6 Strategies for New Moms Who Want to Get Fit

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When I was about seven months pregnant, I had a conversation with a girlfriend (who also happens to be an avid runner, personal trainer and mother of two gorgeous girls) about all the workouts I was going to do once Baby Girl was born. I was dreaming of long runs on the beach, quick trips to the gym, yoga class… all the things I’d had to give up while pregnant and couldn’t wait to get back to. I just needed Baby Girl out.

My girlfriend listened patiently and then burst out laughing. “Good luck!!!” she said. “Try finding time to have a shower every day first!”

I scoffed at her inside a little thinking, “That won’t be me. I’ll have so much time on my hands now that I’m not working… what will I do with myself?!”

How little I knew about motherhood…

Baby Girl is now a year and a half old, and I finally feel my mojo coming back. I stayed active throughout, but my definition of exercise has changed dramatically both out of necessity and preference.

Here are my top six strategies for getting fit after your baby without going crazy or pushing yourself too hard too quickly.

1) Take what you can get.

If you only take away one thing from this blog, this is it. All or nothing goes out the window with a little one on your hands. Trust me, as a new mom juggling all sorts of new demands on your energy and time, an all or nothing attitude will lead you quickly to nothing. Take what you can get when you can get it. There are times to be a purist; now is not one of them.

6 Strategies for new mamas who want to get fit | eatnakednow.com

2) Involve the baby.

This goes hand-in-hand with the above, as anyone who has ever done a Mommy and Me yoga or exercise class knows. Is it the best class you’ve ever taken? No. Will you get an entire sun salutation in without interruption? No. But it’s activity and it’s better than nothing.

There are lots of creative ways to involve your little one. Mommy and Me classes are just one option (and I’ll admit, they were never my favorite). I was under strict orders from my midwife to walk 5 miles a day throughout my pregnancy, and that habit did me well when Baby Girl arrived. We would walk for hours – especially when she was little and loved her stroller naps. Any errand I could do that involved walking was high on my list. I don’t think our local post office or bank has ever seen so much of me as they did those first few months.

Hike with your baby! | eatnakednow.com

Other options: run with the baby. This is my latest favorite – although by all means invest in a good jogger. Here’s the one we have and LOVE. Do some planks, pushups, squats, whatever you’re inspired to do while hanging with the baby. My daughter loves to climb all over me as I do them. You can even carry her for some extra weight. Invest in a good baby hiking pack and take your Small Fry out for a walk in the woods. Get a great bike seat (we love this one) and go for a cruise. The options are really only limited by your creativity and willingness (and of course, your little one’s preference, which will likely evolve over time).

3) Efficiency rules.

I used to love long distance running. Anything under an hour seemed a waste of time. Epic long-runs on the weekend were a matter of course. I even tried my hand at a couple of marathons. But when you’ve got a small one on your hands and every precious minute of downtime is a choice between a shower, knocking out a few emails, some exercise, cleaning the bathroom/kitchen/bedroom, folding laundry, or just collapsing on the couch in a puddle of exhaustion, then long workouts are a luxury that don’t even cross your mind.

The fabulous news is that it turns out some of the most effective workouts are also the shortest. As I recently discovered, a 20 minute interval workout will kick my ass far more than an hour and a half long run, and has amazing metabolic boosting effects as a major bonus. (It took a baby to finally get me to do intervals!) The same applies to strength training. More is not better. Check out the master of efficiency, Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Body for some great uber-efficient workout ideas.

4) Ask for what you need.

One of the hardest things to wrap your mind around as a new mom is how much you need to ask for help. There is just no way to do it alone (and to those of you raising children without a partner or family close by, I bow to you… I have NO idea how you do it). Sometimes a good honest heart-to-heart with your significant other is enough to figure out where s/he can step in a little more with child care so you can get a little alone time to move your body.

My husband has accommodated his schedule around my favorite yoga class, and I make sure I give him the space he needs to workout with his trainer. It does mean we frequently keep odd hours (I’ve been known to go to bed at 8:30 and get up at 4am) but it works.

5) Rest days count.

When you’re training for a big event, rest days are as important as training days. You need recovery time. Well, guess what: you’re in the middle of the biggest event of your life growing and birthing a baby, not to mention around the clock feeding, changing, burping and all the other amazing challenges that come with being a new mom. Not only does little rest and relaxation feel absolutely uh-MA-zing, it’s vitally important as you allow your body to heal and recoup from the tremendous effort it takes to bring another being into this world.

This was the HARDEST thing for me to wrap my mind around. I used to be the type of person who would twitch if I hadn’t had a good run in a couple of days or more. Once I got pregnant, all that went out the window. It felt like every iota of energy in my body went into the amazing work of building a new human being. Once she’d made her grand entrance onto planet earth, it was only the beginning. Getting snippets of sleep at 2-3 hours a stretch (on a good day) left me with nothing.

Without recovery, our bodies have no time to heal and we don’t build up the strength to get healthy and fit again. Rest = recovery = rebuild. As hard as it is for us overachievers to wrap our minds around this, it is the truth.

6) Go slow.

Take your time. There’s no rush. This ridiculous ideal of fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans within weeks of birthing your baby is not only utterly unrealistic, it’s a mighty distraction from one of the most magical times you will ever have with your baby. Those early days and nights are long, but they’re gone in the blink of an eye and you’ll never find yourself wishing you’d spent more time at the gym. I promise.

How have you managed to fit exercise back into your life as a new parent?

More fitness posts for new moms:

Running post-baby

4 great workout modifications

1 Comment

  1. Leslie

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    I’m sure this will serve me well when I’m a new mom. Looking forward to trying some of them out! Kudos for doing such a great job juggling it all and staying active and healthy – you look great!

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