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Before you become a parent, you're on your own time. You can get your workout in when you want, you actually have time to spend in the gym, and realistically, you probably have more energy to workout.
After you become a parent, things definitely change.
You have a tiny human that relies on you, and it is hard work! Not only that, but you're on their schedule now, not necessarily your own.
You can't spend hours in the gym, you're probably a little more tired, and it just gets that little bit harder to stay on your usual fitness regimen.
So, balancing fitness and parenthood - where to begin?
Immediately after giving birth, it's important to take time to rest, recover and give yourself that necessary time to heal. The birthing process is extremely hard on the body, and we're recommended to abstain from exercise (aside from walking, obviously) for about 4-6 weeks after the birth.
I'm not going to sugarcoat things, during this time, you will be tired; you'll be focusing all of your attention on your new, little bundle of joy but, I can promise you that it will be incredible.
Personally, I was not thinking of the gym during this period - I focused more on getting enough sleep, fuelling my body with the proper nutrients, feeding and taking care of my baby and soaking up those newborn snuggles.
With that being said, it's not impossible to stay in shape after you have a baby, especially when you've been cleared to exercise.
If anything, it's important because you have to take care of you before you can take care of your baby.
It's a known fact: Staying healthy and taking care of yourself makes you feel better physically and mentally. In turn, it also sets a great example for your child to live a healthy life.
As a new parent, having time to yourself is essential for your mental health.
Of course, we all have those days when we aren't motivated and the idea of time to yourself whilst you're running on empty with a crying child 24/7 just seems a little laughable...but overall, it simply should just be part of your routine.
If you make something a habit and a part of your life, you won't have to think twice about it.
So, training. The Dos, the Don'ts and the Myth Busters...
Many people think that they have to have the same training program or the same amount of time pre-baby to get in a good workout or to see results.
This is not true at all!
My training has changed quite a bit, more so in the sense that I work out for less time. I tend to do more supersets or circuit-style workouts so I can fit in enough volume in a shorter period of time.
You can also make progress working out 3 days per week, if that's all you can do! Finding what works best for you is the most important way to stick to it and to see overall progress.
My training still includes both strength/compound movements as well as hypertrophy movements. The only difference is, I make my time count. I don't waste time when I'm in the gym.
Something that you should always strive for is balance. You don't want to overdo it, and you don't want to make yourself miserable. I'm a huge advocate for always listening to your body.
Postpartum hormones are strong, and sometimes the gym isn't what is best for you.
Always do what feels right to you, even if that means putting your feet up and getting more rest. Sleep deprivation is real when you have a newborn, and postpartum blues or depression is also a common struggle between postpartum mothers. Despite not many people wanting to speak about it, it's real and it does affect a high percentage of new parents.
Now that I'm a mother, I workout mostly for mental and physical health, instead of focusing solely on aesthetics. Seeing your body change is fun and part of the process but it's not the most important thing to me now.
It's important to remember that you grew a baby inside of you for nine months, so your body won't be what it used to be right away.
During pregnancy, you typically lose some muscle and gain some fat and that's completely normal and healthy.
Right after giving birth, you still look about 5-6 months pregnant. The body is incredible though, and does go back to what it used to be in due time.
Patience and consistency is the most important thing to remember in this case. Treating your body with kindness, love, and compassion is extra important during this time period. Taking it slow and easing back into it will do your mind and body good.
Some things you can do to succeed in staying fit and healthy after having a baby include:
- Setting realistic goals - don't expect to run a marathon immediately post birth or lose all of your baby weight immediately.
- Making small changes instead of drastic ones - this will make it a sustainable change.
- Making a plan and sticking to it - figuring out how many days per week you can work out and for how long, what time is best to go to the gym etc.
- Consistency is key. So is patience.
- Be kind to yourself - your body is INCREDIBLE and does amazing things.
- Make the time count!
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