Making Exercise Part of Your Routine (After Having a Baby)

The other night Dave and I were chatting with a group of friends, and one couple, who are expecting their first baby, asked us what the hardest part of adjusting to new parenthood was. It’s a tough question but I said that the most difficult part for me was definitely feeling like my old life was over and there was this vast unknown of what a “normal” day as a mom looked like. Not to mention what a normal week, month, year, etc. would entail…..needless to say it’s a huge life change and can be a little overwhelming.

The happy side of this is, you are still yourself after becoming a mom! Granted, you will have to reshuffle your schedule slightly, and let some less-important things go, but life doesn’t end after having a baby–it’s a whole new wonderful world!

For me, something that really helped me feel like my “old” self was getting back into exercise. Whether you were an avid exerciser before your pregnancy, or are trying to make it a part of your new post-baby lifestyle, there are SO many benefits to working some activity into your day. It just takes a little more creativity and juggling now that there’s a bambino to account for :). Here are some things that I found helpful as I tried to get back to the gym:

1. Plan ahead: As with most things in life, if you make a plan to achieve a goal, it is 1,000x likelier to happen (roughly :). I have found that sitting down on Sunday night and making a plan for my week, including my workouts, makes me more motivated. This is essential when training for a race, but it’s also just really helpful in daily life.

2. Prioritize: Free time isn’t a total thing of the past after having kids, but it is slightly rarer and more precious. If you want exercise to be a part of your day, other things may have to slide–like, for example, showering (kidding! Sort of….). I have dashed out the door when there is a sink full of dirty dishes because Dave is home for lunch and that’s the only time I will have to get out by myself that day. Just give yourself a little permission to let some less-important things go in order to take care of your physical and mental health for a little bit.

3. Make it Fun: Granted, this can be hard because, after being up in the night with a baby,  sweating it out on the treadmill is NOT as alluring as an hour during naptime with some chocolate and your very full DVR. Some ways that I help myself look forward to my workouts are making plans to meet up with a friend or one of my sisters at a class at the gym, trying out a new running route, or saving a show I love to watch while I am on the treadmill.

4. Get others on board: I am lucky because Dave knows how important it is to me to work out. After being married to me for four years, he has probably seen firsthand my mood shift that can come with a little exercise, so he is really helpful in letting me get to the gym or out for a run (and I am so thankful!). Let your loved ones know that this is really important to you, and have some specific ways they can help. Some nights I will tell Dave, “I really want to run tomorrow morning, when my alarm goes off in the morning will you nudge me to get up?” It’s silly, but being accountable to him and having him give me a little “shove” can be so supportive.

5. Get creative: Let’s face it, there are some days when hitting the gym by yourself isn’t going to happen. Is all workout hope lost? NO!  Invest in a few pieces of workout equipment (I love this set of resistance bands because they are way cheaper and more versatile than hand weights) so you can get some good workouts in during naptime or while your little one plays. I enjoy having a jogging stroller, but I’m not a religious user so I’d recommend getting one used before you invest in a super nice one, since some people, myself included, just don’t love running with one. There are so many free workout videos on Youtube. Two of my favorite channels are Popsugar Fitness and Blogilates. I have also traded babysitting with neighbors so we can both go to the gym, and added bonus, the kids get a playdate.

6. Be realistic: Pre-Ella, I could pretty easily manage working out 5 days a week. Now, I generally aim for 4 workouts per week, and I try to keep them to an hour (unless I am training for a race and have to do a long run that will take longer, but that’s only toward the end of a training cycle). Something is totally better than nothing! Even a quick 30 minutes can do SO much good for your physical and mental well-being. You’ll burn the extra calories off running after your kids anyway!

Sorry for this long and extremely worddddyyyy post. If you can’t tell, exercise really is such an important part of my life and I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to end once you become a mom! I’d love to hear what kind of routines you’ve figured out in the comments!