Make Fitness Happen! 6 Easy Steps for New Moms
Get kid-friendly activities sent to you!
Get the Best Family Activities
Some of us like — and need — to exercise alone, to give our minds time to sort things through. Runners, swimmers and cyclists tend to fall in this category. Others of us need to be part of group and gravitate toward fitness classes. Some women prefer workouts where there’s no competitive aspect; others find positive reinforcement in sports where they have a chance to win in competition.
Not sure what you’d like? Think back to when you were a kid. Did you prefer running games, riding your bike, swimming, playing a one-on-one game of tennis? Or were team sports, like volleyball or soccer, your game?Step Four
Get help. Enlist your husband, family and friends to help you around the house or to watch the children for an hour, so you can use that time to exercise.
Negotiate with your partner for a regular, committed slot of time, perhaps an hour or two per week, when you’re not on baby duty. You’ll get a much needed “mommy” break, and your husband will have a wonderful opportunity for bonding with the baby and honing his parenting skills.Perhaps you have a family member or close friend who can help with baby care once a week. Enroll in a postnatal exercise class where babies are welcome. Another option is to hire childcare, or extend your existing childcare hours so that you can have specific times during the week that you can devote to exercise. If your budget allows, hire a personal trainer to give you in-home workouts.
Write down your action plan and place it where you can’t help but see it regularly throughout the day, i.e., on a wall calendar, a dresser mirror, bulletin board, the refrigerator door, your computer monitor, or other prominent place in your home.
Here’s a possible example:Monday and Friday afternoons: fitness walk with the baby for 30 minutes after lunch.
Wednesday morning: post natal exercise class.
Tuesday and Thursday mornings: exercise for 20-30 minutes with tapes or DVDs while the baby naps.
Put your plan into action, one day at a time.
Make sure your exercise plans are on the top of that day’s priority list, and don’t let anything outside of a true emergency or illness interfere with that schedule. When it’s time for your exercise, don’t ask yourself if you “feel like exercising,” or wonder whether or not you will have the energy. If you give into feeling tired or unmotivated, you might be tempted to skip your workout. Remember, exercise will actually increase your energy level and give you a much-needed psychological boost.
Research has shown it takes about six weeks to establish a new habit. If you are out of the habit of exercise, you will need to push yourself a little bit to establish a routine. Think of this initial period as your on-ramp to a more active lifestyle. Steel yourself to stay on course. Take pride in small accomplishments. Even if your steps are small, you’re making progress.
Living with your “mommy body”
It’s important to keep in mind that it can take anywhere from nine months to a year for your “mommy body” to evolve back to your former self. It’s a rare woman indeed who can get back into her “skinny jeans” anytime soon after pregnancy.
Avoid the insidious trap of self-criticism or judging yourself against others. It’s easy, especially during times of stress, for our “internal critics” to hijack our internal dialogue. Develop a mental off-button.When you hear yourself being critical or self-deprecating, take a moment, close your eyes, and visualize yourself flipping a switch to the ‘off’ position. Then replace the negative self-talk with positive, motivating dialogue. Be kind, supportive, and nurturing to yourself. You deserve it.
Maternal fitness is the cornerstone of family health
Childhood obesity rates and related health problems continue to escalate unabated. Fit, healthy mothers are the strongest antidote to these serious health problems because they demonstrate positive role models for their children to emulate. Fit, healthy moms have fit, healthy babies and families. Our level of physical activity in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle choices serve as the most powerful determinate of our children’s future health.
As mothers, we must step forward and assume the mantle of leadership, to actively steer our families to better health and fitness. It’s both an awesome power and responsibility. Not only is our own personal health at stake, but equally important, the future health and wellbeing of our children.
HELENE BYRNE, founder of BeFit-Mom, is a perinatal exercise specialist, author, and publisher of the ‘Bounce Back Fast! Post Natal Core Conditioning’ DVD. Visit her website at www.befitmom.com to learn more about prenatal and postpartum fitness.