This one goes out to all the new moms – Your lives just became a whirlwind of diapers, feedings, lack of sleep, hormonal ups and downs, and you don’t have time to pee let alone eat right and exercise. So, here’s my gift to you – A calming breath in your otherwise sea of chaos. I give you all the tips you need for success!
You CAN get your “pre-preggers body” back!
Exercise can very easily get pushed aside when your entire day is focused on tending to the needs of your wee-one, but I’m sorry to say it ladies, you need to find time for exercise if you ever want to lose that extra pregnancy junk-in-da-trunk.
Too tired, you say? Exercising can actually help you feel less exhausted, stronger when lifting your bundle of joy, AND helps elevate your mood (reducing the risk of postpartum depression)
Getting your body back after having a baby is never easy, but it’s also not as hard as you might think. This article will give you all the tools and ideas you need to get back to your fighting weight:
Easing Back into It
Even fitness superstars need time to heal after giving birth. Make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning exercising. Most women are ready to get back to it about 4-6 weeks after giving birth, but some (especially if you had a C-section) need more time. Everyone is different, so be sure to listen to your body. Starting exercise too early may add unnecessary stress to your body, prolonging healing time.
Here are a few great exercise ideas to help you get started:
1. Walking & Jogging
Walking is a great way to start moving again without forcing your body. It also makes for a great excuse to get out of the house and get some fresh air.
Start off with a leisure stroll (about 10 min to start) and work your way up to a power walk. Baby can even come along in a stroller or baby carrier, and once old enough (about 6 months) they can come along for a jog in a jogging stroller.
There are also mommy-and-baby stroller exercise programs. Find one in your area! Just google it! It’s a great way to get exercise while socializing with other moms.
2. Head lifts leading to Shoulder lifts
These two movements will help strengthen and tone the back and ab muscles.
Start off with head lifts – Lie on your back, knees bent with feet on floor and hands palm down along your sides. Breath into your belly, and while keeping your lower back on the floor, exhale and slowly lift your head and neck. Inhale as you lower your head back down. When you can easily do 10 head lifts move on the shoulder lifts.
Shoulder lifts — Get in the same position you did for head lifts. Inhale into your belly, and as you exhale, slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor reaching with your arms towards your bent knees; arms straight out in front of you. Your shoulder blades should come off the floor. If the exercise strains your neck, lace your fingers, and lightly cradle your head. Inhale as you come back to resting position. Repeat 10 times.
3. The Cat Stretch
This exercise targets the muscles in the lower back, aiding in relieving back pain. Get down on all fours (table top position), making sure your knees are aligned with your hips, and arms with the shoulders. Fingers should be facing forward and spread apart.
Take a deep breath and as you exhale lower your head until it hangs downward. Simultaneously push your belly towards your spine, curving your back up toward the ceiling. Hold it for a count of 10 before relaxing back into the table top position. Repeat 2-5 times.
4. The Kegel
Oh yes! We had to bring up the Kegel. This exercise is very important after childbirth to re-strengthen the vaginal walls, reducing the risk of bladder control issues that are associated with giving birth. It will also help speed the recovery process after tearing, and heal/prevent hemorrhoids. This exercise involves contracting and holding the muscles in the vaginal walls. The feeling of the exercise should be the same as when you have to urinate and have to hold it. The more you do this exercise and the longer you hold these muscles, the better bladder control you will have.
Mom AND Baby Workout
Don’t want to leave your baby’s side? You don’t have to! There are plenty of exercises that can be done WITH baby. Hold your baby in the following exercises for added resistance. Your baby will love it!
*Try doing these exercises first without baby to make sure your are fit enough and have good balance. Do them holding a ball or doll, and only move onto baby when you feel ready. There is no point in risking your baby’s safety.
Baby Lunges — With feet side-by-side, hold your baby across your arms, close to your chest, and step one foot out in front of you, bending your knee into a lunge. Make sure your knee doesn’t go over the toes. Return to start position and repeat with the opposite leg. If you don’t feel comfortable going all the way down, don’t worry, even a half-squat engages your muscles and balance. 15 times on each leg.
