So you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months. Well… I just had my first little bundle of joy. And let me just tell you… she’s the cutest baby ever! I selfishly took a few months off to focus on my family, and ended up moving into a new house too.
I had a picture of how everything would work out in my head, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t being realistic. After dealing with weeks of sleepless nights, crazy hormones, breast feeding a newborn, and even my relationship… I quickly realized that when it comes to working out after pregnancy, the best plan is to have no plan.
Expect the Unexpected
You listen to friends and family tell you about motherhood, but the truth is, you have NO IDEA what you’re in for until you go through it yourself. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but after listening to dozens of stories from other moms, I learned that every pregnancy is different, and that your intro into parenthood probably won’t be the same. But, there are some things we all have in common; the love for our babies and the crazy changes that occur within our bodies – both physically and emotionally.
After months of being completely away from the gym, here are some tips to help you get back into the swing of things after having baby.
When To Start Working Out Again
Every mommy is different; some are ready to jump right back into their workouts within just a few weeks, some wait several months… others take even longer. There is no perfect time! As long as you’ve gotten the OK from your OB and you think you’re ready to get started… then go for it.
During pregnancy I had my mind made up that I would ONLY take a month off to enjoy my little one before I ventured back to the gym; but that just wasn’t enough time for me. Don’t pressure yourself to be ready if you’re not, and don’t feel guilty if you’re ready to get moving quickly. When you’re ready, you’ll know. For me… it took 3 months of wearing sweats and no make-up. I forgot what it looked like outside! That’s when I knew it was time to start moving.
Begin Exercising (Slowly)
Most moms are too overwhelmed with love, hormones, and sleep deprivation (I really connected with The Walking Dead) to even think about exercising. But, there will come a time when you’re fully recovered and ready to take your first baby steps to getting in shape again.
You may not be ready to jump back into the gym immediately, and that’s OK. You can start out by enjoying a nice walk outside, or even at the grocery store or mall with the baby (take advantage of their sleepy stage). Ready to kick it up a notch, but still not ready for the gym? Pick out a fun DVD for home. Here are few of my personal favorites:
- Ripped with HiiT – Low Impact HiiT (Cathe Friedrich)
- IGNITE by SPRI 900 Calorie Burn (Ashley Borden)
- Jillian Michaels Body Revolution
- 6 Weeks to Sculpted with Ashley Borden
After you’ve fully recovered, a slow start is a good start to help you get back on track to your fitness goals. Mom to mom and birthing groups are great for finding Mommy dates. Talking and walking it out with other moms can help both physically and emotionally. Maybe you’d rather start at home. Some basic at home fitness equipment is all that you’ll need.
Accepting Your Body
While some women absolutely love and embrace their pre and post baby bodies, others have a more difficult time. Just know that the way you feel is totally normal. You should be applauding yourself for the amazing work your body accomplished during pregnancy. We can feel insecure and downright saddened by the changes to our bodies after pregnancy, but don’t beat yourself up about something that’s completely out of your control. This too shall pass!
The most important thing you can do is talk to your partner about how you feel; having their support and encouragement will make it much easier. Reach out to other mommy friends who have dealt with the same issues, it’s a huge relief knowing that you’re not alone.
Support, support, support! It still blows my mind to know how intricately a women’s body is designed to create, carry, grow and birth another life. This didn’t happen overnight, so losing the baby weight won’t happen overnight either. Cut yourself some slack and love the body that created this wonderful human being that’s now a part of your life.
Nutrition After Pregnancy
Some like to encourage breastfeeding as a tool to lose the baby weight quickly. While it certainly does help shed the postpartum weight faster, don’t make this decision based on quick and easy weight loss. Eventually you’ll discontinue breastfeeding and you won’t be getting away with what you did in the beginning. Instill healthy eating habits early on to help shed the baby weight in a healthy, long-term manner.
Breastfeeding adds pressure to our bodies and it doesn’t always come naturally (not to mention, some mama’s go right back to work). Either way… breastfeeding or formula fed, nutrition is essential. Not only is your baby in need of quality nutrients that only you can provide, but YOUR body needs them just as much. More than likely, the majority of your post baby weight loss will come from nutrition alone. So, enjoy your bonding time and take a look at what’s on your plate:
- Whole grains – High fiber energy source that won’t easily convert to fat. Consider brown rice or pasta, wheat or multi-grain bread, quinoa, oatmeal, crackers, cereal/granola (avoid high sugar).
- Fruits and veggies – Provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Create a delicious salad or blend them all into a smoothie.
- Dairy – Low fat is your best option. Or, trade milk for almond, coconut or cashew milk. Stick to low fat or reduced fat cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt/greek yogurt.
- Lean meats – Lean proteins pack nutrition and have half the calories of red meat. Try sticking to skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, beans, fish/seafood… salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster, etc. (in moderation if you are breastfeeding). It doesn’t have to be boring! Add spices, marinades, and condiments for extra flavor.
- Healthy fats – Healthy, unsaturated fats have many benefits. Moderation is definitely the key. Quality sources include: avocado, nuts, chia seeds, peanut/almond/cashew butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and whole eggs.
You thought the scale was your enemy before… well I wouldn’t advise any woman to start weighing themselves right after pregnancy. Take into consideration the changes your body goes through: your uterus grows, your body creates a new organ just for the baby, rearranging all of the others, pumping extra blood and other fluids (50% more!), and the extra snacks we crave. Take the snacks out of the equation, it’s going to take some time for everything else to return back to normal.
Set the scale aside for a few months. When you’re at a point where you feel confident it won’t give you a meltdown, give it a go.
I’ve always used progress pictures as a catalyst. This way you can see your progress and stay on track. Start a challenge with a friend, mommy, or spouse for extra encouragement. A little healthy competition never hurts! Share weekly weigh ins, recipes and motivation. Join each other for walks and workouts. Remember… enjoy your baby, don’t sweat the small stuff (or the things you can’t change), be patient and have fun!