Diet and Exercise. There is really no way around it but good ol' diet and exercise.
I exercised while I was pregnant so as not to shock my body by being idle. That would quickly fatten anybody up! It is not ok to overindulge while you're pregnant. YOU ARE NOT EATING FOR TWO! Whoever said that can eat my shorts! The baby's stomach is so puny, there's no way you can fit another Royale with Cheese in there! A woman's body is perfectly designed to provide for the unborn baby's nutritional needs, so chill. Eat to nourish your body, eat right, eat healthy.
My rule of thumb was (I do not remember the source): It took 9 months to gain all that pregnancy weight (which, as I have mentioned before, essential in milk production), I should give myself a year to lose it... or maybe a little bit more. I didn't want to be too strict with myself, I wanted to enjoy motherhood and everything else that came with it including losing my momma fat so I went easy on myself.
The game plan: I will give my body time to recover. I will not jump into some fancy Hollywood Dr. Zhivago diet crap, it never works anyway. When my body has recovered (maybe 2 weeks), I will slowly put it in a healthy caloric deficit by cutting down on my food intake until I have reached a healthy range of about 1800-2000 calories a day, broken into 5 small meals throughout the day. I will educate myself and choose my food wisely. I will breastfeed as this burns quite a chunk of calories. Finally, I will exercise (gently) as soon as feel that I can and as soon as my Doctor gives me the thumbs up (about 8 weeks after giving birth).
Of that lot, monitoring my calorie intake was the hardest! Keeping a notebook of all things that went inside my mouth and figuring out the amount of calories per serving was just obsessive. I had to ask for help from a nutritionist because the amount of calories in a serving of Adobong Batangas is not common knowledge! But after a while, I got the hang of things and would just jot down a ballpark number for my meals.
Find the right exercise that suits you. Oh my gulay! I hate going to the gym, it's such a chore!!! I don't think I release endorphins or popularly know as runners high. I tried so many programs, doing free trials everywhere until I found one that inspired me and made me feel good. Have a REALISTIC number of pounds to lose each week, slowly work your way to that number. I think, 1.5 pounds each week is a good number. I don't like being boot camped when I work out (although some people prefer this), I like to work at my own pace, but you have to push yourself to do it. Nothing is going to happen if we are tatamad-tamad. Lastly, we should never compare ourselves to others. Some lucky chick may not have to work as hard as the others while some may have to double up on the cardio, what matters is the quality of the journey towards the goal.
Remember, diet and exercise. This is the only combination that works.