as simple as parking at the back of the parking lot or taking the stairs. Be willing to pay for a babysitter if you have to. It is money well spent.

Beautiful young woman making Yoga exercises on the beach

8. Make it recreational

You don’t have to go to the gym to get fit and you don’t have to walk on a home treadmill either! You can exercise without even feeling like you are exercising! For example, schedule a date with your partner to go ice skating. Take the kids to the pool with another adult and tread water while they play. Pick a fun event like, The Color Run, and sign up as a family or with a group of friends. Grab a bike and pedal along the shoreline (wishful thinking as I look out my snowy window!) Exercise is really just activity! Creating an active lifestyle is a much easier way to stay fit and healthy than trying to fit exercise into your life. Not only can it be fun, it instills the value of physical activity in your kids when they see you moving.

9. Make it easy

Don’t make it hard on yourself! If you can’t get to the gym, run the stairs in your house or apartment building. If it is freezing outside, don’t try to go for a run if you are totally out of shape! Head to the mall and do some brisk laps while window speed shopping. If you can’t get a baby sitter, put the baby in a stroller or carrier and go for a walk. If you spend half of your day standing in lines, take the time to do calf raises and butt squeezes. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get fit. You just have to get smart with the little opportunities that you do have. Stairs are free. Sidewalks are free. Mall Entry is free of charge. If you feel like exercise takes away from quality time with your kids…get active with them. Pull out a soccer ball or basketball and play a game with them. Grab your bikes and plan one evening each week as family bike riding time. Even if your little one is a toddler you can get a seat or pull behind option for them. You don’t have to get up a 4 am to fit exercise into your day. That will only leave you feeling irritable instead of recharged. Instead, use 10 minute windows to get your heart rate up. New recommendations show that even these short bursts of time are incredibly heart healthy!

10. Keep tabs on yourself

Everyone needs accountability to succeed. Sometimes all you have is self-accountability…and that’s okay. Check in with yourself each week. Make an intentional effort to write down your exercise activities and the amount of time that you spent doing them. Add it all up and see if you met your heart and lifestyle healthy goal. If not, try again the next week…just a little harder. Don’t beat yourself up. Change takes time. Lifestyle change takes a consistent 30 days to make it stick. If you can find a friend to keep you accountable as well, that’s even better!

While your daily life demands everything from you…your body also has some requirements. By exercising, eating healthy, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep you will be better equipped to keep up with your crazy schedule. Give your body and your health the attention that it needs. An active lifestyle is a great first step!

From,

mimmd_master-logo_300px

Smash the Scale: 5 Healthy Weight Loss Tips for Every Woman

Runner woman with heart rate monitor running on beach with watchAlthough many of you are fixated on a goal weight, fixating on this number may mean selling yourself short. Instead, aim to be in the best shape of your life. This shift in perspective from weight to shape can transform your lifestyle and boost your progress. I stopped staring at the scale and instead started to notice how my clothes fit. I started caring more about how strong I was rather than how skinny I was. I reminded myself that muscle weights more than fat but looks a heck of a lot better. (I’ll take toned arms and a tight butt any day over a dip in the scale.) Having the goal of being healthy and in shape is not only more attainable, but it will push you to remain healthy and to continue exercising long after you reach your weight goal. Here are a few ways to smash the scale and attain a healthy weight in the process!

1. You’ve Got to Move It…Move It!

Although many women struggle with getting excited about exercise, exercising has major perks. Exercise provides the perfect opportunity (and excuse) for you to focus on yourself for a few moments daily. Letting off steam through physical activity is therapeutic. And, although you may be physically exhausted before you hit the treadmill, the endorphins (feel good hormones) that your body releases during exercise will make you happier, energized, and healthier. Finding what type of exercise you like and getting addicted to it is another good way to stay in shape longterm. If Zumba is your thing, then swing those hips. If Pilates is more your style, then chatarunga and down dog away. The only way to find out what you might love is to try new things. Last week I gave Pure Barre a shot! This week was YoPI and TRX. Not only can trying new things be fun, it can also help you meet other women with similar interests and goals.Running sport fitness woman. Closeup of female legs and shoes in

