Talking about Grace + My Top 10 Tips on Getting Your Body Back Postpartum
Motherhood is such a wonderful gift, but your body changes so much! I knew that my body would change because, duh, I was growing a human, but I remember towards the end of pregnancy feeling so not my normal athletic self. Yes, I did run through the whole pregnancy (up to the day before he came!) but I felt less muscle and more belly towards the very end of the pregnancy.
Postpartum health and fitness is something I love, because it has given me a huge appreciation on just how amazing God made our bodies! And I want to be clear here, even though I am going to share my top ten tips on gaining your body back after baby, give yourself grace. You just created a human being inside of you, mama. Is everything going to be the same before your little one entered the world? Most likely, no? Is it worth it, yes.
I also don’t want to lean too much on the side of body obsession and if those skinny jeans that are in the closet fit and how good your arms look. Vanity isn’t what I am gong for here. However, as a new mom, I know that when I feel healthy, confident, and strong in my own skin, I am a better wife, mother, friend and sister! That’s what I am aiming for here. Not to fuel the fire of vanity and self- infatuation, but overall health, strength, and fitness. Fitness is important and it makes motherhood a little easier. (Can I get an amen?!)
My Top Ten Tips on How to Get Your Body Back Postparum
- Once you are cleared by your OB or midwife, exercise 4-5 days a week, even if it is just for 20 minutes at a time. (I know it is hard while having a little one to find the time to workout. But, most people can find even twenty minutes to workout. Maybe you have to wait for your husband to get home from work, or maybe you have to wake up super early (I, personally, wake up early) or maybe you have to find a babysitter to come over and watch your little one a few days a week. Whatever the case may be, don’t feel like you have to use your entire morning to get a workout in, even if it is 20 minutes, it is still 20 minutes of moving, exercising, and just doing something!
- Eat nourishing foods! When you eat well, exercise is simply, easier. Plain and simple. I know my workouts do not feel nearly as good and I don’t feel nearly as motivated to workout when I feel bloated, sluggish, and gross. When we fuel our bodies with whole, nutritious foods, we (or at least I) feel way more motivated to workout and in turn, more motivated and inspired to make healthy choices through the day.
- Get as much sleep as possible. Let’s just be honest, sleep is a hard thing to come by as a new mom. There was a point when I was only getting about 3 consecutive hours a night and that was hard. It made everything in life hard, not only feeling eager to fit in my running and strength training. Although, there are seasons where it is almost literally impossible to get your desired amount of rest, I learned that there are ways to get more rest in. I started going to bed earlier, I tried to nap when Benaiah napped and Landon would sometimes help in the night too. That made my mornings a little less painful and my runs felt a little more energized when I had more sleep in my ‘tank.’
- Change up your fitness routine. I am so guilty of falling into a rut with just about everything. Breakfast. Blogging. and my fitness. However, once I was cleared to start exercising, I decided to change up my regular running and typical strength training routine and when I did, I was amazed at the results. Our bodies are amazing and our muscles are smart. When we do the same exercises over and over and over again, eventually our muscles ‘figure’ out what we are doing and aren’t challenged anymore. When we add in additional exercises, switch up a circuit, try out a different running strategy, our muscles get confused and in turn, get stronger!
- Focus on rebuilding your core strength Having a baby is a lot of hard work and one of the biggest areas that it takes a toll on is our core. Building back a solid core makes life so much easier and keeps our running happy too!
- Pilates = happy mom body. Speaking of core work, one of the best ways I found to build back my core strength postpartum, was through Pilates. Back in the day, I (wrongly) believed that Pilates was for the “weak,” and not a real workout. Boy! Was I wrong. Pilates is a fantastic workout that isolates muscle groups and strengthens them, using your own body weight as the “weight.” It is low impact, slow and perfect for postpartum moms!
- Gradually add running back in! I also seem to jump too quickly back into running, the moment I get the green light to get back into it (whether post-injury or postpartum.) Again, this time around, I should have focused on building back strength before trying to get fast and run a lot. If you are a runner, like me, ease back into running with whatever amount of running feels good! And don’t forget to foam roll, strength train and cross train!
- Drink lots of water! Hydration is such an important aspect of health that is easily forgotten. I’m so guilty of drinking multiple cups of coffee and by the end of the day, realizing how little of water I actually drank! Water plays a key role in helping control cravings and gives us energy! An easy was to figure out how much water you should be drinking is to take your weight and divide it half. Whatever number that is, is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking!
- Reward yourself with things other than food. It is so easy as new moms to, after a long day of momming, grab a carton of ice cream out of the freezer and go to town because “we deserve it.” Now, let me be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with treating yourself to a favorite delicious treat every once in a while. But night ice cream binges or late night cookies will not help your efforts in the gym. Instead of rewarding yourself with cookies and ice cream, find something more creative as a mom treat. A few of my favorite “Bethany you’ve had a hard day, here is something nice,” treats are: a long, hot shower at night, a bouquet of fresh flowers, a hot cup of coffee, time reading a fun novel, a run outside, a nice smelling candle, or a fun new shirt.
- Lastly, give yourself some grace. The mom life is such a beautiful, wonderful, precious season, but it is not without its challenges! If you miss a workout, your run didn’t happen, the laundry isn’t folded, or dinners not finished yet, remember two things. One: it is OKAY. Sometimes life happens and it’s messy and it’s normal. And two: You are doing so well, mama. Take a big breathe. Give yourself some grace. And walk in joy.
Questions of the Day
- How do you fit in fitness into your life?
- What is the hardest part of being active and a mom?
- Do you have any current running or fitness goals? I would love to hear them!