Motherhood is no easy road and we are faced with incredible obstacles daily. In addition to everything else going on in our lives postpartum we feel pressure to go right back to being “normal”
Our society places an extreme pressure on us to “snap back into shape”. In this article I will cover tips and tricks for mother’s new to the fitness world on how to get into a routine regardless of what motherhood throws at us.
1st Self Love.
Self love is all over the internet. Love yourself, love your body etc. Cellulite, stretch marks and loose skin are often called “flaws”by many womxn even when addressing and making self-love statements. It starts with the classic… I love myself even though I have flaws like cellulite etc. I find statements like that to actually be hurtful to the movement. Cellulite, stretch marks and loose skin are not flaws. We need to stop labeling them as such. They are a direct reaction to things that occur in our lives.
Like growth rings on a tree. You’d never see growth rings on a tree as a flaw. Your body may have sustained the life/lives of one or multiple children, you’ve had gains and losses, your skin stretched to accommodate your growing body and when your womb no longer served your baby as home, your skin loss it’s elasticity and laid loose. Those things don’t make you less beautiful. Before embarking on a fitness regime. I think the number one priority is developing body neutrality. It takes time and practice. One thing I love to do is tell myself positive things about my physical body and my spiritual body. Write 3 things down for yourself 1. The most beautiful thing about your body ( made in non judgement) don’t say to yourself I love my eyes but I wish they were less wrinkled, different color. Acknowledge a physical beauty trait of yours without judgement.
2. Don’t wait to start. Let go of Mom guilt!
Many mothers tell themselves their setting isn’t ideal. “ I can’t just wake up and go to gym” or “I need to cook” or “it’s selfish of me”. Those were all things I told myself after giving birth to my first child. I was constantly putting myself aside. I lacked self confidence and I felt like I wasn’t a person anymore. All my hobbies, things of interest I set aside. You know what? It wore me down, it affected my mental health. I found out from my husband that my “me time” was important to him. He said he saw me happier when I got some time to myself. That happiness also trickled through to everyone in the household when I took advantage of that time. I felt refreshed and ready for my tasks.
In the early stages and then again when I had my 2nd daughter. I didn’t have time to go to the gym. I did have small spaces of time ( when baby napped) or I could get movement in by putting her/ them in a running stroller. Do squats while I was cooking. Get 15 to 20 alone minutes to do some yoga even if there was sometimes (many) times of great interruptions. The difference was that I was finally doing it. Movement for me is medicine and I needed it! Do it for you! You deserve “me” time.
3. Let go of the diet teas, the diet shakes etc.
Diet teas are full of laxatives. Initially you will loose a good amount of weight. Water weight that is. Cleaning out your bowl could help you shed several pounds in a short amount of time, maybe even leading to dehydration. To encourage regular bowel habits, stay hydrated, each fiber rich foods and supplement when necessary with a bulking fiber such as psyllium. Fiber is important of course. Using laxatives for weight loss is not recommended. Shakes? Many shakes have artificial ingredients, sugar, food dyes and many surprisingly have allot of sugar. It’s better for your gut health to have a variety of whole food sources vs drinking a shake with sugar, additives and still feeling hungry. I do recommend if you enjoy drinking shakes or smoothies add some real foods to them. An example would be fresh berries, a fat source like almond butter, milk base ( plant or dairy) a protein source like a scoop of healthy protein shake or adding Greek yogurt in and a veggie source. You’ll be satisfied with that shake longer and you’ll reap the benefits of eating Whole Foods.
4. Break up with the scale!
The scale is something many womxn battle with, you maybe saying. Ok that’s not going to happen. How will I know if I progress? Let’s think about the times we have needed to know our weight. When we need a medication or supplement based off our weight or maybe getting our driver’s license( I don’t think they do that anymore.) Otherwise when in society have you had to know your weight off hand?? Does it really matter? For my clients I recommend taking a personal picture for their own progress, maybe in your favorite outfit or bikini etc. You can go back and look at that picture. Do your clothes fit differently? How do you feel? Are you getting stronger? Faster? More mobile? Less stressed?
Additionally there can be more reasons to let go of the scale. Your body can change composition without any weight loss. You can stay at 160 lbs but now you added muscle and reduced fat. I had lost 2.5 inches off my waist this year healing diastasis recti and you know what? I hadn’t lost any body weight during that time.