2. Bring On the Tape Measure!Sporty Woman

I already mentioned that muscle weights more than fat, but it looks a lot better! Not only does it look better, muscle can be your best friend when it comes to shedding the pounds. Muscle burns three times more calories than fat, even when you are sitting still. By building muscle, you will increase your metabolism and firm up your shape. Once I started incorporating weight training into my workouts I started to notice that my body shape was changing. The scale wasn’t moving much, but my waistline was shrinking (evidenced by my loose pants and confirmed by the tape measure!) Women are often intimidated by weight training, but we are also mislead to think that building muscle means pumping large amounts of iron in the weight room surrounded by Hulk like men. Weight training also includes using your own body weight in exercises like Pilates, Yoga and TRX. If weight machines and free weights are your thing, go for it, but many women love the long lean muscles produced from classes that focus on using their own body weight instead.

3. Be the New Kid On the Block

Be willing to try new things! Don’t worry if you don’t know what you are doing in an exercise class. Everyone else is caring far more about themselves than they are about how you are performing. You are trying something new for YOU, not to impress a group of people you’ve never met. If you keep that in the front of your mind you will push yourself to try new things. These new things might just make the difference in helping you reach your fitness goals. So what if you look stupid in the Pilates or Zumba studio. A few months down the road you are going to look pretty hot in your skinny jeans! Besides, you might find a class you love and in which you will eventually excel. Keep everything in perspective.Determination

4. Don’t Starve Yourself!

Many women think that they have to cut out every calorie in order to lose weight. Fact is…YOU CAN EAT and still lose weight! Actually, you have to eat in order to lose fat. By starving yourself, your body simply holds onto the fat and gets rid of your hard-earned muscle. Eating enough food is a MUST for keeping your metabolism pumping. Try one of the calorie counters like My Fitness Pal that incorporates your exercise into the equation to track and see how many calories you should be consuming in a day. These calculators are great because they not only tell you how many calories, they also break down the number of calories from fat, sugar, carbohydrates etc. Getting the right calories from the right types of foods is incredibly important. 100 calories from a doughnut does not equal the nutrition of 100 calories from an avocado! Making sensible food choices will give you more energy and allow to see results more quickly.healthy middle aged woman doing fitness stretching outdoors

5. Compete with Yourself, but Don’t Compare with Others!

Remind yourself that your primary goal right now is to be healthy. Don’t expect more from your body shape than it can realistically give. As women, we come in all different shapes and sizes. Fact: My hips will never be a size zero. If my best friend has the hips of a pencil, great for her! Work with what you’ve got. Frustration from comparing can sabotage your success. Applaud other women and their bodies, and then give yourself a pat on the back for how your body is reshaping. You only need to compete against yourself. Push yourself to reach goals that seem out of reach. But while pushing, make sure to set a realistic timetable and to set some goals that you know you can reach. For example, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure by signing up for a 10K that’s only two weeks away if you aren’t yet able to walk a 5K without passing out.

Although you have already SMASHED the SCALE by now (just in case you are hiding one in your closet)…don’t aim for rapid weight loss! Not only is losing 15 pounds in a week unhealthy, it is CRAZY! Often people reporting this much weight loss are simply losing water weight and lean muscle instead of fat.  One to two pounds of weight loss a week is considered healthy. You can reach your weight goals; you just have to give it time!Girl Holding Hands In Heart Shape At Beach

Join me in a quest toward health! Exercise, eat healthy, try new things, and push yourself! SMASH the SCALE, and get your BEST BODY EVER in the process!

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

 

 

 

Lose Weight to Your Heart Beat!

Sporty WomanEveryone knows that cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of any weight loss program. In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise is great for keeping the pounds off long-term. One of the best ways to monitor your efforts is by paying attention to your heart rate. There are specific heart rate zones that are best for losing weight based on your age. The good news is that the target heart rate for weight loss is not all that high (meaning that walking may actually be a better option than running). If you are pushing yourself too hard too soon, your heart rate may be out of your fat burning/weight loss zone and in your calorie burning zone instead. This may limit your weight loss results.

