A guest post by author Lindsay Gray of The Leaking Boob
When my little peanut, Lilah, was first born, the thought of working out enough to ever fit into my pre-baby pants was extremely overwhelming. I didn’t even know where to start. My belly felt like bread dough (still does), and every spare moment I had I wanted to be sleeping, not working up a sweat (still true)! And while I’m not back to half-marathon training by any means, the following things have really helped me get my buns in gear when comes to getting back in shape post-baby:
1. Find workout buddies.
This is true for anyone trying to form a workout routine. If you know someone is counting on you to be there for a walk or an exercise class, you are much more likely to show up. Also, its a lot more fun to have someone to talk to than it is if you’re flying solo. It’s also a great excuse to ask someone out on a “mom-date” when you are first trying to meet other mommies.
2. Walk. Then walk again. And then walk some more.
This is a win-win for our family, because Lilah’s favorite place to be is on a walk. She loves the motion and usually ends up taking a nap (and naps are sometimes hard to come by for our family). We also have two dogs that have been neglected over the past 3 months, and they love getting out for a stroll. When I have the time, I try to walk to places I would normally drive. It helps me burn some calories, and Lilah likes it better anyways. Plus, a little fresh air and vitamin D is always good for the baby and the body.
3. Mix it up.
Another true-ism for all things exercise. If you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again everyday, this not only bores you and encourages burnout, but it also isn’t working your muscles or cardiovascular system as hard as a varied routine would. Right now my routine includes walking/running, yoga, and an exercise class called Stroller Strides. This way, I’m doing strength exercises and cardio while also keeping my mind engaged.
4. Be patient with your body.
As much as I really wanted to hit the ground running (literally) after Lilah was born, I am still easing slowly back into it. Most importantly, I wanted to give my body time to recover and I physically wasn’t able to do the things I used to do. Also, that extra weight (whether of baby, stroller, or my own squishy-ness) is tough to run around with! And most annoyingly, I have had horrible bladder control problems and I couldn’t run without peeing on myself! It’s important to set goals, but make sure they are realistic and genuinely good for your body. And along with those realistic goals, it might be good to grab a maxi-pad or two as well.
5. Don’t wait for your partner to get home. Find things you can do with your baby.
I have a runner friend who refused to buy a jogging stroller because she wanted her runs to be “me time.” She finally realized after several months of sitting around the house with her baby waiting for her husband to get home that she really did want that stroller. As much as working out alone sounds amazing, its likely not really realistic for a lot of moms, since we juggle a bazillion things. Find a mommy-and-me yoga class either in town or online, check out your local Stroller Strides, or go for a walk, run, or hike with your baby. Put it in the schedule, instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike, because it (in all practical reality) never will.
6. Find a couple of workout outfits that make you feel good about yourself. Pay no attention to sizes.
I am 5’2″ and just bought a running skirt in a size large. Could I have bought a medium? Yes. A small? Maybe. But the large is comfortable and makes me feel better than something that’s on the tight side. Having a few pieces of clothing that make me feel good (or even just slightly less self-conscious) about my body helps me want to workout. Plus, I’m not constantly pulling down my too-tight shorts or readjusting my too-small shirt, which helps me focus on the workout instead of how my clothes are still too small for me.
7. Make babywearing time workout time!
Babywearing in and of itself gives you a bit of a workout simply because your body is bearing the weight of your little one. But you can make babywearing time even better for your bod. While you’re wearing your baby, do some squats or lunges to burn and tone your thighs, some calf raises to create your own barre method class, or simply work on your posture by keeping your tummy tight and your back straight. It’s amazing how these little things will pay off if we focus on them often throughout the day.
And remember, it won’t happen overnight. My doula told me that most people feel things are “back to normal” in about a year, so be gracious with yourself. It’s just important to get out there and stick with it! Exercise not only helps you get back into shape, but it also pumps those endorphins through your body so you can bust the baby blues, give yourself some extra energy, and bond with baby.
Lindsay Gray is a new first-time mom and author of the blog The Leaking Boob. She lives in St. Louis, MO, with her husband Steve, daughter Lilah, and pups Mia and Lucy. Check out The Leaking Boob for more on Lindsay and Lilah’s adventures, product reviews, tips, and more.