What is it about being a mom of little ones that makes it so hard to work out? Could it be the fact that you’re working full time and are too exhausted to trek to the gym? Maybe you’re a stay at home mom on a tight budget and nixed a gym membership, only to find your motivation waning with your home workouts. Whether any of these apply to you or not (maybe you’re planning for kids and just like doing research!), this blog post is for you.
Every woman is different so please know that it is not my intention to imply that mine is a cookie cutter solution for getting into shape after having a baby. Think of this as a chat with a girfriend on what worked for her personally in bouncing back from her pregnancy. And, please know that I’ve only been a mom for six months and have one baby, so my experience is fresh and unique to me. I’m sharing this because I remember googling “how to work out with a new baby” before I even got pregnant so I figured I could help some gals out!
So, with all of that in mind, here are my tips!
1) Make working out easy: buy free weights and a jump rope. By investing in some adjustable dumbbells and/or kettlebells and a jump rope, you’ve got what it takes to get your fitness on. Not only does a modest home gym take a lot of the guess work out of how you’re going to fit a workout into your day, it eliminates the stress of commuting to and from a gym (because you can workout before baby wakes up, while he/she is napping, or when your spouse can look after him/her if that’s an option), and handing your baby to childcare (which I personally wasn’t keen on doing with my clingy little sweetheart). I love this duchess set from Kettlebell Kings and this adjustable Powerblock dumbbell set. If you have the funds to invest in a larger cardio machine, I recommend a rowing machine beecause it works your whole body.
2) Set aside 15 minutes a day to pick out a fun workout from YouTube or Pinterest. For the first few months after my pregnancy, this was HUGE for keeping me motivated to get back in shape. YouTube is FILLED with trainers who create fun, creative workouts for varying fitness levels. With your doctor’s permission, try mixing up your workouts with steady state cardio, HIIT, cardio workouts using lighter dumbbells, strength workouts using the heaviest dumbbells you can lift, and some yoga and/or Pilates to keep your muscles long, lean, and stretched out.
3) Know the TRUTH about breastfeeding and weight loss. It is FALSE to say that breastfeeding melts pounds off your body. In my case, I lost a TON of weight within weeks after labor and then hit a plateau for, well, about five months. That’s because with sleep deprivation, hormonal imbalances, and the constant demand from your baby to increase your milk supply, you tend to eat more than you actually need. Don’t be bummed out if you reach a fitness plateau. Instead, start keeping a food diary to make sure you’re not overeating and take your fitness to the next level (next tip).
4) When the time is right, amp up the intensity of your workouts.
I am a proponent of balance in life, so I think keeping a food diary to monitor your food intake while also stepping up your workouts is essential. You can’t have unhealthy eating habits and expect gains from your workouts.
As for intensity level: if you’re breathless and sweating at the end of your workout, it was good workout. Of course easy steady-state cardio days are fine once or twice a week, but you should be working really hard for the majority of your workouts.
5) Adjust your expectations. Here is exactly how my fitness journey went after having Rosemary. For the first couple of months, I worked out later in the morning while my baby napped. Then, she grew up a little and her personality required me to carry her. All the time. Thankfully, she started sleeping through the night. So, I started waking up at 3 AM to work out, take a shower, and sometimes, if the stars aligned, have breakfast allllll by myself and maybe even get some chores done before she woke up. Now that she’s teething, my husband and I have an agreement that he’ll watch her for an hour in the evening so I can get my sweat on if she’s too fussy in the early morning.
6) LISTEN to YOUR body! This means, maybe NONE of the advice I gave here resonates with you and you feel like he only thing in the world that will get you back into shape is joining a gym. Maybe you burn calories like a racehorse and breastfeeding is making you effortlessly lose weight. Maybe your doctor has given you advice specific to you-listen to your doctor. Whatever you do, do what you believe in your core is the best system for you. You, your body, your baby, and your spouse/significant other/whoever is nearest and dearest to you will be so much happier.
Utilizing these tips, I was able to get back to my pre pregnancy weight at 6 months post partum. I wish I had some of this information at the beginning, because I honestly had to figure out all of this along the way, and sometimes it was challenging. But the best part about being a mom is you become very flexible!:)