Every day I get asked questions around Baby Zand, how I find time to exercise, get broccoli into her, and so much more. So I have decided to share a lot more baby related information on the blog, and I will create an entire own page for it with my favorite things, starting solids, nursing, and so much more. Keep your eyes open.
Today, I want to start with how I find time to exercise. If you didn't have time to exercise before you had a baby, then you probably will have no time at all after having one. With everything, it's about the priorities you set: it's never about finding the time, but making the time to exercise.
For many new moms, the main reason they want to exercise is to get their pre-baby body back. To me, exercising is crucial in so many ways: it helps me feel more energetic for the rest of the day. If I don't exercise, I immediately feel my strength for carrying Baby Zand around dwindle, and aches and pains sneak their way into my life. Exercising is a kind of meditation to me. It helps to clear my head from the busy napping, feeding, diaper changing, play dates schedule. It's time I spent on my recovery from c-section. The strength I feel when exercising, is the strength I take into my day. I feel less agitated and stressed. And the list goes on. What are your reasons to exercise? The longer your list is, the more motivation you will have to get out of bed in the morning. Because - let's face it - after a sleepless night with a crying baby, the last thing you want to do is roll out of bed and jump into a burpee. And yet, those extra few minutes of tossing and turning in bed will not make a significant difference to your energy level for the rest of the day. Getting about 30 minutes of some kind of exercise will make a HUGE difference.
Here are my 5 tips to getting some you time:
1. Start as soon as possible
The longer you postpone the inevitable - that at some point you have to motivate yourself to start exercising again - the harder it is going to be. And before you know it, your baby will be starting school, and you have not set foot in a gym since you got pregnant. I always say, use those first 6 weeks to rest, bond, and heal. This is not the time to start lifting heavy weights and going for long runs. You want to nourish your body and sleep and rest, so it can recover from the ordeal of giving birth. Once the doctor gives you the go-ahead, start with something. Maybe it's a few yoga poses that feel good. Maybe you pick up some strengthening exercises for your aching back. Or maybe you want to go for a walk with the stroller. Whatever it is, just start moving your body for 30 minutes a day. This does not have to be the toughest Insanity session you've ever done. Just start moving.
I personally loved yoga and Pilates for the recovery. The gentle, flowing moves were perfect to feel my body get back into the groove, without draining all my energy with a run or an intense interval session.
2. Exercise in the morning
Exercising in the morning has many health benefits, but especially with a baby it's the best thing you can do for yourself. As a new mom (or even the second or third time around) you stress about a lot of things. "Did I turn off the stove?" is my biggest stress factor when I leave the house with my mommy brain! Exercising helps to clear your head, to feel like there is just a moment in time when you don't have to worry about all the things that could potentially go wrong with baby. Starting your day with a clear head is so peaceful and relaxing, you will get hooked immediately. The handful of times I haven't exercised sine Baby Zand has been born, I was in a terrible mood all day long. After that even my husband told me I need my exercise time :-).
3. Get a rocking chair for baby
In a perfect world, we would have someone to watch baby for an entire hour every morning, so we have time to exercise, and shower, and have a restful breakfast. I don't know about you, but in my world I am on mommy duty from the time baby wakes up, until she falls asleep on me in the evening. It is inevitable that you somehow have to make baby part of your exercise routine.
One of the best things I was given, was a rocking chair for baby to sit in. So even if she didn't want to go back to bed after the morning feed, I would pop her into the rocking chair, turn it on with soothing music and gentle swaying movements, and then position her right next to my mat. This way she could see me, but she didn't need me to be with her. I was able to get in full 30-40 minutes of me time while baby was happily sitting there. Yes, some babies may not sit happily for that long. Just take however long you can get! There were plenty of days I pulled her on to me, and we ended up falling asleep on the mat together.
4. Don't sign up for classes
This may come as a surprise to you, since I teach classes and love for people to come and exercise with me there. But when you have a baby at home, and the schedule is so unpredictable, especially in those first few months, then there is no point in stressing yourself out by trying to get to a place at a certain time. Having to get the baby ready, dressed, fed, burped, put in her car seat, then get yourself out of milk stained clothes, and comb your hair to look somewhat human, is stress times a thousand. Next, you have to get in the car, hail down a taxi, call an Uber or whatever mode of transportation you use. Halfway to the class you realize not only are you running late, but you also forgot something crucial; maybe your exercise shoes, maybe baby's pacifier. Once you get to class, all you can think about is that you clearly forgot to put on deodorant, and the running out of the house hasn't helped the situation. You are concerned with every coo baby makes, hoping it doesn't disturb the other moms, whose babies are just peacefully sleeping on the side. Do you want me to continue or do you already feel stressed out just reading this?! There is just no way you will really get into the exercise during a class. So get yourself a mat, some small equipment you know how to use, and start exercising at home. Maybe you want to find an online program that has great workouts or get a DVD set. Something that you can do at home at any time, and take a break from in case baby just needs to be nursed.
5. Be gentle
Don't have the expectations of being able to do everything you were able to do before you were pregnant. Your body stretched and pulled and grew over the past 9 months. It takes the same amount of time or maybe even longer for your body to heal. Even then it will probably never be exactly as it was before; not better, nor worse, just not the same. You carried a baby, you made a human being. That is an amazing accomplishment, and you should celebrate it with loving your body exactly as it is right now. Be kind and gentle, and use exercise not as a punishment to whip yourself back into a shape you want to be. Instead, use exercise to help your body heal, to channel the strength you had at birth, and to feel good in your own skin. Use exercise to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing, so that you can be the best mom you can be.