The Abs After Baby Workout Program
The information in this program is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your condition. Information and advice is based on my own research and experiences. I am not a doctor or licensed physician. We make no guarantees or implied warranties, representations or endorsements whatsoever. Use at your own caution and judgment as we are not responsible for any injury. This program is not intended for pregnant women.
When I became pregnant, the last thing that I thought about were my abs. My husband and I had tried and tried for our little boy so we were super excited to finally learn that we were pregnant!
I decided beforehand that I would do my best to embrace every change along the way-permanent or not. But I still had to remember one thing: while my body was out of control growing a baby, I was in ultimate control of my body.
You are in control of your own body, too, essentially.
I worked out five days a week while pregnant and ate healthily for the most part. Soon after my son was born, I thought getting back into the groove of things would be easy-boy, was I so wrong!
Everything changed. I no longer had time to go the gym which prompted me later on to create a home gym in a spare room. My husband and I decided to move into a bigger house when our son was 2 months old so this further pushed me away from even wanting to workout.
I didn’t start working out hardcore until around 12-16 weeks postpartum or so. When I began, I took it very easy doing maybe two workouts per week. I was tired. I was weak from no sleep thanks to my beautiful newborn baby. I had so many excuses! But, I decided to keep pushing to make a new habit. I even started waking up an hour earlier than my son to get my workouts in.
Eventually, my hard work paid off. My abs began to appear little by little. Then, before I knew it, I had even better abs now than I did before I became pregnant! Who knew?
It takes hard work, dedication, and willpower to get your body back-or to create an even better body than you had before.
I am not here to tell you that you SHOULD have abs after baby.
I am not here to tell you that you WILL have abs after baby.
My biggest advice to you is to remember that we are all in this together, but go at your own steady pace. Each and every body is so different and so is every postpartum situation. Do the very best that YOU can and do not worry about what others are doing.
The Anatomy of Your Mommy Abs
When it comes to building up your abdominal muscles and losing the top layer of fat, it is important to know what the muscles are and what each muscle does. Some people often mistake the abdominal muscles as one big, flat muscle when really, it is four muscles working together in perfect harmony.
The abdominal muscles are comprised of 4 main muscles:
- The Transverse abdominis or TVA: the deepest of the three flat abdominal muscles. The TVA plays a significant role in core stabilization, especially during rehabilitation or pregnancy.
- The Internal obliques: The oblique muscles rotate and side bend the trunk and also contribute to spinal stability.
- The External obliques: The oblique muscles rotate and side bend the trunk and also contribute to spinal stability. The external obliques are the most exterior muscle of the three flat abdominal muscles.
- The Rectus abdominus or RA: this is the muscle that is responsible for the 6 packs that you see on men and some women. The RA provides both core stability and trunk mobility and is trained when an individual performs an exercise such as the crunch.
All of the muscles are equally as important to one another, but the muscle that I want to highlight most here is the Transverse abdominis or TVA. This muscle acts like a corset, supporting your internal organs, and is essential for maintaining good posture. The real secret to flattening your abs after pregnancy is to rebuild all of your muscles from the inside out-starting with activating the TVA.
There are generally two ways to activate the TVA muscles for improved core stabilization:
Bracing refers to an isometric contraction of the TVA by contracting the muscles of the abdomen and holding them tight without movement. When bracing, imagine that you are getting ready for a punch to your belly, or preparing to lift a heavy object. The goal is to tighten the muscles without sucking in, or expanding your abdomen. To activate the TVA with bracing, you will maintain an isometric hold in this position for 6 to 10 seconds. Release and repeat several times
Hollowing refers to a technique to activate the TVA that occurs as you suck in and compress the abdomen. To perform this technique, contract your abdomen and pull your belly button back toward your spine to make your abdomen as small as possible. Once you’ve completed this movement, maintain an isometric hold of this compressed position for 6 to 10 seconds. Release and repeat
This is done by first building strength, and then functional control, in the deepest abdominal muscle, the transverse abdominis or TVA. You want to avoid exercises like crunches and oblique curls, which strengthen the external layers, the rectus abdominis and the external oblique. After pregnancy it’s all too easy for these external layers to overpower relatively weaker TVA. This causes the abdominal wall to bulge outward during exertion.
The fact is, most ladies do not train their abdominal muscles correctly after giving birth which leads to the dreaded “mummy tummy” that seems to never disappear. The reasoning? Most women are not taught how to do so.
The Abs after Baby workout program is designed to rebuild your abdominal muscles from the inside out-the way that it should be!
But let’s talk about two common issues in the next two chapters before we begin any exercises.
The C-Section Mama
It seems that there are tons and tons of postpartum workout plans for mamas out there; however, there are not many plans revolving around the ever popular Cesarean section. One of the MOST common questions I get is: “How can I get rid of the mommy tummy after a C-Section?”
I, personally, did not have a section, but I know how scary they can be when it comes to whether or not you believe you will ever get your tummy to look the same again. Lots of my clients have had sections-they are way more common these days than you may imagine! C-sections take a toll on your pelvic floor and abdomen, and exercise is the best way to bounce back. Plus, you’ll feel better knowing that you’re taking charge of your own healing.
