Maintaining health and fitness as a new mum can be a struggle. Having a young family myself, I have seen and shared in the difficulties my wife has had in balancing her own fitness and nutrition and as much as we were prepared for the change in lifestyle when our son came along, it was still a huge shock to what used to be a routine lifestyle.
As many of you know, once the little bundle of joy arrives, routine goes out the window and in enters sleep deprivation and having less time for yourself. One thing I find common amongst clients and close friends is that time to exercise becomes quite minimal and I couldn’t tell you how many times I have had the response “I don’t have enough time in the day” said to me. As a personal trainer I always advise my clients that they don’t need to block out large parts of the day to exercise, rather training and getting back into shape can be quite minimal and simply put its often priority that dominates over the time factor. Now think about it – How many times have you finally got the chance to have 5 minutes alone in peace and quiet and thought, get up! You have A, B & C to do. My point is we (and yes I am adding myself into this argument) always find time to make everything else a priority, be it look after everyone else but how much ‘ME’ time do you give yourself?
As a trainer, husband and a father I know it is very easy to prioritise other things in life rather than look after your training and nutrition plan. Managing kids, work/ business responsibilities, friends and other family and running a household can seem like a storm that never settles but life happens and the truth is none of this will go away.
In terms of getting back into training, it is really important to have a purpose. Setting goals is really important as is finding some sort of challenge, as it gives you something to aim for and importantly keeps exercise interesting and fun. I find a lot of new mums may lose the baby weight quickly and naturally post birth but require an exercise program to help them tone and become a little stronger or they simply require that little extra encouragement, so they come to me for help.
My advice for healthy eating is pretty simple, always keep loads of healthy, quick and convenient foods available at all times. Making foods such as tinned tuna, eggs, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, protein powders and bars, microwaveable vegetables and even ready to go frozen meals will mean easy preparation if you’re stuck for time and when making dinner always prepare more and freeze for that ready to go healthy meal.
When out and about at appointments, try and carry some extra foods for you, this will prevent the hardship faced when trying to determine what’s good and what’s not at the nearest takeaway when hunger sets in.
IWF’S TOP HEALTH & FITNESS TIPS FOR THE NEW MUM
1 – Plan ahead and have a plan B!
By thinking and planning ahead you should rarely have to miss a fitness session or eat off your meal plan. Try to also have some fitness equipment at home such as dumbbells, exercise ball & mat even an exercise platform or pump set will do the job. Just in case you can’t get out or hit the gym. If you are a busy working mum, why not squeeze a workout in during your lunch break, it can be 30 minutes of body weight or a run/walk around the park.
2 – Always try new things
Make exercise enjoyable not a chore that ‘you have to do’. You don’t always have to be stuck indoors, try walking, running, day time organised sports with other mums or uninterrupted play with the family.
3 – Use a diary
When planning your exercise sessions, treat them like an appointment that must be attended. Plus it will demonstrate the importance of the planned ‘ME’ time.
4 – Plan sessions with a trainer or friend
It will be much harder to cancel sessions when someone else is relying on you to show up. It will also give you some motivation during your session.
5 – Don’t use fad diets
I hate the word diet! Try to have a well balanced nutritional plan, focusing on clean and fresh produce that give you plenty of energy throughout the day.
6 – Don’t be too hard on yourself
Always be positive and be proud of what you do and achieve. In terms of exercise, focus on what you can do and put it into practice regularly.
7 – Remember quality NOT quantity
Exercise plans don’t always have to be bulky and take up large parts of the day. Look at short and challenging workouts that focus on combinations and differing exercise patterns.
Now, although it is my job to help motivate others and prescribe a life of health and fitness, I know that all things are not achievable for everyone, especially these days as women have so many roles to fill, thus making it even harder to make time or simply have time out.
But remember it may be as easy as taking half an hour to sit down and work out what is right for you. Always seek to have some ‘ME’ time, be a little selfish and look after YOU.