I was not expecting the changes to my body after baby number one – sure I knew bits would sag and skin would stretch, but to suddenly lose 10 years of yoga butt literally overnight was a huge drag. While I was never fanatical about exercise, I did it fairly often, and loved yoga with a passion. My thighs, instead of being toned, were cottage cheese wrapped in glad wrap. And unfortunately, I felt so far behind the eight ball that it was almost too overwhelming – before, if I’d done two weeks of exercise I could see a difference. Now I could do two months and I wouldn’t feel a thing. Relaxin, you’ve got A LOT to answer for, my friend.
Then of course I had baby number two very quickly after baby number one. If my core was obliterated after my first 9lb baby, it was rendered non-existent by the second. The only thing that is holding me up is my spine, and I feel so far from functional it’s not even funny. So I turned to Linda from Live and Breathe personal training and she sorted me out a plan to add to my regular yoga routine right quick. She has the best ass in the biz and she ain’t afraid to say she worked hard for it. As I must for mine.
If you’re jiggling in all the wrong places, maybe this guest post will help you too.
Well hello there Veggie Mama readers! Firstly, thanks so much to the gorgeous Veggie Mama for asking me to write a guest post – to say I was honoured, is well, putting it lightly. I’ve only been blogging myself for a very short time so it came as a nice surprise.
So a bit of background info. I’m Linda, founder of Live and Breathe Personal Training. I started exercising regularly back in September 2010. That’s right folks, prior to that I was generally lazy, and generally sloppy with my diet and alcohol intake. Basically, after gorging cakies pretty much 5 days a week, devouring ¼ to ½ a family sized block of chocolate nightly, and drinking regularly – mostly ‘just a wine or two’ with very little exercise, I finally got tired of carrying around the excess baggage. I was spurred on when I was asked to be a bridesmaid at a wedding; I got myself a Personal Trainer, cleaned up my diet and shed 10 kilos (oh and left my husband, along with my excess gut – but that’s another story). So newly single, unemployed, and being the fittest I’d ever been, it really made sense to make my passion into a career – the rest is history!
Anyway, I asked Veggie Mama what she’d like me to write about and here was her reply:
“I was hoping you could go through what is best for a new mum to get back in shape. I don’t need to lose any weight (I need to put it on if anything, but don’t hold that against me!), I’m not looking to GET SEXY FIVE HOURS AFTER BIRTH! KIM KARDASHIAN STORY INSIDE, nor am I overly sporty. So whatever a regular mum with two small children can do to tone up and be cardio healthy.”
Firstly it’s important to tell you that I have two kiddies of my own, so I’ve been there – I know what it’s like to have two small children although they are not quite so small these days – Ruby is 12.5 and Tommy is almost 11.5. Yep that would be a 13 month gap which to be honest, I wouldn’t wish on Osama Bin Laden, let alone my own worst enemy. Still, I survived their baby years, and more importantly, so did they!
I did however, fall into the trap of a lot of new mothers, the old chestnut of putting yourself at the bottom of the pile. The kids usually come first, then the partner, then work (if you are working), then yourself. Pretty soon you can find yourself still yet to ‘shed the baby belly’; tired, irritable, resentful and (in my case anyway) still wearing maternity bras despite giving up breast feeding at the 6 month mark – meanwhile that ‘newborn’ is almost 2.5!
Behold – “The Rules”…
- Put yourself first
- Put your partner second
- Put your kids third
- Put everything and everyone else in order according to what works for you.
Yes I hear you, I hear you – a thousand BUTs just energetically came and slapped me on the face. It’s HARD to put yourself before your kids, I get it. And for some of us it’s also hard to put yourself before your partner too. Stay with me for a sec, look at these scenarios:
- You lash out and buy yourself a facial, and your partner agrees to mind the kiddies on a Saturday morning for a WHOLE THREE HOURS. You meet your best pal, also childless that morning for an uninterrupted breakfast, followed by a walk along the beach, finishing with an entire hour of delicious-ness at your local beauty therapist; versus
- You’re awoken on a Saturday morning by the insistent screams of your toddler at 5.54am, you glance over to see your partner peacefully sleeping beside you, apparently gone deaf overnight as he didn’t hear the toddler waking up SIX TIMES (teething!). You sigh resignedly, stretch your weary bones and stumble out of bed. You attend to the toddler, only to find Mr 4 has emptied his entire wardrobe and toy box out onto the floor. You just don’t have the energy to sort that out, nor the time really because the teething toddler is hungry and cranky and bawling AGAIN! You take her into the kitchen and whilst looking at the fridge you realise that Mr 4 is due at a birthday party at 9.30 that morning when you were supposed to go for a walk with your neighbour. Instead you’ll be juggling two kids out the door before 9am (partner has an early golf game) and rush to get a present prior to the party.