Let’s start with cardio. In order to lose the mommy tummy, you must burn off the weight or body fat that you gained during pregnancy in order to be on the road to tightening things back up.
One of the best cardio exercises for C-Section mommies is simply taking your baby out in his or her stroller for a nice morning or evening stroll! Yes. Walking does add up! Plus, you do not want to take things to fast or strenuous or you can risk hurting yourself or bursting open your incision site.
Another wonderful form of cardio is swimming-it is relaxing and wonderfully soothing on your joints and muscles. You burn more calories in a short amount of time than you may even realize while you are treading in your pool!
However, do not push yourself too hard and, as always, please wait until you are cleared by your doctor to start ANY exercise regimen-regardless of if you had a C-Section or vaginal delivery. Also, you may check with your physician first and foremost regarding these moves to make sure they are right for you.
But the best activity, by far, for C-section mommies is YOGA! Yoga is slow, healing, and relaxing.
Here are five soothing yoga style moves that tone these areas:
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and legs hip-width apart. Slowly lift your butt and back off the floor. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.
Lie on your stomach with your palms flat next to your shoulders. Your elbows should be tucked into your rib cage. Lift your head and neck off the floor, but not so much that it strains your lower back. Suck in your navel as if you were trying to lift your pelvis off the floor. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.
- Forward Bend
Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart and your hands on your hips. Extend your arms over your head and bend forward at a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position. Do 4 to 8 repetitions.
- Bird Dog
From hands and knees, activate your core muscles and raise one arm and the opposite leg. You can look down while maintaining neutral posture while you alternate sides. Repeat 10 times.
On your hands and knees, pull your belly button to your spine to round your back while exhaling. Sag your back as you raise your head on inhale. Coordinate the motion with your breath as you repeat 10 times.
DISCLAIMER: All content here should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others before attempting these yoga moves on your own. Also, do not attempt any exercise until you are given the clear at your 6 week postpartum check-up as you may risk splitting your incision site open. Also, avoid any lifting or carrying heavy objects as well as rapid movements.
The Diastasis Recti Mama
Diastasis recti is a fairly common condition of pregnancy and postpartum in which the right and left halves of Rectus Abdominis muscle spread apart at the body’s mid line fascia, the linea alba. Basically, think of your “6-pack” splitting in two.
This most commonly occurs following pregnancy because the growing baby places excess strain on the abdominal muscles. If you experience diastasis recti, your stomach may appear as if a ridge is running down your midsection. DA occurs in 66% of women in the third trimester and most women are unaware of this separation happening, although some will feel discomfort in the last weeks of pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your belly protrudes and expands to great widths, due to your uterus pushing against your inner abdominal wall, but if your belly grows too fast and doesn’t have the ability to stretch with the growth, DA can happen to you. And the fact that pregnancy hormones, called Relaxin, softens your connective tissues does not help any, either!
It takes approximately eight weeks for these muscles to recover and they will need to be strengthened and toned beginning at the eight week mark, if all is well.
This condition most often heals on its own, and exercise can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and reduce the appearance of diastasis recti. Check with your physician before beginning an exercise program after giving birth.
Here are some risk factors that contribute to DA:
- Having multiple pregnancies or pregnancies that are close together in which your body does not have the adequate amount of time to heal itself.
- Bad posture.
- Daily tasks such as bending over, bending backwards, carrying heavy objects without using good form.
- Incorrect exercise form. (this is a biggie)
- Maternal age.
- Excessive weight gain.
How to prevent DA from happening:
- Using proper exercise form and avoiding certain workouts that put strain on your expanding belly. Personally, I stayed FAR away from ANY and ALL ab workouts during my pregnancy for this very reason.
- Improve your posture and be mindful of your body mechanics while working out.
- Be careful with daily tasks-how you walk, how you clean, how you carry things, how you bend over-everything can put just a little more stress onto your body. With that being said-you are certainly not disabled! Just be smart about what you do and how you do it.
- Give yourself enough time between pregnancies for your abdominal muscles to recover. Your abs just went through hell and back-give them a break. I have always heard that 18 months is a great length of time for rest, but of course everyone has their own comfortable time range.
How to check yourself for DA:
- Lie on your back with both knees bent.
- Place four fingers of left hand above belly button, and right hand below your belly button, all along your midline.
- Raise your head and shoulders off floor as if you are attempting a crunch.
- Is there a vertical separation of the rectus abdominis muscle, causing a gap of the muscles, and/or a bulge to appear? If so, where does the separation occur–above or below the belly button or in a combination of these locations? Now place four fingers, pointing toward feet, in the area of separation.
- Raise your head and shoulders off floor, reaching left hand out toward feet. How many fingers can you place in the gap, one – two – three – four? Placing one to two fingers in the gap is normal.
- If you can place more than two fingers in the gap, you have diastasis recti.
