Scroll back to posts preceding this and you’ll see nearly two years have passed. As it happens, I was also expecting my first baby. Put two and two together and you can probably guess some of the challenges I’ve been tackling between then and now. And tackle them I have. Rarely ‘by the book’. Not always with the self-assurance I tried to project on the surface. Often inefficiently. Always imperfectly. But in the process of the tackling I’ve done more learning than I ever anticipated, and I’m conscious that some of what I’ve learned could help other new mums who are finding their feet – and finding the best ways to get them moving again!
This post will be the first in a series of three, all offering four ways to help you in your pursuit to:
- GET MOVING;
- BE MOVED; and
- MOVE FORWARD.
I’ll be casting the net slightly further than a simple list of suggestions for incorporating exercise into your new routine (or lackthereof) as a parent. I think reducing the role of exercise to yet another entry on your rolling to-do list does it a serious disservice. Parenthood itself is a powerful experience that can re-set your relationship to movement, your ability and willingness to be moved and your integrated approach to moving forward in all aspects of your life. After all, without being moved or moving forward, exercise is just an act of going through the motions. When we give it purpose, and we see how its effects exceed our own physicality, that’s when it sticks. So, let’s move forward…
GET MOVING, MAMA
-1- There will never be the perfect time to exercise, or the perfect set of circumstances jumping up and down telling you “Now! Now! Now is your opportunity!”.
It’s up to you to create those opportunities. They start by putting down the laundry. Leaving the playmat and toys where they are (they look good there on the floor, promise). Confronting any guilt about putting yourself first and just bloody giving your body some love.
-2- Prioritising your strength and wellbeing is not selfish.
Consider for a moment how the following will resonate positively with your children:
- your pain-free ability to lift and carry them;
- your confidence running after them (leak-free) when they take those first steps;
- your personal fulfillment at the end of the day because, for at least a few moments of that day, you were able to address your own needs.
Babies and little children sponge up all our energy, so fuelling your own joy and strength will spread positivity by parental osmosis.
-3- Strength starts from the inside out – and, ideally, with an internal examination by a women’s health physio.
While frustrating in the early days, the post-natal need to re-train the once-automatic connection of your pelvic floor and core (what I will furthermore refer to as your support muscles) is an incredible resource for bringing more respect, understanding and power to everything from lifting your children to participating in your favourite form of exercise. GPs can refer you through the NHS or you can book privately. Many women’s health physios offer home visits you can fit it in around your family commitments, it’s no more invasive or uncomfortable than a smear test and it offers you valuable biofeedback that will give clear purpose and assurance during your return to exercise.
-4- Use your resistance as rocket fuel.
It’s natural to fear challenge or discomfort, but the resistance we feel towards exercise is an essential part of the overcoming. The endorphins and pride that rush in at the end of a session is all the more powerful when we perhaps didn’t want to do the work at the outset. In fact, beating the odds will be the very thing that makes you feel like super-mum and inspires you to chase those super-mum feelings again!
While none of us lives or moves without resistance, there are some simple tricks to swerve easy obstacles at the outset:
- Where possible, put on your activewear in the morning.
- Keep an exercise mat in the room you spend the most time (if it’s an arm’s reach from your sofa or desk, you can ‘snack’ on five minutes of movement throughout the day).
- Have a plan in place – perhaps designed by a physio or post-natal PT, or through a subscription to online post-natal classes.
- When the plan doesn’t go to plan, improvise. Baby wouldn’t sleep? Pop them in the bouncer or in a sling and do your workout, anyway. Do 10 minutes instead of a half hour – it really is better than nothing. On my Instagram feed you’ll find a load of workouts you can do while including your littles!
- Remember point one – perfection can only be a hindrance to your progress. You’re doing bloody brilliantly, mama!
Next on the blog: 4 ways to BE MOVED as a new mum