How to Exercise for Moms

How to Exercise for Moms

If you’re like most moms, squeezing in a simple shower can feel like a luxury–which means less pressing to-dos like figuring out how to exercise are pretty far down on the list of priorities. But while motherhood makes it a little (okay, a lot) harder to fit in a workout, getting in even just a little activity each day has massive benefits for your body and your mind.

Studies suggest that moms who make exercise a regular part of their postpartum routine tend to lose “baby weight” faster, experience less depression and improved mood, and have better overall self-esteem.

Plus, research reveals that exercise can actually make you feel more energized, which is extremely appealing to moms who tend to be sleep deprived.

Okay, so you know you should exercise. But the question remains: With little ones constantly at your feet, how on earth can you possibly work in a workout?

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Here’s how to exercise when you’re a busy mom:

1. Take the Stroller for a Stroll.


Take a daily walk around your neighborhood with your little one. Your baby will love taking in the fresh air, sights and sounds (or, in some cases, the nap!), and you’ll love getting out of the house.

Plus, you’ll burn extra calories while you’re at it. That’s right: Researchers at the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse compared how many calories participants burned walking solo versus walking with a stroller. They found that on average, participants’ calorie burn was 18 percent higher when they walked with a stroller at a pace of three miles per hour than when they walked without a stroller. By picking up the pace, participants burned even more: At 3.5 miles per hour, the stroller-pushing calorie burn was a whopping 20 percent higher.

Make a list of all the parks in the area and walk a new one each week. As you get more comfortable walking with a stroller, consider changing up your path so you encounter more hills, or pick up the pace to boost your burn.

Too cold, hot or rainy for an outdoor walk? Don’t sweat it–just head to your local mall for some indoor laps with your little one.

2. Join a Class.

join a class

In a study published in the Archives of Sports Medicine, moms who participated in “mommy and me” exercise classes reported having significantly less depressive symptoms in the postpartum period than those participating in other activities–or none at all. This makes sense–and not only because exercise releases endorphins, the “happiness hormones.” These types of classes also enable moms to socialize and share with others who understand the unique challenges of motherhood. It’s like a built-in support system.

Many gyms and community centers offer yoga or stroller workout classes for moms with babies and kids. Others offer swimming classes, which expose little ones to the water while providing moms with a low impact resistance workout.

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3. Use Your Body–and Your Baby.

how to exercise

No one knows better than a mom that those tiny little bundles of joy can actually be quite heavy. But this works in your favor if you’re wondering how to exercise as a new mom and you’re willing to incorporate your little one into some resistance training.

Once your baby has sufficient head and neck control–usually around three or four months, you can consider (carefully!) doing squats, lunges, bridges, oblique twists and even overhead presses while holding him or her. You can even carefully hold your baby as you walk up and down your stairs for a great leg and glute workout.

If you’re nervous about including your baby in your workouts, consider squeezing in some planks or push-ups every time you put your baby down for tummy time. Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend starting your baby with two to three tummy time sessions daily, and increasing that number as they get more comfortable with the position. If you do 15 push-ups each time you put your little one down, you’ll be feeling the burn in no time.

4. Form a Mom Squad.

how to exercise

If you’ve got other moms in your social circle who are also wondering how to exercise in between all the to-dos associated with motherhood, set up a weekly get-together during which you all hit the pavement together or rotate houses to do a workout DVD. It’s a great way to burn some calories while squeezing in some social time with other adults. Plus, you’ll hold each other accountable, which will make it difficult to skip a workout.

If the little ones make group activity difficult, consider taking shifts watching the little ones throughout the week so each of you gets a chance to squeeze in a sweat session sans kids.

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5. Move While They Snooze.

how to exercise

Whether you’ve got a new baby or a toddler, chances are good there are some nap times happening in your house. Use half of those times to catch up on some much needed sleep, and the other half to pop in a workout DVD or pull up an exercise video on YouTube and get moving.