Exercises to help treat DA:
This exercise involves using your hands to knit your abdominal muscles together in the correct position. To perform, lie on your back with your feet on the ground. Cross your hands over each other, placing one hand on each side of your abdominal muscles. Inhale, then slowly breathe out and raise only your head off the ground. As you lift up, gently guide your stomach muscles together. If you prefer, you can wrap a sheet or towel around your stomach and pull the ends together to guide the stomach muscles. Lower your head to your starting position and repeat 10 times. Perform an additional two sets throughout the day.
This exercise works the transverse abdominis, the muscle group compromised during diastasis recti. Lie on your back with your feet on the ground. You may wish to place your hands, palms down, under your buttocks for additional support. Lift your toes off the ground, leaving only your heel on the floor. Gently slide this foot out to straighten your leg. Hold the straight-leg position for five seconds, then slide the leg back in toward you. Repeat the exercise eight times, then perform on the opposite leg.
This gentle exercise helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles affected by diastasis recti through a gentle scooping motion. Lie on your back and extend your left leg slightly, but maintain a bend in the knee. Place your right foot on the ground, knee bent. Gently tilt your pelvis in toward your chest, feeling the lower back move to the floor. Do not, however, lift the pelvis or buttocks off the floor. Return your pelvis to your starting position, then repeat the exercise 10 times.
These are great exercises that target your mommy tummy as well-without any crunches!
Other options: Wearing a splint or girdle has been proven to help bring the two halves of your abdomen back together. Strength training exercises have also been proven to help treat DR. In the likelihood that nothing seems to work, there IS a surgical option, but this should be your last resort. In most cases, DR just takes TIME to heal itself.
Many traditional abdominal strengthening exercises, such as abdominal crunches, may not be appropriate while you are working to correct diastasis recti. This is because you must first strengthen the abdominal muscles that run across the abdomen before performing exercises like a plank or twisting motions like the bicycle. Forego these exercises until your diastasis recti has healed and your abdominal muscles are stronger.
***As always, please check with your doctor before performing ANY exercise postpartum, including these. If you think that you may have DA, do not diagnose yourself-go see a doctor and have him or her take a look at your abdomen. It is okay to check yourself, but when in doubt, see your doctor. If you fail to treat your DA properly, it could end up making things a lot worse.
Abs are Made in the Kitchen
Let’s get one thing straight here: diet is super important when it comes to losing your tummy pouch.
I will be 110% honest with you-if your diet is not clean, you will never see abs. What you eat ultimately determines how you feel and how you look. Commit to a healthy lifestyle and you will surely see results over time.
The picture on the left was a couple of weeks after my delivery. I was pretty relaxed on my diet, but then I decided to take things up a notch. Two weeks later, I took the photo on the right. Amazing the differences a bad diet vs. a good diet can make, right?
Primarily, yes, it is true that abs are made in the kitchen. But you do not want just great abs-you want the total package! Right?
Here are a few tips to remember right off the bat:
- Stop doing thousands of crunches. Compound, multi-joint, total body movements will promote more total fat loss and promote a much bigger muscle building response than crunches and sit-ups ever will. Another great thing about this form of exercise is that you typically work more than one muscle group in the process.
- Be smart with your cardio. All cardio is not created equally. Try interval training next time you are at the gym. Studies have shown that your body burns significantly more calories and fat if your cardio workouts push you to your limits in spurts, allowing brief periods of recovery. Ditch those long continuous runs and keep your body guessing, at best. Hint: HIIT it!
- Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Think of your body as a furnace. It constantly needs fire to keep burning, right? Your body is no different! By consistently eating these small meals throughout the day, you are constantly feeding your body so it has to work to digest those foods. You also do not risk going into a starvation mode from going too long without a snack.
- Cut out the processed crap. Sugary foods, salty foods, fast foods, boxed foods, white breads, foods with chemical names that you cannot pronounce, white flours etc.
- Stock up on healthy fats and lean proteins. There is so much misconception that “fats make you fat” and that “meat is fatty.” That is certainly not the case. Proteins are the building blocks to building muscles and healthy fats help to regulate your hormones that control fat burn.
- Drink at least half your body weight in ounce of water. Everyone knows how important water is. If you weigh 120lbs, then aim for at least 60 oz. of water daily.
In order to lose the fatty layer above your abdominal muscles, you need to eat CLEAN-we have already discussed this. But what does a day in a clean diet look like? Typically, when I am wanting my abs to show more for a photo-shoot or an event, I eat high protein/low carb.
Here is a sample of a perfect daily diet plan for ab building:
Meal 1: 6am
- 1 cup coffee with 1 tbsp. creamer (this is a non-negation for me)
- 2 boiled eggs
- 2 slices turkey bacon
- 1 piece Ezekiel bread
Meal 2: 9am
- 2 scoops Labrada Lean Body for Her Peanut Protein or Whey Protein
- 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 handful almonds
- 2 tbsp. all natural peanut butter
- 1 piece low-fat or skim mozzarella stick cheese
Meal 3: 12pm
- 1 baked chicken breast, skinless and seasoned
- Bed of spinach tossed with 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and salt/pepper.
- Unlimited veggies such as bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, etc. to make the perfect salad.
