There is no doubt – having children causes some drastic changes to our bodies. It can be empowering whilst pregnant but then quite disappointing once baby is born. And with every baby comes more changes. But if we don’t make the effort to take care of our bodies then we can end up with some pretty nasty permanent changes (think of never being able to laugh or sneeze again without an unpleasant surprise!)
No matter how many changes your body goes through with pregnancy and birth it is never too late to help get it in shape again. It’s easy to slip into bad habits in those early years with babies. We can easily eat through a packet of biscuits or find our hand in a bag of Kettle Chips every evening to stop the late night cravings. I’m speaking from experience here.
Here’s how I got focused on getting fit after each pregnancy and a few lessons learned.
1. Focus on your core
Our core is seriously compromised after birth and is like the control tower of our whole body. If it’s not functioning properly you can cause injury. This happened to me after doing Jillian Michaels 30 day shred after baby number 3. Yes I lost a ton of weight and felt strong, but my stomach still looked pregnant and jelly like and I couldn’t figure out why. I had been causing more harm than good to my abs (look up diastase recti). This is where you need to start and you need to start super easy. Never do crunches or lifting of the legs whilst lying flat post pregnancy. Put 90% of your focus on getting your core back in order. This will help your whole body recover.
2. Start easy
Make sure you’re cleared by your GP (doctor) and go for something that interests you but start at a beginners level. Your body will still be vulnerable and needs to be treated with care. Starting with “Insanity” workouts or marathon training is not the way to go. You’ll only demotivate yourself with all the hard work and your body will not handle it well and injuries will occur.
3. Make a plan and stick to it
It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you chose, the most important thing is to keep doing it! Make a plan and write it down to help you stay focused and just stick to it. If you miss a workout for whatever reason, don’t miss the next. Just keep going!
4. Make every calorie count
Don’t waste calories on crisps and biscuits – the biggest mummy tummy culprits. These are the most satisfying foods whilst breastfeeding (and every other time of your life), but are doing absolutely no good for you or your baby. Snack on Ryvita and peanut butter, cheesy oatcakes, boiled eggs and lots and lots of fruit and veg. Keep bananas next to your bed for those midnight feeds rather than hobnobs and you’ll start to feel energy return.
5. Rest and sleep
When you’re starting out you need to make sure you have rest days in between work outs and plenty of sleep to recover. Try to get to bed 30 minuets earlier than usual to make sure you give your body the rest it needs to recover. Starting with three days of exercise a week with 5 minutes of postnatal core work every day is a good place to start. I never did more than 20 minutes exercise with babies under a year old, but I hardly ever missed a workout and made every minute count.
6. Don’t lose weight, lose fat
I have never owned a scale in my adult life and I still don’t see the need. We can get obsessed with that number on the scale that we just have to get to and only then will we be happy. But muscle weighs more than fat and so you can be getting fitter and not see that needle on the scale move. Aim for healthy not skinny. The first thing I notice with exercise is my shape will change before my weight drops.
Let’s start our week off well and get moving together! What will your workout be?