Believe it or not, your body’s actually hardwired to lose the pounds you packed on while pregnant.
As soon as you deliver your baby, hormones start shifting in a way that boosts your metabolism for more energy, which simultaneously drives your body into weight-loss mode, according to Jackie Keller, author of Body After Baby. You’ll automatically lose anywhere from nine to 15 pounds in those initial days alone — a combo of baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. And if you’ve been nursing, you’ve likely seen even more baby weight melt off — breastfeeding can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 extra calories a day.
But if you’re like many new moms, eventually you hit that "why aren’t my clothes getting any looser" plateau — and you could probably use more help to get rid of those won’t-budge pounds. Here are 18 surprising strategies that helped these moms get slim again.
Step It Up
Mom: Megan; Highland Mills, New York
Lost: 25 pounds in 4 months
For the first few weeks after my baby was born, I kept her diaper changing station downstairs, which was easier while my body recovered from labor. But once I was all healed, I moved it to the second floor. This forces me to go up and down stairs to the nursery every time I need to change my daughter’s diaper. Added calorie burn!
Bust a Move with Baby
Mom: Elizabeth; Skokie, Illinois
Lost: 30 pounds in 5-6 months
I was stuck inside all winter with my newborn, so I started a dance party tradition. I played my favorite cheesy ’80s songs and bopped around the living room with my son. Or I’d put him in his bouncy seat and let him laugh at my ridiculous moves. Not only did I get some exercise, but this really boosted my mood during those long, cold (and sometimes pretty dull) days.
Mom: Deanna; Atlanta, Georgia
Lost: 30 pounds in 2 months
I’d use my son Carter during squats, sit-ups, and arm lifts. For the first few months, I’d add just a couple of sets a day as we were playing. Now that he’s almost a year old (and a lot heavier), it’s still a great way to get in an extra workout without hitting the gym.
Walk It Off
Mom: Nicole; Chicopee, Massachusetts
Lost: 35 pounds in 19 months
I walked with my daughter a little bit every single day, whether it was down the street, around the backyard, at the grocery store, or at the mall. We’d stroll for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour a day, depending on how long my baby would stay into it.
My #1 Eat-Less Trick
Mom: Ivy; Temecula, California
Lost: 40 pounds in 5 months
Use your freezer! I started keeping yogurts there and would have those for dessert instead of ice cream. (Because they come in pre-portioned containers and take longer to eat frozen, you tend to have less.) I’d also freeze Twinkies or some other splurgy dessert for when I was craving something just plain baaaad — you’re much less likely to pound down four at once this way.
Mom: Danielle; New York, New York
Lost: 80 pounds in 6 months
When I was down to the last 10 pounds, I increased the amount of water I drank, sipping a glass before, during, and after feeding the baby. This helped to keep me full — and away from the snacks!
Cut Back, Just a Little
Mom: Ilana; Princeton, New Jersey
Lost: 40 pounds in 2 years
I dropped the first 30 pounds in a few months, but the last 10 were a struggle. I stopped caring after a while but decided to finally slim down for an upcoming wedding. Since I love eating, I knew I couldn’t handle a restrictive diet. I kept things simple with a few rules:
* No more cheese on the turkey sandwich for lunch, no more potato chips on the side.
* Instead of snacking on M&Ms and cookies, I stuck to pretzels, carrot sticks, or apples.
* Because I’d never survive without sweets, I also enjoyed those 100-calorie snack packs (love that chocolate pudding!)
These subtle changes have made a huge difference. It probably took longer than a stricter diet might, but this fit my lifestyle much better!
Set a Major Goal
Mom: Betty; Forest Hills, New York
Lost: 23 pounds in 9 months
I needed a target — and a deadline — to motivate me to lose the baby weight. So I decided to run a half-marathon (my first!) nine months after having my baby. I figured since it took me that long to put the weight on, I should have at least that long to take it off. I started exercising slowly at first — just walks around the neighborhood, pushing the stroller. Then once I was back at work, I’d run at the gym during lunch. And slowly, I built up my speed and distance.