Meal 4: 3pm
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1 cup whole green beans, steamed
- 1 salmon filet
Meal 5: 6pm
- 1 6 oz. filet lean, grass fed sirloin steak
- Roasted veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot medley
- ½ cup quinoa
Meal 6: 9pm
- 2 scoops Casein Protein
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- 1 tsp peanut butter
As you can see from my daily diet plan, I eat lots of protein. If you are an active female looking to tone up, burn fat, and put on some muscle, you need to match one gram of protein to one pound of your body weight.
Currently, I weigh 115lbs so this means that I should aim for at least 115 grams of protein daily! Protein shakes make this possible-that is why I love them so much!
Please note-the amount of calories that you need to consume will vary based on your age, weight, height, and activity level. To figure out how many calories you will need to put on muscle to build your butt, please visit a dietician or use this calculator here. I will tell you this: you will need to eat enough calories in order to build muscle down below. Do not be afraid, ladies! Calories are GOOD. Just make sure that they are quality calories, not junk food.
Some folks will say that a ton of protein will hurt your kidneys-this is true IF you have a kidney functioning issue. This is why you always check with your doctor before beginning ANY diet plan. Also, make sure you drink enough water while increasing your protein intake.
“How much water should I be drinking?” Well, this varies from person to person, but most experts agree that 8 glasses a day is perfect. Personally, I count my water intake in ounces and aim for at least half my body weight in ounces of water. I weigh 115 lbs. so I drink at least 55.5 ounces of water a day!
You might find it hard to plan your meals but to get into tip top shape, planning is everything. I recommend meal prepping which is basically cooking a large batch of food in advance. Food prepping is one of the most helpful ways that I have been able to stay on track with my clean eating. It makes life a whole lot easier during the week when there is laundry to wash, kids to feed, and work to be done. You can prep most foods & snacks that generally won’t spoil within a few days. My personal favorite food prep meal to make is grilled balsamic chicken with asparagus and sweet potato mash. My favorite snacks to prepare are boiled eggs, protein bars, and fruit. Over time, you will develop your “go-to” meal and what works best for you during the week.
Here are 5 tips to help you get started on the road to food prepping for the week!
- Pick a meal prep day. My meal prep days are usually Sundays because of the amount of down time I have to complete it.
- Set aside at least 2 hours-or more. The amount of time spent food prepping is ultimately up to you. I typically spend about 3 hours prepping my meals, but I know some others who spend less or even more with their meals. It all depends on what you are making.
- Make a healthy grocery shopping list. This can be time consuming because this is the planning part of your meal prep. I like to jot down ideas on a piece of paper throughout the week or look on Pinterest for some ideas of what to make if I am craving something other than the usual chicken-broccoli-brown rice meal. Make sure you plan enough to last you the week-and don’t forget snacks! Also, do not forget your list!
- Go grocery shopping! Once you have your list made, you can then proceed to the store to get your goods! Sometimes, what I purchase depends on what is on sale so I can save a buck or two. Usually, I am out within an hour with everything that I need.
- Prep & cook. Once home, you can begin right away! Boil the rice, wash & chop the produce, cook the chicken, etc.-whatever you have to do. Set aside. Arrange meals in the container of your choice and stash in the refrigerator for the week.
Now, here are a few ab-tastic snack ideas that are great for belly burning:
- Low-fat Greek Yogurt: While helping to boost your daily calcium requirements, yogurt will also benefit the look of your abs by improving your digestion. Digestion during can slowed by the chemicals and additives that we eat, normal aging, and a slowing metabolism. The live cultures and probiotics found in yogurt will help keep your digestion active and moving and the high amounts of protein will keep you feeling full. In turn, you will get flatter abs!
- Cottage Cheese with Fresh Fruit: This is one of the best snacks to eat before bedtime if you are craving something sweet. It will also help you stay full throughout the night with the high protein content so you won’t have to wake up for a midnight snack. Instead of fruit, some women pair veggies with their cottage cheese and some ladies even eat it alone. As with any dairy, it is important to make sure it has been pasteurized before consumption.
- Whole Grain Crackers with Low-fat Cheddar Cheese: This is a great combination for fiber and calcium. After a workout, you can eat whole grain crackers with low-fat cheddar to refuel and energize.
- Baby Carrots with Hummus: Carrots are packed with fiber and Vitamin A. One tablespoon of hummus has one gram of protein and contains folic acid and iron. Not to mention, it’s a healthier dip to choose from!
- Apple Slices with Almond Butter: This classic snack pairing helps to keep excess weight gain at bay, making it a perfectly healthy combo. Almond butter contains high levels of Vitamin E and is considered a heart-healthy nut. This is helpful for your cardiovascular system as it works in overtime while you are hitting your workout hardcore!
Now, here are a few of my favorite ab-tastic recipes for meals:
Lean Turkey Meatballs
- 2 lbs lean ground turkey
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (I like to use oats though)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup finely chopped zucchini
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
- In a large bowl, mix turkey, panko, carrots, zucchini, onion, eggs, Italian seasoning, and salt until well combined; form into 1-inch balls.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning, until browned, about 7 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup chicken broth; cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 7 minutes.
