Focus on Fitness: The new mom challenge
We all say it when we are pregnant: “I can’t wait to get my pre-baby body back.” What we don’t know is that it is a lot more challenging for most of us than we ever anticipated.
After struggling for quite some time to get back in shape after having my first baby, I learned a few important things that I now share with clients and new moms regularly. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
One of the biggest challenges is finding time to exercise when we are so exhausted. The idea of going to the gym in the evening just seems crazy, and waking up early before the baby wakes up may make you think you are really off your rocker.
But one of the best things you can do for you and your new baby is to be healthy. Here are a few suggestions to help you jump-start your program, get back in shape and have fun while you are doing it.
• During pregnancy and while breastfeeding, we must consume significantly more calories than we did before. It can be challenging to determine how many calories you really need and you may be surprised by how many fewer you need once you have your baby or you are done breastfeeding. Consult with your doctor or dietitian to determine your healthy daily calories intake.
• Track what you are eating. I recommend using apps on your phone that make this quick and easy. Lose it! and My Fitness Pal are two free apps that allow you to track your meals. You can scan foods that you are eating, search restaurant foods and easily pull up previous meals. This can help you get a real grasp on your caloric intake and how you need to adjust it.
• Start slow. Getting back in shape doesn’t happen overnight. Ease into it and listen to your body. Once you are ready for a challenge, I encourage you to attend group fitness classes, workout with a friend or exercise with a personal trainer. Variety in your exercise regimen is especially important when trying to see changes in your body.
• Cardio blasts. I love mixing cardio blasts into my workout routine. This also is a great way to start to build your cardio back up after pregnancy. I like to complete two to three weight training exercises followed immediately by 30 to 60 seconds of cardio, then repeat. You can do jumping jacks, ice skaters, jump squats, jog in place or burpees to get your heart rate up. This helps to keep your heart rate up while you do your next set of weights and burn more calories.
• Remember those new moms you met in birth class or prenatal yoga? Time to call them and set up a consistent workout routine. You can talk sleep training, nap routines or introducing solid foods while getting your sweat on. You are a pro at multitasking by now, so embrace that new skill and use it while working out. Or better yet, set up a baby-sitting swap with that friend so you can go to the gym during the day and have a little alone time.
Making time for yourself is extremely important. Make it a priority and get rid of that extra baby weight. You will feel better physically and emotionally by incorporating exercise into your daily regimen and by making a little time just for you.
Rebecca Williams is a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. She is a mother of a 1- and 3-year-old.
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