New Mom? Here’s How to Work Out Again
Making fitness a priority helps mothers shed their “baby fat" and get back in shape.
Amita Shroff, MD
Are you a new mom who wants to get in shape after having a baby? Each month we put your questions about fitness to top exercise and motivational experts. This month, Brooklyn finance professional and new mom Myra Bartalos, 38, sought tips on getting back into the swing of workouts from trainer Michele Thorington, fitness program coordinator at the Hurley Health and Fitness Center at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.
Q: I was very fit before I had my daughter. I did yoga at least three times a week and cardio at least twice a week. Now my daughter is a year old, and I can’t even find the time to put on my workout clothes. I keep meaning to get back into yoga, but work, baby, and husband seem to always come first. I have a stressful job in the finance industry, so working out is important to my peace of mind as well as my physical health.
A: Don’t quit before you start. Women often put themselves at the bottom of the list, especially first-time moms. But you want to be fit, and you want your old workout routine and old body back yesterday.
In other words, even if you can carve out only five minutes during the day, set aside those five minutes and do something active. But don’t just wait for five minutes to show up -- schedule it into your day like you do everything else. Five minutes is five minutes, and it all counts. Sometimes it can turn into 10, and then maybe into 15 if the baby goes down for a nap at the right time. The key is knowing you don’t have to do it all right away.
Postpartum Fitness -- in Baby Steps
Start with one thing at a time, and your exercise routine will get back to where it was before. You have to be a little selfish. Commit to yourself, just a small amount of time at first, and see what happens. So, what should you do with those five minutes?
Strike a pose. Get a Mommy & Me-type yoga video (designed for babies who are not yet crawling) and hit the mat together. If you can, find a moms and kids yoga class nearby, and make that part of your special time together.
Bust a move. Turn on your favorite music and dance around the house. No holds barred -- do the crazy moves you’d never try in front of friends. Just keep your heart rate up.
Take a walk. If it’s too cold, take the baby to the mall. Even if you’re not walking as fast as you would by yourself, you’re instilling a model of fitness for your child at a young age.
Go for the goal. Even a year after having a baby, your body composition is still changing, so wanting to look just like you did pre-pregnancy may not be realistic right away. Instead, set achievable goals: finish a short race, master a new yoga pose, or whittle an inch off your waist. Plan on a reward when you reach your milestone -- treat yourself to a stylish new pair of pants or a grown-up night out. Then set a new goal.
Trade off. Get your hubby to watch the baby while you work out. Then do the same for him.