A big hurdle that a lot of moms face is finding time to fit in exercise. Between jobs, caring for kids, housework, grocery shopping, etc. etc., a lot of people struggle to find the time for exercise. While health and wellness is a priority, going to the gym drops down to the bottom of the list in your daily schedule when you've got so much going on already. As a mom and a fitness professional I am here to tell you that it shouldn't. Exercising should be at the top of your list, because, in my opinion at least, you will do your job as a parent better if you are healthy. You will be present for your kids. They won't tire you out as easily. You will have more energy. And the real kicker: they will notice that you put an effort into your health, and they will strive to be like you and move more too!
Being a new mom (or a mom with a 2nd or 3rd baby...) presents another host of challenges. You cross the 4-6 week postpartum mark and are physically able to get back into the gym, but there are some obstacles in the way of getting your pre-baby body back. Babies nap. A lot. Your fitness center might not have childcare. Babies eat. A lot. They cry, you are exhausted from lack of sleep. And lets not forget that some moms actually want to spend time bonding with their little ones. So how do you reconcile all these factors with your desire to be a fit mama? Incorporate your baby into your workout.
This isn't a novel idea that I am coming up with on my own, there are tons of baby bootcamps out there. I have already done a post about fun ways to "work out" with your kids, but that was assuming your kiddos were at least walking. Here I am going to highlight some great exercises you can do with your newborn babe, up until the point where said infant will no longer cooperate. All kids are different and some will last longer than others :)
Babies make for great counterweights when doing squats. You can use them in place of a plate when doing a more traditional squat, or in place of a kettlebell when doing a goblet squat. If you choose the former, hold your baby at chest height. As you squat down, extend your arms out in front of you. When you stand back up, bring your baby in to your chest. If doing a goblet squat, hold your baby close to the chest with your elbows flaring out to the sides, but be sure not to let them go higher than shoulder height. Squat down as low as you can go, ideally you would get to at least a 90 degree bend in the knee.
Ever heard of "mom arms?" The constant lifting of a baby gives us moms an edge in the toned arms department just by the nature of our everyday activity. But for a bonus arm works, use your little guy or girl in place of a dumbbell or barbell, and "curl" them up and down. Just hold your baby out in front of you and do some bicep curls, raises the baby up and down. Bonus is your baby might find this one to be kind of fun!
Pretty much exactly what it sounds like- you would use your baby here in place of a dumbbell. This exercise can be done either kneeling, standing, or reclining. Hold your baby and push him up over your head. Caution: watch out for drool and/or spit-up. This one is a favorite of my little girls, so we do it often :)
This gets trickers as your baby gets older and more mobile, but while they are really little and not rolling around, its really an excellent motivator. Lie your baby down on her back and get into pushup position over her. As you do each rep you get closer to her, and if you get deep enough, give a kiss! This is such an awesome way to bond with your baby, and you'll tone your arms and chest as well.
Along the same lines as the pushup, in that when you crunch up you bring yourself face to face with your baby and experience some great eye contact. I don't advise doing crunches right out of the gate, as there are issues with core restoration after giving birth, so approach this with caution and only when ready. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Your baby rests perfectly in the hammock-like space you've created with your thighs and stomach. Lift your shoulders up and "crunch" your abdominals in, and as your raise yourself up you come face to face with your baby.
You'll find that you're doing these without even realizing it, almost every time you pick your baby up off the floor. Actually, any time you lift anything off the floor, you are likely doing a deadlift. Keeping your knees soft, hinge at the hips to reach down and lift your baby up. If you are feeling really fancy and adventurous, and you have good balance, try a single leg RDL, where you would balance on one leg while lifting the baby off the floor, with your raised leg extending behind you as you hinge downward. PLEASE only do this more advanced move if you have the proper balance.
and last, but definitely not least:
lso a great way to get some face time with your baby. Lie your baby down and hold yourself up on your toes and forearms above your baby. Your baby will love gazing up at you (assuming he doesn't roll/crawl away) and you will get the bonus of working your core while staring into his adoring eyes. Whats not to love?
With these exercises in hand, it is impossible to use your baby as an excuse not to work out. Your baby becomes your excuse TO work out. Your Welcome.