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Physically Fit Mom – 7 Steps to Get Your Body Back
Your body and your time
Mothers of young children tell me they have trouble shedding the ‘baby weight’ and fitting into their pre-pregnancy clothes. They are distressed not only because they lack the energy and clarity that exercise provides, but also because their reflection looks bigger and more limp than they want. Mothers also find that caring for their child and tending to other necessities takes up all of their time.
In fact, moms everywhere struggle because they feel like they don’t have time to take care of themselves, but neglecting themselves leaves moms exhausted and/or ready to in- or explode.
What’s a new mother like you to do?
7 steps to bring exercise into busy motherhood:
Step 1: Change your exercise expectations.
Exercise doesn’t have to last 30 to 45 minutes to count. In fact, studies show that short training sessions – e.g. 5 to 10 minutes at a time – benefits people as much as working out all at once. Similarly, as few as 10 repetitions of a strength exercise performed twice a week increases muscle tone.
Step 2: Change your perspective.
Get rid of all or nothing thinking. Own, feel proud of, and celebrate every exercise you fit into your life. Committing to and doing your planned exercise routine is a way to reclaim, and hold on to, a part of yourself as you make progress toward getting all the exercise (and other things) you want.
Step 3: Make SMART training goals:
Your weekly workout plan should beSMART:
What this means is that you will create and implement an achievable training plan that is planned – albeit flexibly – into your week. Your training schedule will begin very soon (on time). The exercises that you choose will take place on specific days (specific exercises/specific days), last for a specific period of time (measurable and achievable) and improve how you feel day to day (relevant).
An example of aSMARTGoal:
From this week I will get off the train 1 stop early on Mondays and Wednesdays so I can walk an extra 20 minutes each week.
Step 4: Create an action plan:
With intention and commitment, choose the type of exercise and the number of minutes/repetitions you intend to do. Also, take the exercise opportunities you can (e.g. use stairs). Remember: you’re more likely to stick with something you enjoy doing that makes you feel better.
Step 5: Don’t compare and don’t despair:
Don’t compare yourself to anyone you see: movie stars (and others) have access to help (trainers, chefs, 24/7 nannies, etc.) that you may not have. Also, everyone deals with motherhood in different ways (personally, I felt so exhausted that I started gaining weight when I got home from the hospital), and everyone’s body reacts differently to life after baby.
THINK PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!
Step 6: Practice acceptance and gratitude:
Remember:Your body did the most amazing job of its life: it created your baby. Treat your body with the love and respect it deserves. Practice accepting and thanking the body you have and give it healthy food, and as much sleep and exercise as you can.
Step 7: TAKE ACTION NOW!
Commit today to doing 3 of the practice ideas below and reap the benefits of being a mother who takes care of her child by taking care of herself.
Workout Ideas for Moms:
- If you take a train or bus (to work?), get off a stop or two early at least 2-3 times a week. Stealing short chunks of exercise time is often easier than planning a workout.
- Find someone (babysitter, partner, relative, friend, etc.) who will take your child once a week, so you can start one long workout. Schedule this workout into your week and keep your appointment with yourself like you would an important meeting!
- Take the stairs, especially if you don’t have a stroller with you.
- Have your child stay an extra hour at daycare once a week (eg every Tuesday morning or evening) and go to the gym or a walk/run.
- Do 25 squats every time you use a public (or your own) bathroom (toilets are a perfect height for squats!).
- Join a ‘mum-stroller’ group or take your baby for a walk twice a week. Stop at a park bench for a quick set of push-ups or step-ups.
- Once a week, go for a brisk walk or go to a nearby gym during your lunch break.
- Do 10 minutes of moving strength exercises (forward or back lunges, side-to-side squats, push-ups, mountain climbers, plyometrics, jumping jacks, step-ups, etc.) whenever and wherever you can. These exercises will help you increase your strength while training your heart.
- Make either a mother-baby or post-natal video at home (for 10 minutes?).
- Do 15 butt lifts (lying on your back, feet parallel, lift your butt) with your baby on your lower abs (fun for baby!). Hold the butt up for 1 minute to strengthen your core.
- Jump rope at home for 2 to 5 minutes 1 – 3 times a day/week (jumping rope works your whole body and is also a great way to boost your energy and vent frustration).
- Hire a personal trainer who will hold your baby (I definitely did when I was a post-natal fitness trainer!) and come to your house.
copyright 2009, Significant Self, Claudia Heilbrunn
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