As a new mom, you have a lot to think about: when to feed the baby, what to do if they cry . . . and how to get rid of those extra pounds packed on during pregnancy. And even after finding the right postpartum exercise plan, it can be hard to find TIME to exercise . . . can you relate?
If you’re struggling to fit exercise into your everyday life with a newborn, here are some easy ways to start.
1. Set an Alarm
I know that it’s tempting to snooze as late as possible—especially if your baby has been up all night. But setting your alarm with enough time to get a quick 20-minute workout in before you start your day is a great way to ensure you work out before the day gets away from you. For many moms, if you wait until the afternoon or evening, there are just too many activities and commitments that come up. Find a workout that you love that can be done at home in the morning before everyone wakes up. It’s a great way to start your day.
2. Just Do Something
What do you do when you are so busy you barely have time to scarf down a meal, let alone get a workout in? When I was in newborn mom mode, “just do something” was my motto. It comes down to either doing something or nothing . . . it’s your choice. It’s okay if you can’t commit to a full workout today. In fact, as a new mom, some days, finding 30 minutes in a row might be impossible. That’s okay! I suggest breaking up the time into 10-minute increments and then working your way up to 20 or 30-minute sessions as you can. The key is to do SOMETHING!
3. Do it at Home
“Getting slim without the gym” has been my favorite motto since becoming a mom. As you know, there are some days when getting out of the house to exercise is not an option. The good news is that you can still get fit in the comfort of your home. Don’t despair if you feel like you don’t have time to get to the gym. Remember, our goal is to do SOMETHING. And you can get a fabulous fat-burning workout in the comfort of your own home. Hold your baby and do squats and stationary lunges (no weights needed!) for your lower body, then lift your baby overhead (get ready for some giggles) to strengthen your arms and shoulders, or lay on your back and do “baby chest presses.” And during those precious 30-minute nap times, grab some dumbbells and get in some at-home postpartum workouts!
4. Take a 5 Minute Walk
Go for a walk with baby in a front carrier or sling, or put baby in the stroller. When your baby is at least 6 months old, you can put him in a jogging stroller and even try some sprints! But until then, just remember to keep the pace slow and relaxing. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise raises cortisol and can lead to muscle loss just as readily as fat loss. Moderate intensity aerobics burns calories but provides little hormonal advantage, so I tell my clients to practice high-intensity workouts combined with low intensity, leisurely walking for best results. Leisurely walking is done slowly at a relaxed pace, allowing you to easily carry on a conversation (a speed of 3.5 or less on a typical treadmill). Adding 2-3 intense weight training workouts per week to your leisurely walking is an excellent plan for burning the baby fat.
5. Burn it at Bedtime
I’ve talked with hundreds of moms who swear by online workouts done when they put their little one down to bed. Find workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home. As soon as you tuck your baby in, commit to doing a quick 20-minute workout before you crash on the couch and enjoy that precious post-bedtime hour with Netflix and your slippers.
Embrace the Endorphins: No matter what time of day it is, the truth is, many days you might not feel like exercising . . . but once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how your energy, motivation, and mood improves. Beyond helping you burn the baby fat, exercise provides additional hormonal benefits to a new mom. In addition to lowering stress hormones and stimulating fat-burning hormones like HGH, exercise releases endorphins that will help ease the postpartum blues that almost every new mom encounters.
Not only does it help with depression, but I also found just 10 minutes of exercise helped me sleep better and is a huge help in relieving stress (as incredible as it is, having a new baby in the house is stressful). Even if you don’t have the time or energy to get back into a full training schedule, you can take advantage of those feel-good hormones by squeezing in short 10 to 20 minute walks as soon (and as often) as possible.
6. Find Some Accountability
Whether through friends, family, or fabulous women in an online community, having social support is key to staying accountable. We are social creatures by nature, and we feel good when we have someone who listens and can relate to what we’re going through. Consider getting involved with mommy and baby fitness classes (you can workout and bond with your baby at the same time) or join a group workout if you belong to a gym. Group training allows us not just to get a great workout but to develop and foster friendships—many of which reach beyond the walls of the gym. If you don’t have a local group, connect with moms in a similar situation as you go online. If you need a friend, I’ll keep you accountable! The key is to establish a built-in support system and make sure you have someone to help you on your journey.