By Guest Blogger Paula Jager, CSCS
We all go through different stages or chapters in our lives where we have more or less time to devote to ourselves such as college, start of careers and births of children.
That’s just life.
All of these are better handled if we are eating a healthy diet and staying in peak physical condition. While certain life events such as a new baby may be initially overwhelming, the last thing we should do is let ourselves go.
Time can rapidly gets away from us. . .
Here’s my typical conversation with a new mom:
Paula: “what are your goals in regards to fitness and health?”
Mom: “I’d like to tone up and lose inches in my butt, thighs and belly area. I just had a baby and I can’t seem to shed the last few pounds (ranges from 10 to 50+).
Paula: “congrats on the birth of your healthy baby, how old is he (she)?
Okay, maybe I am exaggerating just a tad but I usually hear anywhere from 1 to 6 years of age. What are we waiting for, their high school graduation? I have a cat not children so while my experience is somewhat limited in this area my experience in working with both mothers and fathers is not.
I have several clients that have children, work full time, home school and/or are single parents that find or make the time to stay fit. Check out the following statistics and what they are doing to combat typical “excuses”.
Michelle: age 39, mother of 2 (ages 6, 9), full time account executive
Stephanie: age 41, mother of 2 (ages 5, 9), stay at home mom
Amy: age 38, mother of 4 (ages 2, 7, 9 and 17), home schools, works part time
Jen: age 39, mother of 4 (ages 4, 5, 10, 12), works 15-20 hours a week
Janet: age 37, mother of 2 (ages 4 and 13), home schools and works part time
. . . and Gentlemen
Not limited to women only check out. . .
Scott: age 42, father of 1 (age 7), full time professional and full time single parent. Sorry ladies, I will not give out his numberïŒ I would think being a single parent would amplify all responsibilities. You do not have the emotional and physical support a good spouse would contribute. You have to do it all–all the time.
What these women and Scott all have in common is desire and commitment and they are proactive. They take action instead of talking about it. They are successful in their careers and/or the raising of their children because of this. They know that in order to set the right example, to stay their healthiest, to look and feel their best and raise their children to the best of their abilities they must eat right and exercise. And they make the time rather than make excuses.
A 24/7 lifestyle pace affects all of us today, with or without children. Michelle and Stephanie choose to workout midday. They devote 1 hour a day 4-5 days a week to exercise. It keeps them functioning optimally and sane. They lift weights and sprint. Check out Michelle’s abs after 2 c sections; I don’t see a “lower pooch”!
Amy & Janet both home school their children; their schedule is not as structured. They plan their workouts around their children’s schedule and activities but plan them they do. When issues arise that necessitate a change in their schedule they don’t skip their workout they merely reschedule it. Sometimes it’s 5 am and sometimes it’s 10 pm but they get it in. They do a combination of weight lifting, running and yoga.5-6 days a week. Janet does fitness competitions on top of that.
Jen works out before work or after since balancing 4 children and a part time job dictate that. She does have the support and help of her loving husband. Jen lifts weights and sprints 5-6 days a week.
Scott works out in the morning after waiting in line to drop his son off at school and before work crossfitting 4- 5 days a week and plays in an intramural soccer league 1 night a week.
In addition to the above activities all of these people are training for the Tough Mudder Challenge (a grueling 12 mile obstacle course run).
I’m not saying it is easy but it can be done and needs to be done in order to be your best at raising your child and in every aspect of your life. If you don’t have a program it’s time to start one. Map it out, set your schedule, choose your activities and begin. You don’t need a personal trainer, gym membership or fancy equipment. While that’s nice it’s not realistic for many of us. Put your stock on and while it’s simmering grab a 10 minute workout here and there, or while your child is napping, playing with siblings or friends etc. . . You can break one hell of a sweat with bodyweight exercises and a jump rope alone. Team up with other mothers in the neighborhood and take turns watching the children while the others get in a workout. Or play with your children; making them a part of the activity/workout.
