Motherhood is undoubtedly a joyous experience but welcoming a new baby into the world comes with plenty of challenges. Among them is figuring out the “new normal”—coming up with a routine so that there is ample time to take care of the baby, your family, and yourself. Moms, whether experienced ones or newly minted ones, often struggle with this balancing act. As a result, they end up sacrificing personal pursuits to make room for other things that are deemed more important.
But women’s health shouldn’t be the first to be sacrificed on this altar of balance. No matter what phase you’re in—singlehood, new motherhood, or your golden years—health should be a priority. Moms in particular need to stay fit and strong in order to keep up with the demands of growing kids.
It may not always be easy but, with a little planning and a little push, it can be done. Below are some tips to help you get back into shape and stay fit after having a baby.
1 Create a routine. Experts say that it’s important for babies to have a routine; for one, knowing what to expect provides them with a sense of comfort and security. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule, you can start to build your own routine around it. There is no one-size-fits-all busy mom workout schedule. This really depends on your lifestyle, so tailor it to your needs.
2 Exercise at home. Getting to a yoga studio or a gym can take precious minutes so consider working out at home. There are so many different kinds of exercise videos online that you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy. There are also many videos that are tailored specifically for new moms.
3 Do the bare minimum. Energy feeling low from the sleepless nights? It’s a paradox, but exercise can help boost your energy levels. So get moving! Here’s the big secret: It’s better to do small things consistently than to go all out erratically. Working out a few minutes every day will do more for you than working out for an entire hour only when the mood strikes.
Come up with a list of exercises you can do at the same time each day. For example: 10 jumping jacks, 10 burpees, 10 squats, 10 pushups, 10 crunches. Once you get started, you might want to do more—simply add a set or two.
4 Exercise with your baby. If you’re feeling guilty about spending time away from your child to get a workout in, then why not incorporate your baby into your workout? Get a stroller that’s built for power walks and jogs then hit the outdoors (or the pavement) with your kid. Or use your baby as added weight when you do squats. Go online to find other exercise ideas that you can do with your kid. Getting fit and bonding with your baby? Win-win!
5 Get a support system. It helps when you have someone to keep you accountable. You can try creating a mommy group online where you can report to each other about your workouts and fitness goals. Or you can enlist a friend to work out with you so there’s someone to encourage you to stay on track, especially on days when the last thing you want to do is exercise.
6 Eat right. It’s said that abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. While the goal isn’t really to get abs, this is telling of the importance of eating properly when it comes to fitness. Be mindful of the food you consume. You might be using tiredness and stress as an excuse to constantly binge. On the opposite end, you might be so eager to drop the baby weight that you’re starving yourself. Neither will do you or your baby any good—you need to get the right kind of fuel to help you keep up with the demands of motherhood (especially if you’re breastfeeding). Be especially mindful of sugary drinks (soda, whipped cream-topped coffee concoctions, fruit juices with added sugar)—these contain plenty of sugar without any nutrients.
If your busy schedule is making it hard for you to keep up with regular meal times, you can try taking supplements, available at Healthy Options, to make up for the missing nutrients. Just make sure you consult your doctor before introducing supplements to your diet.
7 Go easy on yourself. Don’t be discouraged by the fit mothers you see on social media or model moms who walk the runway three months after giving birth. It took nearly a year for your body to grow a human being inside it—a beautiful, miraculous process—so it will likewise take time for it to shed the extras that pregnancy brought along for the ride. Just be consistent, focus on getting healthy and strong, and love your body throughout every single phase.