You don't need a gym membership to lose your baby weight, but you do have to get up and move to work those muscles. Exercising helps boost weight loss and relieves the body of stress, which lowers depression and increases sleep, says Melinda Johnson, MS of WebMD. Strive for 150 minutes a week, beginning with 10-minute increments and moving toward 20- to 30-minute chunks of time. Exercise while the little ones are napping, or include them in the activities. Load up the stroller and walk through the neighborhood. If you spend time at the local playground, strap your baby into a baby harness and walk around the play equipment as your older children play.
Make time to eat and load up on super foods that are necessary to keep energy up -- this is particularly necessary for a woman caring for three kids. Consume foods that are low in calories to help with weight loss. Include foods high in protein and calcium as well. Proteins will help you feel fuller for longer stretches of time, while calcium builds stronger bones -- something every woman needs, especially if she's caring for three young children.
Hydrate Your Body
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps increase weight loss by speeding up your metabolism and promoting satiety so you won't want to overeat or snack too much. A sluggish metabolism will encourage your body to hold onto weight and slows the caloric burning process. To determine how much water you need daily, Johnson recommends using your urine color as a guide. A person drinking enough water should use the restroom every three to four hours and have clear urine flow.
Get Enough Sleep
Being sleep-deprived makes losing weight a definite challenge. If you are too tired to care for yourself or your kids, take short naps during the day while they sleep. Napping will refresh you and provide a needed burst of energy. Go to bed early so you won't be too groggy when the baby or other young children awaken through the night. If your third child is still in infancy, share nightly feedings with your partner in order to get an extra hour or two of rest.
Choosing smart snack replacements can prevent overeating at the next meal, explains Mayo Clinic. Noshing on chips and candy bars throughout the day quickly adds to your teen's calorie intake and aren't likely to offset hunger for very long. Instead, encourage low-fat versions of cottage cheese, string cheese and yogurt, along with whole wheat crackers or fresh fruit, These healthy alternatives offer more filling nutrients with less fat and fewer calories than cheese fries or ice cream sandwiches.
Your teen doesn't need to run a marathon or to be on a sports team to get physical activity. The Mayo Clinic recommends 60 minutes of total activity a day, but notes that the teen can break this up into smaller segments throughout the day. A brisk walk to school, a 20-minute bike ride, or even doing moderate yard work can, in combination, help burn off extra calories. Finding ways to be active as a family can also support your teen's weight loss.
Teens looking to cut extra calories should reduce portion sizes. This is particularly a wise idea when it comes to high-calorie, high-fat foods. The difference between a small serving and an extra-large french fries can be 200 calories or more. Teens should be encouraged to have large portions of fresh fruits and veggies, as these provide fiber and nutrients, and to eat smaller amounts of high-fat and high-calorie dishes like baked zita, pizza, hamburgers and butter-saturated mashed potatoes.
Nix Liquid Calories
A few sodas a day with several juice-drinks or sports drinks in between can easily equal 600 calories or more. Not only are these beverages loaded with sugar and calories, but also they offer no nutrients and won't ease hunger. Water is ideal, but if your teen is used to drinking soda and juice, switching to tap overnight probably isn't realistic. As a substitute, the Mayo Clinic recommends diet soda, or calorie-free flavored water or adding low-calorie flavor shots, available at most grocery stores, in plain seltzer water.
Cutting Out the Junk
Sugary sodas, chips and candy bars have little nutrition and a lot of calories, yet these might be the treats your teen often turns to. She might lose weight simply by eliminating those types of foods. For example, she could switch to drinking water or green tea if she wants the caffeine. Her afternoon snack could be carrot sticks with hummus rather than chips and dip. Not only do these foods have fewer calories, they're providing essential nutrients.
Counting calories is a tried-and-true method of losing weight. To do this, your teen should measure portion sizes and enter the foods he eats into a food diary. Free websites and apps contain extensive databases of foods to choose from. When counting calories, don't go too low, though. According to GirlsHealth.gov, you shouldn't go below 1,600 calories a day when trying to lose weight.
At the other end of the equation is burning more calories, which your teen can do through exercise. This can be something as simple as taking more walks, in addition to more difficult activities such as running or swimming. An additional 60 minutes of exercise a day can help with weight loss, according to GirlsHealth.gov. In order to stick to it, she should choose activities that she finds interesting and fun. If she doesn't like going out in the cold, for example, walking might not be the best choice. Instead, she might enjoy following a dance workout DVD or using an elliptical machine in the basement. Building muscles will also burn more calories and help her body look strong and sleek.
Weight Loss Surgery
In extreme cases, weight loss surgery might be an option. To be a candidate, your teen needs to have a BMI of at least 35 and have significant health problems related to his size such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or severe inflammation of the liver. When he has weight loss surgery, his stomach will be significantly smaller and his daily caloric intake will drastically drop. However, extreme risks are associated with the surgery such as blood clots, heart attack or strokes, infection in the lungs, bladder or kidneys and breathing problems. Talk to your child's doctor about whether the benefits of weight loss would exceed the risks.
Building Physical Activity into Daily Life
Between classes and work, your teen may not have the time to hit the gym as often as he would like. Building exercise into his daily routine, like walking in place while he watches television or taking the stairs instead of hitting the elevators at school, can help your teen burn calories even when he is busy, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. Parking farther away in parking lots or walking to school and work could also help your teenager lose weight.
Healthy people should try to get at least half an hour of exercise most days of the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community centers, gyms and schools may offer exercise classes that your teen may enjoy, like dance, yoga or swimming classes. Joining a sports team may be better option for a teenager who likes to work out with others, while a solitary teenager might prefer working out at home with fitness videos. Teenagers should slowly increase the duration and intensity of a workout to avoid injury, according to Teens Health, a teenager development site.
