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In a feature article in Lucky magazine’s September 2011 issue, cover girl Jessica Alba offers her post-baby get-in-shape tips. It’s some of the most irresponsible fitness advice I’ve seen in print, not just for women in general, but especially for new moms.
Among the actress’ advice:
“I have a hard time with portion control, so I have 1,200-calorie meals delivered. But I also work out, so basically I’m starving – it sucks. I drink a lot of water.”
Where do I begin? I’m no fitness or nutrition expert, but my understanding is that a 1,200-calorie diet isn’t enough for the average woman; and certainly you’d need a higher caloric intake if you’re working out as much as Jessica (wait to see next point below). Also, if she feels like she’s basically starving? She’s definitely not getting enough. Then for the sake of argument let’s make the assumption she’s breastfeeding (the article doesn’t address whether or not she is) – the average woman burns about 500 calories a day breastfeeding alone – and Jessica is scarily undernourished.
“To get back in shape, I start by exercising for about an hour a day, then go up to three hours, five days a week. I do a lot of cardio and some core strengthening.”
Three hours a day?? Five days a week?? How unrealistic for any woman, let alone a mom juggling work and caring for a baby. Trust me, as a new mom myself I’m lucky if I can grab 5 minutes for a shower (I’ve come to understand my hair just won’t get washed every day anymore) let alone a block of three hours to do…any one thing. Add to that how excessive three hours of exercise, five days a week is for most women, unless you’re a professional athlete or in training for some sporting event, and the advice is irresponsible and unrealistic.
Women are always curious how the stars and their bodies bounce back so quickly after giving birth. Reading this in a magazine can be so harmful and misleading to women. I think I’m particularly sensitive to her advice as a new mom, since only now do I have an understanding of how much energy caring for a newborn takes, and just how hard it is to lose that baby weight.
Women, and moms, need to remember to read these things critically – if we can remember to do anything at all after all those middle-of-the-night feedings.