Figuring out how to exercise as a mom might be a tricky feat, but it’s not impossible. And, considering all the benefits associated with it, it should definitely be a priority on every mother’s list.

Ready to live healthier with the help of a Nutrisystem meal plan? Get started today! >

Note: If you’re a new mom, be sure to clear all activity with your doctor–some women, especially those who’ve had a cesarean section, are advised to wait till their six week check-up to start exercising again.

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Stressed Out? How to Know If It’s Too Much

Stressed Out? How to Know If It’s Too Much

Feeling stressed out? A little bit of stress is not so bad: It can help keep you alert, on task, and ready to react in an emergency. It’s only when stress becomes chronic, however, that it wreak havoc on your health. Your body will feel the effects; it can impact your mood, change your behavior—and even lead to weight gain.

In one study in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers found women who reported being stressed out within 24 hours of eating a high-fat, high-calorie meal burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women. Though that may not seem like much, that difference could amount to weight gain of almost 11 pounds in one year. The stressed women also had higher levels of insulin, which contributes to the storage of fat.

Also, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to boost your appetite, drive sugar-and-fat-filled food cravings, and make you more likely to accumulate belly fat.

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If you can recognize symptoms of stress, you can better manage them. Feeling particularly irritable or overwhelmed is a tell-tale sign of stress, so are splitting headaches and insomnia. But others signs may not be so obvious. Here are some clues your stress is reaching unhealthy levels:

Here are some clues when feeling stressed out is reaching unhealthy levels:

1. Does your belly ache often?


Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting—these and other gastrointestinal issues are often seen in people who are too stressed out, according to a study published in the International Journal of Stress Management.  Stress can also affect the way food moves through your body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. You’re also more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux. And if you already have a digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), research suggests stress may be associated with an uptick in symptoms.

2. Does your head feel fuzzy?

fuzzy head

When you’re feeling stressed out, you may find yourself losing focus, having a tough time concentrating or making decisions, and even forgetting appointments. Research suggests certain hormones that are released following a stressful event may impair memory.

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3. Are your back and shoulders stiff?

stressed out

Your muscles tense up to protect themselves from injury when you’re stressed out and then release once you relax. But if the stress is continuous, your muscles stay tense—which can lead to back and shoulder pain, body aches, even headache, say experts.

4. Do you have a constant case of the sniffles?

stressed out

A little stress boosts your immune system, which is good when your body is trying to fight an infection and heal wounds. But over time, chronic stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s ability to invading germs. The result: You’re more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and the common cold, as well as other infections, according to the American Institute on Stress. One research review of 27 studies showed that stress was linked to increased susceptibility of developing an upper respiratory infection. Stress can also increase the time it takes you to recover from an illness or injury.

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5. Is your sex drive down?

stressed out

Stress isn’t the only reason your libido is lagging, but it may play a role: A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found women who reported higher levels of daily stress were associated with lower levels of sexual activity and satisfaction. Plus, chronic stress can mess with a women’s menstrual cycle, say experts. It may lead to irregular, heavier or more painful periods, which may dampen your desire. For men, chronic stress may cause a man’s testosterone levels to drop, which could lead to erectile dysfunction or impotence.

Check out hundreds of other lifestyle tips here >

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Bored With Your Gym Routine? Sandbags Can Help!

Bored With Your Gym Routine? Sandbags Can Help!

Chances are you’ve passed over the sandbags at your gym and I totally get it. If you haven’t used sandbags before, it can be difficult to understand how best you can incorporate them into your workout routine. I am here to change that! Sandbags are an awesome choice for improving both strength and coordination. Read on for all the info you need about how to use sandbags and why you should add them into your gym routine. 

When I think about what equipment I want to use with my clients I ask myself:

  • Is this an effective tool for developing strength and movement?
  • Does it meet my demands for functional training—meaning: does it improve the body’s ability to function efficiently on all planes and can I increase levels on complexity of time to stress the kinetic chain?
  • Do I have an understanding of how to use it and—more importantly—how to coach someone using it?

