Mamas In Motion – Returning To Exercise
Returning to exercise
As a postnatal fitness instructor, it’s fair to say I know a thing or two about getting back in shape after having a baby, but experiencing it *first hand is a whole different ball game… (*Disclaimer: I had my first daughter in 2014, so have ‘done it’ before, however I wasn’t a qualified fitness instructor then.)
Having given birth for the second time nine weeks ago, I decided I was ready to start some gentle exercise last week. Two weeks in and I’m enjoying my journey to becoming a fitter, stronger – and ok yes, slimmer – me, but several things have dawned on me already that a. I wouldn’t have considered first time around and b. that I think are really important to share. Here’s a few of them that are well worth checking out…
1. Your fitness journey is exactly that – yours.
While it’s human nature to compare ourselves, please, please, please don’t do it when it comes to your postnatal self. I’m sure you’re starting to learn not to compare your baby – they all develop at such different stages – so it’s key to apply the same rule to your body.
We all had different birth experiences, different pre-baby bodies and fitness levels and each have different goals. While I felt ready to re-start exercising after 8 weeks, I’d been used to exercising a lot before I got pregnant and carried on working out till about 32 weeks before switching to swimming ‘till 40 weeks. Listen to your body and only start back when you feel ready (and of course, after you’ve had the all clear from your GP).
2. Be a go-getter goal setter
Whether it’s pounds you want to drop, muscles you’re keen to tone or an event you’d like to be match fit for, think about your goals and write them down. They tend to work best if you qualify them, so add as many details as possible – i.e. I want to be able to run 10km by January. That way, you’ll keep motivated and stay on track and can devise a plan to help you reach it.
3. Gently does it
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to see results yesterday, but sadly it doesn’t quite work like that. Don’t be tempted to jump back in to thrice weekly workouts, including an hour spin class, a HIIT session and deadlifting 100kg – you risk injury as the hormone relaxin (that makes your joints overly supple) is still present in the fourth trimester. The advice is to workout as you did in the third trimester, taking it easy and avoiding high impact exercises. So cardio should be low impact – try walking instead of running at first – and ease yourself in with short sessions of around 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Enjoy it
Seek out exercise you love to do. Often, even if it’s hard to get started, the feeling afterwards when the endorphins are flowing is amazing, so try to remember that the next time you’re considering ‘losing’ your trainers. Give yourself a little treat as a reward, so that might be a sauna or jacuzzi or a new nail varnish if you do all your exercises as planned that week.
Getting outdoors is a double win as it boosts the feel good hormones even more. Why not take baby along too and let them see mama pulling some funny shapes – watch their little face as you do star jumps. They think it’s hilarious!