Fend Off Temptation
Mom: Kerri; Queens, New York
Lost: 12 pounds in 8 months (with 18 pounds to go)
I’m a chronic snacker, so I’ve made a real point to keep my favorites out of the house so I’m not tempted as much. When I’m really craving something (like chips), I buy only a single portion size so I can eat the whole thing guilt-free.
Mom: Emily; Brookline, Massachusetts
Lost: 40 pounds in 10 months
With all the running around that you do with kids, I thought the weight would come off naturally — but that didn’t exactly happen. So after a few months, I made a couple of small but significant changes. I stopped my daily Starbucks runs (I’d always eat some kind of pastry whenever I’d go there) and limited alcohol to no more than two cocktails a week. After a couple of months, my clothes became looser and I started getting those wonderful "you look awesome!" comments. Now, my smaller size keeps me motivated to stay that way.
Find a Baby-Friendly Gym
Mom: Jen; Santa Barbara, California
Lost: 65 pounds in 7-8 months
I still had 45 pounds to go two weeks after my daughter arrived. Taking advantage of my gym’s babysitting center helped me lose the weight — while holding onto my sanity. Knowing I could stop my workout and check in on her at any time, I loved having a little me-time to exercise, sauna, and shower at a leisurely pace. This boosted my mood all the day and made my workouts feel like an indulgence, not a chore.
Fuel Up Before Work
Mom: Christine; Providence, Rhode Island
Lost: 24 pounds in 4 months (with 8 pounds to go)
I make a point to eat a light breakfast (usually an English muffin with margarine and jam) at home every day instead of at the office, where it easily morphs into something enormous and sweet. Now that my 4-month-old is sleeping more, I set the alarm early so I can sneak in a meal with my toddler before the baby wakes up at 7.
Ask for Help
Mom: Trish; Great Falls, Virginia
Lost: 35 pounds in 5 months
Nursing your baby really does help you drop the weight fast, but I needed more structure to deal with the last five pounds. Weight Watchers worked for me, because I got specific meal plans and help with proper portion sizes. But a little note of warning: Even after you’ve lost every one of the last five pounds, your clothes will fit differently. Don’t freak out!
Stave Off the Snack Attacks
Mom: Maureen; Cheverly, Maryland
Lost: 50 pounds (twins) in 6-7 months
Having nutritious snacks on hand helped prevent the weight I lost while breastfeeding from creeping back after I stopped. You always remember to bring food for the baby, so include something healthy for you, like a mozzarella cheese stick or half a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread. It keeps your energy up and stops you from succumbing to fast-food drive-thru when you realize you haven’t eaten all day.
Mom: Buffy; Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Lost: 30 pounds in 6 months
If I’m not hungry I don’t eat. You don’t need to have lunch just because the clock says 12 p.m. On the flip side, there will also be days when all you want to do is eat — but if you keep only low-fat and nutritious foods at home, then you won’t have to feel too guilty for snacking a bit more than normal.
Work for Your Wardrobe
Mom: Becky; New York, New York
Lost: 54 pounds in 8 months
I wouldn’t let myself buy any new clothing, so my choices were maternity wear or pre-pregnancy wear. With almost nothing that fit, I knew I had to lose the weight before the end of my maternity leave so I’d have something to wear to the office. So I hired a personal trainer who really kicked my butt twice a week.
Play with the Pooch
Mom: Tiffany; Ridgefield, Connecticut
Lost: 30 pounds in 3 months (with 5 pounds to go)
I attribute it all to my dog. He has to go out for one-hour walks/hikes every day and I simply get dragged along! Plus, every night I aim to do 100 crunches and 25 push-ups before I hit the sack. So even if can’t make it to the gym during the day, at least know I did a little something to help.
Toss the Take-Out Menus
Mom: Leanne; San Antonio, Texas
Lost: 25 pounds in 6 months
To shed my pounds, I decided to only order from restaurants once every two weeks or so, since it’s much harder to eat healthy when you’re bringing in dinner (and those huge portions) all the time. Instead, I started eating four to five small meals a day and cooking low-fat, easy dishes like broiled fish and chicken with steamed veggies and swapping pasta for whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. I made a ton and froze the leftovers so I wasn’t cooking all week long.