Sandbags are a great tool that hit on all my requirements. The sandbag, if used correctly, can increase inter-muscular coordination and encourages your body to reproduce correct movement patterns and form. Sandbags are particularly great for working on your holding position, body position, and planes of motion. 

Holds, Body Positioning, Planes of Motion and How They Work  

Holding position refers to how we progressively change how we hold the sandbag in efforts to change the stress applied to the body.  A barbell, for example, has four or five different positions while a sandbag has more than ten. When we change how we hold the sandbag, you exert more energy—making sandbags a fantastically efficient strength training tool.

Body positionrefers to how we stand when we lift the sandbag. Making slight changes to our body position can completely change how an exercise feels. Performing a clean in a staggered stance, for example, completely changes the exercise and how your body responds to it. 

Planes of motion are the dimensions in which our bodies move. There are three planes of motion: transverse, frontal and sagittal. Because we don’t move in a single dimension (it would be impossible!), we shouldn’t train that way. Introducing different ways to utilize your planes of motionworks best by first resisting them with movements like shoulder squats, rotational lunges, and lateral drags like in DVRT Training.

Try fitting a few of these in to your workouts:

{see PDF}

Have you used the sandbags before? Are you willing to give them a shot after learning a bit more about them? Tell us in the comments and get… bagging! 

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Healthy Pizza Recipes | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Healthy Pizza Recipes | The Leaf Nutrisystem Blog

Pizza holds the top spot on your list of favorite foods: The zesty sauce, tender crust—and all. that. cheese. When you’re trying to lose weight, you know picking up a pie from your favorite shop can derail your goals. But it’s tough to give up that little slice of heaven. Guess what? You don’t have to with these healthy pizza recipes!

With these 11 healthy pizza recipes, you still get the tastes and flavors you love, but with diet-approved ingredients to help reduce the fat and calories.

1. Eggplant Margherita Pizza >

healthy pizza recipes pizza eggplant with tomatoes and Basil

For the pizza purist: Marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and handfuls of fresh basil top eggplant round “crusts” for a more nutritious version of a plain pie. Pop them in the oven for about 25 minutes and voila—yummy, melt-in-your-mouth mini pizzas. Can’t stop at one? Not a problem. You can indulge in four pies for only 120 guilt-free calories. On Nutrisystem, one serving counts as one PowerFuel and one Vegetable. Now that’s one healthy pizza recipe!

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2. Sausage and Pepper Eggplant Pizza >

healthy pizza recipes Eggplant-Sausage-and-Pepper-Pizza

Meat lovers can have their pie, and eat it too. Circles of eggplant serve as the base for browned chicken sausage, provolone cheese, sauce and slices of green bell pepper. Two hearty pizzas weigh in at 224 calories, and count as two PowerFuels and ½ Vegetable on Nutrisystem.

3. Air Fryer Mexican Pizza >

healthy pizza recipes Air-Fryer-Mexican-Pizza

All the south-of-the-borders flavors you want, with mucho less fat and calories—thanks to the air fryer. To make this healthy pizza recipe, first brown some ground turkey with cumin, chili and garlic powder and toss with cilantro and green onions. Spoon the zesty turkey crumbles on top of a tortilla, along with a handful of spinach and shredded Mexican cheese, and bake in the air fryer. Serve with salsa and sliced avocado for a delicious Flex Meal fiesta. Each serving counts as one SmartCarb, two PowerFuels and one Extra.

4. Deep Dish Pizza Cups >

pizza cups

Smooth sauce, melted mozzarella and your pick of pizza topping—all nestled into one delicious whole wheat cup. Whether you opt for zesty sliced peppers or mini pepperoni, savory mushrooms or sautéed spinach, you can personalize each bite with your favorite flavors. One serving contains 148 calories, with nearly seven grams of satisfying protein and three grams of filling fiber. The best part: It’s ready in 10.

