How to Get Your Best Body AFTER Babies
This isn’t the first article to be written about embracing your body after childbirth and it won’t be the last…accepting the way your body may look or feel after child birth is a struggle that many moms face. Sure, we’re all proud of what our bodies accomplished in growing and birthing our children; that doesn’t make trying on bathing suits any easier!
I’ve been pregnant ten times. I’ve delivered five babies by C-section, one naturally and a stillborn daughter after 26 hours of labor. I have also had three additional miscarriages. My body has gained and lost nearly 250 pounds collectively, I’ve nursed each baby for a minimum of one year and I breastfed my adopted son for 15 months…which means I haven’t slept through the night in years! If anyone can empathize the toll motherhood takes on a body, I can promise you it is me.
So while I’ve abandoned the idea that my abdominal skin will be as taught as it once was, I still remain committed to my fitness routine. I have made my physical and emotional health a priority. Accepting my baby pooch isn’t an excuse to eat poorly or stop exercising, it is understanding that bodies change as we age, they change after children. I can’t recapture what I once was but I’m determined to work graciously with what I have now.
I admit that I’ll never be a meal prepper. I would like to be but my reality is that I cook for a family of nine where no one eats the same thing. Making one more large meal just for me isn’t going to happen. The thought of eating 3-4 day leftovers isn’t appealing either if I’m being honest. I’ll also never give up an entire food group, forgo Eggos for dinner on busy nights or think a gimmicky shake for lunch is enough for me. However, I do commit to my health and fitness by embracing these four strategies that work.
1. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS LIKE YOU WOULD ANY OTHER IMPORTANT EVENT
Make time for you. This is the most important piece of advice you can take from this post! I schedule my workouts just like I schedule a parent conference, my hair appointment or a doctor’s appointment. I would normally not cancel a much needed highlight or a visit with my child’s teacher so I try not to cancel on myself. I have two children in high school, three in elementary school, one full time preschooler and one part timers… and I work…I get what it means to “not have time."
I look at my calendar every Sunday and choose a minimum of three fitness classes to attend for the week.… I then write them on our master schedule and work around those times. I prefer group classes because I can change up my workout, I will push myself further and my results have been better in a group. (I know many women don’t feel confident to join a group class because of their perceived body image. Please know that working on your health is one of the most respected things a woman can do for herself! I always am so proud of the women who feel out of shape but finish a class. Truly inspirational!) Lately, I’ve been going to to 5:30 am classes while my children sleep. Your body will get used to waking up early and there is nothing quite like checking yourself off the to do list before 6:30am! Nothing interferes with your workouts for the rest of the day!
My workouts of choice are Orange Theory and Pure Barre. I am not paid to say this, I do not receive money for it…I just feel like these classes have changed the shape of my body. Barre always works core, which has been really helpful for me, but also hard to work areas like upper inner thigh and saddlebags. It creates long lean muscles but best of all, it has given me the abs I wish I had when I was 21. If you don’t live near a Pure Barre, you can get their workouts on demand. You can also use one of these DVD’s (that I also have) if you need a home workout.
Orange Theory, which initially I didn’t like, has provide the much needed cardio that was lacking as I have aged. In two months, I went from being completely winded after 3 minutes on the treadmill to running two miles each visit….and I am not a runner! You can modify any of their workouts to walk, job or run and its structured in incremental speeds to train you to be able to increase your cardio.
2. ADD RESISTANCE TO YOUR WORKOUTS
While walking or hammering it out on the elliptical burns calories, you will NEVER CHANGE THE SHAPE OF YOUR BODY UNLESS YOU DO SOME RESISTANCE TRAINING. This means you have to use body weight, bands and/or light weights to change your shape and tone your body. If you hate your saddle bags, walking will not get rid of those but side legs lifts will. As you can see from the photos in this post, my best mom body came after all six babies and only after including cardio and my resistance training barre class. I also love any type of body sculpting class, dance class or kickboxing. The more lean muscle you build, the more calories you burn outside of exercise. Both barre and Orange Theory incorporate weights in every workout so I like that I take care of cardio and strength in an hour.
3. IF YOU CAN’T GET TO A GYM, DO HOME WORKOUTS.
If you just can’t get to a gym, get in your workouts before the kids get up. I once worked three jobs as single mom, I understand all of the reasons why it sometimes just doesn’t happen. Schedule three 5:30 am workouts in your living room each week. I know how unappealing that sounds but once you start, you don’t want to give up on yourself. Create a library of DVDs, get Pure Barre or another workout ON DEMAND or join a program like Beach Body. My sister has five children under age six, including a special needs child, so she does not even have the gym daycare option…but she gets up at 5:30 am to finish her workout at home before her kids’ feet even hit the floor. If you want to feel and look better, you have to commit to it.
I swear by these three products for a home gym:
Resistance Bands - I use these for everything. These are great for thighs and legs.
Stability Ball - My favorite way to do abs at home. So many options.
Light weight set - You will not tone your arms without body weight or light weights.
4. MAKE SMARTER DIET CHOICES.
Eat in moderation. I eat everything but I eat it in moderation and in small portions. If I want pizza, I’ll have once piece and a salad. If we’re eating out, I order off the kid’s menu or ask for the lunch portion. Stop eating three pieces of pizza or double cheeseburgers…be reasonable in your portions.
Don’t drink your calories. Juices, sodas, fancy coffees and alcohol add a TON of added calories to your diet. This can add HUNDREDS of extra calories a day. I try to drink one class of orange juice in the morning and water the rest of the day. I don’t drink coffee or wine (freakishly weird I know) because I just don’t like the effects of either of those in my body.
Eliminate one bad food a week from your home. Stop keeping chips in your home, don’t buy a lot of prepackaged snacks.
I always eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches (reduced fat Jif and wheat toast) for either breakfast or lunch. It has carbs to fuel me, protein so I don’t have a sugar crash and fruit. I also love eggs and omelettes..I also eat these for one meal a day, including lunch and dinner. Cottage cheese with pineapple and toast, yogurt and english muffins, salad… these are things I eat weekly.
I try to avoid starchy carbs, like big plates of pasta for dinner, opting to eat those carbs earlier in my day so that I can burn them off.
I don’t eliminate any food groups. I just feel that this isn’t a lifestyle I can maintain and it sets me up for failure. Everything in moderation.
I backload a lot of my carbs meaning I try to avoid plates of pasta in the evenings and save those things for lunch.
Use this microwave omelette maker if you like eggs! It has made eating eggs to much easier and its only $6!
I love Stack’d Protein pancakes. They comes in many flavors but I like the buttermilk because they taste like Bisquick pancakes. I eat these for lunch with bananas and it fills me up because they are packed with protein.
I like making smoothies with non fat vanilla yogurt, strawberries and bananas in this countertop Ninja blender.
Unless my husband grills, I make lean ground beef burgers on this little countertop grill.
Foods like chips, French fries, sugary cereals and sodas offer zero nutritional benefit and will only add more calories to your diet. You don’t need these and your kids don’t need these. Save these for treats on family dinner nights but don’t keep them in your home. A general rule of thumb is that the better and healthier foods come from the outer aisle of the grocery store where the high sugar and highly processed foods are in the inner aisles. Stay out of the middle aisles!
You don’t have to be a size 4 to be the best version of you! Start to enjoy taking care of yourself and the feeling that accompanies getting healthy. Your children, your work, the husband that says he doesn’t know how to go to the grocery store with children (or is that just mine) are the REASONS to work out, NOT the excuses. Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently! Commit to your best mom body because taking care you is part of taking care of your family!