Eating when Hungry
Losing weight does not mean sacrificing all of your teen's favorite foods in true "diet" fashion. While exercise is helpful when it comes to losing weight, overeating may keep her from losing any weight, according to the American Heart Association. Teach her to ask herself if she is really hungry or whether she is eating because she is bored or sad. Advise her to drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes before eating meals. This will not only help her reduce the amount that she eats, but it may make her realize that she was not hungry, but thirsty.
Weight Loss Methods to Avoid
Some teenagers may resort to dangerous weight loss methods to lose weight, like undergoing surgery or using diet pills or laxatives, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Other teenagers who avoid dieting to lose weight may end up compulsively exercising, which can result in long-term damage to their bodies, according to Teens Health. If your teenager is spending hours per day working out or using supplements to lose weight, ask for the input of your child's doctor. Some athletic teenagers may be able to build up to working out for long durations in a healthy way, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Following a specific diet plan takes some of the stress out of choosing what to eat. A plan like Weight Watchers, for example, offers an easy way for you to eat any food you want to eat, while staying in a calorie range that allows you to lose weight. The popularity of the plan may mean that you'll be able to easily find other young moms for support, either in your community or on the website. On the other hand, meal delivery plans like Jenny Craig may fit in better with your lifestyle. You simply have to microwave portion-controlled meals for yourself, while preparing meals for the rest of your family.
Eating With Kids
Switching to a healthier eating style will not only help you lose weight, it will teach your children good habits. Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends a "nutritarian" lifestyle, focusing on eating the foods that contain the highest amount of nutrients in his books "Eat to Live" and "Disease-Proof Your Child." If you're not ready to make that type of commitment to healthy eating, simply tracking calories can stop you from picking at the leftovers on your kids' plates because you'll know they "count." Find free trackers at Sparkpeople.com or MyFitnessPal.com.
Exercise With Kids
According to a publication by the Harvard School of Public Health, healthy adults should get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Doing more can help you lose more weight. When you've got kids, it's difficult to spend hours at the gym, though, unless the gym offers a babysitting service, as some do. Packing the kids up in the stroller may be a good solution for you. In some areas, there are fitness classes like "Stroller Strides," where young moms can do specific exercises with their children in the stroller. If your kids are older, they might enjoy family Zumba or a long walk through the woods.
Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
If you're still breastfeeding, you have more specific concerns. According to La Leche League International, rapid weight loss in breastfeeding mothers can release the environmental contaminants stored in the mother's fat into the breast milk. Rather than try fad diets, LLLI suggests focusing on eating only healthy foods and eating until you are full. Weight Watchers recommends that breastfeeding mothers aim to lose about one pound per week.
Extra Calories Needed
Breastfeeding burns extra calories because it takes calories to make milk. Milk production burns between 400 and 500 additional calories per day, according to MayoClinic.com. If your weight was stable before you got pregnant, eating exactly as you did then while breastfeeding will burn around 3,500 calories each week, or around 1 pound.
Going Over the Limits
While weight loss can be a complex topic, most experts believe that if calories in equals calories out, your weight stays stable. Eat less than you burn and you'll lose weight. If you feel that breastfeeding gives you carte blanche to eat whatever you want because you're going to burn it off anyway, you will probably be sorely disappointed in how long it takes you to lose weight postpartum. If breastfeeding makes you hungry -- which it might-- limit your extra calories to no more than 500 per day or you might find the numbers going up, rather than down, on the scale.
If this is your first baby, getting on the scale after you deliver can be a disappointment. Delivering the baby doesn't knock off as many pounds as you might hope; depending on what your baby weighed, the scales might drop by only around 10 pounds by the time you leave the hospital with your baby, MayoClinic.com reports. After that, the average postpartum loss for nursing moms is 1.3 to 1.8 pounds per month for the first four to six months, according to the Institute of Medicine Subcommittee on Nutrition During Lactation.
Safe Weight Loss
It's not a good idea to push postpartum weight loss by cutting calories too much while nursing. You're not likely to decrease your milk supply if you go too low on your calorie count; your baby will take what he needs. But your own body could suffer from the calorie deficit; you might find yourself becoming fatigued or irritable, two problems that often plague even well-nourished new moms. Plan to lose no more than 4.5 pounds per month, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals recommends. Wait until around six weeks after delivery before cutting back on calorie intake, La Leche League International advises; you need adequate calorie intake to repair damaged tissues after delivery. Exercise can also help burn a few extra calories whenever you're up to it.
Put your toddler in a jogging stroller and go out for a run. Even a daily walk might be enough if you haven't exercised for a while. The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of daily activity for general health, but more for weight loss. If possible, try to spend at least one hour every day moving and being active to improve your numbers on the scale.
Join a Mommy and Me fitness class. These are special fitness classes designed to include both moms and kids. The type and contents of the classes vary from gym to gym. You can find aerobics classes, abs classes and even yoga classes. If there's no class where you live, you can form your own, following the guidelines outlined at MommyandMeFitnessFun.com.
Take your toddler to a swimming class. Most swimming lessons for very young children allow the parents to get into the pool with the kids. While you won't be doing any swimming -- your job will be to hold and direct your child -- you will have to use your arms for holding, plus your legs for kicking and moving around. When it comes to burning calories for weight loss, every bit counts; plus, this is a great way to get your toddler moving as well.
Involve your toddler in the kitchen to help you prepare healthy foods. As much as you can, make it a goal to eat the same foods he does. If you're focused on feeding your child plenty of healthy foods -- such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables -- and you eat the same, the pounds will melt off without you even realizing it. Good ideas to try with your toddler include making salads (both the veggie and fruit variety) or smoothies, as well as preparing simple sandwiches using low-fat meats and tons of sliced-up veggies.