The jogging mom, it’s a symbol of strength and perseverance don’t you think? We can’t help but smile a little when we see a mother pushing along a jogging stroller, getting her workout in as baby naps. We think to ourselves, “Way to go mama! She’s getting healthy, she’s happy, she’s full of energy!” But is she really? 8 years ago I was one of those moms. Full disclosure, I hated it. I resented my sweet baby for sleeping peacefully while I trudged up the street huffing and puffing when all I really wanted to do was have a nap too! But I thought, how else am I going to lose the baby weight? How else am I going to reduce my stress, because isn’t that what exercise is supposed to do? Gyms are expensive, I don’t want to sign a contract. What if my baby hates the gym daycare? It’s easier to just toss them in the stroller and head out the door! But I didn’t know then what I know now, and guaranteed most of the new moms out there don’t know it either. So I’m here to share a little secret with you, because it’s my desire to save you from the relentless pavement pounding so you can get some much needed rest!
You don’t need to jog to lose that baby weight! In fact, you don’t “need” to lose that baby weight at all if you don’t want to. You can, and should, just rest when your body needs to rest, sleep when your baby sleeps, feed your body nourishing whole foods, and keep your stress levels as low as possible. And then, IF you feel like you can handle some exercise, and the thought of exerting yourself doesn’t make you want to cry, then you can go ahead and move your body in smart and healthy ways.
So what does a smart exercise program include?
- Short but intense strength training ~ 30 minutes max (1-2x/week)
- Walking at a comfortable pace ~ as much as you want/can
- Mobility and stretching ~ everyday if possible
Short intense strength training sessions can be done in the comfort of your own home. They can include body weight movements such as air squats, pushups and burpees, or weighted movements such as bent over rows, presses, and kettlebell swings. Strength training is essential to building muscle and recovering from childbirth! You need muscle to pick your child up without straining, to swing on the monkey bars at the park, or to carry 4 bags of groceries plus a kid on your hip. Muscle will prevent injury, muscle will give you energy, muscle will allow you to keep up with your active growing babies. If you had to choose between an hour long jog while baby naps, or a quick 30 min strength session in the living room while baby plays, please, for the love of your sanity, pick the strength training! Nap when baby naps, and put the stroller away.
Now here’s where that stroller comes in handy. Walking! It’s a highly underrated activity. Why walk when you can run?? Well, because walking is a more natural human movement, it doesn’t cause strain on your joints, it doesn’t spike your stress hormone cortisol, and it’s easy! (**now, before all you lovers of running start hating on me, let me just say that I’m specifically talking about a period in your life where walking is the better choice. I’m talking about listening to your body as a new mother, and realizing that there are better ways to exercise than to push yourself to do something that actually depletes you further) Walking is a big stress reliever, even if it’s just to the mail box and back, or simply around the block, add it in whenever you can.
And the final component of a healthy exercise program is mobility and stretching. Now this doesn’t need to be structured and planned. You don’t need to drag yourself to a yoga class. All I’m talking about here is moving the body throughout the day. Roll your shoulders in both direction, do some hip circles, get down into a deep squat (feet flat on the floor) while playing with baby. Crawl! Crawling is such a beneficial movement for the whole body. Hang off those monkey bars. Get down on all 4s for cat/cows. The possibilities are endless. Just remember to move your body as much as possible and ditch the couch sitting.
New mothers are exhausted, there’s no disputing that. The point I’m trying to make here is not that running is horrible, but that if you are exhausted and stressed as a new mom, taking up something like running is not a good idea. It’s something to work up to if you genuinely enjoy it. But it’s not the answer to your fat loss problem, it is not the definition of what a balanced exercise program should look like. I should also note that a balanced program such as the one above, is also not necessarily the answer to your fat loss problem. Because honestly, fat loss should be your last concern at this point. Focus on getting and staying healthy as a new mother, which shockingly, has absolutely nothing to do with your size.
If you need more direction and want the benefits of a personal trainer to teach you proper form, please contact me for further information 🙂