Don’t’ have time? Make some, cut out or down on watching TV, reading the newspaper, surfing the web or other useless activities. Don’t have energy? Well no wonder, you don’t move enough. Start working out and you’ll have three times as much.
Get your hand out of the grain free cookie jar. While an occasional treat is fine for your child without health or weight issues you don’t need them on a regular basis if you want to lose that body fat. Watch out for the “bites”, ‘a bite of my child’s this and a bite of my child’s that” because you don’t want to “waist” will go to yours.
Before you know it your children will be in college or grown. You want to be able to handle the teenage years, to be there for them when they need you and to enjoy them while feeling full of vitality and energy.
You don’t want to be fat, out of shape and on medications!
Start now, while they are young and grow and improve with them–and remember–you can have excuses or results but not both.
hi….so my question is a little different. my son is 11 months old, still breastfeeding and I am down 10 lbs below my pre-preg weight…and i dont’ exercise at all. it happened with my previous 2 children as well. i so miss my daily exercise (former long distance runner and swimmer here) but if i do anything at all, my weight drops even further and so does my milk supply. am i just stuck until he weans?
oh…and fwiw, we eat raw dairy, pastured beef and chicken, eggs – the whole deal from local farmers we know and love. tons of raw cheese, butter and coconut oil. apparently my son is still a little parasite!
I lost the extra weight easily after my first pregnancy, but the second one was another story. I went on GAPS nursing for 6 months while nursing my year old daughter…didn’t lose a pound of the 17 extra I gained with her, despite working out (which would put me on the couch for a half hour at least trying to recover)and eliminating most fruits. I later discovered I had serious adrenal fatigue and a weak thyroid. I was finally able to lose about 7 pounds on a low carb/high fat when I stopped nursing, but it took FOREVER! Just saying, don’t beat yourself up when you have hormonal issues (and many mommies I know do have them.) Sometimes that pooch is a result of bad adrenals and you need to nourish your body and stick to gentle exercises before engaging in strenuous work out program. I am at a healthy weight, but still 10 pounds over what I usually weigh. It’s disheartening, but I now realize I need to take care of other issues first.
Oh one more thing. You mentioned munching and snacking. I have had friends who have mentioned struggling with this, especially stress snacking. My simple solution/advise: don’t have it in the house. That seems so simple to me and that is what I do, b/c there ain’t no way I can have a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer without me sticking my hand in the bag periodically to take a few! That used to be my weakness! And still would be if I bought them, ha! Our kids don’t eat junk either otherwise I would totally be getting into it! So if it’s getting into the KIDS snacks that is an issue, then wean them off junk too. Meaning prepared, eat-on-the-spot junk.
I loved this post and I love your bluntness about just getting up and doing it! I try to encourage other moms this way too – for those who are hesitant to start, just know that it will become addictive since you will feel so great, have so much energy, and begin to see results. Just keep at it and you will find that you begin to look forward to that workout time. As you get stronger and begin to be able to push yourself further, well there is just great satisfaction in that. 😉 I workout about 5-6 times a week, an hour at a time, P90X program at the moment which I love. I have an online business, homeschool three children, and chase around an almost 2 year old. I also have two daughters who do competitive Irish dance so they are training almost every day as well (we go to a lot of competitions), with me coaching them which is about an hour a day. Between all that and meal preparation, if I can fit it in….;) A schedule is so key as well as getting to sleep early in order to have the energy for all of it. I do well with 8-9 hours of sleep. It is what I need. No late night Facebooking! Great post Paula. Had me nodding a lot. 🙂
Thanks so much Paula. I was afraid of that ;o). I have been trying to get better about getting enough sleep…think that got me into trouble as well. Didn’t really sleep for a year and a half while DD was teething and I’d only be able to get work done once she was asleep which led to staying up late as well(she likes a lot of attention). I have mostly been eating protein and veggies (organic from local farmers) and a little fruit. Lots of broths, stews, Meat from them (organic, beef-local free-range), tons of eggs, also prosciutto, duck pate and smoked salmon for breakfast with, greens-those are my bad treats. I also take hemp, chia &/or sesame seeds w/meals on a regular basis. Drink homemade water kefir and now that I’m back to casein-free dairy (goat milk kefir), goat or sheep yoghurt and cheese. I used to eat gluten-free oatmeal but chiropractor recommended against (shrug). It really has not made a difference :o(. Oh, and I try to incorporate fermented foods (saurcraut and the yummy medley from Gaps recipes, sometimes natto) I avoid unfermented soy and processed foods. I take plenty of organic virgin olive and coconut oil and drink fresh coconut water-we live on Kaua’i. :o) I don’t know if I need to cut out carbs altogether or eat more of them. Sorry for the long explanation; I just sometimes worry I’m not doing something right. I’ll try to incorporate short strength building workouts…hope it helps.