- Add remaining 1/4 cup broth and increase heat to medium; cook, uncovered, until liquid is absorbed. Serve.
No Crust Spinach Quiche
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups shredded Muenster cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan.
- Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Fat Burning Cabbage Soup
- 1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 6 large green onions, chopped bite size
- 1 (1 ounce) envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
- 1 bunch celery, sliced bite size
- 1 large head of cabbage, small chunks
- 2 (8 ounce) cans green beans
- 2 green peppers, sliced bite size
- 3 lbs carrots, sliced bite size
- salt and pepper to taste
- curry powder (optional) or chopped parsley (optional) or cayenne pepper, can be used if desired (optional) to taste
- 1 beef bouillon
- Tabasco sauce, may be added
- Cut vegetables in small to medium pieces and cover with water. Boil fast for ten minutes.
- Reduce to simmer and continue cooking until vegetables are tender.
Avocado Banana Walnut Muffins
- 1/2 cup mashed Avocado
- 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup soy or coconut milk
- 2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup Stevia
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin tin wells or line with paper cups.
- In a large bowl, mix avocado, bananas, eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir into avocado mixture; do not over-mix. Stir in walnuts.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until tops start to brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Avocado Mac N Cheese
- 1 pound elbow wheat macaroni noodles
- 1 1/2 cups skim milk
- 3 small garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 fully ripened Avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced, divided
- 5 ounces reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese cut in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup chopped chives
- In large sauce pot, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine milk, garlic, nutmeg and chili powder. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. When pasta is almost cooked, place in blender the parsley leaves, 1 1/2 cups of the diced avocado, the cheese, lime juice and hot milk with garlic cloves; whirl until smooth. Drain pasta and return to sauce pot. Pour cheese sauce over pasta; toss to combine. Add chives and remaining 1/2 cup diced avocado; toss gently. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- Best when served the day of preparation.
Turkey Apple & Brie Salad
- 2 green (or red) apples, cored and cubed
- 7 oz. Baked turkey Breast, cubed
- 4 cups spring mix salad greens
- 3/4 cup sliced Brie cheese
- 1/3 cup toasted walnut pieces
- Dressing of choice
- Toss everything in a salad bowl and pair with your favorite dressing!
Vegetarian Zucchini Cakes
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- salt to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, onion, flour, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and salt. Stir well enough to distribute ingredients evenly.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop zucchini mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden.
Parmesan Cauliflower Cakes
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- Process cauliflower in a food processor finely minced; transfer to a large bowl.
- Stir flour, eggs, baking powder, and Italian dressing mix into cauliflower.
- Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan over medium heat.
- Drop heaping tablespoons of cauliflower mixture into the hot oil; fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Top with shredded Parmesan cheese while still hot.
Herb Crusted Chicken Nuggets
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, seasoned
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1-inch cubes.
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and add the chicken.
- Combine the parsley, thyme, bread crumbs, basil and pepper.
- Stir in the oil with a fork and mix well to distribute evenly.
- Pour seasoning mixture into a resealable plastic bag and toss the chicken pieces to coat.
- Place coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 minutes, turn the pieces, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
As a bonus, here is a clean eating grocery list that you can print out for your fridge!
Cardio & Yoga Are Your Friends.
Although you will focus on training and strengthening your abdominal muscles back up using a variety of exercises listed within the program, you will also focus pretty heavily on CARDIO.
Why? Cardio burns fat. Simple, enough. You have got to sweat!
If you are like me and get tired of running, then you will love this little HIIT workout. It is the perfect warm up to your workout and will surely get your heart pumping!
15 Minute HIIT Workout
Instructions: Complete the following 5 body-weight exercises for a total of 3 sets, with one minute of rest between each set.
Mountain Climbers: 1 minute
Burpees: 1 minute
High Knees: 1 minute
Butt Kicks: 1 minute
Jumping Jacks: 1 minute
- Begin in a standing position. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Now, lower your body into a squatting position, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.
- Kick your feet back so that you are in push-up position. Keep your hands firmly on the ground to support your body.
- Lower your chest to do a push-up. Bring your chest back up.
- Kick your feet back to their original position. Stand up, and then jump into the air while clapping your arms overhead.
- Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle as you slowly raise your leg behind you until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Pulse your flexed foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glutes. Your back should remain perfectly still in a neutral spine. The motion should be small and controlled with the muscle doing the work and not momentum.
- Return to start position to complete one rep.
- In basic high knees, you need to stand still with your feet hip-width apart. Pull your right knee towards your chest and keep it there for 3 seconds. Now move it back to the original position and then repeat the step.
- Now do the same gesture with the left knee. You will feel exhausted after half an hour or before. Take 2 minutes rest between the repetitions to increase your tendency to do more repetitions.
- Start the exercise by lying face down on the floor.
- Straighten out your arms and then touch your knees down to the ground or floor.
- Now you are ready to lift yourself up into position. When doing this, be sure that your hands are directly under your chest at a width that is slightly more than your shoulder length distance.
