For just about all of us, achieving our best shape is something we are constantly working on. It’s not easy gaining control over our bodies – and maintaining that control can be even tougher. And if you’re a mom, or soon-to-be one, it can seem like mission impossible!
“Where am I going to find the time to exercise?” you may ask yourself. In between the changings, the bottles, the feedings, the lack of sleep (oh yes, trust me on that one!) where does a new mom have the time or the energy to take care of herself?
Nope, it’s not easy, ladies, but remember this, we are female! We can do anything we set our minds to! Where there is a will, there is a way – and if that will is the will of a mother, well then, it just gets done…because it has to!
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible to lose that “baby weight”. And definitely don’t let yourself use your precious little gift as an excuse to let go of your figure. Take the time to regain control of your physique – you can do it, and you’ll be glad you are making the effort. Your husband and your little one will be thankful too! Remember, it’s not selfish for a mom to take care of herself. It is her responsibility to her family to care for her own health.
Let me share with you a little bit about what I have learned myself. I’ve got a beautiful teen-age daughter, Alexis. I’ve been a competitive figure athlete for the past 7 years, turning pro in 2007, but I was not always in pro-level shape. In fact, during my pregnancy, I gained almost 45 lbs! And this is really a lot of weight for me – since my pre-pregnancy baseline was a tiny 90lbs!
Alexis and my post-baby weight gain were actually one of the major motivators to get me into the gym in the first place! It wasn’t easy at first, since my usual routine at the time did not include going to the gym and I didn’t know much about training at all. But I made the commitment to myself, and decided to do it.
Success! As easy as 1-2-3:
The first thing I needed to do was to decide to lose the weight. I made the commitment to myself to just get it done. I didn’t want to be like many moms who never seem to be able to bounce back – I made the decision and I joined a gym.
2. Plan: Get organized!
I knew that my schedule was tight. I worked full-time, had to take care of the household and I had a brand new baby girl. I was lucky enough to have reliable care for my daughter while I worked and took the few minutes to go to the gym. In the beginning, I went to the gym only twice a week, and just got on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a time. But, soon, I started feeling better about myself and really started enjoying my workouts.
Nobody’s daily routine is filled with more responsibility than a mom’s. You can succeed, but you have to make your fitness goals a priority. Take the time to plan just a few sessions per week at first. Ease into your fitness program slowly but with conviction. Small successes will build momentum and soon, you will be rolling along on the path toward the best you ever!
New moms or expectant moms may decide to hire a personal trainer to help them get the most from their limited time for exercise. Be sure to take the time to interview potential certified trainers, and ask them if they are familiar with the special health and fitness needs of pregnant or post-pregnancy women.
3. Put the Plan in Motion: Execute.
Once you’ve made your plan, take the first step! Then, keep on going! If you’re consistent, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve! Here’s another example:
A good friend of ours, while getting ready for a bodybuilding contest recently, actually incorporated his and his wife’s cardio time into their family time. Joe and his wife just had a little girl. Each night after work, rather than spend the 45 minutes shackled to the treadmill as part of his prep, Joe and his wife speed-walked his neighborhood for those 45 minutes, together, while pushing their new daughter in the stroller. Joe ended up doing great in his contest – and his wife also lost 23lbs of baby-weight! (They got to spend a lot of great quality time together too!)
My point is this – It’s as easy as 1-2-3! 1. Decide. 2. Plan. 3. Put the Plan in Motion. Well, it’s as simple as that…easy? No, honestly, it wasn’t easy.
I’ll be honest – it was really hard, especially in the beginning. While I was exercising, I had Alexis in the back of my mind, constantly; was she ok? What was she doing? I felt guilty because I felt that I was taking away time from my daughter. I think that this can be one of the biggest challenges to a mom getting back into shape – allowing herself to take time away from her new child. I think that this may be one of the major reasons most moms never bounce back. But, I told myself that I needed to be healthier for both me and my daughter – I wasn’t happy with being heavier myself, and I knew that this was not good for either of us.
Exercise and Pregnancy:
Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet program – this is critical for a pregnant and post-partum women. Exercise during pregnancy should focus on maintaining the health of mom, and strengthening her for ease of the delivery process, rather than specifically focused on the cosmetic benefits of exercise. It’s also important to keep in mind that pregnant women and breast-feeding moms have increased calorie needs. It is in no way recommended for women in either case to utilize calorie restriction or to “diet” by cutting food intake during these critical metabolic times. Trust me, you’ll need all the energy you can get just to get through!
Expectant mom’s can benefit from regular exercise in the following ways:
- less frequent, less severe low back pain due to pregnancy
- better weight management/control
- less difficulty with digestion and constipation
- improved coping, stress management; less anxiety or depression
- enhanced mood/increased sense of control or well-being
- less fatigue, better energy throughout the day
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists believe that pregnant women can continue to benefit from regular exercise, and encourage women to stay active during healthy pregnancies, but offer several specific guidelines your doctor will be familiar with. Be sure to be evaluated carefully by your physician prior to initiating an exercise program!
Exercise Tips for the Expectant Mom:
Generally speaking, pregnant women should consider the following:
- Avoid high-impact or high-potential for trauma exercises, such as plyometrics, high-intensity running or jumping.
- Choose instead, lower impact activities, such as running only on level terrain, walk-running, or using swimming, cycling, treadmill walking or low-impact step mill climbing.
- Exercise with longer, but with less intense bouts than your non-pregnant friends. (According to the ISSA recommendations, a pregnant woman should exercise at up to 50% of her maximal oxygen uptake, as opposed to 60% for non-pregnant women.)
- Resistance exercises are generally safe to perform, as long as consideration is given for the changes in the physical shape of the woman during pregnancy. Resistance exercises should be performed in a stable posture, seated is preferred.
- Supine exercises should be avoided after the first trimester.
- Vigorous or high-intensity exercise training, or exercising to exhaustion, should be avoided. Keep intensity levels moderate.
- Stay well-hydrated and well nourished! Realize that your calorie needs are going to be much higher if you’re eating for two!
Having your child is an indescribable emotional experience only other moms can truly understand. After 9 intense months of focus on you and your health, with your entire body focused on nurturing and supporting this new life inside you, in a single instant there are now two of you where once there was only just you! Elation, joy, excitement, and pride – these powerful feelings soon give way to fatigue, stress, and feelings of self-loathing, or unhappy self-image, as you realize your body doesn’t look like it did prior to the pregnancy. Being a mom is no easy job for sure. And it can be worse if you aren’t happy with your body! But it is entirely possible to make things better!
It can be very challenging to maintain or improve on your body, especially when your whole world has just turned upside-down! (Trust me, I know!) But, let me tell you this – regaining control over your body is the one thing you can do for yourself that will benefit your whole family. When you’re in control of something, when life can seem crazy everywhere else, you’ll have a healthy sense of stability to lean on! And a healthy mom is the most important part of any family!
So, be selfish, make the time for YOU – it’s the most important thing you can do as a mom for your husband and your new little one!
Meriza Deguzman-Ciccone is an IFBB Figure Professional, and a 2-time Olympian competitor. She is also a Sexy-Strong sponsored athlete. Meriza runs a very busy personal training and contest-prep business in Southern California. Her Posing and Presentation Clinics, The Art of Figure Clinics, sponsored by Sexy-Strong, focus on helping competitive Bikini and Figure competitors prepare for the competition stage.
For more information about Meriza’s Art of Figure clinics, follow her on facebook or IG: @ifbbpro_meriza.