Five Tips for Returning to Exercise Post-Baby

Hello! I am thrilled to share a guest post with you today, that answers one of the most frequently asked questions since I started working out again, six weeks after giving birth to Katie. Each day, at least a few people reach out over email, Facebook, Instagram or blog comments asking for tips for returning to exercise in a safe and healthy manner after giving birth. Since I am not an expert on the topic, I figured I’d enroll the person who helped me return to strength training – Carolyn. Carolyn is a pre and postnatal health coach and personal trainer who lives in Brooklyn. During my maternity leave I had the pleasure of attending her mother & baby workouts with her two times a week for almost three months!  Enjoy!

I’m so excited to be guest posting on Ashley’s blog while she is adjusting to life as a working mom.  My name is Carolyn and I’m a pre and postnatal health coach and personal trainer – and also first-time mom to Charlie who is about to turn 1 year old! Whoever said that with a baby “the days are long but the months are short” nailed it. I have no idea where the time went, but what an amazing journey it has been so far.

When I became pregnant with Charlie, I was in the process of studying for my health coach and personal training certification. As I learned about various dietary theories and fitness components the body needs to thrive, I felt so lucky that I had this information that I could immediately apply to my own pregnancy. Armed with this wealth of knowledge, however, I became hyper-aware of how little we’re counseled on how to have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery unless we actively seek the information out.

In most cases, we’re told by our doctor that whatever form of exercise we were doing before getting pregnant is fine to continue (within reason) and then we’re quickly given the go-ahead to resume all exercise at 6-weeks. I’ll never forget at my 6-week postpartum visit, my OB cleared me to start running again. It was exactly what I was hoping to hear, but I looked at her in total disbelief. My core felt so weak (and by weak I mean non-existent) and my hips and pelvis felt like – well like I had just pushed out a 9-pound baby! I had exercised almost every day before and during my pregnancy, but pounding the pavement felt like the last thing my body needed. Each and every person’s body is different and every recovery is different, so if you were able to lace up your sneaks at 6 weeks – all the power to you! But if you are wondering how to safely ease back into an exercise routine, here are 5 tips to get you started:

  • Listen to your body. Ashley talks a lot about her fitness journey pre, during and post pregnancy and how she is always reminding herself to build back up slowly. This is so important. No matter what kind of birth you had, your body just went through an amazing, life-altering, endurance test and you know yourself best. If something doesn’t feel right, take a pause. Now isn’t the time to force it.
  • Remember to breathe. Did you know the diaphragm is actually the most important muscle of the core? Here’s a test: Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly just below your rib cage. Now take a deep breath. Does your chest or belly rise first? For a variety of reasons, including desk jobs and chronic stress, most of us have become chest breathers, when in fact breathing should come from the diaphragm. While it sounds simple, changing the way you breathe can impact everything from our stress levels to our digestive system.

  • Reconnect with your core. Your core is the foundational aspect of your body that impacts everything else. If you recently had a baby, your core has been stretched in some places, tightened in others, and has been holding everything together for 9 months. It’s tired. It’s weak. It needs some love. Breathing through your diaphragm, doing Kegels and practicing modified abdominal work will help strengthen the inner layer of muscles that have helped carry and protect your little one up until this point.
  • Fire up those glutes. Second in importance to the core, the glutes help support your hips, pelvis and lower back, all of which have shifted around over the past 9 months. Strengthening these guys will help ease any residual aches and pains and provide support to the core. Squats and lunges are the best exercises for your buns and are easily done with baby in tow.
  • Stretch with caution. You may have heard about the hormone Relaxin that is released into your body throughout pregnancy. Its primary job is to loosen up your ligaments to prepare you for childbirth, but while It’s unclear exactly how long your body continues to produce it, some believe it can last up to a year postpartum. So, if you can touch your toes for the first time now that you can finally see them again, just be careful not to get overexcited, it could still be the Relaxin talking. Only stretch out areas that feel tight or like they need to be lengthened to avoid overstretching.

If you have other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and, if you are local, I would love to see you for one of my workouts in Carroll Park or Prospect Park.

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Six Quick, Healthy Filling Snacks


Hello HHL Readers!  My name is Melissa and I am a NYC-based blogger, fitness enthusiast and lover of the delicious food NYC has to offer.  After some time away from blogging, I’m back and excited to share my fresh perspective on fitness, health and nutrition.  Follow me over at FitnessNYC, if you like reading about fitness studios, workout plans and food — both healthy and indulgent! I’m honored to be guest posting on Ashley’s blog, and today I’d like to share with you some of my favorite quick, healthy and filling snacks.


First up are my mini-meal snacks, which are great when I get home from work famished and I know dinner isn’t until 8pm or later.  The three options below are easy to assemble and very satisfying, and they all have fewer calories than your average nutrition bar to boot.

