Being a new mom can consume every free second of your life. It can feel impossible to make time to brush your teeth, let alone complete a workout. But if you're longing to break a sweat, I've got 12 tips that can help you to make some space for #fitmom time!
When you have a new baby you might want to use every free second to take care of bills and household chores or lie very very still on your bed with a cool washrag over your eyes. But if you're an endorphin addict like me, you're fantasizing about getting back to your regular work out schedule ASAP, new mom or not.
After you've recovered from the birth and get cleared by your doc, usually at the six-week mark, exercise can be great for new moms. It can boost your mood, improve your energy levels, prevent injuries, and help you recover your pre-baby shape. I've got quite a few tricks up my sleeve because I've done it twice. Once with a fussy infant and once with a fussy infant and his 2 year old brother. And everyone know how reasonable 2 year olds are, right?
1. Trade babysitting. Find a like-minded friend with a similar schedule and watch her kid while she goes for a run, heads to the gym, or dashes to the basement for a home workout. Then tomorrow, she can do the same for you!
2. Find a gym with childcare. Finding a gym that you like that's affordable AND has decent childcare is a tall order, but they DO exist. Most gyms have a free trial period. Sign up and get a lay of the land. If you're nervous about leaving your baby, stay with her for the first time. You can watch the caregivers and see how they operate and how your baby reacts to the surroundings. Having someone you trust take care of your baby is great motivation to exercise. You'll find yourself hauling your cookies to the gym on days you don't want to work out just for the childcare.
3. Nap time warrior. This can be hard when you have an infant. Usually you can't predict when a small baby will sleep, or for how long. And a lot of times you need to get some much needed rest yourself. But if you can, try to accomplish whatever is possible once the silence descends over your abode.
4. Dressed to sweat. You know you're just wearing your maternity leggings anyway. Put on your workout clothes first thing in the morning and wear them all day. Then you can go right to it as soon as your little pumpkin decides sleeping is a good idea. Think about it: you could have done 30 burpees in the 10 minutes it takes to squeeze into your lululemons and lace up those Nikes. IMPORTANT: Do not wear a sports bra all day if you're nursing unless it's a dedicated nursing sports bra. Most sports bras are made for compression. They hold your breasts tightly against your body so that you feel comfortable moving around. However, compression can cause milk ducts to clog and that can lead to mastitis. Trust me, you do NOT want mastitis.
5. Walking, stair climbing, or jogging. If she's old enough, strap that gorgeous bundle of joy into a stroller and go running! It's recommended to wait until your baby is 4-6 months old before it's safe for their developing spines to endure a jogging stroller trip. Until then, grab your carrier and go for a long walk. Do some really steep hills or sets of stairs for extra calorie burn. Bonus: I absolutely promise it'll lull your baby to sleep.
6. Classes. Try a Baby and Me yoga class, or something similar. I remember being nervous to go because I thought my little guy would cry and disturb the class. But guess what? All the babies cried! And, of course, no one cared. People nursed completely topless, toddlers ran around yelling, kids ate snacks; it was all so relaxed and non-judgmental. And I got a great flexibility workout! It's an easy way to get out of the house and meet some other new moms. Maybe you'll even meet someone to trade baby sitting with!
7. Make a weekly plan. Write your exercise goals down for each day you'd ideally like to be working out. Put it on the fridge. Sometimes (especially when you're sleep deprived) it's hard to think up something to do. And that can be defeating. If you already have a reachable goal written down for the day you're much more likely to complete it.
8. Late or early. Ok, so this is a serious sacrifice. If you find that you just can't find any time to exercise during the day or are at work all day, try getting up really early to squeeze it in. This can be a home workout, a trip to the gym, or an early morning run. Maybe your partner can be around to stay with your sleeping angel. If you're really motivated (or just a night owl), you can try the same plan at night after baby bedtime.
9. Lose the all-or-nothing mentality. I used to think that unless I had time to get dressed, do a long involved workout, shower, and change, there was no point in even trying to exercise. Throw that notion out the window. If you can't get in a long workout, do two or three mini ones throughout the day (you didn't change out of those exercise clothes, did you???) Or if your baby is having tummy time, get down there with her and do push-ups! Do planks, do side planks, do burpees. Or...
10. Do HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training has been proven to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. Even if you only have 20 minutes to spare, you can still get in an effective workout! There are so many great HIIT workouts you can bust out in your own living room. Christine Salus is one of my absolute favorites. Her videos are on YouTube, super challenging, and free. Try one! Her low-key approach is super appealing.
11. Dance party. If all else fails, grab that baby and dance till you just can't dance no more. Put on some tunes and introduce your little sweetheart to the wonders of The Weeknd. Put your baby in a bouncy seat and then really go crazy where she can see you. I promise it'll entertain her and you can burn some serious calories that way.
12. Forgive but don't give up. Sometimes it's not going to work out. Your baby screams non-stop for eight hours. You end up at the pediatrician all day for an ear infection. You have family or work obligations. You need sleep or you're going to start hallucinating. And that's okay! Being a mom is the absolute best/hardest job in the whole world. Take it easy on yourself. If you miss your workout, understand that you'll get after it tomorrow or the next day. And I promise that one day you will have more time to take care of yourself, even if it doesn't seem like it now. BUT. Don't give up. Never, ever, ever, give up. Even if you can't exercise for two weeks, don't give up. Squeeze whatever you can into your days. Be flexible. Get creative. Be willing to ask for help. Make exercise a priority.
If I can do it, anyone can.
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