Co-authored by Heidi Hayes & Sadie Prise
Remember that one time when you had all that free time, you know - the glory days where you could sleep in, drink (HOT) coffee, shower, go to yoga on Saturdays mornings and work on that 6-pack. Having a new baby changes EVERYTHING and sometimes we just get so busy taking care of everyone else we forget to take care of ourselves. But think about it - if you aren’t taking care of your self can you really take care of anyone else?
For many new mothers, exercise and eating right takes a backseat to more pressing matters - like sleep (if we can get any), or catching up on the loads on dirty onesies (like seriously how much poop can one little human create) trying to make the perfect homemade baby food (check out the blog story here) and making sure the house doesn’t burn down. But as mentioned above, sometimes Mama needs a minute or 20 FOR HERSELF and it's OKAY to admit it. Remember how good you used to feel after you exercised? YOU could conquer the world with your trusty pair of Nikes and your hot pink headband, anything was possible and now that seems impossible.
Between the feedings, burping, changing and breathing that’s all you have time for, but you’ll find you have renewed energy for yourself, your spouse and your tiny human(s) if you make time for even short bursts of exercise. Some exercise is better than no exercise even if it's only 8-10 minutes and it will do you a world of good! Plus, babies, toddlers and kids are watching you ALL the time! Yes, even when you lock yourself in the pantry and sneak a bar of chocolate because you can’t remember the last time you didn’t have to share.. they’re watching you. Think of all the healthy habits you can instill in their little minds at a young age by them watching you sweat it out… it might not be pretty and you might have spit up on your shoulder but you are GETTING IT DONE. Below are some tips to help you rock a little workout and feel like the powerful Mama you are!
Tip #1 Stay Confident
First off, when you go to put that pair of super skinny lululemons you used to wear to rock your first workout post baby and they are tight - DON’T FREAK OUT. Don’t negative self talk, you literally just grew a human for 9 months. You are a warrior queen so embrace your body for everything it can do, stretch marks and all! Your weight and your body will be changing back to normal and your skin has literally been stretched out a ton! We can’t just snap ourselves back to normal overnight. Time is your friend. Find something you feel confident in, maybe that means hitting up the racks at Tjmaxx or Target. A new pair of workout pants or a top can be super motivating. Treat yourself Mama - you deserve something that’s not stained in diaper cream or spit up!
Tip #2 Put Clothes On and Plan It Out
Lets be honest, it’s a miracle you might have even gotten a few hours of uninterrupted sleep or showered this week but the second step after finding workout clothes is actually wearing them. 😊 As soon as you get up, change into your workout attire - shoes and everything and plan a workout just like you would a meeting! Because getting dressed and ready for a workout is sometimes half the battle so if you are already dressed you are COMMITTED and exercise is an important meeting you schedule with yourself and bosses don’t cancel! You put the effort to shimmy into those leggings and rock the messy bun so let's get sweaty (and no I don’t mean by sitting on the couch watching cops).
Tip#3 Baby Steps - Literally
You crushed hour long workouts at your crossfit gym prior to Mamahood and could lift 5 times your body weight while standing on one foot? Guess what, you probably shouldn’t do that right away after having a baby (that’s hulk status) because your body is healing and if you had a c-section typically it takes even longer to heal than those that delivered naturally. During the first 6 weeks you need to just take a chill pill and allow your body to recover. Your pelvic area is in need of some serious mending so start light before progressing to harder activities.
*Walking - put that new babe in the stroller and get some sunshine. It’s a great way to get started.
*Kegel exercises…no I’m not kidding and you’ll thank me when you don’t pee your pants when someone makes you laugh or you are jumping during a workout. But, if you do pee, don’t worry it happens to the best of us.
*Stretching - Imagine a rubber band that just sits on your desk unused. The minute you go to try and extend that band it almost always snaps in half. Our muscles are comparable to a rubber band. The more you use the rubber band, the more flexible and stronger the band remains and let's be honest can you remember the last time you actually stretched? It will feel so good as you are probably slowly but surely developing horrible posture with the breastfeeding and the constant bending over to lift baby up.
Tip #4 Pick an Activity You Actually Enjoy
If you despise running and the thought of jumping into a pit of burning coals surrounded by rattlesnakes sounds more appealing, then obviously DON’T GO RUNNING. Find something you LIKE doing.
*Yoga/pilates: Don’t hate meditate. Yoga can be very low impact and can help tone and stretch your body while also help destressing your mind. There are a ton of postnatal yoga/pilates videos for free on youtube or check out a class in your area! You may be experiencing a lot of hormone changes and even a little anxiety after giving birth and that is totally normal. Yoga can help calm your body and mind.
*Weight Training: Start light and build up from there. Hand weights are relatively inexpensive or lifting your new little human that is gaining weight everyday is FREE and then you can interactive with them while getting your workout in! Now that you are a mom, you will be doing a lot of multi-tasking so just embrace it. For some inspiration on Instagram check out: fit_moms_of_ig, nataliejillfit, and home.exercises.
*HITT (aka High Intensity Interval Training): After about 13+ weeks when your Dr. gives you the go ahead for more intense activity, HITT is one of the best ways to burn a maximum amount of calories in the shortest amount of time. When nap time comes around instead of running around your house like a crazy person because you can’t decide what task you should tackle first, crush a 10-30 minute workout. There are free Youtube videos, workout dvds you can buy or checkout from the library, apps for your home and classes you can take at your local gym. Many gyms offer free childcare as an added bonus. Sometimes it's nice to have a little Mama time alone or have the opportunity to talk with real grownups about things other than "poopoo" and "dada" (like seriously why is it so hard to say Mama… we were the ones that created our little offspring…did they seriously forget where they came from?! What are we chopped liver?!)
Tip #5 Sneaking it in is a thing...
There are so many easy ways to get in exercise! Use the rule of 3’s! If you don’t have time for a 30 minutes sweat sesh while your little one if off to dream land, break your workout into three 1-minute segments instead. And remember, if you are already dressed in your warrior queen workout gear, you can rock 10 minutes anytime. You can get an activity tracker to help you track all your hard earned steps while running around the house. When taking your tiny human to the store, park father away (weather permitting). It’s currently -20 with windchill here in the Midwest so clearly that wouldn’t apply for this month's crazy cold winter. While you're brushing your teeth stand on 1 foot and alternate. If you do this everyday not only will you be on your way to being a yogi but you’ll be working on that 6 pack and helping those muscles tighten that have been stretched out for the last 9 months.
It’s time for a little tummy time, no problem - do a plank over your sweet little one and try increasing your time by 5 seconds at a time. Pro-tip try walking planks from side to side and you’ll super charger your shoulder game! You can raise and lower your little exercise partner for reps of 10 for a little arm work and do sit ups in a game of peak-a-boo.
With all the tips you’ve learned from this article you can now put them to good use! Exercise for moms offers many incredible benefits including reduction of anxiety, stress and the likelihood of postpartum depression. Exercise creates endorphins and endorphins make people happy 😊 Exercising alongside your little one is also a great opportunity to bond and it’s a bonus which you both will benefit from! Remember you don’t have to be extreme, just consistent. Today, love yourself enough to exercise. You got this beautiful Mama!
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