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Dos and Don'ts of a Successful Postpartum Fitness Program

Avoid Common Fitness Pitfalls

Starting a postpartum fitness program doesn't have to be overwhelming, as long as you are armed with the proper tools to get things rolling. Once you've committed to getting back in shape, there are several things you can do to ensure you'll meet and even exceed your short- and long-term fitness goals. There are also some things you should avoid at all costs to ensure you stay on the path to fitness and wellness. What exactly are the rules when it comes to fitness?

  • Get clearance from a health-care professional before starting any fitness or weight-loss program, especially after giving birth.
  • Write down your fitness goals. You're more likely to stick with a program once you have set some specific goals.
  • Always strive to eat a well-balanced diet that includes at least five servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
  • Break down your meals so you are eating several mini meals per day.
  • Assess your current fitness level before starting an exercise program. By doing so, you'll be able to establish goals that meet your specific fitness needs.
  • Choose alternatives to satisfy your cravings when possible. Consider frozen fruit over ice cream or opt for a mini chocolate instead of the whole candy bar.
  • Always stretch before and after your exercise routine.
  • Slowly increase the intensity of your workouts. One of the most common mistakes first timers make is taking on too much at once. You'll be too sore and too tired within a few short days to continue.
  • Diversify your workout routine. If you do the same exercises day after day, you'll quickly tire and are more likely to skip workouts.
  • Work out with friends. You'll help motivate each other.
  • Keep healthy snacks available at all times. You're less likely to grab junk food if something good for you is readily available.
  • Overtrain. Your body needs time to recover in between workouts.
  • Skip breakfast. Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism and provide you with the energy you need to get through the day.
  • Skip stretching. Stretching helps reduce muscle tension, prevents injuries, and increases range of motion in joints, circulation and energy levels.
  • Skimp on sleep. Research shows that inadequate sleep can have disastrous effects on your weight loss efforts, impair your concentration, and even mimic the symptoms of impaired glucose tolerance (which can lead to diabetes and hypertension).
  • Set unrealistic goals. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Don't expect your baby weight to come off overnight; you'll set yourself up for disappointment. Focus on being a mother during the first few months after delivery. The weight will come off in time.
  • Compare your successes and failures to others. Everyone is unique, and what works for some may not work for others.
  • Give up. Talk with a friend in times of discouragement. Change up your workout routine if you get bored or burned out, but don't ever give up.
  • Forget to reward yourself on occasion. Complete deprivation will ultimately lead to burnout and overindulgence. Reward yourself for meeting small goals or give yourself one day a week to splurge.
Always remember to keep an open mind and remain flexible when starting a new exercise routine. At times you may find it necessary to change your routine slightly. Life is a dynamic ride and you'll find your fitness journey is too. If you're willing to try new things and set reasonable expectations, you'll reap the rewards of your fitness program and successfully achieve your fitness goals.
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