Wow! These are inspirational stories. I only did yoga after baby was born but recently started Zumba and an intensive workout as well. (Weights have always seemed boring to me; sorry, even when I had to do them in HS. I love dancing and interactive sports.) Well, then I got a cold and right after a strange allergy that has left me constantly stuffy for over a month now :o(. I miss my workouts! I was just getting really serious about them and now I am just feeling exhausted. Not sure how to work out when I can’t breathe. Guess I should see a specialist.
I did want to ask what you recommend for people who are underweight? I nursed my girl till she was 2& 8 mos. and I was completely drained. She just turned 3. I’ve always had a super-fast metabolism and had to eat a lot to “keep my weight up”. Friends would joke they’d give me some of their fat, which I’d have gratefully taken on. I’m on a diet cutting out allergens now and have extremely limited my carbs (gluten-free now); as it turns out I have some immuno-metabolic problems (super low SiGA score). I’ve been on a traditional diet for almost a year, but don’t see improvement. I look anorexic (thinner than I’ve ever been) and try not to stress out about it as I know it will only make things worse, and the body needs to heal in it’s own time. What type of workout do you suggest for someone in my predicament? There is no way I want to lose more weight.
You may not want to hear this but. . . strength training. Heavy compound movements with plenty of rest between sets. Adequate recovery between workouts (48 to 72 hours) and very little cardio. Yoga would also be good as long as it is not power oriented–more for stress reduction. Stay away from “dancy” or long “intensive” workouts. Lots of sleep (8-9 hrs night), keep an online food log for about a week to see where your calories and macronutrient ratios are. You need to make sure you are intaking enough of the right foods. Make sure you keep you protein intake up to support muscle growth, definitely adequate fat and plenty of vegetables and fruits.
Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama
When would you recommend starting a post-baby work out, seriously? My baby is 7 weeks old. Yes, weeks. 🙂 You can count me as slightly impatient. What would you recommend to tone the tummy specifically?
As soon as your Doctor gives his okay. I have one client Michelle (mentioned above) that started back at 6 weeks and she had a C section. Can’t really spot reduce (see above reply) and nutrition is huge. One addition I would make to anyone that had a C section is exercises that target the deep underlying pelvic muscles such as leg raises, hanging abs, hollow rocks and L sits–great one. It will help to restore the function of those muscles.
Michael Acanfora (@BayonneChiro) (@BayonneChiro) (@BayonneChiro)
Real Life Strategies for Losing That Baby Fat
What kind of exercises do you recommend for getting baby bellies back into shape. I have 3 children, 4, 2, 7 months. I am nursing so I am always hungry. I have been on GAPS for 6 weeks with no weight loss. I am completely exhausted at the end of the day, my upper back and legs hurt being on my feet all day taking care of my three little ones and cooking GAPS foods. Thank you.
Hi Diane, I wish we could “spot” reduce; in that case all I would do is squat:) The best exercises for the core (both front and back) are the basic compound movements such as squats, presses, deadlifts and rows. Start light, use proper form and they will tone and strengthen the entire body including the core area. To drop the body fat use an online food log such as http://www.fitday.com to see how many calories you are consuming. You certainly want to eat enough to support yourself and your child’s nutritional needs but not too much to support body fat. I was amazed how much I was actually consuming (although good foods) when I did that. Good luck with your journey!