Happy New Year! Most of us chime in a new year with new resolutions. But if you just had a baby, keeping those New Year resolutions aren’t quite as easy. Having a new baby changes everything, not to mention our bodies. And shedding those unwanted baby pounds is usually at the top of any new mom resolution list. But how do you do this when you’re tending to a newborn’s needs all day? Or when you get just a few hours a sleep each night? Trust me, even the most physically fit moms before birth are having the same challenges as you. The key is to have patience, take baby steps, get creative, and have fun.

Below is some advice I’ve been given, plus some fantastic local fitness programs perfect for any mom…

Someone once told me it takes nine months for your body to gain the baby weight, so you cannot expect to lose it much sooner than that. That was always my benchmark, and honestly, if I felt “in shape” one year after giving birth then I was pretty proud of myself! We need to give ourselves more credit than what US Weekly or People Magazine expects of new moms. And don’t forget those magazines air brush all those celebrity mom pics!

So getting back to reality – where does one start? Life is certainly overwhelming right now, and where and how can you fit in exercising?

First, depending on how (or when) you gave birth, you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine. You may need to wait several weeks, and if so, don’t stress. Take this time to relax, enjoy your baby, and don’t sweat the moment (there will be plenty of times to sweat in the future!).

When you (and your baby) are ready to begin, take baby steps. No new mother is expected to finish a 5k in record time! Start by recording your workouts in time increments (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour) – and no matter what you can complete initially, know you are a superstar! Then, gradually add to your time increments, and before long, you will be back to your pre-baby work-out times.

Don’t forget that burning fat involves weight training and cardio. Consult an exercise specialist first, but I’ve been told you do not have to kill yourself on a treadmill everyday. You can change it up with weights too. Also take your schedule into consideration. If you work full-time, you might want to consider workouts to a DVD (or Wii Fitness!) or at a local gym or YMCA (they take newborns in their nursery as young as six weeks).

I also just discovered FiF Element Fitness here in Winston-Salem. Led by Founder and Certified Fitness Specialist Cortney Wilson, programs at FiF range from Latin-dance Zumba (which burns over 500 calories); to Zumba Toning (the same Latin-inspired dance workout that uses toning sticks to burn an extra three-four calories per minute);  the Masala Bhangra Workout which is an Indian dance workout that uses spicy Bollywood moves to strengthen and tone your entire body while burning 600 calories; and to ClubKick, a dancey-kickboxing where kickboxing meets the club! All of these programs are fun and involve dance (and who doesn’t love to dance?)

The Masala Bhangra Workout, Zumba, Zumba Toning and ClubKick will all be offered for $5/each from January-March at the new Festival Dance Center, 205 S. Stratford Rd., Stratford Towers beside Space Savers. Monday and Saturday morning classes, along with Tuesday and Wednesday evening classes will be offered. And the best part, you do NOT have to pay for membership. You can pay as you go, or buy classes in bulk. Convenient for both moms who work or stay home! The Festival Dance Center also offers pre-k dance classes for children 3-5 years old, so while moms work off the weight, the children can be working out/dancing out, too! Visit www.winstonsalemfestivalballet.org for info on the pre-k classes.

Two other great programs, particularly for stay-at-home moms (or those who have flexible schedules) are Stroller Strides in Greensboro and Stroller Strength in Winston-Salem.

Stroller Strides is a total fitness program that moms can do with their babies.  It includes power walking and intervals of body toning using the stroller and exercise tubing.  Lauren, who runs Stroller Strides, plans numerous events for moms.  During the winter they workout at Proehlific Park on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30. The first class is always free, and Lauren is always looking for mom’s to come try a class.  You can contact her directly at LaurenHawkins@strollerstrides.net, or call her at 888-239-9453.

In Winston-Salem, Stroller Strength is a workout group, play date and mom support group all rolled into one! To access this group, just log onto www.Meetup.com, and type in “Stroller Strength” under “Topic or Interest” and “Winston-Salem” under “City” and you’ll find this group.

If you can’t do scheduled classes, you can always pull together a group of friends to walk or run together in the morning, mid-day, or evenings – with or without your child. If you’re able, you can leave your baby home for some much needed Daddy-time!

Working out with friends is not only a great motivator, but it’s also fun and makes the time go by quickly. If you aren’t able to organize a group to meet in person, try logging on to www.BabyCenter.com and click on “Community.” There are a bunch of chat groups with other like-minded moms who might share the same exercise challenges and milestones as you!

No matter what you do, be sure to align your exercise program with healthy eating. It’s not only good for you and your baby, but it could help expedite your New Year Resolution!

Good luck, have fun, and we hope you meet your resolutions this year! Have you tried any of these programs listed above? If so, let us know what you think!