Steamed Vegetables with a Sprinkle of Parmesan


I always have steamed vegetable mixes in my freezer.  When I’m cooking a meal, I almost always use fresh produce, but I find that frozen vegetables are great in a pinch and perfect for a quick, hearty snack.  I just fill a small or medium bowl with whatever frozen vegetables on hand, sprinkle on whatever grated cheese I have on hand, and toss in a few red pepper flakes. Three minutes in the microwave and I have a snack that will keep me full until dinner every time.

Tortilla Melt


Another quick snack that always takes the edge off my hunger is a tortilla melt. I just put a corn tortilla in a skillet and top it with some cheese and salsa (and some TJs cowboy caviar in this case) and warm it up on the stove until the cheese melts.  I find this far more satisfying than a handful of chips and salsa.

Apple and Celery Stuffed Dates

FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRenderWhen I have a sweet tooth, nothing satisfies like a fresh date.  To make it even more of a treat, I like to stuff the dates with apple, celery and nut butter to add volume and texture.  It’s sort of a grown-up version of ants on a log.

When I’m at work, I reach for grab and go snacks that require no preparation.  Here are my top three go to options:



I love pistachios. They’ve always been one of my favorite nuts, so I keep a big back at the ready in my office desk.  I find these are the perfect option when I’m kind of hungry, but also kind of bored.  It takes a while to remove the shell, so unlike most nut snacks, they aren’t gone in a matter of seconds. An ounce of pistachios is 49 nuts, which is twice the amount of many other nuts, so they are a great volume option.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to unshell 49 pistachios in one sitting.

Nu-Gu Fiber D’lish Bars


Lately, I’ve been loving these bars when I need something to satisfy my sweet tooth. They are chewy, sweet and packed with fiber.

String Cheese


String cheese is one of my favorite on the go options because it’s available almost everywhere, drug stores, bodegas, convenience stores, it’s my go to when there aren’t a lot of healthy options and I need a small snack.

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Easy Pan-Roasted Tomato Garlic Spaghetti

Good morning! I’m so thrilled to share one of my favorite recipes with you all while Ashley is focused on Baby Girl Diamond. My blog,  Nourish & Fete,  is a food blog dedicated to making from-scratch cooking approachable, affordable, and delicious. You’ll find everyday recipes that are family-friendly and wholesome, as well as plenty of desserts for the sweet teeth among us! Monica, the cook, baker, and photo-taker, did not grow up knowing her way around the kitchen but has loved learning to cook and nourish family and friends with good food and everyday celebrations.

I am super excited to share this dish with you today – a lightning fast weeknight meal that delivers luscious flavor from simple, fresh ingredients – spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and garlic. The secret to pulling this together is an easy emulsified sauce.

This lightning fast weeknight meal relies on an emulsified sauce to deliver luscious flavor with simple, fresh ingredients - spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.

Normally, we learn that oil and water don’t mix, right? Unless you throw caution to the wind and rapidly boil them together for several minutes, in which case magic happens. The resulting light sauce delivers the flavor of olive oil in a way that doesn’t merely coat but adheres to the pasta.

This lightning fast weeknight meal relies on an emulsified sauce to deliver luscious flavor with simple, fresh ingredients - spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.

This recipe has been in my back pocket for about four and a half years when I dog-eared a particularly delicious-looking page in Cooking Light. But it’s one of those meals I accidentally forget about for months at a time, probably because it is just so simple that it hardly seems like a recipe at all. But that’s a shame because it deserves frequent appearances on the dinner table – mine and yours.

This lightning fast weeknight meal relies on an emulsified sauce to deliver luscious flavor with simple, fresh ingredients - spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and garlic.

Any cherry tomatoes will work for this, but if you can find an heirloom mix, all the better. In addition to infusing the spaghetti with a rich olive oil flavor, the sauce enhances without drowning the roasted tomatoes and garlic. I love to serve this with a simple side salad and call it a day – it’s one of those meals that you leaves you feeling satiated but not the least bit heavy.

Last but not least, I know this post is already a little picture-happy, but I couldn’t resist adding a snapshot of my little sous chef, ready to add some extra grated cheese to the finished product. (He’s got good instincts!)

I hope he’s always this excited to help in the kitchen! Enjoy, friends, and have a nice weekend.

Pan-Roasted Tomato and Garlic Spaghetti

Prep: 5 mins Cook: 15 mins Total: 20 mins

Yield: 3-4 servings


  • • 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • • 8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
  • • 5 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, multicolored if you like
  • • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • • 2-3 oz. parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
  • • 1/4 cup small basil leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tbsp. salt. Add spaghetti and cook

until al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the

cooking water and set aside. Return drained pasta to the pot.

3. In a small saucepan, combine 9 tbsp. of the reserved pasta water with 3 tbsp.

olive oil, and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 4 minutes to emulsify the sauce,

then add it to the pasta and toss to coat.

4. While the pasta cooks, combine 2 tbsp. olive oil, tomatoes, and garlic on a

rimmed baking sheet, and toss to combine. Bake for about 11 minutes, until

tomatoes are lightly browned and just beginning to burst. Add tomato

mixture, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper to the pasta. Toss again to coat, top with

cheese and basil, and serve.

Source: Lightly adapted from Cooking Light, August 2012


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