When Hollywood moms like Jessica Alba, Ashlee Simpson-Ross and Halle Berry want to get into shape post-pregnancy the healthy way, they enlist the help of celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza. Braganza's 3-2-1 Baby Bulge Be Gone program is proof you don't need to starve yourself or embark on a ridiculously rigorous workout regimen to get your pre-pregnancy body back.
In fact, the 12-week, three-part diet and fitness plan encourages realistic weight loss of one to two pounds per week — meaning you could potentially lose up to 25 pounds in just 12 weeks. Each phase of the program lasts two to four weeks, depending on how your body is responding.
"For most new mothers, time and location are often major impediments to beginning and sticking with an exercise program," Braganza explains to LIVESTRONG about why she started the popular program, which is both realistic and easy to follow.
The program increases in time needed and difficulty only as trainees get in better shape, thereby shifting the 3-2-1 ratio according to their individual progress. The best part? Every phase of the regimen can be done at home with a modest gym and in minimal time.
Braganza's Baby Bulge Be Gone plan is available as a DVD set on her website, but the trainer-to-the-stars is giving us a run-down of what her effective, post-pregnancy slim-down program entails.
Pre-Phase One: Baby Steps
You just had a baby and it's likely that your body — or your mind — isn't prepared for a rigorous workout. However, that doesn't mean you should forgo all physical exercise in lieu of the couch. During the first two to six weeks after giving birth, Braganza suggests that new moms take baby steps to prepare themselves for the program.
She recommends restorative exercises like Kegel's, stretching and walking. She also encourages self care, which can come in the form of Ayurvedic oils and massage. She encourages consuming comforting foods during this time period to support recovery and healing as well as lactation for breast-feeding moms.
"In this phase it is not impossible for new moms to lose ten pounds, depending on how much weight they have gained," she explains. This was the case for her recent client Ashlee Simpson-Ross, who dropped her initial ten pounds before even beginning Phase One of Braganza's Baby Bulge Be Gone.
Phase One: Tighten the Core
Your body has mostly recovered from childbirth and your physician has given you the okay to start working out again. The first official phase of Braganza's program — which she suggests starting at around two-weeks postpartum pending your physician's approval — encourages new moms to ease back into a workout routine with a 20-minute workout emphasizing core.
"I like to get my clients back in the habit of exercising by doing a short workout consisting of three parts core, two parts cardio and one part circuit," Braganza explains. During this initial stage you will focus on simple but effective exercises that tighten the core. Below are two examples of phase one exercises:
The Bridge: "This move builds strength in the glutes, activates the pelvic floor, promotes circulation to the healing tissues and provides a gentle inversion to encourage the internal organs to settle back in their place," explains Braganza. Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on floor. Raise hips by pressing into feet and squeezing glutes. Pause at the top then lower back to start. Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.
The Clam: "This will help build strength in the gluteus medius, activate the pelvic floor, and engage the deep abdominals," she says. Lay on your side, placing one leg on top of the other, with knees slightly bent. Keep feet touching as you separate your knees by raising your top leg. Pause then lower, repeat 10 times for 3 sets.
As for diet, Braganza explains that this phase is focused on providing nutrient dense foods to speed up the healing process, but also includes meal replacement shakes (like the one below) to promote weight loss and increase metabolism.
- 1 scoop
of raw protein meal powder
- 4 oz. Almond
- 1 cup of ice
Phase 2: Burn Baby Fat, Burn!
In the second phase of BBBG, generally covering weeks five to eight, Braganza ups the intensity a little bit, suggesting 40 minutes of exercise per day at least four days per week and putting more focus on cardio. This is where the magic really starts to happen, as cardio helps increase caloric burn and speed up metabolism.
This phase works out to three parts cardio, two parts core and one part circuit, and includes fun aerobic activities. Braganza explains that with Simpson-Ross this came in the form of dance, as the mother-of-two is a performer. Other cardio options include kickboxing and jump-roping.
As for diet, more emphasis is put on cutting calories. However, don't expect to subsist on 1200 calories per day. Braganza doesn't recommend consuming anything less than 1800 calories per day, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Phase 3: Pump it Up
The final phase, occurring during weeks eight through 12, focuses on strength training. During this period she recommends one-hour workouts three to four days a week, with three parts cardio, two parts circuit and one part core. "The focus is muscle building and toning and involves body weight and dumbbell exercises," she explains.
Generally, this is the phase where most of the weight loss takes place. Simpson-Ross, for example, dropped 15 pounds during this stage, while she lost ten in each of the other stages. Braganza suggests full-body exercises, rotated daily that are "never boring and often challenging."
As for diet, the focus is on protein consumption, reduction of carbs and occasionally using detox drinks, such as the one below, as fuel.
Lemon, Cumin, Ginger Tea Detox Drink
- 1 12-ounce
spring or filtered water, slightly warm
- 1 teaspoon
- Juice of 1/2
- 1/2-inch knob
of ginger root, finely grated
Post-Phase 3: Keep it Going
At this point it is likely you have dropped a lot of your baby weight — but now you have to keep it off! While this phase is optional, Branganza maintains that it is crucial, as it involves making the 3-2-1 Training Method a way of life program. This phase involves teaching people about how to avoid hitting a weight loss plateau and introduces them to ways of staying motivated in all areas of health and fitness. It is also during this stage that most people lose the remainder of their baby weight and have the opportunity of getting into their best shape ever.