How to stay fit during and after pregnancy
I've always found exercise to be a challenge, but when I became pregnant, I knew I had to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Here's my take on getting and staying fit when you have a family.
I'm not — shall we say — the athletic type, but I'm never happier than when I have a regular fitness routine going.
It's one of the best ways you can be good to yourself, creating a positive feedback loop of health, energy and good feelings. When you integrate workouts into your day-to-day life, fitness can be a part of your life that's equal parts refuge and necessity.
Of the many reasons to exercise, starting a family is a great motivator to bring fitness into your life. Pregnancy and childbirth are the most physically demanding experiences a woman can go through, but exercise is a surefire way to help. And once you've made it out to the other side, feats of strength like bending, lifting and crouching will fill your days. So how do you get into fitness when you're getting into the family way?
Thinking about working out can be much more intimidating than actually doing it. The benefits of exercise are enormous, and starting a fitness routine will improve just about every aspect of your life. It's so easy to see why you should do it, but why is it so hard to begin? Simply start with a little planning and set attainable goals. Doing this before you're pregnant means one less thing to think about, but it's never too late to start!
Choose your style
I can't run to save my life. If a ball rolls across my path, I'll run away from it. The gym is scary and weird, and I don't know if I'm using the machines correctly.
A couple of years ago, I learned about the benefits of barre workouts and gave them a whirl. My poison of choice is Physique 57, a grueling yet satisfying workout that targets arms, abs, buns and thighs (what else is there?) Through this practice, I found the perfect regimen to get me to the point where I was "addicted" and I cared about exercise.
Whatever your style, there's nothing like the electrifying sensation that comes from a workout that makes you feel good. When you find that sweet spot, you're on a roll.
Baby on board
When you're pregnant, you begin a lifelong pattern of basing most of your decisions on what's best for your baby. No big deal, right? I was the healthiest I've ever been in my life when I was pregnant. I was eating right (so many vegetables) and sleeping a ton (I would pass out at 8 p.m.), and I would work out four times a week. Having someone depend on you for his or her well-being is a great motivator.
As my pregnancy progressed, Physique 57 prenatal modifications, gentle prenatal yoga routines and walking were my favorite ways to get moving. Find a workout that you love and focus on the benefits, and you'll feel great inside and out.
Keep it moving
The reality of living for your baby is so much more real when he's in the world with you. Yet the postpartum period makes even the most basic tasks so much harder. Getting the baby fed and diapered is a monumental undertaking. Who can even think of exercise?
Not only have I felt exhausted and gross most of the time, but I've got a real hitch in my giddyup. Because of these new sensations, I think any movement is better than nothing. Low-key dancing is a big part of my day. My baby loves watching my off-brand choreography and swaying with me to the music. Walks around the block and to the grocery store get us out for some fresh air and a change of scenery, while the occasional "Mommy and Me" class is a great way to meet other moms and make some new moves.
The more pressure you put on yourself to be a certain way after childbirth, the less likely you are to feel good about yourself. Who needs that? Just take it slow, and just try to move. Even housework can get your heart rate going.
Not that kind! Health and fitness is a family affair, and you shouldn't have to go it alone. Your husband, partner or co-parent should be staying fit as well, because caring for a little one requires strength and stamina. Your family and friends should always try to help you be the best you that you can be, especially now. Staying fit isn't just good for you — it's good for your family.