There are several ways to monitor your heart rate to ensure that the time you spend working out is quality time (in your fat burning zone). If you are working out at the gym, most of the machines have heart rate monitors built into the handrails. If you are enjoying the great outdoors instead of the gym or want something more accurate than the handrails, you can purchase a heart rate monitor at most sporting goods stores or online. The best monitors come as a small strap that you connect around your bra line. These monitors include a watch that shows you your heart rate. Some of them are pretty fancy, but you can definitely find basic ones for a limited budget. I have a women’s Polar heart rate monitor that is easy to use and cute!

Fit woman wearing towel around shoulders showing thumbs up at thIf you want to go a step further to guarantee that your workout time is all about fat burning, you may be interested in having a active metabolic assessment to let you know your individualized, ideal fat burning zone. Most gyms offer this exercise test in which you walk on a treadmill wearing a vented mask and heart rate monitor (yes, you look really stupid and everyone in the gym stares at you!) This test measures your oxygen usage compared to your heart rate and is able to determine your optimal heart rate for fat burning. It also lets you know how many calories you are truly burning in an hour of exercise. Having this test done greatly altered my workouts. The age based formula was not nearly as accurate as the metabolic test, and I found that I wasn’t working out in my ideal zone most of the time. I was usually either below it or above it. After adjusting my workouts based on my target heart rate, the scale finally started to budge! I wasn’t wasting my breath without results anymore! On a side note, for those of you interested in the metabolic test, make sure that you have it repeated several months down the road because your target fat burning heart rate zone can change as you become more fit and gain endurance.

We are all busy women! We want our workout time to count. The simple tip of keeping your heart rate “in zone” is one way to make sure that you are shedding the pounds more quickly. Stay tuned for more ways to maximize your workouts to achieve your goals, and click on the hyperlinks for more info or to purchase a heart rate monitor. Woman Jumping On The Sand Of The Beach

From The Mom in Me, MD

 

4 Reasons to Try my Version of Sweaty Liposuction: Pilates!

beautiful sporty woman doing exercise on the floorLooking down at my belly made me want to scream! I had just pulled on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans, determined that they would magically fit. Instead, the gaping zipper stared at me with an incredulous look as though to say, “You don’t seriously think that this is going to work, do you?” Discouraged and disgusted, I wiggled the skin-tight pants over my widened hips. Who knew that losing weight would be this hard?

I had been hitting the gym several days a week, but I still couldn’t sit up in bed without using my arms. My abdominal tone was pathetic after having had a C-section, and I hated that maternity clothes were still pretty much the only things fitting me in the middle. I had waited for the day that I could buy maternity clothes. I had longed for the belly bulge that pregnancy brings. I had even appreciated my widening hips, knowing that they were preparing me to bring a baby into the world. But, more than six months after delivery, I was ready to fit back into my favorite skinny jeans!Fitness yoga woman stretching abdominal stomach muscles in cobra

My friend, Erin, had repeatedly invited me to her Pilates classes. I’m sure that she was tired of hearing me complain about my unchanging figure. Although I was interested, I was hesitant. If I couldn’t sit up without a struggle, how was I going to make it through a 55 minute Pilates class. I had only been to one Pilates class in my life, and that was in my early twenties. The only classes that I could make were in the evening, and that was the time that my husband and I usually spent together. For some reason, I found every reason not to go. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I agreed to try it out. It couldn’t hurt, and who did I have to impress? Besides who wouldn’t want the 4 perks that Pilates claims to offer? Even the Mayo Clinic agrees that Pilates can create the following 4:

  1. Long Lean Muscles
  2. Core Strengthening/Improved Abdominal Tone
  3. Balance and Improved Proprioception (sense of self-awareness)
  4. Increased Flexibility

