When you’re just starting out exercising after having a baby, there can be many obstacles to a consistent exercise regime – not least of all lack of sleep, an incredible dependence on coffee and having your baby with you just about all of the time. But there are some tricks and tools that can get you motivated to exercise and keep you on the right track. Read below to find out my best exercise tips and check out our article Low Impact Exercises for New Mums for further post-baby exercise inspiration.
- Walk everywhere
Walking has got to be one of the easiest and most relaxing forms of exercise. A brisk walk for just 30 minutes a day (hardly more than a trip to the shops and back!) can significantly improve your fitness, mental wellbeing and lower the chance of many common diseases.
And because walking at a steady, brisk pace allows you to get your heart rate up without over-straining, you can start transitioning from recovery mode to running laps quicker than you can say “who’s your mamma?” But best of all, walking everywhere allows you to get stuff done. Drop the kids at school – tick. Pick up the groceries – tick. Put the little one to sleep – tick. Complete daily exercise – tick, tick, tick!
- Do Pilates before bed
I know what you’re thinking – exercise is the last thing you want to do before finally hitting the hay. But just 15 minutes of Pilates per day (targeting the right areas) will significantly increase your strength and have you looking toned and trim in no time. Even better, if you stick to it, you’ll start to notice an increase in energy to run around after the little one(s). I do at least 15 minutes of Pilates before bed every night without fail and I love having that wind-down time to relax and focus on me. It’s a sort of relaxation meditation combined with strengthening. New mums can gain a lot from targeting the pelvic floor and tummy muscles, but it is best to talk to your doctor, physiotherapist or Pilates instructor before undertaking any exercise regime.
- Take a gym class
Sometimes we need a little discipline to be motivated to exercise. Sometimes we need a lot. Sometimes we need a gym class trainer yelling at us to go harder, run further or just keep going. If you’re someone who has trouble self-motivating, making yourself accountable to exercise by signing up to a gym class could be the way to go. Most gyms offer post-pregnancy classes, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about your level of fitness when joining.
- Eat well Gradual changes are more successful than major lifestyle reboots. If you ate large amounts of unhealthy foods during pregnancy, try fazing them out one-by-one rather than attempting a diet overhaul.
A good diet increases the amount of energy you have and, therefore, your level of motivation to exercise. It’s surprising the difference that small changes in diet can make – try adding a nutrition-packed smoothie into your morning routine (swap out the milky coffee for extra energy). I find that after a morning fruit-and-veg smoothie I’m far more energised for the day ahead compared to when I have a morning coffee. While coffee is a great survival mechanism, it does tire you out in the long run and can prevent you from getting full and restful sleeps. Fill as many of your meals and snacks as you can with nutritious foods for optimal energy.
- Sleep when you can
There seems to be a certain stigma around what being a “good” parent entails. One of the things that can (ridiculously!) be seen as valuable in motherhood is the ability to carry on without sleep. This does not need to be the case. Sleep when you can for as long as you can. Tag team baby duties with your partner or family members if you can, and rotate shifts to allow yourself enough sleep. Without restful sleep, you won’t be able to function well for yourself, your baby or your family, let alone have the energy to exercise.
- Reward yourself
If the very real reward of feeling and looking healthier is not enough to keep you motivated to exercise, then it might be time to introduce a more tangible reward system (and no, you can’t use junk food). You could give yourself time to sit down and read a magazine, treat yourself to a tea break, or indulge in buying something nice for yourself (though this should really be a weekly or monthly reward if there’s an expense involved).
On the flip side of spending as a reward, studies have shown that monetary rewards are HUGE motivators in helping people stick to their exercise regimes. That is to say that if you can find a way to get paid to exercise, you’re highly likely to stick to it because the chemicals released in your brain, both from the exercise endorphins and the pleasure of the reward, trigger a sustainable pattern of behaviour.
Join Penny Miller to get those exercise endorphins pumping today. By signing up as a distributor you will get paid to get fit post-baby. Read more here.