I wrote this post a few weeks ago as I wanted to share my top tips for easing back into a fitness routine post pregnancy / birth. Having just read the post again I feel like these tips are relevant to anyone who wants to start exercising, and even more relevant after after overindulging at Christmas.
Exercising has always been a huge part of my life. I exercise to feel good mentally and physically (yes this is correct order) I never exercise with a body image in mind; It’s just a part of my life and who I am. I was lucky enough that I could carry on being fairly active during my pregnancy and most definitely couldn’t wait to get back to my usual routine afterwards. However, I needed to stay super patient, wait until my 7 week check up, and listen to when my body felt ready to start again.
Here are the top 5 things that helped me to ease back into my usual fitness routine (after birth). I have added (after birth) as I think that these are relevant for anyone who wants to start exercising.
1. Take it easy
The final stretch of pregnancy is pretty exhausting and so it’s important to bear in mind the humongous job our body needed to do to carry your baby and the extra weight and deliver.
The official advice is to wait until the 6-8 postnatal check up before you start exercising. To be honest there’s so much going on at the beginning, including those sleepless nights, that exercise is just not on the agenda. However, once you are ready, take it easy – regardless of where you were with your fitness levels before pregnancy or birth. Start with gentle stretches, pelvic floor exercises, and walking. Pushing a pram in the park is a great excuse to get yourself out of the house, get some fresh air and ease into exercising.
I have to say that I found this part the most difficult as my head was saying ‘go for it’, but my body just couldn’t. I had a certain image of my fitness level in my head, as just a few months before I became pregnant I ran an ultramarathon and stayed active throughout pregnancy.
It was like a mental game, as I constantly needed to remind myself of this big job I did to carry and deliver a baby and allow my body to heal.
2. Ditch that cake
You know that saying ‘you’re pregnant, you should eating for two now’. Yeah… that’s not true really. The recommended calorie intake doesn’t really change until the third trimester when you’re meant to have an extra slice of toast. However, being pregnant gives us a free pass to introduce a treat here or there and then it just becomes a habit.
My diet stayed pretty healthy during pregnancy, except… a daily milk chocolate Magnum, bread with butter that I never allow myself to eat before, tons of dark chocolate (that’s healthy, right?) and pastries. I kind of carried on with most of my newly acquired habits after giving birth, so one day I needed to tell myself to ditch the cake, eat the entire remaining contents of our treat cupboard, and move on. I’m back on track now, but at the same time I have a much less strict approach than I did before the pregnancy. It’s about feeling well and having a healthy balance, so I enjoy an occasional treat now.
3. Start now
‘Diet starts on Monday’, we’ve all been there setting ourselves deadline for when we quit junk food and start exercising like crazy. I know from my experience that this very often results in overeating and then starting exercising too much too soon and being totally put off.
Why not start today with some gentle exercise to ease yourself into it?
What worked for me was to building exercise into my daily routine; taking the stairs instead of the lift, doing squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, bending down to pick things up rather than bending over, etc…
5 minutes of exercise is more than none. It’s good to remember this every time the voice in your head will tell you to do some housework instead of working out. Commit yourself to exercise certain days of the week and stick to your plan.
Keep it interesting, by introducing variety into your exercise. This means that you are less likely to get bored and continue with it. Vary the types of exercises you do; aerobic exercise, strength training, core conditioning, and stretching. As well as whether you decide to exercise on your own or with friends. I like the postnatal classes where I can exercise with other mums and babies, running with the crew, but I also like ‘me’ time when I run by myself, do yoga or core stability at home.
I mentioned a lot about pregnancy and birth in this post,however I truly believe that these top tips will help you to ease back into a fitness routine at any point in your life… pregnancy or overindulgent Christmas. Little steps will make a big difference.