That decision revolutionized my mindset, my workouts, and my body. For all of you skeptics out there…Pilates works! Is it an easy, magical journey toward a better body? NO. Pilates is work, hard work. But, with a little sweat equity, it can lengthen, strengthen, and fit you back into your favorite pre-pregnancy pants. It has actually changed my shape to something more toned and fit than I ever had prior to pregnancy. No, I don’t run a Pilates studio (but, I do have a good one to recommend-Just Breathe Pilates). I’m just sharing my own experience.Push-ups fitness woman doing pushups outside on beach. Fit femal

I would love to throw out great data and research to back up my claims and those of other Pilates lovers. Unfortunately, the studies that have been done are very small, and thus, not all that reliable. I did read one scientific article  from the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies that reviewed all other studies on Pilates that they could find (almost 300). This review article called for more research. It implied that there may actually be something to the claims, but we just don’t have good scientific evidence to prove it yet. In the meantime, as subject “1 and only” of my own study, my body is proof of the empirical evidence. Give Pilates a try, and see if your body agrees.

From The Mom In Me, MD

 

 

Getting an Even Better Body Back After Pregnancy: 11 Tips and Health Tricks that Work

Woman Jumping On The Sand Of The Beach

Most women are longing for their body to return to its normal shape and condition the moment after they deliver. I certainly expected my stomach to magically shrink to a bikini ready state in just a few weeks. Although a select few are blessed with the genetics and metabolism to fit into their skinny jeans postpartum day 2, for the majority of new and repeat mommies this is unfortunately an unrealistic expectation. For those who have had a c-section, this is even more unrealistic due to the exercise and movement limitations recommended for the first six weeks postpartum.

I am a strong advocate for breast-feeding, and I was sure that breast-feeding alone would liposuction my plump frame into something at least resembling my old self. It never occurred to me that losing weight after delivery would be challenging. Although I was nursing every 2-3 hours, the scale was barely budging. I wasn’t allowed to exercise for at least six weeks due to my c-section, and to be honest, I hardly felt like moving the first several weeks. Having battled preeclampsia, my brain and body were still pretty out of sorts. My blood pressure remained elevated for several weeks after delivery and my cardiovascular system wasn’t cooperating. Just walking down the hall made me short of breath. My endurance was negligible, and my frustration was rising. I’m sure that living in the NICU for nine weeks with a preemie had also sent my cortisol levels soaring, hindering my weight loss.

In the midst of having had preeclampsia, a STAT c-section, and a premature baby requiring resuscitation and a NICU stay, you may wonder why I even cared about something as “superficial” as my weight. Well, when everything around me felt like chaos, I wanted something familiar and comfortable. I wanted myself back. After all that I had been through, I wanted to feel normal. I don’t think that is superficial. I think it’s a natural reaction.

So, for those of you who were running marathons a few weeks after delivery, you can skip this blog, but for those of you struggling to lose the first 30 lbs or the last five, I thought I would throw out some tips that helped a very frustrated mommy! Here is my top list of things that worked for me. Take them or leave them, but I do provide a little evidence to say why they may be effective for most women after delivery.

11 TIPs and Health Tricks: 

 1. Revise Your Goal: Best Shape Ever

Although many of you are fixated on a goal weight (often your pre-pregnancy weight), fixating on this number may mean selling yourself short. Instead, aim to be in the best shape of your life. This shift in perspective from weight to shape can transform your lifestyle and boost your progress. I stopped staring at the scale and instead started to notice how my clothes fit. I started caring more about how strong I was rather than how skinny I was. I reminded myself that muscle weights more than fat but looks a heck of a lot better. (I’ll take toned arms and a tight butt any day over a dip in the scale.) Having the goal of being healthy and in shape is not only more attainable, but it will push you to remain healthy and to continue exercising long after you reach your weight goal.