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5. Pizza Stuffed Chicken >


Sure, you can put chunks of chicken onto your pizza and call it a day. Or you could flip that dish inside out for an inspired twist on a traditional pie. Stuff a boneless breast with the pizza standards: Tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni, shredded cheese and lots of minced garlic. Then top with more of the same deliciousness and bake for a meal will no doubt impress even your pickiest dining guests. On Nutrisystem, it counts as one PowerFuel and one Extra.

6. Roasted Red Pepper Eggplant Pizza >


Give your pizza a Mediterranean makeover—complete with hummus, thinly-sliced roasted red pepper, sautéed spinach and garlic and even crumbled feta. Each eggplant pie contains enough healthy fat to satisfy your hunger, but is light enough at 260 calories for four pizzas to leave a little room for dessert. One serving counts as one PowerFuel, one SmartCarb, and one Extra on Nutrisystem.

7. Ricotta Pesto Eggplant Pizza >


This pizza might take the win for best presentation: Rounds of eggplant, layered with bright green pesto, creamy ricotta and thin slices of delicate figs. Finish off with a drizzle of balsamic for a pie that will please your eyes as much as your palate. Two pizzas contain 153 calories.

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8. Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Pizza >


You’ve mashed it like potatoes and riced it like, well, rice. Not try your hand at morphing cauliflower into light, low carb crust. Trust that it’s worth the effort: This cruciferous veggie is low in calories and packed with nutrients and filling fiber. And its mild flavor makes it the perfect base for other healthy pizza recipes and your favorite pizza toppers—like red peppers, mushrooms and spinach. On Nutrisystem, one serving counts as one PowerFuel and three Vegetables.

9. Thai Eggplant Pizza > 


Peanut butter. That’s right—creamy, spicy peanut butter is the “sauce” on this unique healthy pizza recipe. The heat comes from the chili paste; the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil add the Asian flavors. On top: Chicken, red peppers, green onions—and of course mozzarella, plus a sprinkle cilantro for a burst of freshness. Who ever said healthy food was boring? One serving contains 146 calories and counts as one PowerFuel and one Extra.

10. Roasted Garlic Eggplant Pizza >

rosted-garlic-eggplant-pizza healthy pizza recipes

Roasted garlic. Need we say any? If so, this clove of deliciousness combines with creamy ricotta cheese and mozzarella, spinach and oregano seasoning atop an eggplant round for a perfect mix of flavors. Enjoy two for only 104 calories.

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11. Air Fryer Pizza Rolls > 


Forget those pizza bites you had as a kid from the frozen food aisle: These homemade versions are so much healthier, and so easy to make. All you need is four ingredients: Sauce, cheese, turkey pepperoni slices and ready-made wonton wrappers. Pop them in the air fryer for a few minutes, and out come crispy, golden brown pizza bites that are lower in calories and packed with flavor. Two pizza rolls weigh in at 67 calories and count as two Extras.

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Sliders Deserve Your Attention in the Gym, Here’s Why

Sliders Deserve Your Attention in the Gym, Here’s Why

Sliders, they don’t look like much, but when used properly they will light up your core and help you work muscles you didn’t even know you had. You may not think much of the circular, slippery discs but once you give them a try—you’ll understand the hype. Sliders have the potential to turn average exercise movements such as planks or lunges into super-charged, resistance-packed power moves. Sliders are also great because they aren’t bulky or expensive meaning you can easily keep a set at home so you can make healthy happen inside and outside the gym. If you’re new to sliders, read on and learn all the ways this slick gym accessory can up your workout game and challenge you to push yourself harder! 

What Do Sliders Do? 

