3 Biggest Fitness Challenges for New Moms and Tips to Solve Them
I never planned on entering a bodybuilding competition as a 38-year-old mother of two, but I was desperate. My life was a mess. Business failing, marriage failing, fifty pounds overweight. And that’s when I got the invitation to my high school reunion. Because God has a sense of humor.
Bodybuilding changed my life. I discovered how to eat clean, do the right exercises to sculpt my body and push through the mental blocks holding me back. All this had to be done while raising a preschooler and a toddler getting potty-trained at the same time. (I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment.)
The more I spoke with other moms the more I realized we had three common challenges: childcare, consistency and exhaustion. Here are some tips to help you meet your goals.
One Saturday I woke at 7 a.m. because I was going to take the kids to one of those jumpy bouncy places. Guess what time we made it out of the house? Noon. Diaper blowouts, missing shoes, random phone calls, missing shoes (did I say that already?), forgetfulness… New moms – the struggle is real. What I’m about to say next may make you scream, but it works. If you want to exercise consistently wake up early, like crack of dawn early. Whether you go to the gym or use an elliptical at home, rising early means no one will interrupt you, you can play music other than Disney songs and there is something magical about crossing exercise off your to-do list before the sun comes up. At first, I grumbled about rising in the dark, but within a few days I learned to LOVE my gym time because it gave me an hour to focus on myself for a change.
The low-hanging fruit here is to get your family to watch your kids. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or sibling willing to babysit, it makes sense to set a schedule, so everyone knows what to expect. Fitness classes (yoga, cross-fit, hip-hop) provide that consistency as well as a social break to hang with other adults and not have to talk about your child’s favorite cartoon.
Friends can be a lifeline. Sometimes I’d meet my friend at the park and we’d do a bench workout while our kids played on the jungle gym. I know moms who jog with their kids in the stroller in runner groups. A quick internet search will show you a ton of mom groups to connect with. You can also swap babysitting days – watch her kids Tuesdays and Thursdays and she’ll watch yours Wednesday and Friday. You get the idea.
Some gyms offer childcare, but you often have to pay for it. Research gyms and recreations centers to see if they include free childcare while you work out as part of your membership benefits. Home gyms are another great option because you can exercise while your baby naps or after she goes to bed.
Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Once I had children I understand why. It makes you dippy, clumsy and cranky. It also makes you crave carbs and caffeine. If my tip for consistency made you scream, then this next time will give you tears of joy. If you are exhausted…take a nap. I’m speaking not just as a mom but as a personal trainer here. Sleep not only puts you in a better mood, it increases your concentration and helps your muscles recover so they build back stronger. I’m not saying skip workouts all the time to snooze, I am saying that you should listen to your body and sometimes a new mom needs a nap more than 20 minutes of cardio. Don’t worry, the machine will be there when you wake up. If you miss a workout, be forgiving and kind to yourself and get back to it tomorrow.
Your body is amazing. Treat it well and prioritize your health. Remember, when you are eating well and exercising your kids are watching and learning from your example. Hang in there, fit mama! You got this!