Working out after having a baby (or two)

November 6, 2019

Today I put on a real sports bra. I wedged into my old athletic gear and I survived my fifth (sporadic) workout since having my second son. My heart raced and my legs burned; that was just after the warm-up.

Sidebar: Have you ever tried to run in a nursing bra? It’s not pretty.

Newsflash: I am out of shape.

I am not surprised. My babies feel heavy when I lift them out of their car seats and my back is killing me from the nighttime breastfeeding gymnastics. This mom bod is physically weak right now.

As I laid on the ground, my abdomen on fire from a handful of core moves, I realized there is still strength in my weakness. I’m still very capable, despite my exhaustion, jiggly legs and smaller (than my ideal) buns.

Am I the only one who loses my butt after having babies? I don’t love it.

Working out despite reasons not to

I didn’t want to go to the gym today, but I knew I needed to. I haven’t strength trained consistently in many months and certainly not since my baby was born. If I want to put the kibosh on my back pain and my disappearing buns, I need to put in some work.

It’s difficult to get up the courage to face your changed body in the gym and even more challenging to exercise with children in tow. Luckily for me, my husband and I own a gym where we can bring the kids to play while we work out.

Postpartum fitness means working out with your kids

Working out with my boys
Squats with my boys. They’re both here. Can you spot the baby?

Even though I can bring the kids to the gym, I don’t get sixty minutes of sweaty, focused training. I get maybe twenty collective minutes of exercise. Sometimes my toddler mimics my movements or throws balls at my head while I plank; sometimes the baby demands to be held the entire time.

Doing squats with a baby weight is doable, but try doing anything that requires a hand or two with an armful of chubby baby – it’s tough. My husband and I took turns holding the baby and pushing our toddler on the sled. It was disjointed, but fun.

I want my kids to grow up with movement as a central theme in their lives and I want to be strong enough to keep up with them. Playing with boys is a full contact sport and I need to be conditioned.

What to do if you can’t get to the gym

If it’s hard for me to get to the gym, I’m betting it’s even harder for moms without kid-friendly gym access. When you’re in deep with the kiddie circus and can’t imagine taking the show on the road, try doing something at home. You could do a few moves in your living room, while your kids climb all over you. Get in a few squats when your child is conveniently trapped in the stroller.

You don’t need a trainer or a fancy plan. Doing something, anything, more than you’re doing now will help you gain strength and become more capable in no time.

Lower the bar

If you’ve given birth, you have a new body. The body you used to know – the one that played roller derby or deadlifted two hundred pounds – is gone. I don’t mean you’ll never be strong again, it’s just different. If you expect to perform at the same level you used to, you might be disappointed.

Approach your workouts with curiosity. And don’t judge yourself. Dude, you grew and birthed a human (or humans). You are badass. If you can grow a human, you can grow a couple muscles with some effort, too. Piece o’ cake.

How long did you wait to start working out after your baby was born? If you’re still waiting, what’s holding you back?

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