When Lisa first started Stroller Strides, one woman in her class was really struggling—she didn’t look like she was even going to make it to the first station. She was very obese and struggling just to walk. She made it though and kept going. Lisa encouraged her and worked with her. Six months later, they ran a 5k together. Ten years later, Lisa received a heart-warming thank you from that woman. Although she’s not skinny, she’s happy, healthy and still exercising.
Helping women get healthy after having kids is what Lisa Druxman, Chief Founding Mom of Fit4Mom, has built her life around. She now helps hundreds of thousands of moms through the programs she started, she’s a well-published author, and she’s a world-renowned fitness professional. Here are her tips on how you can get your body back after having kids.
Fuel yourself in healthy ways
Eating right is the biggest challenge for most moms. Often moms are so busy taking care of everyone else that they don’t find time to fuel themselves.
You can start by planning ahead. When you don’t have anything available and easy, that’s when you’re most likely to grab junk food. Try going to the store on the weekend and buying food for the whole week.
Be careful not to reward yourself with food (or wine… ). Food offers instant gratification, but may actually keep you from reaching your goal of getting your body back.
Focus on buying and eating single ingredient foods, rather than processed foods. One-ingredient foods, like chicken, fish, or an apple, are usually much healthier. Also, your natural instincts tell you when to stop eating when you’re eating real foods. “A banana is a perfect food. It even comes with its own wrapper,” Lisa explains, “Never have I binged on a banana”. On the other hand, processed foods tend to make people want to just keep eating and eating.
Last, try to find time every week for meditation, journaling, or whatever helps you to unwind.
Get motivated to get healthier
“A healthy, happy mother is the best gift you can give your children,” Lisa reminds us, “We need to be role models for our kids. Live how we want them to live.” If you want your kids to eat healthier than you do, or you want your kids to be more fit than you are, remember that they learn what to do by watching you.
If that’s not doing it for you though, there are loads of audio and visual motivational health programs, out there. You can also check out Pinterest and Podcasts. Last, they say you’re the average of the five people you surround yourself with. Are you surrounding yourself with motivated, healthy people?
Time to your pre-pregnancy body back!
Or is it? Lisa cautions that a lot of moms start too hard, too fast. It took 40 weeks for your body to gain the weight, so give yourself 40 weeks to lose it.
Look for exercise that fits into your daily routine (not necessarily the gym). Think back to a time when you really enjoyed exercise, like high school sports. If you can incorporate whatever you liked then, into your new routine, it will be easier to stick with it. Try to find a way to break a sweat every day, whether it’s stroller-based exercise or exercising with your baby in a carrier. “People ask when they should work out,” Lisa explains, “I say, ‘every day you want to be in a good mood.’”
There’s more to getting your body back, than just working out though. During your pregnancy, your shoulders and hips roll forward to accommodate your baby bump… which leaves you looking hunched over. This posture can give the appearance of sagging breasts and a lower belly pooch. And, if you work out with your body like that, it will stay that way. So, you want to strengthen your back, stretch your chest, pull your shoulders back and down, and strengthen your glutes.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) allows you to burn a lot of calories in a short time—perfect for moms short on time. HIIT basically means alternating really intense exercises (like sprints) with less intense recovery periods.
Several other specific exercises that will help correct your new postpartum posture (described above) include:
- Back exercises. Aim for 3-4 times more back exercises than chest exercises. Life already pushes you forward, between leaning over your stroller, wearing a baby carrier, and holding your little ones hands. So all day, focus on pulling your shoulders down and back.
- Stretch your chest. Try placing your arms shoulder-width apart against a wall and leaning forward. Or try lying on your back in your bed and letting one arm hang off, then switch sides.
- Planks. Try doing planks while your baby does tummy time.
- Hip bridges. Lay on your back with your feet on the floor or on a ball and lift your hips up.
- Lunges and squats. Assuming your knees are healthy, try these while unloading the dishwasher or while your baby is in a carrier (like a weight vest).
- Stretch your hips. Laying on your stomach or standing, reach for your foot and bring it toward your glutes (bottom).
Many moms feel think back to pre-baby exercise and don’t feel they have time to go to the gym, nor do they have child care. Just realize, exercise is going to look different. You can work out in your garage or pop in an exercise video. Or try a child care swap with another mom (each of you babysits for each other’s child for a couple of hours each week).
Some moms worry that exercising will affect their breast milk supply or quality. It won’t, but remember to hydrate well. You may want to wear a double-support sports bra, if exercise is uncomfortable. Also, Lisa suggests nursing your child immediately before exercising. This leaves breasts less heavy and leaves your child more content, freeing up your time. If your child doesn’t like nursing after you exercise, try wiping your nipple area with a wet cloth to remove any sweat.
You’ll also need enough sleep to make all of this happen. Lisa suggests asking a spouse or someone to take a shift getting up with the baby at night, so you can get at least a 5-hour stretch of sleep every night. She also suggests finding a sleep training method that works for you and sticking with it.
That’s it! Now, go fuel yourself, get active, feel great, and know that you’re setting a great example for your kids!
Thanks very much to Lisa Druxman for taking the time to share these great tips! If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to see more from Mama Lovejoy, you can “like” my Facebook page. You can follow @MamaLovejoy1 on Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr, check out www.mamalovejoy.com, or please share Mama Lovejoy with your friends. Thanks!!