Did you catch Morgandi’s The Mom. The Myth. The Bod. Part 1? Check it out and then read on to learn about her tips for the postpartum woman. Rules that she’s lived by and tips she’s passed on to her fitness clients.
Tip Number One: Slow and steady wins the race. When it comes to getting back to exercise, take it easy. Wait the prescribed 6 weeks. Real damage to your body and to your abdominal muscles can be had if you don’t give your body time to heal. Once you’re back to it, work your way in nice and slow. Push yourself, but not so much that you either injure yourself or burn yourself out.
Tip Number Two: Wrap yourself. After I had each of my kids, I immediately wrapped my stomach. Google it. Belly wraps. There are so many great ones on the market right now. It not only helps to shrink your uterus back to its normal size, but it also helps your stomach muscles come back into form.It is not a substitute for diet and exercise, but goodness, it sure does help.
Tip Number Three: Add weight training to your exercise repertoire. The goal after baby should be to build muscle. Cardio is great for you, but building muscle is key to burning calories. For every pound of muscle gained, you can expect to burn an extra 35-50 calories per day. And the great thing about weight training is, as your lean muscle mass increases, so does your resting metabolism. This means that you will burn calories all day long and not just during the effort itself. This is a huge step on the way to weight loss.
Tip Number Four: Plank it out. Underneath the six pack is a beautiful muscle called the transverse abdominis. This muscle is the main muscle activated when referencing “the core”. I like to think of this muscle like a belt or a wrap around the midsection. The tighter it is, the tighter your midsection becomes. When you’re pregnant, the transverse abdominis is stretched. And stretched and stretched and stretched. There are very few exercises that can strengthen and tighten this muscle. And all of the crunches in the world fail to even touch it. One thing that does? The plank. It works like a charm. Start at thirty seconds. Modify to your knees if you need to. But work your way up. The more you can plank, the tighter your core will become. Stick a baby in front of your face if it gets a little intense. I promise it will make it a little better.
Tip Number Five: Be wary of the scale. I do not own a scale. I do not weigh myself. The vicious cycle of weighing yourself every day, only to find that your weight fluctuates or stays static for days or weeks on end is frustrating and often halts exercise all together. If you’re not losing weight on the scale, why continue to exercise at all? The fact is this. Weight fluctuates. There’s no way around it. As a woman, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of experiences with water weight. Water weight is real. And it happens to all of us. It can account for 2-5 lbs of daily weight fluctuation. Also, as you begin to gain muscle, there will be a period time that you will either gain or maintain your weight. Why? Muscle weighs more than fat. As you begin to replace fat with muscle, there will be more weight in your body. But a good kind of weight! The kind of weight that burns fat and will eventually lead to weight loss. Key word…eventually. I always tell my clients to watch the shape of their bodies change. I tell them to pay attention to how they feel. I tell them to watch the way their clothes fit as their clothes become looser and looser. It is good idea to weigh yourself periodically, but it is not everything. And it should never dictate how you feel about yourself.
To end, post-baby fitness as well as motherhood is a challenge. It’s a journey. One that for most of us will take some time. But it’s a great journey. A rewarding journey. A journey that is rewarded not in pounds or inches, but in time and quality of life with your children. Let’s all encourage each other by truly talking about what it is really like to come back after baby.
What tips do you have for post-baby fitness?