Last week, I was working with a woman who admitted her challenges in getting back in the exercise saddle after having a baby. She admitted, “Ever since I had my little boy, I have had a really tough time exercising. I just can’t seem to get back in the swing of things.”
I’m sure this is common ailment for many new moms. After all, taking care of a little one (or ones!), sleeping less and working more aren’t exactly the ideal ingredients for running a marathon, or even running around the block, for that matter.
Here are a few pointers to help get you back on track.
Don’t swing for the stars. This is one time in your life when you can safely set your sights low, and not feel like you are letting yourself or someone else down. Right now, the goal is to make exercise a habit again – not win a gold medal at the Olympics. So have a realistic and easily attainable goal. For example, don’t attempt to exercise every day for 90 minutes; instead, strive for 30 minutes, 3X/week.
If you set your sights too high and fail to reach them, you’re far more likely to throw in the towel altogether.
Put workouts into the schedule. Whether you work inside or outside the home, there’s a good chance you use some sort of calendar – on your phone, on the wall or at your PC. Now’s the time to plan exercise in advance and write it down or type it in. See “workout” before your eyes, find time to fit it in your day, then do it. Your likelihood of working out is far greater if you plan when/how/what you are going to do.
Take your child along for the ride. If you work outside of the home during the day and want to spend precious time with your child when you can, then take your little one with you. Use a baby jogger, a stroller or bike trailer (when your he/she is old enough), and make exercise a special time to share with your child. Kids like being outside, too, and you’ll be amazed at the quality conversation you’ll have with a wee one who can’t talk back.
Gain support from others. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help in your journey to fitness. Ask your spouse, a sitter or good friend to take care of the kids if you prefer to sweat it out solo. If you have more than one child, this may be your only choice!
Have a few folks in your inner circle hold you accountable for working out. A little support – or peer pressure – can help you stay true to your intentions.
Sleep. Easier said than done, I know. But if you are continually sleep deprived, you won’t feel like lifting an exercise finger. If you aren’t able to strike every item off the day’s “to do” list, it’s o.k. Go to bed early and save those chores for the next day.
Just say no. If you spend all your time helping others, there’s no time leftover for you. By learning to let go of a few responsibilities, you’ll be better able to make your health and fitness a priority. And as a result, you’ll feel better, look better and enjoy family time even more. (Not to mention, they’ll enjoy their time with you more, too.)
Pump up the volume. After exercise is routine again, then increase the level of difficulty gradually. Increase the walk to a jog, pick up the speed or consider a high intensity aerobics class. Or maybe all you need to do is increase the frequency and/or duration of your current workouts. Overdoing it is a deadly sin, but challenging yourself with the time is a key to success.
Reward yourself for a job well done. If you stick to the fitness routine, you’ll probably drop some baby fat along the way. So then the dress size drops, reward yourself with a new outfit. There’s nothing more exciting that buying new clothes – that shrink in size!
Photo courtesy of KidSpot.com.