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By Jaime Longval, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Created: 09/23/2009
Last Updated: 07/24/2012

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Q: I had a baby six months ago. I've started doing my cardio workouts again, but I can't seem to lose the excess weight around my belly. Any ideas?

If you are doing cardiovascular exercise regularly, you are on the right track! To rev up your metabolism more, add strength training. You'll burn calories, plus the added muscle will keep your metabolism running faster—making it easier to shed pounds. This is the only way to lose fat regardless of where it sits on your body.

Having a baby has added a few pounds and stretched your abdominal muscles. You will lose body fat through healthy nutrition, cardiovascular workouts and training your abdominals back to their original shape.

I recommend fitting in some kind of cardio activity two to three times a week and 30 to 45 minutes of strength training at least three times a week. Try these Pilates exercises to help your muscles:

Pilates Single Leg StretchPilates Single Leg Stretch
Lie on back, knees bent to your chest. Hold knees loosely with hands and elbows pointing out. Exhale, engage your abdominals and curl your head and upper torso forward.

On your next exhale, stretch your right leg out, taking hold of your left knee with your right hand. Keep the extended leg in line with your shoulder. Maintain the curve of the upper torso and keep your shoulders down.

As you exhale, change legs, taking hold of your right knee with your left hand and your right ankle with your right hand. Try not to use the arms to pull the leg in. Maintain the curve of the upper torso as you alternate legs; repeat 16 times.

If you feel strain in the lower back, keep the straight leg higher by reaching for the ceiling. For neck strain, support neck and shoulders with a pillow folded in half.

Pilates Obliques

Lie on your back with knees bent into your chest and arms behind your head. Exhale, engage your abdominals and curl your head and upper torso forward. Without letting the back arch, move both knees forward until they are directly over your hips. Exhale, extending one leg out, and twist the upper torso toward the bent leg. Inhale as you bring the torso back to the center and return the straight leg to the beginning position. Keep head and torso forward; alternate legs 16 times.
Pilates Obliques

For low-back tension, keep legs bent or on the floor until you are stronger. If neck tension occurs, use a rolled-up pillow to support the head and neck.

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