There’s a lot of misleading information out there on losing your belly pooch after baby. You can find hundreds of articles on the best crunches and ab routines, but that isn’t necessarily going to get rid of the extra pooch hanging around.
I’ve had three babies now, and my stomach will never be the same, nor will it ever be super flat. That’s totally okay because there is stretched skin and muscles that we just have to accept. There’s also the reality that the pooch is just still fat cells we haven’t lost yet. Here’s the honest way to really lose that pooch and gain your abs back.
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First, focus on your cardio to burn calories. Most of the pooch is going to be stored fat left over from pregnancy. This is where walking can be one of your best exercises, not crunches. Crunches and ab routines (believe me, I was a Pilates instructor) are only going increase your muscle stamina, or make your muscles bigger and stronger. Don’t get me wrong, we want to keep our core strong, but that won’t lose the pooch. Cardio that is either long and slow, liking walking uphill for 45 minutes or sprinting is going to really help you burn fat. You should aim at doing cardio for more than 20 minutes because your body is first going to burn the glucose, or sugar in your blood. Once that sugar is used, your body will start using the stored energy or fat. The first step is the hardest, and that is to burn the fat around your muscles. You will better be able to tell if you have some separation still to work on too. If you aren’t sure what to eat to help you burn fat and lose the extra baby pounds, check out these 5 foods.
Second, think about repairing the muscles. I know my abs have suffered tremendously with three pregnancies very close together. I even have a small umbilical hernia I’m working on repairing. A lot of the pooch comes from the muscles being stretched and separated, and we need to encourage the muscles to go back together. There’s a great video linked in this post that goes over some ab routines to help build those muscles back carefully. I also go over my postpartum fitness routine, which has some good exercises to start with too. You don’t want to do any crunches or ab exercises on your back, where you crunch up.
Get support with a belly band or wrap. I can’t believe I am just using one of these. It helps me engage my core by forcing me to think about my ab muscles and stand up taller. Do you know how ridiculously lazy I am when holding the baby? I crouch my shoulders down and let my stomach just hang out. So bad for your body and posture, but when the wrap is on, I am forced to gain control of my core again. I recommend wearing one as much as possible until your muscles regain strength and memory on their own. The better control you get of your core and muscles, the more they are going to tighten up and pull in on their own. This will really help reduce the pooch.
Find a consistent workout routine. This is probably the HARDEST part of losing the pooch. Finding the time and space to actually stay consistent with your workout time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been so great about working out, then just had life get too busy, the baby start teething and lose sleep a few nights, or travel and completely lose everything I gained. Literally, I lose all my muscle tone in a couple weeks of not working out. How insanely annoying is it that muscle is lost in just a couple weeks, but takes sooooo long to gain?? If you can stay consistent, your muscles will start pulling back together, and you will be staying on track with your fat loss and calorie burn. If you can stay consistent, before you know it, the weight will be long! I am so impressed with my sister, who recently lost all her baby weight PLUS MORE before her baby turns one next month. It’s amazing what just gathering a routine can do! But, I also know the serious challenge this is. I have three kids under 5. Life is so busy and hectic, I can barely keep track of my workout shoes, let alone get them on.
Finally, give yourself time. Losing the baby weight is one thing. Losing the pooch is another. Part of it is losing fat, but the other half is allowing your muscles to repair themselves. Some of this is literally just your body doing its job in its own time. The muscles stretched and separated for nine months, so there is going to be months and months of the muscles going back together.