Dear Is This Normal,
My baby is almost 11 months and I feel like I should be back in the swing of things with my fitness/diet. Instead, I haven’t lost the baby weight and I’m a completely different person. I’m lethargic all the time, I feel utterly exhausted and I have no motivation to start working out again. Is This Normal? How do I break this and get going again?
Mama, there is no hard and fast rule about when you should feel up to doing anything after the birth of your baby. We have this idea that women should (there’s that annoying word again) bounce right back after pregnancy and childbirth without missing a beat.
But in reality, we are all different humans and will do things at our own pace and within our own limits of comfort and ability.. If you’re ready to start getting back to feeling a bit like your pre-baby self, that’s amazing. But it’s also OK to take the time you need to adjust to this new season of life. For some tips on how to ease back into exercising, , we have board-certified pediatrician and fitness expert Dr. Alison Mitzner to help get you started off on the right foot.
Dear Still Recovering,
Dear Still Recovering,
First, it’s important to be clear on expectations and misconceptions. Getting back into shape doesn’t happen overnight, like you see often with celebrities. It’s true that you can lose about half the weight quickly in the first month or two, but the remainder can take months or even a year or so! It took your entire pregnancy to put on the weight. Losing it the right way takes time, too.
Getting started with exercise and a fitness routine is often the hardest part for new (and overwhelmed) parents. There’s a lot to factor in. When you have a child, you expend a lot of your energy caring for your baby, often with little sleep. If you’re nursing, you have to consider your milk supply, which also takes a lot of energy to produce. Of course you’re feeling tired!
Though it seems counterintuitive, small amounts of exercise, even 15-20 minutes at a time, can really help. Walk around the block with the stroller or do a workout video in your living room while the baby naps. Just start moving! Physical activity can be super beneficial, even when you’re tired, since it gets those endorphins and blood flowing and can give you the boost of energy you need. Besides the obvious physical benefits, exercise can also do wonders for your mental and emotional state and lift your mood when you’re having a particularly rough time.
Try to find a support group or group of moms working toward the same goals. Your tribe can help you get and stay motivated, and accountability goes a long way! Consider downloading one of the many apps that can help track steps while walking with your baby. The accountability often makes it easier to set—and stick to—your goals. After a while, you’ll probably find that the way you feel after exercising is all the motivation you need to continue.
When building a routine, make sure you’re paying attention to your eating and sleeping habits, too. Drink plenty of water, and take a look at what you’re putting in your body every day (a food diary is a great way to track what you’re eating if you don’t follow a specific meal or food plan). Good nutrition is key to feeling your best!
Sleep is the last part of the equation, but I know it’s easier said than done with a little one. Nap if you can and if needed. Lack of sleep can actually lead to overeating due to changes in your hunger hormones. If sleep has been an issue for you, you may find that by adding exercise into your routine and tweaking your diet, you actually end up getting more quality sleep!
Good luck mama,
Dr. Alison Mitzner