Everything You Need to Know About Postpartum Fitness
Finding the time and energy to fit in postpartum workouts can be tough! Join our Wellness Contributor, Megan, as she discusses fitness after baby. Megan will dive into all things related to postpartum fitness over the next few weeks, including: exercises to do while pregnant; exercises to do with baby; and all of your most commonly asked questions.
We are already well into 2019 and I don’t know about any of you, but I am so excited for this year. With each passing year, I feel more confident, wise, and ready to take on anything. As I was thinking about what my first article post should be, I felt a good start would be addressing the questions and comments I receive most often as a momma and trainer who works out multiple times a week and loves encouraging others to push themselves through exercise!
How do you fit working out into your schedule?
Finding the time to work out 5-6 days a week is no easy task with two young children and all the responsibilities that come with being a momma. However, I have learned that making workouts part of my daily routine has been the key to my success of staying in shape. For a long time, I was feeling the “mom guilt” when I made my workouts a priority. Like many moms, I give everything I have to my family and rarely put myself first. However, I noticed that I am happier, healthier, and feel more accomplished when I exercise a few hours a week.
In order to get a workout in, sometimes other things must wait. My house is not as clean as I would like it to be, play time with my kids is probably not ideal, and my sleep schedule changes around my workouts. I plan out my time for working out each day! If it’s on my to-do list or in my calendar, I find that I don’t want to skip it. The time of day that I work out varies. Sometimes I get up as early as 4 a.m., or stay up as late as 10 p.m., or anything in between. Find what works for you and your schedule, whether it’s before your family wakes up in the morning, during naps, after bedtime, etc.
In order to make fitness a regular part of your life, it’s important to find your “why”. Why do you want to work out? Do you want to have more energy throughout the day? Do you want to feel empowered, confident, and in control? Do you want to look better naked or have clothes you want to wear? Do you just want to lift heavy things and be strong? Do you want to be healthier and be an example to your kids? Own your “why”! I suggest spending some time reflecting to discover what drives you and use it as motivation to keep going, especially during those days when you just don’t feel like getting after it.
What can I do with my kids so I can work out?
This is one of the hardest parts of working out for any mom. If you are lucky enough to have daycare at your gym, then definitely utilize it! My gym doesn’t have a daycare, but rather a room with a baby gate and toys. As many of you can imagine, my 3-year-old and 11-month-old do not always sit quietly for a full hour. There are many days where they end up crying, and my work outs are interrupted. It’s all about trial and error- find what works best for you and your kids. For my littles, it’s having food and toys at their disposal to keep them busy for an hour. If your gym does not have an area where you can let your kids play, there are still plenty of options: Hire a babysitter, have your partner watch them, see if family members or friends can come by and watch your kids while you are at a class, or corral them in a pack and play. I have been known to keep my girls in our play room at home and use a baby monitor to watch them while I work out in our garage. You can also find a group of moms that work out together and already have a plan in place for the kids. I personally wouldn’t be able to get through any of my workouts without my tribe at my gym. Both the guys and girls that attend have stepped in and held my girls, played with them, and tended to their needs so I could finish a workout. I am incredibly lucky and feel so supported by them. If you can find a tribe like mine it makes working out that much easier!
Remember, although your workouts may feel disorganized (especially with little ones), and you might feel discouraged, keep working at it! (Remember your “why”!) Eventually things will smooth out and your workouts will become more routine for you and your family.
I need to be in better shape before I go to the gym! When should I start?
First and foremost, whether you are pregnant or postpartum, be sure to get your doctor’s clearance before beginning exercise. One of my pet peeves as a trainer, though, is when people think they need to look a certain way before they start exercising. I completely understand the insecurities of being out of shape or overweight, however most people at a gym are consumed with themselves while they are working out- especially if there are mirrors! Take a deep breath, push that insecurity aside, and get to working! Don’t put off a workout- go out, get started, and be proud of what you’ve done! There’s nothing like the confidence, accomplishment and empowerment you feel during and after a workout. It will keep you wanting more!
What type of workout or exercise should I do?
Do what you enjoy! Try something that will get you moving, and that you can consistently do for the long haul. Do you enjoy 1-on-1 personal training? A group class or stroller strides? An online program that you can do at home with bands or dumbbells? If you are unsure of what to do and how to perform the movements correctly, you may need to seek the advice of a professional trainer for guidance.
The type of exercise or workout you choose can also change over the years based on your interests or what your friends and family are doing. My husband and I lift weights multiple times a week, but we also really enjoy going on walks or hikes as a family. For many years, I ran two miles every day, and even sometimes as much as a half marathon because it was cheap, and it fulfilled my need for a workout at that time in my life. However, there is much to be said for strength training. It has been consistently proven to be better for losing weight, getting lean and strong, and helping you stay healthy. You don’t need to do hours of cardio- as little as 20 minutes with weights is enough.
There are absolutely no quick fixes. People who try to sell quick fixes may help you see results in a short amount of time, but your old habits will slowly start to come back. Losing weight, building muscle, and getting in shape takes patience, consistency, and dedication- but you are worth it!
I am not seeing the results I expected.
If you aren’t pleased with your progress, this is a great time for self-evaluation. How long have you been working out? Have you been patient with the process? When you stumble, evaluate the workouts you have been doing. Have you been consistent? You will not see great results if you only give partial effort during your workouts or are inconsistent about making time for them. Perhaps you need to put in some more work or be honest with yourself and more accountable when it comes to your exercises.
The next thing to considers is, are your results based off a number on a scale? If so, you may be disappointed. Even though sometimes the number on the scale is important, I suggest changing your mindset and instead try to define success based on how you feel, how well you perform during a workout, or how clothes fit you. So many girls and guys (yes, guys are scale obsessed too, don’t let them fool you!) base their happiness and their measure of progress on a number on the scale. Do not let that define you. You are worth more than that. Running an extra mile, getting 10 pushups, hitting your set goal of workouts for the week- these are achievements to be proud of! Having positive body image takes work but it is much more valuable.
Finally, are you setting realistic and achievable goals? As I mentioned earlier, reevaluate your “why” and set some new goals. Make them simple, clear, and attainable. I choose one or two achievable goals at a time and work on them every day. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help from someone who is certified in exercise and/or nutrition. There are plenty of experienced, professional trainers out there who will work with you to design a program for you that will help you reach your goals.
When I am not seeing results or progressing as I would like, which for me is my performance in the gym suffering or my clothes fitting a little tighter, I practice grace with myself. I reevaluate my eating habits and workouts over the past few weeks, and then make small changes that I know that I can stick to, which won’t stress me out and that can be achieved. By making small changes, you’re more likely to stick to them!
Figuring out what workouts, routine, and goals work best for you will take practice, time, and patience. Ask your fellow mamas for tips on working out with kiddos and what has helped them be successful!
If you have questions about working out or how to juggle it with families feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram or Facebook!