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Baby-Stepping Back Into Fitness

postpartum fitness

Babies add awesome resistance! Credit: makelessnoise

I was in the best shape of my life in the months leading up to my pregnancy . I had been working with a personal trainer and was almost a little addicted to workouts. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for me to do two classes back to back or to do a killer strength workout and still have energy left over for cardio. It was like the more I exercised, the more energy I had. It was awesome. And I had so much time. Oh, so much time. (By the way, this kind of commitment is in no way necessary in order to get in shape. I was just hooked, and obviously it was unsustainable for the long haul!)

Now that I’ve been through pregnancy, sleepless nights with a newborn, and the constantly busy and interrupted schedule an infant requires, I don’t have as much time to work out. And I definitely don’t have the luxury of spending an hour or two a day exercising. After a break, I’ll admit that it’s been hard for me to get back into the workout mentality. I’ve looked, but I’ve struggled to find a hint of that workout addict! But I am slowly getting back to it, one mini workout at a time. If you’re struggling to get back on the workout horse, here are a few of my tips I’ve learned along the way trying to get back into shape!

10 Tips for Finding Postpartum Fitness

1. Chunk it up. It used to be that I had to have a good hour to work out. Now I’m lucky if I get 10 minutes while the baby girl is napping. I’ve had to readjust my thinking to be okay with breaking my exercise up into bite-size chunks. And even if I only fit in 10 minutes? It’s better than nothing!

2. Set reachable goals. Use our formula for setting goals. It may not sound overly ambitious, but I’m aiming to fit in three 30-minute workouts a week. It is manageable for me at this point in time, and hopefully once I do that for a couple of months. I’ll be ready to bump it up.

3. Make it fun. The thought of going running in the cold weather makes me want to get under the covers, snuggle with my baby and never work out again. Instead I’m breaking back into cardio by doing dance workouts (Zumba for Kinect! Watch for a review soon!) and throwing in some strength work on my own.

4. Exercise with baby. You can incorporate your baby into a lot of exercises! Lifting your baby overhead works arms and shoulders in a major way. My daughter loves when I do deep squats with her in my arms. I’ll do push-ups over her, kissing her forehead on my way down. I’ll get on my stomach during tummy time and do butt lifts. It all adds up!

5. Stay at home. Getting out of the house to work out got exponentially harder with an infant. But there are still a million and one ways to work out at home. Jump rope, do push-ups, use dumbbells and do workout DVDs until you have the desire to get to the gym.

6. Get out of the house. I know it contradicts No. 4, but get out of the house! Basically, with Nos.5 and 6, do what you need to do for your mental health and sanity! Many health clubs have child care services for members, so take advantage of them if you make it to the gym.

7. Be easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Sometimes sleep is more important than a workout. Just jump back in the next day!

8. Do something for yourself. As a mom, it can be so easy to give, give, give. Make sure you do some taking, too! Take that 30 minutes for yourself to work out. Go buy yourself something nice. Take a nice, long shower. Read a book, even if it’s two or three pages at a time.

9. Ease in. Don’t expect do be your strong old self overnight. While my baby-carrying biceps might be stronger than ever, other muscles have not kept pace with my new mommy muscles. Give yourself time to build back up to what you did previously.

10. Stink. So you may fit in a workout, but now you don’t have time to shower. You may just have to stink all day until your hubby gets home and you can pass off the crying baby!

How were your first postpartum workouts? Did you have a hard time getting back into the groove? —Erin

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