Sliders, much like their name suggests, create slight instability that requires you to work harder to keep your balance and forces your whole body to stabilize you throughout the movement. When your body is working in overdrive to keep you upright, your muscles are firing on all cylinders, making an even greater impact on your workout than without. Think of a reverse lunge, they’re difficult—but you’re able to keep your balance fairly easily as you dip into the position. When you add a slider into the equation and glide back into the exercise, your core begins to power up to keep you aligned and your quads have to work even harder to get you back into standing position as you complete your lunge. Now imagine doing five sets of 10 reverse lunges with the gliders and you’ll have a good idea of how much of an impact those small, non-descript discs can make on a workout. 

How Can I Use Them? 

Sliders are awesome for many reasons, but their versatility is hard to beat. Because they can be used to modify traditional exercises—you can incorporate them into a myriad of workouts. Upper body, lower body, core—sliders can be used to strengthen every area of your body without strenuous impact as you glide rather than connect with the ground. They are a great addition for anybody no matter their fitness level.

Try 10 repetitions of the below circuit. Complete 2-3 rounds at your own pace with nothing but a set of sliders and medicine ball.

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Pinwheel Recipes: A Mouthwatering Trend

Pinwheel Recipes: A Mouthwatering Trend

Pinwheel recipes are easy to make and even more fun to eat. It’s no wonder they’re the hottest trend in sandwiches. All you have to do is roll and slice, and you’ve got a lovely presentation that almost looks too good to eat—almost. With some of the delectable pinwheel recipes out there, you certainly wouldn’t deprive yourself of trying them! And there are lots of ways to get healthy with pinwheels, too. You can mix in veggies, lean proteins and other healthful ingredients, giving your dish as much nutritional power as flavor. When packed with healthy ingredients, pinwheel recipes can make for ideal flex meals.

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If you’re on the hunt for tasty but guilt-free pinwheel recipes, here are three you’ve got to try:

1. Roasted Red Pepper & Turkey Pinwheel Wraps >


To kick off our list of pinwheel recipes, we’ve got a classic. There’s nothing quite like a good turkey sandwich and by making it a pinwheel, you’ll enjoy this one even more. In this simple recipe, you’ve got the lean protein of turkey paired with baby spinach leaves, hummus and roasted red peppers. All wrapped up in a fiber-rich whole wheat tortilla, it’s a lunch you can feel good about eating. After all, there’s a lot of nutrition packed into those pint-sized pinwheels. Spinach is a nutrient-dense vegetable that contains vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, calcium and carotenoids. Red peppers are also packed with antioxidants, increasing the health benefits even more. One tortilla wrap should produce about six pinwheels and all six count as one serving. On the Nutrisystem plan, a serving counts as one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and two Extras.

2. Cranberry Walnut Pinwheel Wraps >

cranberry walnut

There are so many ways to get creative with pinwheels—and this recipe is one of them. It shows that you can create delicious pinwheel roll-ups even without the meat. This delightful treat combines the unexpected ingredients of goat cheese, nonfat cream cheese, fresh orange juice, dried cranberries and walnuts. The cheeses and juice are mixed to create a delicious and creamy spread and the cranberries and walnuts are added in for a sweet and salty flavor combo—and chewy/crunchy texture mix! Wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla, this pinwheel is sure to become a favorite. Each whole wheat tortilla wrap will produce about six pinwheels and three count as one serving, clocking in at 246 calories. On the Nutrisystem plan, one serving equates to one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and one Extra.

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3. Chicken Taco Pinwheel Wraps >

pinwheel recipes

If it’s more of a zesty recipe you’re looking for, then you’ve got to try this Chicken Taco Pinwheel wrap. To make the easy filling, you’ll combine shredded chicken with low-fat Mexican cheese, nonfat cream cheese, salsa and some chili powder. Then spread the mixture across a whole wheat tortilla and roll it all up. It’s perfect for a unique meal on Taco Tuesday! And at just 164 calories, this is a dish that will fulfill your craving for Mexican food but won’t set your healthy eating plan on a detour. When done, the recipe will make six pinwheels and three count as a serving—so feel free to share with a buddy or save some for later. On the Nutrisystem plan a single serving counts as one PowerFuel and two Extras.

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