Getting in Shape After Baby

Stressed about returning to your pre-pregnancy shape and fitness level? Don’t push yourself full-throttle before you're ready—a few small changes can get you on track to be fitter than ever before

January 30, 2013
Getting in Shape After Baby

I’ve received a lot of messages from new moms concerned about getting back in shape after having a baby. Many find it hard to stay on track with a workout schedule, and most want to know how I managed to do it. Well, truth is, I didn’t either at first. I truly admire those moms who get back to the gym right after their 6-week post partum check up. I also admire those who take it a step further and snap back into tip-top shape, then hit the stage within months of giving birth. That definitely wasn’t me, however. Everyone is different and it may take longer for some. With patience, constant steps in the right direction, and a little determination, know that we’re all capable of getting our body back to where it was (if not better!).

Becoming a mom is not an excuse to “let yourself go,” but I also believe there’s way too much pressure to get back in shape quickly right after giving birth. If you can manage to do so, great for you! But if you’re someone that needs more time to adjust, and you’re working to make small improvements each day, that’s fine too. You will get there. Give yourself a bit of a break; this is a time to enjoy your new baby.

In the meantime you can start making little lifestyle changes, forming good nutrition habits to help you feel better about yourself and give you more energy. Be active doing things you enjoy like going for walks with your baby, but don’t add stress by putting pressure on yourself to look a certain way by a certain time. Be patient and consistent. It’s a slow gradual process and there really is no finish line.

Though my kids are older now (my youngest just turned 11), I remember those early days very clearly. Before I even had kids I didn’t always eat clean and I wasn’t nearly as fit as I am now. After my first child was born, I had a very hard time staying on track. Becoming a new mom is probably the biggest and most challenging adjustment you will ever have to make in your life. For me, it was an exciting time but I also remember feeling very overwhelmed. It took some time before I was ready to get back in the gym, and before I knew it I was already pregnant again. I experienced a lot of complications with my second pregnancy. I was put on bed rest so I couldn't exercise, and I ended up delivering my son 10 weeks premature. I was so young and never more terrified in my entire life.

Suddenly at 27 years old, here I was with one child under the age of two and another in the NICU. I was a flurry of emotions and worry. I only wish my biggest concern was how I was going to lose all that baby weight! Kind of puts things in perspective. Instead, my focus was on getting the baby healthy and home while also providing the best care for my other child. That’s when I began reading and learning a lot about nutrition, and as I looked for ways to keep my kids healthy I also became more aware of the poor nutrition choices I was making for myself.

Between taking care of the kids and working, I didn't have time to think about the gym. I actually don't think I even set foot back in the gym for a few years. I was far from lazy, though. I found things that I enjoyed and could do with my kids like “mommy and me” swimming classes or yoga sessions. When the weather was nicer, we would play outside, go to the park, and take long walks. I had a baby seat on the back of my road bike and I used to love going for rides with my baby on the back. I did things I enjoyed that fit in my life at the time, and I can honestly look back and say those are some of the sweetest memories I have. I might not have been super fit in record time, but I got there. If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t do it any other way. I have no regrets.

When you feel ready to get back into it you will be unstoppable. When my daughter was 3 months old I started training hard again and I haven’t missed a workout since. It’s been years of hard work and I’m still a work-in-progress, but it’s been so worth it! Every person is different, every pregnancy is different, and your personal and professional situations may change. You just have to learn to roll with things and do the best you can with what works for you. You don't have to push yourself full-throttle before you're ready. Consider taking this time to learn more about your nutrition and look for fun ways to exercise with your new baby. And remember, it’s never ever too late to get back on track to an even fitter you!

Patty Zariello
IFBB Figure Pro
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