Having a child changes everything, and with a packed schedule taking care of a newborn and trying to actually get to fit in some sleep, exercise can fall to the wayside. But you don’t have to settle for a mom or dad bod just because you’re busy. Fitness can take on a new form in your life, and it can also become one of your favorite outlets.
Whether you’re at home with the baby or already planning to go back to work, a fitness routine can help you stay grounded. Between diaper changes and feedings, you’ll need to schedule some personal time to just be yourself. Holding onto your identity as a person makes you a better parent in the long run. These eight tips will help new moms and dads get in shape, not to mention keep their energy levels high and fully embrace parenthood.
1. Start Small
Any sort of physical movement is better than none at all. A lot of people fail to exercise routinely because they hold themselves to high standards. Even something as basic as 30 minutes a day can be a lot if you haven’t worked out in a while. Dedicated fitness routines take time to establish, so start anywhere:
- Do lunges across the living room while the baby sleeps
- Start your morning with 10 squats and a 5 to 10-second plank
- Do leg lifts on the couch
- Do five burpees before getting dressed in the morning
2. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Listen to your body while you work out. If something is too difficult, don’t force yourself to push through. The saying, no pain, no gain isn’t true. People who perform regular low-intensity exercise can be just as healthy as someone who deadlifts. Practice proper warmups and cooldowns to protect your heart, lungs and muscles. No routine should leave you feeling completely drained or on the verge of collapse. If you can only muster a few minutes of jump rope or jogging in place to start, so be it. You will become more conditioned over time and be able to work out more as you build endurance.
3. Start Biking
Riding a bike is a great way to stay in shape and get out of the house. If you live in an area that’s easily navigable by bike, consider taking yours out to run errands on the weekend while someone watches the baby. Ebikes are an even faster way to help you get around with more comfort and convenience that anyone else on the road. In addition to protecting the environment and lowering your transportation costs, a DŌST Bike can also help you burn calories and tone your muscles.
4. Don’t Obsess Over the Baby Weight
The changes a woman’s body undergoes through pregnancy can last a lifetime. Some stretch marks will never fade, and you might find that your old body feels like a distant dream. This can be an understandable source of discomfort and embarrassment for new moms, but it’s nothing to be ashamed about. Your body carried the miracle of life into the world, and you should now carry it with pride. Getting back to your pre-baby weight will take time, and that’s fine.
Losing 1 pound a week is safest for new moms as this won’t affect their milk production. If you’re exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. But don’t be too harsh on yourself for skipping a day because you’re tired. Being a mom is tough work.
5. Focus on Your Baby’s Health as You Diet
Restrictive diets are not typically recommended for breastfeeding moms as they can negatively impact their baby as well. You should never drastically cut your calories anyway, but it’s especially dangerous if you’re feeding a newborn. You want to give them the best nutrition possible, and that requires nourishing yourself. Eat balanced meals and get plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Moms who are breastfeeding should have at least 1,800 calories a day, but don’t focus on the number too much. When you’re choosing balanced recipes and whole foods, it’s naturally easier to eat the right portion for your body. The only foods you should avoid are those that are either prohibited during breastfeeding or downright unhealthy.
6. Make Fitness Your Self-Care
Set aside 20 to 30 minutes in the morning or evening to just take care of your body. You can begin or end your exercise routine with a 5-minute yoga/meditation session that really helps you restore your balance. Your attention is projected outwards all day, whether it’s at work, with the baby or with your partner. It’s not selfish to give yourself time to be alone and look after yourself. In fact, this is the best way to prioritize exercise rather than seeing it as just another chore.
7. Use Fitness to Bond as a Couple
Although we’ve discussed the value of exercise as a form of self-care, it can also be a beneficial way for stressed new parents to get some alone time together. You’re both tired, and it’s likely that the majority of your time is now either spent on the couch or trying to sleep. If one or both of you are also working, this can strain your relationship and cause you both to feel distanced.
Embrace this new journey together by prioritizing one another. You’re not bad parents for spending time without your baby. Let the grandparents watch the little one for 2 hours on the weekend while you both go for a long walk. Do couple’s yoga or hit the gym together. Your relationship will be better off because of it.
8. Stay on Your Feet
Sitting all day is terrible for your muscles, and it can make it harder for you to cope with the stress and sleep deprivation that accompanies a new baby. Being active throughout the day can help you burn calories even if you aren’t working out. Whether it’s washing the dishes by hand, running the vacuum or mopping the floor, there are lots of small ways to get up and move around that benefit your body.