Congratulations – you’re a mom! Whether this is your first, second, or fifth child, at some point you’re going to find yourself standing on the scale thinking, “Now what?”.
Most of us already know that exercise is good for us. We’re aware that not only will it increase our strength and energy, it also boosts our self-esteem and floods our brains with endorphins helping us beat the baby blues. And of course, it’s one of the best ways to lose weight.
Unfortunately, our efforts to maintain a fitness regimen often fall flat because we fail to accommodate our new mommy lifestyle, and we use old workouts that are only effective for pre-baby bodies.
Well, newsflash: Now that you’re a mom, the game has changed and the rules are completely different.
You already know that life as you know it will never be the same. Things take a little longer, and you there are certain things that you just can’t do anymore! Your fitness is no exception.
Now that you’ve had a baby (or two, or three) your body is different. Your muscles have a whole new set of memories, and your skeletal system has likely changed as a result of your joints loosening, often with permanent effects such as wider hips and a larger shoe size. If you’ve had a C-section, you will have to take that into account as well.
This is all normal and wonderful. And the sooner you embrace it, the better off you will be mentally and emotionally.
Yes, it is indeed possible not only to regain your pre-baby fitness level, but to exceed it as well. The caveat is that you will not accomplish this by doing the same things that you were doing before! As a mom, you must have a whole new set of tricks.
Keep it Simple at Home
Forget about changing into your Lulus and digging out your Asics. If you can find a few minutes to inject a burst of physical activity into your day, seize the moment and just do it as you are!
You don’t need to change out of your jeans to do a set of squats, you don’t need to wear a sports bra to do push-ups on the kitchen counter, and you certainly don’t need a yoga mat to do yoga – the carpet you’re standing on will do!
When working out at home, perform exercises that utilize your body weight. When time is of the essence and babies abound, equipment is more hazardous than beneficial. I also encourage you to perform your workouts bare-footed; most basic exercises can be done safely without shoes, which pose yet another hazard to curious crawling baby fingers.
Look for yoga, Pilates, or “travel” workouts; these take up the least amount of space, require little to no equipment, and tend to be the most time-efficient.
Register in a Mom and Baby Fitness Program
In my opinion, this is by far one of the most effective ways to make fitness a part of your new mommy lifestyle, especially if you’ve pre-paid for a session in full. You’re more likely to show up even on days when you don’t feel like working out because you’ll want to get your money’s worth!
There are a myriad of mom and baby fitness programs available, including stroller bootcamps, aqua, yoga, Pilates, and even dance! Not only are you almost guaranteed to get a great, uninterrupted workout, but you will be spending quality time with your baby and making friends with other moms.
Join a Gym That Offers Child Minding
If mom and baby fitness programs aren’t an option for you (perhaps due to scheduling conflicts), the next best thing you can do is to join a gym or community centre that offers child minding, and to use it.
I can’t speak for all facilities, but because I teach at three different gyms, my baby goes to three different child minding facilities every week, and he loves it. I know that he is safe and cared for, and I revel in the fact that he gets to socialize with other kids aside from his brother.
The magic of working out at a gym has less to do with the equipment and classes at your disposal, and more to do with the fact that you will be free from household distractions. What could you accomplish in one, focused hour? Imagine the possibilities!
You don’t need to register in stroller bootcamp, mom and baby yoga, and go to the gym every other day in between in order for your fitness routine to be effective. Even one focused workout a week – whether at home or in the gym – can make all the difference.
Some of you might think that one workout a week is not worth the effort, but thinking long-term, if you work out once a week for 12 weeks, you will have done 12 workouts. Don’t you think your body might be a little different after 12 weeks of consistent exercise?
Enjoy the Journey!
Baby won’t be this little forever; treasure every moment. Be kind and gentle to your body – it’s just performed a magnificent feat, and needs to take its own time to heal.
Like climbing the corporate ladder or going back to school, maintaing a fitness routine requires more effort and creativity after having kids. But the benefits far exceed the sacrifices you may have to make, and will only help you enjoy life more as a parent.
Here’s to your health, happiness, and a long, active life for you and your family!