By Kate Horney
1. Go slow & steady. So many women are so excited to lose their baby weight, but remember- even amidst the excitement- to do so in a slow, healthy and sustainable way. Losing weight too quickly will only add to the problem of loose skin. If you lose weight quickly you will lose both fat and muscle. Muscle is a key factor not only in keeping your metabolism working properly, but also in giving you a tight, toned and lean shape that you want. Simply put: Muscle helps your skin to keep it’s shape. Your skin needs time to adjust to it’s new shape when you lose weight. If you loose it too quickly, you may just end up with even more loose skin. Allow your skin time to regain it’s elasticity. A general rule of thumb is to aim for losing around 1-2 lbs per week.
2. Prioritize Protein. If you want to build muscle, protein should be your focus (along with fresh, fibrous produce). Not only is protein it good for muscle growth, but it also contains important nutrients that help your skin stay healthy (we’ll talk about collagen in just a bit). How much protein you need depends on your weight as well as how much physical activity and strength training you do, but a general rule of thumb for most women is to aim for .8-1g of protein per pound of body weight.
3. Stay hydrated. Water will help hydrate your skin, making it more elastic. It will help your body to burn calories more effectively. On top of that, it will help reduce water retention in your belly area, which may make the appearance of loose skin less noticeable. If you haven’t been drinking your H20, here’s a good reason to start. In addition to making sure your skin stays hydrated from the inside (aim for 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily) some research suggests that lotion and vitamin creams may also help outer layers of your skin stay hydrated and improve appearance. Use a lotion on your skin that contains collagen, as well as vitamins E, A, C, and K to help firm up loose skin. When you apply the lotion massage it in. Massaging will improve blood flow to the area which helps your skin to appear firmer. Try massaging lotion to any loose skin once or twice a day.
4. Weight Train. Many moms miss the connection between lifting weights and tightening loose skin. They are afraid to strength train for fear of “bulking up” but what many women don’t understand is that strength training will actually help improve your over all muscle tone and will give you more lean muscle, resulting in a higher metabolism and a tighter, more toned look. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Lifting weights will improve your body composition (the percentage of lean muscle to body fat) and by improving your body composition, you will reduce fat not just along your waist and underneath loose skin, but all over your body
5. Improve Skin Elasticity. When skin loses elasticity, it can no longer return to it’s proper size. Skin elasticity naturally decreases as we age, but this is an issue that women of all ages face. In terms of improving elasticity, research shows that this is mostly an inside job. Meaning, the foods we eat- and if you can’t get all the vitamins and minerals you need from whole foods, the supplements we take, can help….
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is essential for producing collagen and elastin. Aging and exposure to sunlight or pollutants deplete the amount of vitamin C in skin, while consuming vitamin C boosts its levels. Studies show that women should get 75 milligrams daily. You can get about 100 percent of your daily intake by eating 1/2 cup of sweet peppers or a medium orange. Other good sources include broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, strawberries and cantaloupe.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E works inside your skin as an antioxidant. Reactive molecules known as free radicals are produced when skin is exposed to sunlight or other environmental stressors. Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals before they harm skin cells in the skin’s barrier. Since sunlight and free radicals also damage collagen and elastin, antioxidant protection helps maintain skin’s strength. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams daily. The best dietary sources are sunflower seeds, wheat germ, peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps regulate the growth of new skin cells. Since new cells form the skin’s protective barrier, they hold in moisture and maintain flexible skin. You also need vitamin B-12, folate and vitamin B-6 for their ability to lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine may block enzymes essential for the normal meshing of collagen and elastin, according to the Medical Biochemistry Researches. Other B vitamins, including biotin and niacin, also contribute to healthy skin. Since these vitamins come from diverse food sources, the best strategy is to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of low sugar fruits, fibrous vegetables, lean protein.
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