GETTING FIT AFTER PREGNANCY (as seen in the December 2000 issue of Washington Parent magazine)
My wise childbirth educator said "it takes nine months to make a baby, it will take nine months to get your body back." Once you have your mid-wives or doctor's permission to start, the key to losing your pregnancy weight and getting firmed back up is fitting exercise into your new lifestyle. Lack of sleep in the first few months plus the constant care of an infant make it hard to take time for you. Though it can be hard, the reward of having your body back and your energy level higher make it well worth the effort.
Not sure how to get started or what to do? There are several ways to get started with exercise. I have a gym in my home. If it's possible, create a space where you can exercise in comfort. Make sure it's convenient too or it won't work. I'm the mom of an active toddler so my exercise schedule varies. Sometimes I bring him with me to our gym; other times I use the baby monitor and listen while he naps. Create a play space for your infant or toddler in your exercise space. My son has plenty of toys to play with while mom exercises! Exercise videos are great if you don't have the space for exercise equipment. Make sure you start at a level you can complete easily. If you are not sure of what video would be good to get started, I recommend any of the walking videos by Leslie Sansone.
Another option when the weather is good is exercising outdoors. Take your baby out for a walk a few times a week. Start off with 15 minutes and work your way to 30-60 minutes. Find another mom or two to walk with and you'll have someone who is relying on you and will get you out the door each day. If the weather isn't perfect but you still want to get out of the house, the local malls are a good place to go walk. Be sure you do a few laps first before you stop to shop!
If you're a member of a playgroup, make the first 15 to 30 minutes exercise time. Go for a walk, do a video together, share weights and do a strength training workout or do calisthenics together. Make a fun and active time and everyone benefits!
The other component of getting fit is strength training. You've probably noticed that pregnancy has helped you to lose your body's tone. Strength training will get rid of that flabbiness and tone you up quickly. Strength training is also important because, as women, we are at risk for osteoporosis, the bone thinning disease. Doing strength training on a regular basis will help to prevent brittle bones later in life.
One of the best benefits of weight training is a boost in metabolism. With cardiovascular exercise, you burn extra calories for up to ½ hour after exercise. Strength training burns extra calories for several hours after exercise. More muscle means more calories burned every day, plus a fitter and more toned look!
If you are worried about getting big and bulging muscles from strength training there is no need. A majority of women don't have the correct hormones to bulk up the way men do. The women who get such big muscles exercise for hours every day. Your workout will be enough to get you strong and toned, not big and bulky!
Strength training can be done in a gym or in your own home. Free weights are very inexpensive and can be stored easily. Just about every exercise that is done on a machine can be duplicated with free weights. If you're not sure of what exercises to do or how to get started, you have several options. You can purchase a book or borrow one from the library. The books by Dr. Joyce Vedral are some of the easiest to follow.
There are several good strength training videos. I recommend any of the Firm videos or the videos by Leslie Sansone. Other options are hiring a personal trainer or joining a strength training class. The benefits from hiring a personal trainer or joining a class are the opportunity to get one-on-one instruction. You will know your form is correct, so your chances of injury are less. You are also more likely to stick with your program, as someone is monitoring your progress.
Worried about the amount of time all of this exercise will take? No need to -- 15 to 30 minutes a day is enough to see results. If you have a lot of weight to lose, be patient! Longer workouts will help you to see results more quickly but it's better to start off slowly and increase the time you are exercising gradually. You will see results if you are consistent.
A strength training workout for the total body can take as little as 15 minutes. Strength training only needs to be done 2 to 3 times a week to see results. You need to give your body 24 hours to recover from strength training, so you can alternate your strength training workouts with your cardiovascular workouts. Cardiovascular exercise is most effective if you put in 20 - 30 minutes 3 to 5 days a week. A cardiovascular workout can be done in 3 - 10 minute sessions throughout the day. Be creative with your workouts and you'll find yourself getting fitter, stronger and more energetic -- with a body you feel good in!
Want to give someone the gift of fitness? Gift certificates are available. Call me at 301-942-3399 to give that special someone the gift of health and fitness today!
I offer in-home personal training to clients in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Takoma Park, Northwest D.C., Olney, Gaithersburg and Rockville.
Call me today at 301-942-3399 to join my women's only exercise classes. You deserve to look and feel your best!
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Look at the success stories to see how other moms got fit!