Rockabye Abs — Cradle your babe in your arms while standing with your legs hip distance apart, and your knees bent outwards. Keeping your abs tight and your back straight, gently twist from side-to-side. This is a great one for rocking your child to sleep.
Baby Biceps — When baby is in an adaptable car seat/baby carrier, hold the carrying bar with both hands, palms facing up, and do a few bicep curls. Making funny faces at your tiny one as you bring him/her closer to your face is guaranteed a few giggles!
Flying Baby — Lie on your back and lift your kid, holding them in the air above you. Bring him/her back down for a kiss or raspberry, and then bring them back up. Your infant will love feeling like they’re flying, and it’s a great arm exercise for mama.
Baby Squats — (baby = minimum 10-12 wks) With feet shoulder-with apart, hold your baby under her/his arms and squat down until their feet to touch the floor. As you return to standing bring baby up close to your chest. Do 15 reps.
Peek-a-boo Sit Ups — (baby = minimum 10- 12 wks) Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Sit baby on your belly with their back resting on your upper legs. Do sit-ups and play peek-a-boo as you come up and see baby. Repeat 10 times.
“Mommy-and-Me” exercise and yoga DVD’s — There are plenty of workout and yoga DVD’s out there that incorporate baby. If you want to try it on your own remember that baby likes movement and (on most occasions) will enjoy sitting and watching you. Astone Fitness’ Circuit7 DVD‘s are fantastic because they give you a full-body strength AND cardio workout in just 7 minutes! Add the Circuit7 workouts together for longer, more challenging workouts.
The Next Level
When you are a little stronger and able to get a few minutes away from baby the next level would be to do a high intensity workout. This way, you can get big results in cardio and strength all at once, in a very short period of time. (about 10 minutes/day).
Do every exercise (cardio and strength) for 1 minute each. Don’t count reps. Just do as much as you can in one minute, switching from a cardio to a strength exercise and then back to cardio every minute for 10 minutes. Try to push yourself on the cardio.
Examples of Cardio: high-knee march, jog, jumping jacks, jump rope.
Examples of Strength Exercises: lunges, squats, push ups, planks, or…
Consider investing in some home exercise equipment that you can use when your baby is napping or while your partner is taking care of them. A suspension gym like The Human Trainer is a great tool because it’s compact, easy to store, and uses your own body-weight as resistance. Using your own bodyweight means you are in control of how easy or hard the exercises will be. Plus, because you are suspended on each exercise, you are using your whole body to keep balance. This results in engaging every muscle and a cardio workout on every exercise, allowing you to get a full body workout in a very short time span. Other great at home equipment: an exercise ball and resistance bands.
Don’t try to skip meals in order to lose weight. You need calories for the energy needed to take care of junior, and if you are nursing you need all the proper nutrients to make milk. The best way to do it is to eat right and regularly, and be patient with yourself. Don’t judge yourself by what the celebrities are doing. Remember, they have nannies, chefs, housekeepers, and trainers to help them round the clock. It takes the average woman 9 months to lose her baby weight.
Here are some tips to move you in the right direction:
– You want to have a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat in your diet to keep you feeling full and to make sure you have all the necessary nutrients and vitamins. Stay away from sugary, and processed foods.
– Eat before you’re starving to avoid binging. Have healthy snacks around so that you can munch when you’re short on time (I.E. nuts, cheese strings, carrot sticks, cut up fruit, hard boiled eggs)
– Try to drink water or skim milk with your meal. Avoid soft-drinks.
TAKE TIME TO REST — Listen to your body. If you are just exhausted, skip the workout and get some rest. When baby goes down for a nap it’s very easy to get caught up in trying to catch up on chores, or phone calls, but at least, a couple of times a week take the time to nap. Sleep loss can affect your weight loss, and being sleepy can cause your body to mix up tiredness with hunger, causing you to eat more. If you don’t have time to nap at least take five minutes for yourself and read a magazine, or meditate.
To achieve results remember to be patient with yourself.Some days will obviously be easier than others. Try your best to accumulate at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week, with your workouts being at the very least 10 minutes long. Remember that working out will result in more energy and feeling better about yourself.
Take the time for yourself and your kids will thank you.
Resources: fitsugar.com, webMD.com, Sheknows.com parenting.com, babycenter.com, babble.com, homehealthfitness.com