As a Pilates instructor I have seen dozens of women during their first pregnancy vow to come back as soon as their baby is born, aspiring to snap back into their old jeans as fast as possible. After they send me the pics of their adorable bundles of joy, it’s rare if I ever seen them again. Why? Because being a Mom is so time consuming! Moms — especially new Moms — are lucky if they’re able to read this post from start to finish without interruption, so how on earth can they take find the time to get a workout in?
Here’s some strategies for all you new Moms and Moms-to-be to get your skinny on and keep your sanity.
Be Realistic. You will not be able to spend as much time on yourself as you used to. While it is still crucial to carve out time for yourself, you have a family now; acknowledge to yourself that this is a big time commitment. The rewards of being surrounded by loved ones far outweigh the negatives.
Assess the situation. Who can help you find the time to workout? Options include: a gym membership with daycare facilities; a loving spouse who will take the kids for a few hours; popping in an exercise video during nap time; swapping off babysitting with another Mom; or maybe even working out together while both of your kids play on the floor. Adopting more than one of these elements will allow you to get your fitness routine accomplished.
Develop Your Plan. By negotiating with your family, and planning everything in advance before you start exercising, you’ll have significantly greater odds for success. This means signing up for the Mom/Baby class or gym membership perhaps even before giving birth. Peruse the video selection at Target or go online to find some good ones. Get all your ducks in a row to avoid any deterrents once you start back on your fitness routine.
Execute. Your first two weeks should be great because everyone is pulling for you and you’ve got determination. But once this becomes part of the routine, and the distractions of life creep back in, you’ll find yourself struggling. Remind yourself of the long-term goals, not the short-term annoyances when you don’t feel like doing the schlep to the gym. Dig a little deeper and carry on.
So how much time are we talking about? Here’s a bare minimum guideline which is only meant to get you started; you can increase time and sophistication as everyone gets used to the new schedule.
Cardio, 3 to 4 times per week for 20 minutes minimum. This includes running, an aerobics video, riding a bike; anything where you break a sweat for it to be effective. Walking around the neighborhood with the baby in the stroller will burn some calories, but it won’t elevate your heart rate. Instead tuck Junior into the jog stroller and run for 20 minutes.
Resistance Training ~ Abs. You need to do an abdominal series that includes your six pack muscles (rectus abdominus) and your waist muscles (obliques). Essentially some variation of crunches and twists. You should do this for about 10 minutes at least 2X per week.
Resistance Training ~ Body. Choose 8 – 10 exercises to do 2X per week for the rest of your body. Include arms, legs, back and chest. The muscle groups you want to hit are biceps, triceps, lats, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and pectorals. A sample routine would be squats, lat rows, bicep curls, tricep press, chest fly, calf raises, bridges, and pushups. This should take you about 15 minutes and requires one resistance band. Just start with one set of 10 for each exercise and build up over time to 3 sets of 10.
All together these total 60 minutes of cardio and 50 minutes of resistance training as a bare minimum for your week, but think of it in little chunks so it’s easier to fit into your schedule. If your baby takes a 2 hour nap, you can sneak in 15 minutes in the beginning of her rest period and still have time to relax or catch up with other tasks.
As your children get older and more independent, you can carve away an extra 10 minutes here or an hour class there. By establishing the routine with your family early, it will ensure you get your “me” time for your body. In my house we have a saying: “Happy Wife = Happy Life” and it’s so true.
I would love to answer any questions you have about the specifics of starting a routine and how to negotiate to get the time you need. Please ask away.