Today I’m sharing my tips for how to get in shape after having a baby.
Becoming a mother has been the single most harrowing, humbling, and beautiful transition I’ve ever gone through–and, likely, will ever go through.
Almost all at once, I became the provider and caretaker, both physically and emotionally, for another person (and then another one). That responsibility, that gift, transformed every part of my identity.
I gained over 55 lbs with each of my two pregnancies, so this subject is near and dear to my heart. Seeing my body change so drastically was disorienting, to say the least.
My postpartum fitness journey has been challenging–and even overwhelming at times. There have been so many days over the past year where I have felt so discouraged, but overall I’m proud of my progress. Just a day at a time type of deal, you know?
I have a lot of thoughts on this topic but am going to try to be as sensitive as possible. I don’t want to make anyone feel like they have to lose weight or that they are anything less than perfect just the way they are.
I want everyone to love themselves and hope that every mom out there is proud of their bodies and what they have accomplished (because delivering a baby is kind of a big deal).
At the same time, I know what it’s like to just not feel like yourself. And in a time of life where *everything* changes all at once, this matters.
This post is for people who want to kick it into gear and are looking for a little inspiration and/or some practical strategies.
Note: By now most of us have wrapped our heads around the fact that getting in shape requires clean eating and working out. If you came to this blog post looking for a quick fix, you won’t find it here. I don’t believe in skinny teas, cleanses, or fad diets.
Make it a LIFESTYLE
This is important.
Stop stressing about the scale (talking to myself here, too). Sure, it can be a point of reference along the way, but wellness is a long game.
There is a reason all the (good) experts say that diets don’t work. There are countless studies that show that when people lose weight quickly, they almost always gain it back within a year or two.
There is so much more to postpartum wellness than the number on the scale. This is about longevity and fueling our bodies in the most loving way possible.
This is about our energy levels and the way we feel throughout the day. How we feel physically directly impacts our sanity, our patience, and our endurance as mothers.
So, do your research. Find a way to motivate yourself outside of getting back to your high school weight because a) that’s not gonna happen and b) who’s got the time for that kind of pressure?
Let’s give our bodies some grace but find a way to give them what they need. Remember, strong over skinny.
Put simply: more protein, more veggies, less sugar, less processed food.
There’s really no way around this. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I am the first person to order dinner on Doordash when the day gets away from me, but I do try to make most of my meals at home. For the most part, this means I stick to clean protein, lots of veggies, and healthy fats.
I try to stay away from gluten and sugar because I feel better with less of that in my diet. Don’t get me wrong–I live for a weekend pizza and cookies night. But if I’m trying to burn fat, the most effective way to do so is to stay away from sugar and starchy carbohydrates.
I don’t have a better tip for eating clean than this.
If you want to eat clean, you MUST prepare accordingly: research recipes, grocery shop, spend a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday nights, and get your fridge stocked with ready-to-eat meals and snacks.
Here are a few things I like to always have around:
Crockpot chicken: I always keep shredded chicken in the fridge for lunch during the week. This takes away the hangry mac-and-cheese shoveling at lunchtime (IYKYK). I throw a bunch of chicken in the crockpot on Monday mornings with bone broth and some Siete slow cooker seasoning. Tyler and I both use this chicken to make salads or tacos with almond flour tortillas for lunch throughout the week. The girls eat this chicken with their lunches too.
Hard boiled eggs: If I feel myself getting hangry at literally any hour of the day, I pound a hard boiled egg.
Chopped veggies: Carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, etc. Add to salads or eat plain.
Prepped smoothies in the freezer: You knew this was coming, right? Read this post and get your act together, team. Having a green smoothie each morning is the easiest way to jumpstart a clean lifestyle, in my opinion.
The idea here is to get yourself excited about folding all of those nutritious, clean foods into your day. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to reach for a meal that’s going to give your body some love.
Take a walk, every day.
In the months before I gave birth to Charlotte, I read a scene in a novel (can’t remember which one) where this wise old woman’s only advice to a brand new mom was to “take that baby on a walk outside every single day.”
I really took that to heart. I made it my goal–my small goal for each day–to get outside and walk the neighborhood. However much time I had or the baby could handle, 20, 30, or 45 minutes, we’d walk. I got really attached to those walks. The endorphins, the vitamin D, and the fresh air all became my medicine after a while.
This is an easy way to get your blood flowing and move your body, but it’s also an instant mood booster. To this day, I try to get some kind of walk in every day and notice a big difference on the days I miss it.
Lift something heavy
Up until a few years ago, if I wanted to kick it into gear or get back in shape, my first instinct was always to lace up my running shoes and head out for a jog.
And while I love a runner’s high, I have learned that resistance training gets me so much more bang for my buck. Excessive cardio teaches your body to actually conserve calories where resistance training teaches it to burn fat and promotes a faster metabolic rate.
Also, the toning that comes from building muscle just looks and feels better.
Again, do your research, but I personally have seen much more exciting results from lifting weights than I ever did with running. (Don’t come for me).
This is my #1 tip for new moms–or anybody looking to get in shape.
Whether or not you’re ready to invest in the Peloton Bike (read our full review of the Bike+ here), the Peloton app has something for everyone.
While I stand behind my above comments about resistance training, I love the saying that goes, “the best workout is the one you’ll actually do” or something like that. The only sustainable way to make fitness a part of your lifestyle is by moving your body in a way that lights you up.
The app has every type of workout class under the sun, on demand: strength, HIIT, yoga, barre, pilates, running, walking, and of course cycling and Bike Bootcamps.
Tons of the workouts don’t even require equipment, so all you have to do is press start. (I do think a set or two of dumbbells would be well worth the investment to get the most out of the strength classes!).
In any given week, I’ll take an assortment of strength, cycling, and Bike bootcamp classes. I also love the stretching classes.
The app has eliminated my excuses not to workout. Even if I only have twenty minutes, I’m able to get a good sweat in. The efficiency that the app offers has really changed the game for me.
I work out almost seven days a week now, and my metabolism and mental health are in a much stronger place than they were at the end of last year.
The Peloton instructors have taught me SO much this year, and I feel stronger than I ever have before.
Relax, this may take a while.
You just gave birth. BIRTHED A HUMAN. Give yourself a round of applause and a break.
It took over nine months for your body to grow and nourish that baby and get your son or daughter ready for the big, cold world. Your body was that baby’s first home, their sanctuary.
Getting in shape is not going to happen overnight–usually, anyway. While I admire the adorable waifs who shimmy out of those last few lbs by the time they leave the hospital, that ain’t me, lol.
With Charlotte, I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight around the six-month mark. With Emmie, I’m on track to hit my goal around the twelve-month mark.
Like I said, this is a long game.
Each day is a new opportunity to take one tiny step forward. Don’t let this stuff stress you out–we have enough to worry about as is!
Just put one foot in front of the other and make one small change at a time. YOU GOT THIS!