Exercise as a new mum
Being a new parent, especially a new mum – is hard work, physically, emotionally and professionally. Overnight, your identity and life priorities change, with a tiny little being suddenly dependant on you for everything, trumping much of the independence and spontaneity of life prior.
Adjustment to this new way of life can feel overwhelming, however well prepared you are and however much you rally in the support of those around you, and there is no under-estimating the impact that this can have on both your physical and mental health. For me, remaining fit and active has enabled me to adjust far better to the new way of life, helping me to keep a semblance of my pre-baby self and bounce back much quicker, losing all my baby weight, and then some – with all the running around they necessitate on a day-to-day basis!
Five ‘top tips’ I’ve learnt along the way are as follows:
1) Be aware of ‘mum guilt’ – this is crucial, and something all parents will experience at some point. Guilt if you’re not with them, guilt if you’re with them and not fully focussed, guilt if you buy yourself something instead of putting it towards a new toy they’ve had their eye on. This will never go away – be aware of this – we care about our kids, we want to do whatever we can for them.
But it is possible to change your mindset around it. See doing exercise a positive thing for them, okay so you’re not with them for an hour or two, but it’s almost certain that when you come home you’re happier, more relaxed and a much more focussed mummy.
Quash the feelings of guilt, and rationalise with yourself wherever possible.
2) Keep a diary – and try and plan the best you can. It’s okay doing ad-hoc sessions, and sometimes it really is just a case of fitting in what you can, when you can, but if you can pre-plan where possible it’s far more effective, offering a sense of relative control and focus. My husband and I share an Outlook calendar and do our best to include as many of our plans in there to make everything more organised.
This also helps to facilitate an element of accountability, if it’s in the diary, it’s not as easy to put it off!
3) Less is more – this will obviously depend on the individual, but post-baby I have personally found that it’s possible to make better gains, both in terms of performance and in terms of weight loss, whichever is your goal, by actually focussing on shorter, harder sessions.
Try and prioritise quality over quantity – a 30-minute run with some intervals built in rather than 90 minutes running at a slow pace can bring about some really great returns in a small space of time.
4) Don’t overcomplicate things – simple sets are often best – you don’t necessarily need to be focussing on too much – even just thinking up 4-5 key sets that you do on rotation to begin with is enough, depending on what you want to achieve. Trying to bring in too much, too soon can be overwhelming, and make it more difficult to stick with – like fad diets, nail the basics, and then go from there.
5) Exercise with your kids – there are ways to invite your kids to join in with you. One of the single best investments I made was a running buggy, it’s possible to get out for runs and long walks with them – not therefore bringing in the common hurdle of childcare provision.
Local to me in Maidenhead is Buggy Squad who organise weekly 5km buggy runs along with a Coach to 5km initiative which is fantastic, and great way in which to meet some new friends in the process.