You can also use a clothing tape measure to assess things like hip to waist ratio and know where you stand at the start of your weight loss journey. You can take full body measurements for your record as well. Revisit those things once a month at your check in. You can keep a scale in your home if it’s a must. This is my advice, if the scale makes you feel inferior or discouraged in anyway, let that shit go!!
5. Make small goals. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Did you promise yourself to workout every single day at the start of the new year? Did you say I am going to go full out, diet, run, lift weights etc. The reality may have been so different for you.
Why am I not obtaining my goals? Creating small habits that are achievable give us the courage and inspiration we need to accomplish bigger goals. For instance. You promise yourself to start adding a veggie each day to your lunch to get more fiber. 3 weeks later you find you accomplished that now you start eating more lean protein etc. When you set a goal you need to also know how you will achieve that goal. Saying things like I’m going to wake up everyday at 5 am and go on a run or walk. Well maybe your exhausted from work and that’s not ideal for you. You did it for a few days and then fell off. You could make a goal such as going on a walk for 30 minutes everyday. You can accomplish that on two of your 15 minute breaks at work. That’s doable! Bring a friend or a podcast and the time will fly.
6. Make it a family affair.
Getting healthy shouldn’t be left to one person to struggle with alone. Are family members bringing bad snacks into the home? Are you eating differently from the family but struggling when the sweets are right there in the cupboard? Diet changes should not be a “diet” but rather a change in how your family views eating or activity. Find some great foods you guys all love and learn better ways to prepare them. For example your family loves lasagna but you buy it frozen and prepackaged. It’s full of fat and sodium. What about preparing lasagna yourself, adding better ingredients, fresh basil, garlic, low fat ricotta etc? It takes some planning but eating at home and things cooked from scratch is better for you than take out or frozen meals. Get your kids and partner more involved. Playing sports, going for walks, spending time doing yoga or riding bikes as a family is not only fun but it allows you to lead by example.
7. You maybe saying I really just hate lifting weights or I hate running on a treadmill. Movement is a punishment for me.
Allow yourself the freedom to try all different styles of workouts. There is so much out there in the world, so many things are free and readily accessible on YouTube. Try Zumba, dance your way to health. Try Barre an exercise modality derived from ballet. Grow those legs girl! Body weight exercises especially Tabata style can really kick your body into gear. Maybe pilates interests you. Not a runner? but, need cardio maybe a HIIT workout is more your style. Make movement 1. Fun 2. Accessible 3. Affordable. Research and don’t give up finding your “thing”.
8. I won’t “ do it right and others will make fun of me”.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve had clients and friends tell me they can’t do something because they will feel like everyone is watching them or making fun of them. First in a friendly way get over yourself. What I mean by that is although you feel like everyone maybe watching you. Chances are they are not. The people along side you may also be beginners and feel embarrassed. You never know.
Also on another note. Don’t let your ego prevent you from taking a beginners course in something. When people hear beginner, there is often a stigma that a class will be boring, limited or you’ll tell yourself “ I don’t need that”. The reality though is the beginners course was just what you needed to become advanced in something. You can’t start building a house from the roof first, you need a solid foundation. Remember that. Third give yourself credit for showing up and trying something new. That’s empowering in itself and you are half way there. Keep going.
9. Team no days off? What? No. Your body needs rest.
I can’t express how terrible that mentality of team no days off is. Or the always grinding quotes on IG. Your body needs rest, it’s important for muscle growth and recovery. It’s essential to adapt rest days or active rest/ recovery days for your hormonal profile and your stress response. Remember you want you brain to recognize exercise as productive helpful stress “ instead of straight stress”. Stretch, deep breath and do light movement on your rest days. Self care is crucial.
10. Thank you!
If you read this so far, thank you so much. I appreciate you spending this time hearing my words. I am a womxn fitness specialist, a certified nutrition coach, registered yoga teacher, certified barre instructor, certified personal trainer in addition to all that I am a body ready method level 1 trainer. Meaning I do movement assessments for pregnant people and guide them in preparing their bodies for birth, show that was exercises are safe during pregnancy and address core and pelvic floor health. You can always connect with me via IG at @Namastewell_ join me for one of my virtual classes via zoom. Or contact me anytime if you’d like some virtual personal training guidance. I can help you. 🙂
All this information I have shared with you is from my own knowledge base. Please connect with a physician before starting any new workout regime. Be mindful of your body and any injuries you may have.
– Namaste to you all!