During the first few months of your new baby’s life, exercise is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Once you start getting a bit of sleep, however, you might feel ready to get fit and active again.
Getting back into shape can seem like an overwhelming idea. But don’t put it in the “too hard” basket quite yet. Here are some things I did to get active again.
Start with baby steps.
If you’re like most new mothers, you’ve probably been out of action from regular exercise from anywhere between six months to a year... or more! I started by setting realistic goals for myself – goals that I could easily hit and feel good about. This might be as simple as taking a 20 minute walk every day or committing to 10 sit-ups when your baby naps. Another easy exercise is the “plank,” which is essentially a push up position, but balancing on your forearms versus your hands. Hold it for as long as you can, once a day. I timed myself using my phone and logged the time for each – it was amazing to watch my strength grow daily with just this one small move.
I was all about fitting exercise in whenever possible – even if it was as simple as parking my car a few streets away from my destination to get in a few extra steps.
Get the gear.
When you’re ready to step it up a notch, you might want to invest in the right equipment to help you out. For me, a jogging stroller made it easier to start running again. If you’re planning on walking a lot, invest in a supportive carrier or a stroller that is comfortable for you and your baby to take out for long periods.
Step it up.
Once you’re feeling a bit more confident after some basic exercise, think about joining (or starting!) a Mom group to keep you motivated. Post to your local parenting sites or mailing lists that you’re looking for an established workout group, or looking for interested people to join yours. My mom friends and I set up weekly workout dates that kept us honest and committed every week.
Hit the gym with your baby.
Yes, you read that correctly. Check if your local gym has a nursery or any kind of childcare minding service available for its members. I was lucky enough to have a gym nearby with a daycare where I’d drop off the baby and hit the treadmill.
Every little bit counts.
It’s easy to get discouraged, believe me. Baby gets sick, you get sick, the weather turns foul – it’s frustrating when you desperately want to get fit. But remember to focus on what you can do with the time you have. On days where I didn’t feel motivated to hit the gym, I tried to fit in a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. I also soon learned to not sweat the days that I didn’t work out. In the long term, you’ll get there, as long as you keep updating your goals and set a routine. Good luck!
Christine Knight is an Australian expat and mother of one enthusiastic toddler. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she is co-founder of brunchwithmybaby.com, a site dedicated to helping parents navigate the NYC and Sydney food scenes with their offspring.