From the day I announced my pregnancy I was told by so many people (as they laughed) “Say goodbye to your workouts!” and even “You’re about to get so fat!” (This one was said with an uncomfortable amount of glee.)
When I worked out through my pregnancy it turned to “Enjoy it while you can! There’s no way you will be able to do that when the baby comes.” I can’t count the number of times I was told that I had unrealistic expectations, and that there was no way to “fit a baby” into my lifestyle.
I remained optimistic, and forged ahead despite the naysayers. I reserved judgement on the impact of a child on my workouts until I had time to actually experience what it was like. The truth? It’s not always easy, but it is doable. Here are a few things that I have realized along the way:
- Sometimes you will have enough time to workout, but you won’t because you just want to look at your baby. That’s okay. Your baby is going to grow faster than you can believe. Savor it. If you miss a workout to stare at your baby it’s still time well spent. Just don’t miss all of your workouts. Time for your health is important too.
2. Short Workouts will save your fitness life. Seriously, one round of a 12-15 minute workout might be all I get in. Go hard during your quick workouts, or incorporate exercises into your playtime with the baby. You can keep a “nursery workout list” on a chalkboard or dry erase board, or even make a list on your phone. Aim to get in those exercises throughout the day as you play with your little one. Or incorporate your baby into your workout. They think it’s fun!
3. If someone offers to watch the baby while you go on a run or get in a workout, take them up on the offer. It will be amazing. Not that you mind running with the stroller. That has it’s own appeal, but it’s nice to just have some alone time where you can focus exclusively on the task at hand. Focusing on your exercises as you do them actually improves the physical benefits you are getting from the exercises.
4. Showering after your workout MUST be calculated into your available workout time. Miscalculate and you will be sweaty and gross for an indefinite time period.
5. When you are into fitness people will be a lot harsher/more vocal with their expectations of your weight loss. Don’t worry about it. Focus on yourself and your baby. Re-create a consistent workout habit and healthy diet, and it will happen. For both yourself and your baby it’s more important to create a healthy lifestyle and body image than it is to starve your way to an arbitrary number on the scale.
6. Your hair might fall out. It might be more mentally traumatic for you than the weight gain and body changes (it was for me!) I expected to gain weight, and knew it would take time to re-build my strength. I didn’t expect to lose handfuls of hair. That was harder on my self image than the weight gain. For you it might be the opposite. You will be okay though. We don’t have to be perfect (mentally, physically, or as parents). All we can do is our best. If someone makes the “mom haircut” comment just brush it off.
7. The first time you work out after having a baby it will be weird. You’ve been pumped for this day for six weeks (or however long your doctor restricted your exercise), but things that used to be easy will be hard. Even if you worked out your whole pregnancy. Enjoy the chance to re-build and track your changes. If you can only do 5 pushups to start, track how long it takes you to get to 20-consecutive pushups again. Small goals, and recognizing your progress will help you feel happy and confident with your changes, instead of falling into the cycle of comparisons to what you used to be able to do.
8. There will be times when you try like crazy to get your workout in, and it will not happen. The baby has other plans. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout.
9. BE READY. If you want to get in your workout, dress for it. Don’t wait until the baby is napping to change. Once the baby is napping, or your significant other is taking care of the baby, jump into the workout. With babies your plans can change on a dime. Be ready to go when you have the opportunity.
10. Ask for help. This is a hard one for me. I’m a self-sufficient doer. It literally does not occur to me to ask for help most of the time. I don’t like making people feel obligated to do something that I feel I should be able to take care of myself. As a result, people don’t often offer to help. If you need something ask. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that many people are willing to help.
11. Focus on Intensity. Your workouts may be shorter, but that doesn’t mean they have to be less effective. Aim for shorter, full body workouts where you push with more intensity. Great results, less workout time.
12. Isn’t this supposed to be a list of 11? Consider this a bonus tip for the nursing mamas! If you are nursing make sure to stay hydrated and well nourished to help prevent your supply from decreasing. Drink fluids with electrolytes. Normally I only like water, but I have added in gatorade or other electrolyte drinks on hard workout days and I have had no decrease in milk supply.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Comment below!