It’s certainly not uncommon to hear moms lament that they want to “get back in shape” after baby. Having a baby redefines our body and our self-image. While we learn just how awesome and strong our bodies are, it often comes with not quite recognizing that body anymore.
I think I actually left the hospital heavier than going in after the birth of my second daughter, who only weighed in at 5 pounds 15 ounces. I knew not to bring the pre-pregnancy jeans but I didn’t know I’d need a size up in maternity wear! (Okay, I could still fit in the old maternity clothes, but still.)
When you decide you’re ready to increase your activity level – either for toning, stress release, weight loss or just to feel better about yourself – it’s very important to do so safely. Again, our bodies are redefined after baby. You’re not the same person; you’re a better version of yourself.
Here are 5 tips to maximizing the effectiveness of your workouts:
- Educate yourself on Diastasis Recti (DR) – This common condition is the separation of the right and left abdominal muscles from the midline. Fifty-three percent of new moms have DR immediately postpartum. It can be corrected but it’s important to make sure you’re not worsening the condition with exercise. Any exercise that puts repeated forward pressure on your abdomen could make DR worse; this includes crunches, sit-ups, and planks. To see a demonstration of how to check for DR, watch this video on YouTube.
- Spice up your routine – There are many benefits to cross training between different types of exercise. Not only that, maybe your preferences have changed. Perhaps you ran marathons before kids but would like a slower pace now? Cross training prevents boredom, will help you stick to your fitness plan, and allows your body to work and tone in many different ways. Even if you never considered (barre or yoga or Zumba) before, give it a try! You might surprise yourself.
- Consider your exercise personality – With a little one (or ones) running around, a mom’s time is even more valuable. Think through all of the factors that will make your workout more doable: will you be with or without baby? Do you prefer working out inside or outside? Do you like to work out solo or in a group? If you like to chat while you work out and you can’t take the summer heat, don’t run outside alone. You’ll hate it and inevitably stop.
- Think outside the scale – Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to lose pounds. There’s so much more to your health than the number on the scale. With my clients, we use a wide variety of fitness measures, including strength tests, heart rate and blood pressure, and measurement of waist, hips, etc. On a day the scale shows a higher number or you’re feeling bloated, you may see that your waist is an inch smaller. Or a month down the road, you may see that you can now do twice as many push-ups in a minute.
- Embrace the beauty of who you are – The last thing we need to do as moms is compare ourselves to others. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making comparisons. The truth is you’re amazing, exactly where you are. Making the choice to be stronger and healthier is a gift to yourself and your family, not about failing to meet a standard.