- Once you have settled into position and checked the position of your hands you should be sure to keep your legs stretched out, ensuring that they are properly lined up with the rest of your body. Pay special attention to your knees as many people tend to create a gap here but that should be avoided. If the recommended position is uncomfortable for you, it is alright to modify it slightly as long as you maintain the correct posture.
- Now you should stretch out your left leg for stability. Bend your right knee and bring it up in the direction of your right hand. At this point, you should be in a similar position to the one you would be in if you were climbing a mountain or tree (hence the name) except horizontal instead of vertical.
- After bringing your right knee up, return it to the original position and do the previous step with your left leg. (Once again, bend the left knee and bring it up towards the left hand mimicking the actions of a mountain climber)
- Assume an erect position, with feet together and arms at your side.
- Slightly bend your knees, and propel yourself a few inches into the air.
- While in air, bring your legs out to the side about shoulder width or slightly wider.
- As you are moving your legs outward, you should raise your arms up over your head; arms should be slightly bent throughout the entire in-air movement.
- Your feet should land shoulder width or wider as your hands meet above your head with arms slightly bent
Yoga is amazing for your body-that really isn’t such a big secret anymore. But did you know that yoga can improve your core strength and help flatten your abs? While doing yoga is not the best way to get a six-pack, you can expect to significantly tone and strengthen your belly. Strengthening your core can also help relieve back pain and improve your posture (nothing makes your belly look bigger than slouching!).
Here is a mini yoga workout that is perfect for shaping up those abs.
- Cat/Cow Pose
- Get on all fours with the back flat and gaze towards the floor.
- Line up your hands underneath the shoulders and knees under the hips.
- Exhale, tucking the tailbone and rounding the spine towards the ceiling, and release the neck.
- Then inhale, lifting the shoulders and seat bones towards the ceiling and raising the head to look straight ahead.
- Repeat slowly and gently as many times as needed to warm up the spine and core.
- Boat Pose
- Start seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean back just far enough so your feet can float off the ground.
- Begin to straighten your legs together so that your body forms a V shape, keeping your arms extended and parallel to the ground.
- Balance on your tailbone and sit bones, chest lifted, and gaze
- Side Plank Pose:
- Begin in Plank. Bring your left palm to the center of your mat and roll onto the outer edge of your left foot. Stack your right foot on top of your left. Press deeply into your left palm to bring your shoulder away from your earlobe, and stack your right shoulder directly above your left.
- Engage your obliques by lifting and stacking your hips. Extend your right arm straight up and gaze sideways or upward. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Knees to Nose Pose
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog.
- Lift your right leg up into the air. Bring your shoulders over your wrists, keeping your arms straight, and draw your right knee tight into your chest. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders.
- Try to kiss your knee as you press the ground away and round your back.
- Windshield Wiper Pose
- Lie flat on your back with both legs straight up in the air. Rest your arm straight and wide on the ground so that the palms are facing down and in line with your shoulders. Exhale, and keep your legs straight and together as you reach your toes toward the opposite fingers.
- Inhale to come back up to center, and then switch sides.
- Upward Facing Dog Pose
- Lie face down, the tops of your feet on the mat. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor beside your lower ribs.
- Push up, straightening your arms without locking your elbows, and lift your upper legs and torso into the air.
- Arch your chest upward, lifting the sternum. Keep elbows in, close to your sides. The main purpose of the pose is to give your abs a nice stretch, so breathe deep and enjoy your hard work. Hint: Roll your shoulders back.
- Modified Wheel Pose
- Lie on your back and give your abs a nice stretch in the opposite direction. Interlace your hands underneath your lower back and press your hips up into a Modified Wheel Pose.
- Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, palms down.
- Lift your hips and torso off the floor, pressing into your palms and feet.
- Interlace your hands and press your shoulders and upper arms into the floor. Lift your hips higher toward the ceiling. d. Hold for 10 breaths. Lower your glutes back to the floor, and separate your arms.
- Keep breathing and try to back slightly off your fullest possible pose. This will ease the strain and train your body and brain to stick with poses longer.
- Camel Pose
- Stand on your shins with your knees hips-width distance apart.
- Lean back, and place your hands on your heels, arching back and allowing the head to fall between the shoulder blades.
- Continue to press the hips forward to engage the abs, thighs, and tush, enjoying this pose for five breaths.
- Downward Facing Dog
- Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.
- Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
- Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.
- Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.
- Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.
- Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor.
- Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.
- Hold for 5-100 breaths.
- To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees.
- Reverse Plank Pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
- Place your palms, with fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips.
- Press into your palms, and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling.
- Look up to the ceiling, point your toes, and keep your arms and legs straight.
- Keep your entire body strong, and form a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
- If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back to the floor.
- The goal is to maintain a straight line and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding the position for only a few seconds as you build your strength. It’s better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go longer in an incorrect position.
The Abs after Baby Workout Plan
You will follow the following this one week plan for 4 weeks. “Why 4 weeks?” you may wonder. Well, science has proven that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit. I added another week to secure yourself into the routine so that you will be able to figure out what works best for you to continue throughout the rest of your life.
