I was a little cocky going into my six-week postpartum doctor’s appointment. After gaining the same amount of weight with my second pregnancy as I did with my first, I assumed my weight loss would be the same too. But when I stepped on the scale it revealed I was 10 pounds heavier than I was six weeks after my first child. Ouch!
Since that day seven weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about how busy moms like me can get into shape. My experience tells me it’s more about being creative than finding extra time. To show you what I mean, I’ll share my getting-back-into-shape plan with you.
1. Why exercise in the first place?
Last year I read about a research study that confirmed something I already knew intuitively. Why you exercise can make or break your success.
I interviewed lead researcher, Michelle Segar, PhD, about her 2008 study published in Women’s Health Issues. Her research team asked 156 midlife women their reasons for exercising. The top five reasons included weight loss, health benefits, stress reduction, sense of well being and weight maintenance. Those who said they exercised for weight loss and health benefits, participated in significantly less exercise than those who exercised for stress reduction and a sense of well being
Michelle explained to me that exercising because you “should” is less motivating than doing it for your own reasons including how it makes you feel. The more I thought about it the more it made sense. I would have never kept exercising all these years if weight was my only motivator. So now I constantly remind myself how being active makes me feel both physically and mentally. After a workout I have a more positive outlook, am much more productive and present with my kids. And I have come to love the time to myself.
2. Do what you like
Nothing turns me off to exercise more than doing something I don’t enjoy. It doesn’t matter how many calories I burn or how good it is supposed to be for me, if I don’t like it I won’t continue to do it.
So I’ve decided to make running my priority when it comes to cardiovascular exercise. I used to run much more before having kids and I really miss it. Not only do I love it, but it’s easy to do, which is key for me at this point in my life. All I need are some running shoes, a good jogging bra and I’m good to go.
I also enjoy exercises that strengthen my body. I have always incorporated some weight training in my routine but it seems like forever since I’ve really challenged myself. After having 2 children, I no longer recognize my abdominal muscles which I mistakenly ignored between pregnancies. So I plan to slowly build a stronger body.
3. How to fit it in
There’s a part of me that wants to dive into exercise like the old me would. I could go to the gym 5 times a week, do tough classes and commit to long runs on the weekend. Not only is that not practical, it no longer fits my life. So I mourn the fact that I don’t have that kind of time – and quickly move on.
I have to start with where I am now. I have a nursing 3-month old and a somewhat high maintenance 2.5 year old (almost forgot my husband too). I just started working part-time and I run this wonderful blog. I simply don’t have big chunks of time available.
Since my 3-month old’s schedule is still unpredictable, it doesn’t make sense for me to commit to running with a group or try to catch classes at the gym. So instead I’ll be on the lookout for daily opportunities to run. Sometimes mornings are good when my husband is home. I also bring the kids over to my moms at least once a week making it easy to escape. And every Sunday afternoon we go to my in-laws so I can bring my running stuff and take off at just the right time.
I plan to do a 15-minute postpartum rescue tape most days to help my poor little core and will incorporate hand weights on the days I have more time.
So my plan is to run when I can, do my postpartum core strengthening video on most days and use my hand weights a few times a week. After a month or two I’ll check back in with the why, what and how and change what isn’t working and add on to what is. And I’ll be sure to let you know how I’m doing.
I realize the best way for busy moms like me to get into shape is unique to individuals and constantly changing. What worked for me 6 months ago doesn’t work today. And what I’m doing today is sure to be obsolete for my life in 6 months. If, as a mom of growing and changing children, I had one set idea on how exercise “should” be I’d never do it. For me, that’s just not acceptable.
Have you found a way to balance exercise and your busy mom life? Let others know by leaving a comment below.
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