1. Find the Right Workout
For fast weight loss, you want a powerful cardio workout that targets not only the muscles that were stressed during pregnancy (yes; that would be your abs) but also the ones you'll use most to pick up and play with your baby, including your arms and back. Bonus: Building these also happens to help flatten your belly and take your arms from flab to fab. Postpartum fitness specialist Teddi Bryant, founder of Hot Mamas Exercise in Denver, created this circuit-style program to get you started. Be ready to get sweaty: It's not your mama's workout!
2. Fit Exercise Into Your Schedule
Take a few tips posted by busy moms on SHAPE's Facebook page; they've dreamed up lots of smart and sneaky ways to squeeze a workout in between feedings and diaper changings. Remember, even just 20 minutes of cardio can go a long way toward getting your pre-baby body back:
Let's face it, you're not getting any sleep anyway, so you might as well seize an early-morning hour to get in a workout. "I get up at 4:30 a.m. so I can do my workout before I need to go to work and get the kids to school," Mary Lewandowski Flynn told us. "Of course I am usually crashed out by 9 p.m.!"
•Make it social:
Like workout time, girlfriend time is at a premium for new moms, so combine them! Take an evening for yourself each week for Zumba, or celebrate your new curves with a belly dancing class.
•Make the most of nap time.
It's tempting to sleep when your baby does—and sometimes that's the way to go—but often you'll be more relaxed if you spend that blissfully uninterrupted hour working up a sweat.
•Get your kids in on the act.
Look for a mommy-and-me yoga class, join a gym that offers child care, or invest in a quality baby jogger—or all three! When you show your kids that fitness is a priority for you, you'll help them build healthier habits as they grow up. Tonia Horvath Riggs told us her kids have been agitating to join her and her husband on evening runs. "Having my kids ask to exercise makes me feel like I am doing something not only for me," she says, "but for them too."
3. Focus on Flat-Belly Foods
One look at your post-natal middle and you may feel you'll never have a waistline again—but when you combine an abs-friendly diet with an active lifestyle (see above!), you'll be amazed at how quickly you can get your belly fat under control. You know the basics: Pack your plate with lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. But there are a few flat-belly superfoods—like melon, walnuts, and even wine!—that may surprise you. Which means you don't have to skip all the treats you love to get your belly back down where you want it.