2. Get Excited and Get Addicted

Although many women struggle with getting excited about exercise, exercising after delivery has major perks. Most mothers feel obligated to hold their infant 24/7. After having that little one physically attached to you for nine months, it seems strange to break that bond in any way. Even so, having a break from that adorable little one who is demanding feedings, diaper changes, and middle of the night cuddles, can make you a better mother. Exercise provides the perfect opportunity (and excuse) for you to focus on yourself for a few moments daily. Letting off steam through physical activity is therapeutic for a tired mom. And, although you may be physically exhausted before you hit the treadmill, the endorphins (feel good hormones) that your body releases during exercise will make you happier, energized, and healthier.

Finding what type of exercise you like and getting addicted to it is another good way to stay in shape longterm. If Zumba is your thing, then swing those hips. If Pilates is more your style, then chatarunga and down dog away. The only way to find out what you might love is to try new things. Last week I gave Pure Barre a shot! This week was YoPI and TRX. Not only can trying new things be fun, it can also help you meet other moms with similar interests and goals.

3. Move to Your Heartbeat 

Hand heartEveryone knows that cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of any weight loss program. In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise is great for keeping the pounds off. Pregnancy changes your cardiovascular system dramatically. Even if you exercised during pregnancy, you may not feel back to your normal endurance level immediately. Give yourself time to build back up. One of the best ways to monitor your efforts is by paying attention to your heart rate. There are specific heart rate zones that are best for losing weight based on your age. The good news is that the target heart rate for weight loss is not all that high (meaning that walking may actually be a better option than running). If you are pushing yourself too hard too soon, your heart rate may be out of your fat burning/weight loss zone and in your calorie burning zone instead. This may limit your results.

There are several ways to monitor your heart rate to ensure that the time you spend working out is quality time (in your fat burning zone). If you are working out at the gym, most of the machines have heart rate monitors built into the handrails. If you are enjoying the great outdoors instead of the gym or want something more accurate than the handrails, you can purchase a heart rate monitor at most sporting goods stores. The best monitors come as a small strap that you connect around your bra line. These monitors include a watch that shows you your heart rate. Some of them are pretty fancy, but you can definitely find basic ones for a limited budget. If you want to go a step further to guarantee that your workout time is all about fat burning, you may be interested in having a simple metabolic test done to let you know your specific fat burning zone. Most gyms offer this exercise test in which you walk on a treadmill wearing a vented mask and heart rate monitor. This test measures your oxygen usage compared to your heart rate and is able to determine your specific ideal heart rate for fat burning. Having this test done greatly altered my workouts. The age based formula was not nearly as accurate as the metabolic test, and I found that I wasn’t working out in my ideal zone most of the time. I was usually either below it or above it. After adjusting my workouts based on my target heart rate, the scale finally started to budge! I wasn’t wasting my breath without results anymore! On a side note, for those of you interested in the metabolic test, make sure that you have it repeated several months down the road because your target fat burning heart rate zone can change as you become more fit and gain endurance.

Push-ups fitness woman doing pushups outside on beach. Fit femal4. Weight Training is not just a Man’s World.

I already mentioned that muscle weights more than fat, but it looks a lot better! Not only does it look better, muscle can be your best friend when it comes to shedding the pounds. Muscle burns three times more calories than fat, even when you are sitting still. By building muscle, you will increase your metabolism and firm up your shape. Once I started incorporating weight training into my workouts I started to notice that my pre-pregnancy clothes were starting to fit again. The scale wasn’t moving much, but my waistline was shrinking! Women are often intimidated by weight training, but we are also mislead to think that building muscle means pumping large amounts of iron in the weight room surrounded by Hulk like men. Weight training also includes using your own body weight in exercises like Pilates, Yoga and TRX. If weight machines and free weights are your thing, go for it, but many women love the long lean muscles produced from classes that focus on using their own body weight instead.

5. Look Stupid=Look Good (Body over Pride)

Be willing to try new things. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you are doing in an exercise class. Everyone else is caring far more about themselves than they are about how you are performing. You are going for you, not to impress them. If you keep that in the front of your mind you will push yourself to try new things that just might make the difference in helping you reach your fitness goals. So what if you look stupid in the studio. A few months down the road you are going to look pretty hot in your skinny jeans! Besides, you might just find a class you love and in which you will eventually excel. Keep everything in perspective.

