written by Marie Weaver, NASM Certified Personal Trainer
photos by Jenna Duncan Photography
Congrats! You’re a mommy! …which means life is ridiculously hectic. Somehow you’re managing to get things done, but working in exercise?! Ha! You’re lucky to even shower, right? Trust me, I get it. I’ve been there. Time is a constraint when trying to fit exercise into your day, but now is an opportunity to not only shed baby weight, but also begin new habits to carry throughout the rest of your life.
Here’s my top 10 list of things I wish I’d known before beginning my own workout journey that could have helped me achieve better and faster results after the birth of my children.
1. Get clearance from a doctor before you begin exercising. This really isn’t a tip, it’s a must. Talk in detail about which exercises you plan to do. All vigorous exercise must be entered into gradually.
2. Self care is essential. Finding time to exercise might seem selfish, but exercising is for (INSERT YOUR NAME HERE.) And yes, that’s in all caps and bold. Exercise is for YOU. Not you the mom, or you the wife, or you the friend, or….get my drift? Exercise is for the benefit of YOU and the benefits from it spill over to the other roles you play. Taking care of ourselves allows us to be better caretakers of others.
3. Split your workout! Split a 30 minute workout into 3, 10-minute segments.
4. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) burns up to 3 times as many calories at the end of the day than performing regular cardio for the same amount of time.
5. You cannot out train a bad diet. Eat right. Eat clean.
6. Track Your Food. To lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. It’s that simple. It’s a numbers game. Use an app to track your food and soon you’ll be reaping the benefits.
7. Water. Water. Water.
A dehydrated body cannot burn fat.
8. You can’t spot train body parts for intended results. Weight gain in the tummy, hips, and thighs is typical of a postpartum body, but all over training is necessary to achieve desired results.
9. Stay off the scale. Muscle is dense but takes up less space than the same weight of fat. Some women fear gaining muscle because they think they’ll look like a body builder, but truth is women don’t naturally produce enough testosterone for that to happen. Muscle requires more energy to remain on your body, so let your stored body fat be it’s food source. Adding muscle will ignite your metabolism to work harder and you will begin to lean out and wear smaller clothes as fat is burned for energy.
10. No guilt or shame allowed! If you’ve got punching gloves on, take them off!! Yes, you’ve got extra skin, fluid, and fat…you grew a person! It’s what happens! Focused hard work and determination will help you reach your goals. Be patient and remember you’re beautiful no matter what. You might desperately want your pre-baby body back, but you didn’t gain it overnight, so it’s not going to disappear overnight.
Here’s a sample 10-minute HIIT routine. Perform each exercise for 50 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Go in order so as to alternate a cardio exercise with a strengthening exercise. If you’re not able to do one of the cardio moves, switch it out with something else that will get your heart rate up. It’s not the specific exercise, it’s getting your heart beating quickly and then backing off and letting it slow down while you perform a strengthening exercise. You’ve got this, mama. Baby steps.
Squats – feet apart, squat down, shoulders back, and knees never go past your toes.
Bridge lifts – lie on back, knees bent, feet hip width apart. Raise hips and squeeze. Hold squeeze for 3 seconds and lower back down. Repeat.
Heel dips – lie on your back, knees bent 90 degrees and hip width apart. Keep form tight, lower heels to the floor, tap, raise back up to starting position.
Burpees – Start in a squat position with your knees bent, back straight, and your feet about shoulder-width apart. • Lower your hands to the floor in front of you so they’re just inside your feet. • With your weight on your hands, kick your feet back so you’re on your hands and toes, and in a pushup position. • Keeping your body straight from head to heels, do one pushup. Remember not to let your back sag or to stick your butt in the air. • Do a frog kick by jumping your feet back to their starting position. • Stand and reach your arms over your head.• Jump quickly into the air so you land back where you started. • As soon as you land with knees bent, get into a squat position and do another repetition.
Sumo Squats – feet wide, toes pointed out, squat down and up. Knee/toe rule!
Football feet – stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Quickly move feet up and down, staying in one place, while holding hands together.
Elbow plank (start with 3 sets of 15 seconds or 2 sets of 20 seconds
High knees – Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift up your left knee to your chest. Switch to lift your right knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving at a sprinting or running pace.