Sound familiar ladies? Which mother do you think will finish their Saturday with enough energy, love and thankful-ness to actually be able to get through arsenic hour (dinner/bath/bed) with a smile on her face whilst planning on making love to her husband later? See, the rules may sound harsh, but the reality is as a mother if you don’t ‘fill yourself up’ and give to yourself first, you usually have about as much energy as a used condom with not much to give to anyone.
Ok, I’ll get off my high horse now and actually answer Veggie Mama’s questions. A lot of mothers actually feel a little ‘trapped’ and just can’t see a window of opportunity for exercising as they are either at home with small kids, at the park with small kids, at swimming lessons, school pickup etc etc. Here are just a few ways you can incorporate exercise into your busy life, whilst the kids are still entertained, or asleep, or joining in the fun. Remember The Rules – give to yourself first!
Please ensure prior to commencing anything beyond a pram stroll, that you get clearance from your GP to exercise – it’s usually safe to resume exercise 12 weeks after giving birth, but you’ll need clearance if your baby is still around the 12 week mark.
- DANCE! Make yourself a playlist of your favourite upbeat tunes (I’m a 90s dance music tragic) and throw your iPod on and crank up those tunes! Who cares if you can’t dance to save yourself, the only possible audience you will have will be your children and they will think you are AMAZING! Get them to join in, get loose, get sweaty, get pumped. Lift the kids up and swing them around for 3 sets of 5 at a time. Practice your Running Man or Gangnam moves, shake your booty. The more energetic the better – 20 mins of that and BOOM there’s your cardio workout.
- AT-HOME CIRCUIT It is amazing what you can achieve circuit-wise once you get creative. Set up 5-8 stations for yourself, get the kids to join in or throw them in front of the box for 30 mins. Start off with 30 sec stations, 15 sec rest between each. Working up to as much as 2 min stations with 15 sec rest between each. Here’s just a few suggestions:
- Skip – you don’t even need a rope, just pretend to skip with a fake one – warning though ladies, Tena lady pads may be your best friend to start with if the ol’ pelvic floors are a little weak.
- Air squats (I’m aiming on doing little tutorials on my blog but for now search for any of these exercises on Youtube, there’s plenty of examples out there). Just ensure you keep your chest up, knees out and butt OUT, like you’re trying to find a chair with it. Squeeze your buns tight when you straighten up and keep your belly tight too!
- Push-ups, start on your knees or up against a wall depending on your upper body strength.
- Bicep curls with a wall sit. No dumbells? No problem! Use a filled 2 litre bottle and alternate arms at the same time as sitting against a wall, knees at a 90 degree angle, back flat against the wall. This BURNS baby, in all the right places!
- Ab crunches, cycles, plank –work that core baby. Now it’s really important for those very fresh new mums to get GP clearance. If your abs haven’t come back together after the birth, you’ll need to avoid these types of exercises.
- Who needs weights when you have a baby in a sling or Baby Bjorn? Try squatting with them on board for added load to the legs. Just make sure you hold onto a chair at first, to ensure you balance is ok.
There are so many more exercises I could bang on with, but this is already a post of epic proportions. Feel free to leave a comment to ask me for more if needed!
- PARK WORKOUT – well aside from the obvious one of walking the kiddies in a pram, you can pretty much do all of the exercises above out in the park too. Who cares if you’re the only mum squatting whilst pushing your kid on the swing? You’ll be the one feeling fabulous back in your size 10 skinnys, whilst the chicks smirking at you over their muffins at the park will be going up a size. Rarely do I see mums in the park alone anyway, so team up with a pal and take turns minding kiddies/exercising, you won’t feel so self conscious.
- WALKING – If you have one of those sporty prams, like a 3-wheeler (not sure what’s ‘in’ these days sorry) then you can attach a strap to the handles, and whilst walking with it, actually push the pram away with you with a bit of force, then pull and catch it with the wrist strap. Just a little work for the chest and triceps. Also try to find as many hills as you can, and go UP them. Try walking at a brisk pace, venturing into a jog if you dare, who knows, you may end up running after a few attempts!
With any exercise, make sure to maintain a strong core. This helps with balance, posture, injury avoidance, as well as helping to reduce the baby belly.
Oh and one more tip – slip a bracelet or colourful hair elastic on your wrist. As you become aware of it throughout the day, suck in your gut and hold it in until you forget about it again. Slip the bracelet/elastic to the other wrist until the next time you notice it, and repeat. Another little trick for belly strengthening as well as being mindful/present throughout the day – which can be hard to do for sleep deprived harassed mummies! You can also squeeze your butt too – that’s for you Veggie Mama, we’ll get you a rock hard uplifted butt again –or my arse is grass!
If you’re in Sydney and you would like Linda to come and personally whip you into shape, I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear from you! Find her here.