6. Don’t Starve Yourself

Many women think that they have to cut out every calorie in order to lose weight. Fact is, YOU CAN EAT and still lose weight! Actually, you have to eat in order to lose fat. By starving yourself, your body simply holds onto the fat and gets rid of your hard-earned muscle. Eating enough food is a must for keeping your metabolism pumping. Try one of the calorie counters like My Fitness Pal that incorporates your exercise into the equation to track and see how many calories you should be consuming in a day.

7. Breast Feed for Yourself

Although breast-feeding wasn’t a miracle weight loss solution for me, for many women it works wonders. So in addition to giving your little one some great nutrients and bonding time, breast-feeding may be a great weight loss solution for you. But remember, it only gives you 500 extra calories a day. You need to eat more, but you aren’t supporting a baby elephant (sorry, was reminding myself of that fact). Don’t diet if you are breast-feeding (it can drop your milk supply), but do be aware of your choices.Young Mother Breastfeeding A Baby In Nature

8. Stop Sipping Your Calories

One of the simplest ways to cut out calories is to stop drinking them. Limiting the calorie laden beverage can liquidate the pounds quickly. Even the calorie free drinks that use artificial sweeteners are now thought to be adding to the American bulge. If you’re like me, this is going to be a tough one. I love my daily caffeine! Actually, I rely on my daily caffeine! Don’t most moms? Give yourself some cheat days, but at least try to cut back. My motto, “Cutting out a Latte a day helps the skinny me stay.”

SCARSDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 15, 2013: A tall Starbucks coffee in f

9. Drink Beyond Your Thirst….Load up on the WaterPouring Water Into Glass On Blue Background

Drinking more water is good for your body in more ways than one. Not only does water hydrate us, it also fills us up making us less hungry. Often times when we think that we are hungry, our body is actually just thirsty.So, instead of reaching for a snack,  try some water first. If you wait until you feel thirsty to drink, you are most likely already dehydrated. So, keep a water bottle on you at all times, and keep sipping.

10. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Women and Be Realistic

Remind yourself that your primary goal right now is to care for a tiny little person who demands everything from you. Don’t expect more from yourself than you can realistically give. Remember why you gained all of this weight in the first place. You were growing an amazing little person. It was worth every pound! As women, we come in all different shapes and sizes. Fact: My hips will never be a size zero. If my best friend has the hips of a pencil, great for her! Work with what you’ve got. Frustration from comparing can sabotage your success. Applaud other women and their bodies, and then give yourself a pat on the back for how your body is reshaping.

Set a realistic timetable and attainable goals for yourself. Not only is losing 15 pounds in a week unhealthy, it is CRAZY! Often people reporting this much weight loss are simply losing water weight and lean muscle instead of fat.  One to two pounds of weight loss a week is considered healthy. If you are breast-feeding you may lose more than this, and that’s okay. Breast feeding revs up the metabolism in a lot of women and naturally sheds pounds.

11. Doctor’s Orders

If everything you are trying still doesn’t work, consider consulting your physician to get your thyroid checked. Ruling out an underlying medical condition may be necessary if you are putting in the work and not seeing the results.

Final Thoughts for Every Mom!

In an effort to feel more normal in my skin using the above steps, I have also had a revelation about my post pregnancy body. My body isn’t “perfect” since having had a baby. My tummy is not quite as flat, and I wouldn’t call the stretch marks on my upper thighs desirable, but these changes are a reminder of how amazing the human body is. My body was able to create, protect, and nurture another human being. If I look at my few stretch marks and c-section scar with this in mind, they actually start to look a little pretty. Besides, who’s to say that they aren’t. As long as I am healthy and comfortable in my body, I refuse to let our culture with its airbrushed “perfection,” set my standard of beauty. Work hard to be healthy, strong, and fit, but don’t forget to thank your new post baby body (whatever shape it’s in) for giving you the most beautiful gift of all, motherhood!

From The Mom in Me, MD