YES. Working out should be a part of your life-not just for 1,2,4,6, or 8 weeks. A workout program is not a one-time thing-it simply shows you the way to lead your active lifestyle.
To track your progress, I encourage you all to take body measurements and to take before photos. I would love to share your photos on the blog! My biggest tip for taking before photos is using the SAME outfit and the SAME body position in both your before AND after photos. Have someone take photos of you every two weeks so that you can literally see your transformation in the making. This will give you lots of motivation to keep going to reach your goal!
Here’s what to do:
- Get naked. Yes, naked is best since clothes can actually add inches to your body. If you do not want to get naked, try a bathing suit or thin clothing.
- Measure the main key parts of your body using a measuring tape. But remember to not pull the tape very tightly-it should just fit snug. Pulling two tightly can offer inaccurate results.
- When taking the circumferences, always measure at the widest points.
- Relax your entire body. This is not the time to pose, flex, or suck it all in. Just relax. We need to know what you truly are at.
Now, here is what to measure:
Bust: Measure the chest right at the nipple line, but again, don’t pull the tape to tight.
Chest: Measure just under your bust. Some people even prefer to measure above the bust.
Waist: Measure a half-inch above your belly button or at the smallest part if your waist
Hips: Stand with feet together & Place the tape measure around the widest part.
Thighs: Measure around the widest part of each thigh.
Arms: Measure around the widest part of each upper arm.
Calves: Measure around the widest point of each thigh.
Ready… Set… GO!!!
++ Safety, First ++
CAUTION, please read before beginning: Before beginning any exercise program, please check with your doctor for approval first and foremost. This program is NOT recommended for pregnant women or postpartum women who are still recovering from a recent C-Section. This program is not suitable for women who have Diastasis Recti or who think they might have Diastasis Recti, or any other health problems.
Please discontinue this workout if:
- You feel dizzy, faint, or lightheaded.
- Have any type of pain or discomfort.
- Are pregnant or could be pregnant.
- Still healing from a recent C-Section. Wait till your doctor says it is okay to perform these exercises.
- Have Diastasis Recti or think you might could have it. Wait till your doctor says it is okay to perform these exercises.
- Have any medical conditions that could worsen from pro-longed exercise.
- Have any old injuries that could be exacerbated from pro-longed exercise.
***If you find yourself having difficulty performing a new move or exercise, DO NOT push yourself. Instead, you may substitute the move for a more knowledgeable move that is safer for you to do or skip the move altogether.
Warm up: HIIT workout from Chapter 5.
Planks: 3 sets of 60 seconds
- Start off on a yoga mat in the pushup position. Starting with the pushup position is the easiest way to get into the plank.
- Lower both your forearms to the ground so that both your elbows and fists are flat to the ground. Your palms should be balled up, and directly underneath your shoulders.
- Curl your toes under and engage your abs by tilting your pelvis and pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Straighten your body but keep your neck and spine neutral. Imagine that you’re a plank of wood, and that you’re straight as an arrow.
- Flex your abdominals and squeeze your glutes. These are the two major muscle groups you’ll be working out in this exercise.
- Hold this position, also known as the plank, for 60 seconds. Keep your eyes on the floor in front of you. Avoid raising your behind. Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the back of your head.
Side Planks: 3 sets of 60 seconds (each side)
- Lie on your left side with your knees straight.
- Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Position your elbow under your shoulder.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
- Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Your head should stay in line with your body.
- Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time while breathing deeply. That’s one set.
- Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.
Supermans: 3 sets of 60 seconds
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
- Hold for 40 seconds and lower back down.
Long Arm Crunches: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Lie on a mat and extend the arms straight out behind the head with hands clasped, keeping the arms next to the ears.
- Contract the abs and lift the shoulder blades off the floor.
- Keep the arms straight and avoid straining the neck. If you feel neck pain, take one hand behind the head while keeping the other arm extended.
- Lower and repeat.
Cool down: Complete your 5 minutes of bracing and hallowing exercises as mentioned in Chapter One to help activate the TVA followed by 10 minutes of walking or light jogging.
Warm Up: HIIT workout from Chapter 5.
Reverse Crunches: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Lie down on the floor with your legs fully extended and arms to the side of your torso with the palms on the floor. Your arms should be stationary for the entire exercise.
- Move your legs up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and feet are together and parallel to the floor. This is the starting position.
- While inhaling, move your legs towards the torso as you roll your pelvis backwards and you raise your hips off the floor. At the end of this movement your knees will be touching your chest.
- Hold the contraction for a second and move your legs back to the starting position while exhaling.
Knee to Elbow Planks: 3 sets of 12 reps (each side)
- Begin in the top of a pushup position with hands directly beneath your shoulders.
- Tighten your abs and bring one knee to the outside of the same arm, pausing for a moment before straightening the leg back behind you.
- Keep the leg elevated and repeat the movement.
Bicycle Crunches: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Keep a mat on the floor and lie on it.
- Now keep your hands behind your head and interlock your fingers. Also put your feet in air.
- Now lift your head up and touch your right elbow to the left knee while pulling your leg up towards your head.
