When my oldest son was a newborn, I would try to work out while he napped. Too often, he woke up 20 minutes into the workout, at the peak point of intensity and sweat, and I had to abruptly stop exercising.
A real workout (in my mind) meant at least 30 minutes of intense cardio, followed by at least 30 minutes of weights, and in addition a warm up, cool down, and stretching.
I was horribly frustrated. I was used to working in a gym, but life was very different as a stay at home mom and my expectations needed a major adjustment.
I had a complete shift in how I viewed exercise and weight postpartum, but first let me tell you how I lost the baby weight.
5 Keys to Safe and Gradual Postpartum Weight Loss
1. Focus on the real goal
What rules about “real workouts” have you assumed?
A newborn immediately overshadows most other priorities in life. Goals shift from teeny bikinis to stress relief, being healthy, and having more energy.
Returning to your pre-pregnancy, or healthy, weight is also a worthy goal. You’ll feel better mentally and physically if your body is at a healthy weight (and you won’t have to buy an entirely new in between wardrobe).
Remember: Give yourself grace and time. Remember the many benefits of exercise and enjoy them rather than checking off minutes or reps–or being frustrated if you can’t. Even a little exercise, done consistently, will help you lose weight and reach your goals.
2. Do what you can every day
A workout was impossible some days, so we would walk around the block, clean the house, or Just Dance Kids for the Wii. You never have to count the day a loss and just lay on the couch. Change your mindset and be physically active, even if doesn’t feel like traditional exercise.
Remember: The tortoise beat the hare. Do something active every day, even if you don’t feel like it.
3. Walk, walk, walk
Walking is your go-to workout as a mom because you can do the activity with your baby. Walking while pushing a stroller burns calories, and helps you improve stamina and strength.
I believe I lost weight fairly quickly because we walked almost every day, just because we both liked being outdoors.
Remember: Find ways to workout with your kids, so you can ensure it gets done. Make a 10-15 minute daily walk a priority for extra calorie burn, sunshine, and fresh air.
4. Lift some weights
Grab dumbbells and do some upper body exercises beside the kiddos while they play.
Does it feel like you’re not doing anything substantial?
You are! Building muscle improves body composition, and muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. Free weight and body weight exercises can also be done with small pockets of time and without getting super sweaty. 😉
Remember: Strength training is an essential part of your workout program. It will make you stronger, more toned, and improve body composition.
5. Dance and play
Enjoy being active with your kids without worrying whether it’s official “exercise”. I know you’re exhausted, but look at those opportunities for active play as progress towards your health and fitness goals and a good example for your kids (instead of trying to convince them that the “nap game” is super fun).
Remember: You won’t look back at these years and remember – or care – what your exercise program was. You’ll remember beautiful moments with your family.
My Postpartum Exercise Attitude Adjustment
So why did I have such stringent rules about what constituted a “real workout,” anyway?
I had a major realization after losing my baby weight within 6-9 months: my weight had remained essentially the same over the past ten years.
Regardless of whether I spent hours a week in the gym, trained for a marathon, or taught ten fitness classes a week, my weight remained within a five-pound range.
I was back to that same weight with only minimal workout sessions and many days no “real workout” at all. (Disclaimer: I also ate healthy and was breastfeeding.)
But why had I wasted excessive hours on exercise all those years?
I’m not saying it’s a waste of time to exercise.
I believe passionately in the value of caring for your body, eating healthy, and staying active. I’m saying
- Extra workout time does not equal extra benefit past a certain point.
- You can stay healthy, and keep your weight in check, by exercising smarter and more effectively.
- Being consumed with weight and exercise is an absolute waste of time, and not part of God’s plan for you to live a joyful, peaceful, purpose-driven life.
I came across Galatians 5 in the Message translation and it confirmed this thought
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original (Galatians 5:25-26 MSG).
I hope these five keys inspire you to be healthy in this hectic and exhausting season. It can be done!
Maybe you’re like me, and you need to evaluate your priorities and expectations. I hope you’re free from the burden of chasing a number on the scale, but that finding ways to be active daily leads you to better health and wellness.