A couple of months ago I wrote about getting back into shape after the birth of my second child. I must have struck a cord with moms because this was my most popular post so far!
I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine revealed that marriage, having kids and starting work are the most challenging times for women to exercise. We all know that parenting young children is a high-demand job. But no matter how easily it would be to justify, I just can’t give up exercise. Not only does it help me cope, it gives me the strength to do this very tough job. And after counseling clients for years, I know all to well that having babies is a time when excess weight can take root and grow.
As promised, I’m sharing with you my getting-back-into-shape progress. Every few months I review to see what’s working, what isn’t working and then develop a new plan.
A lot has been made about a Time magazine article claiming that exercise doesn’t help people lose weight. I’ve been familiar with this research for some time now. Basically, studies show that while exercise prevents weight gain, when it’s incorporated without reducing calories, it does little to budge the scale.
Fortunately weight is not the reason I exercise. After years of getting in tune with myself, I know that when I eat a balanced diet, honor my appetite and fullness, and exercise at a level that satisfies me, my weight seems to take care of itself. I also remember from nursing last time that my body likes to hold onto a few extra pounds until I wean.
I have to admit, after I got weighed in at the doctor’s a few months ago I was tempted to get rid of the extra weight fast. But if I did that I would’ve grown frustrated with my progress and ended up trying a more extreme approach. Then the extreme approach would’ve backfired because it would be difficult to sustain. Then I’d be back where I started.
Okay enough rambling…now to my progress.
My goal was to build a fitness base and add on from there. The plan was to run when possible, do a postpartum core strengthening video on most days (15 minutes) and use hand weights a few times a week.
I’ve been most consistent doing the 15-minute postpartum video. This easily fits in my day and I really like how it has three levels, each getting a little bit harder. One time saver I discovered is that my 2-year old daughter loves to do the video with me. She yells “exercise” most days to signal her desire for the DVD and she usually wants to do it twice. We giggle a lot and repeat the lines. And it’s perfect to do during my son’s morning nap.
The early morning runs have also been going pretty well. Because my son has had trouble sleeping, there have been weeks where running early didn’t happen often. For me sleep trumps everything else. If I’m not getting sleep, I’m simply not productive.
At first I ran outside my place for about 20 minutes and have gradually worked up to 30-40 minutes. It was smart not to make any commitments to run because my son’s erratic schedule wouldn’t allow for it anyway. Being able to put on my shoes at a moment’s notice and head out the door has been key.
What’s not working
The at-home strength training never really happened. After the 15-minute video my desire to lift weights is nonexistent. So instead I’ve been doing the bare minimum at a gym at my mom’s apartment complex every Saturday.
I’ve come to the realization that exercise just isn’t going to happen after putting the kids to bed. I have tried to put off the video or weights for that time but I’m too resistant. I’d rather spend that time relaxing with my husband, writing for this blog or winding down. The more I try to do after 7pm, the later I seem go to bed – and that’s no good.
The new plan
A lot in my life has changed since that last post. First off, my son is (kind of) on a schedule and sleeps most of the night. My husband took a new job and I’m working two days a week. The best part of this change is I have a regular routine which makes it easier to plan. Based on my new schedule, this is what I’ve come up with to take my exercise up a level:
My husband will go into work late on Friday so I can get up and run. I plan to get up early Saturday and run before taking the kids to my mom’s. Sunday I’m going to do a whole body workout class at the gym (yeah!) down the street. Monday and Tuesdays are tough. I’m in negotiations with my mother-in-law to see if she can come over early one of those days so I can either take a spin class or run. I work Wednesdays and Thursdays. Eventually I might try to do something on my lunch (half-hour) when it cools down but for now I’ll just walk around as much as I can.
I’m going to discontinue the postpartum tape and move onto newer (and harder) Pilates/Yoga videos during my son’s early nap with my daughter on Monday, Tuesday and Fridays. I’ll move it up 5 minutes to a total of 20 minutes.
I want to join a running group but will hold off for now. I think I have enough on my plate!
So have I seen any results? I feel better and have more endurance running. My core feels stronger. And I finally weighed myself last week and found my weight down almost 7 pounds since that day 3 and ½ months ago. I’m not sure if it’s because of the exercise or just my body’s way of getting back to normal after the pregnancy.
Well that’s it for now. What do you do to stay in shape? Share your secrets with other moms. We need all the help and support we can get.
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