- Do the opposite with left elbow and right knee.
Russian Twists: 3 sets of 12 reps (alternate)
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot from your butt.
- Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don’t let it curve.
- Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
- Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one rep.
Cool Down: Complete your 5 minutes of bracing and hallowing exercises as mentioned in Chapter One to help activate the TVA followed by 10 minutes of walking or light jogging.
Yoga poses from Chapter 3.
Warm up: HIIT workout from Chapter Five.
Lying Leg Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (each side)
- Use a bench if there’s one available or anchor both hands beneath your buttocks. Letting your legs hang off the edge will increase your range of motion
- Place your hands under your glutes with your palms facing down. Keep your legs as straight as possible, and hold a dumbbell between your feet if you want added resistance.
- Slowly raise your legs perpendicular to the floor. Hold the contraction at the top for a second, then slowly lower your legs to the start position.
Flutter Kicks: 3 sets of 60 seconds
- Start by lying flat on your back on a mat with your arms by your sides and your palms down.
- Extend your legs fully out with a slight bend in your knees.
- Lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor.
- Make small, rapid up and down scissor-like motions with your legs. The key is to focus on having your midsection do all the work and to keep your abs constantly contracted throughout the exercise.
Side Jackknives: 3 sets of 12 reps (each side)
- Lying on your right side and keeping your left leg over your right one, place your right hand in a comfortable spot and clasp your left hand behind your head.
- Bring your torso and left leg toward each other as you pull with your obliques.
- Squeeze for a moment and return to the starting position.
Leg Circles: 3 sets of 12 reps (both directions)
- Lie on the ground in a hollow body position and keep hands pressed against the floor
- Make a full circular motion with legs in either left or right direction
- The goal is to maximize the diameter of the circle allowing the hips to lift off the ground
- Straight legs and pointed toes is a must!
Cool Down: Complete your 5 minutes of bracing and hallowing exercises as mentioned in Chapter One to help activate the TVA followed by 10 minutes of walking or light jogging.
Warm Up: HIIT workout from Chapter 5.
Crossover Leg Scissors: 3 sets of 12 reps (alternating)
- Lie face up on the floor, extend your legs straight up to the ceiling and lower them to a 45-degree angle.
- Place your hands on the floor at the sides of your body.
- Alternatively, sit on a chair with your legs extended parallel to the floor, and grasp the sides of the chair with your hands for support.
- Tighten your abdominals, point your toes and open your legs about 2 feet into a v-shape.
- Pause two seconds before slowly bringing your legs toward each other and crossing your right leg over your left leg.
- Spread your legs about 2 feet again, and this time when you close them, cross your left leg over your right leg.
Sit Ups: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Have your knees bent and the balls of your feet and heels placed flat on the ground.
- Place your hands on opposing shoulders, so that your arms are crossed over your chest, or behind your head. This allows you a central rising point.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles gently by drawing in your belly button to your spine
- Keeping your heels on the ground and your toes flat to the ground, slowly and gently lift your head first, followed by your shoulder blades. Focus your eyes on your bent knees, all the while gently contracting the abdominal muscles. Pull up from the floor until you’re at a ninety-degree angle, or when the elbows are on, or past, the knees.
- Hold the position for a second. Slowly bring the torso back to the floor but try to keep it slightly elevated off the ground. This means not to place your back flat to the ground but to keep a slight, yet relaxed, arch.
Deadbugs: 3 sets of 12 reps (alternating)
- Begin lying on your back with your hands extended above you toward the ceiling.
- Bring your feet, knees, and hips up to 90 degrees.
- Exhale hard to bring your ribcage down and flatten your back onto the floor, rotating your pelvis up and squeezing your glutes. Hold this position throughout the movement. This will be your starting position.
- Initiate the exercise by extending one leg, straightening the knee and hip to bring the leg just above the ground.
- Maintain the position of your lumbar and pelvis as you perform the movement, as your back is going to want to arch.
- Stay tight and return the working leg to the starting position.
Heel Touches: 3 sets of 12 reps (alternating)
- Lie on the floor with the knees bent and the feet on the floor around 18-24 inches apart. Your arms should be extended by your side. This will be your starting position.
- Crunch over your torso forward and up about 3-4 inches to the right side and touch your right heel as you hold the contraction for a second. Exhale while performing this movement.
- Now go back slowly to the starting position as you inhale.
- Now crunch over your torso forward and up around 3-4 inches to the left side and touch your left heel as you hold the contraction for a second.
- Exhale while performing this movement and then go back to the starting position as you inhale. Now that both heels have been touched, that is considered 1 repetition.
Cool Down: Complete your 5 minutes of bracing and hallowing exercises as mentioned in Chapter One to help activate the TVA followed by 10 minutes of walking or light jogging.
*If you do not wish to rest, jogging or your yoga exercises would be great for today.*
*If you do not wish to rest, jogging or your yoga exercises would be great for today.*
This completes the Abs after Baby workout program.
I wish all of you ladies a happy transformation to getting your best abs ever! If you have any questions regarding the series or to send me your before and afters please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now go and get your best abs ever! You deserve it. 🙂