Editor's Note: This article first appeared on Ungrind.org. Thank you Ungrind for letting us republish Danielle's piece!
I’m blurry eyed and sleep deprived. There’s barely time to eat, shower, or get dressed. I wonder if my body will ever be the same again.
I just had a baby. Actually, make that two. Twins.
My life will never be the same. And neither will my body.
I look in the mirror with a mixture of joy and despondency. Joy, because all that weight I’ve been carrying has greatly diminished with the birth of my babies. Despondency over loose tummy muscles and wrinkled skin replacing my once flat waist. I wonder if I’ll ever feel good about my body again. And when on earth will I ever find time to exercise, anyway?
The good news is no new mother needs to worry about exercising right away! If you’ve just had a baby your body needs healthy food and rest to build up the energy you need to care for yourself and your new little one. In the meantime, don’t despair. So, when the time comes to start adding exercise back into your life again—or even for the first time—here are a few tips to maximize your workout time, and make it easier to fit into your day.
1. Turn on the TV
You might not think the solution to losing weight involves turning on the TV, but it does. Making it to the gym with an infant is not likely realistic, so maximize naptimes and set aside just a half an hour to workout to an exercise DVD a few days a week. Once you get into a routine, you’ll start feeling rejuvenated and have more energy. If you already own exercise DVDs, pull them out, or borrow some from your local library. The public library is a wonderful resource, since borrowing DVDs is often a free service and allows you the freedom to try lots of different types of exercises without committing to purchasing them. And it’s way cheaper than joining a gym.
The following three exercise DVDs are ones I’ve used and contain exercise routines that are about a half an hour or under and give you a great workout. Sound too good to be true?
Kathy Smith—TimeSaver: Lift Weights To Lose Weight DVD. This DVD is made up of two 20-minute workouts. One focuses on the lower body and the other one on the upper body. Plus it includes a wonderful 10-minute abdominal workout. All you need are free weights, a mat, and a chair.
Shape Your Abs DVD. This DVD contains a 35-minute circuit-style cardio routine, four different 5-minute ab routines, and a 12-minute Total Body Blitz. Almost anyone can get in a 12-minute workout! You might wonder what you can get out of a 5-minute ab workout, but believe me, these routines will challenge you. You need free weights and a mat for these exercises.
Prevention Fitness Systems: 3-2-1 Workout DVD. These easy to follow workouts cover all the bases: aerobics, strength training, and abs. There are six different workouts that contain three minutes of aerobics, two minutes of a “target area,” and one minute of abdominal work. This gives you six different six-minute workouts to choose from and mix and match to suit how much time you have available for working out on a given day. This makes it a great DVD for a busy mom! Also included are beginner modifications if you want something less intense. You’ll need free weights and a mat for these exercises.
2. Stroll Away the Pounds
If you want to include your baby in your exercising venture, while making it a time of fresh air and bonding, pull that stroller out! Stroller walking is a great way to get some cardio into your routine. The April 2007 issue of Parents magazine reported that a recent study from the University of Wisconsin indicates that your calorie burn is 20 percent higher when pushing a baby stroller at 4.5 miles per hour versus walking alone.
During nice weather you can spend your time walking outside. If the weather is nasty you can go to the mall to walk. Walking is great because if you have other older children, you can include them as well. Also, inviting a friend to join you makes exercising a social event and can be a means of accountability.
3. Exercise Swap
As children get older or more in number finding the time and energy to exercise will be harder for a time. One way to try to still try to exercise regularly is by finding a group of other moms who’d like to exercise. You could take turns watching each other’s children for an hour so that the rest are free to go walking or running around the neighborhood. Again, it’s social, fun, and can be a great source of encouragement and accountability!
4. Stress Not
The important thing is to take things slow and enjoy the time you spend exercising. The goal is health and fitness. Don’t make it something you have to do or to stress over. Just slowly build it back into your routine. Some days it just won’t happen and that’s OK.
It may seem impossible now, but if you make exercise part of your weekly routine, you just may soon be wearing that favorite pair of pre-pregnancy jeans.
Yes, twenty months after the birth of my twin boys I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight and clothes. But the truth is my body has changed. Despite all my crunches and Pilate moves my waist just may never be the same again. It’s still flabby and hangs over the waist of my jeans. And that’s OK.
When I’m tempted to despair that my post-baby body doesn’t look the same as Heidi Klum’s, I’m reminded that most importantly my “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Although I attempt to take care of my body and keep it healthy, it won’t do to make it an idol. My body is God’s no matter what. Thin or heavy. Toned or flabby. And most of all, I want this body to glorify God, no matter what the size.
Danielle Ayers Jones has been a contributing writer for the online magazine, Ungrind, and has written for Thriving Family, Clubhouse, Jr., Radiant, and Relevant. She also combines her love of writing and photography on her blog, www.danielleayersjones.com. It’s a space where she seeks to find beauty in everyday places, joy in hardship, and encouragement in unexpected places. Danielle currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. You can follow her on Twitter @daniajones.