For the last few months, I've had an almost instinctive defence mechanism to getting in shape.
It's only been 6 months! I just made a human being puh-lease!
I'm so sleep deprived! Leave me alone! I don't have time and energy for this shiz!
I already carry a baby all day, play with a toddler, breastfeed day and night, do endless chores, run around everywhere…I think I'm working out enough thanks!
Thinking about looking good when a little human being is vomitting over you and your hair is falling out is really not a priority right now…
Society has an unrealistic expectation of women seriously…
It's a miracle I have time for a shower, let alone go to the gym!
But then I recently took a step back and realised…I need to stop using motherhood as an excuse. Yes Miss E is only 6 months, BUT she's really not a newborn anymore. Yes she is attached to me 24/7 and I don't have anyone around to help look after her, BUT anything is possible if I want it to be. My life is what I make it to be. So I held back my defence mechanism with all my might and promised myself to stop saying "I can't- I have a baby!" and start saying "Sure I can do that! No problem mateeeyyyzzz…" Time to start reclaiming back my life!
Once upon a time I used to dance and be fit and flexible. It's been so many years but I've decided to try to get back to my pre-marriage fitness level. I don't want to be as skinny as I was, but I do want to be strong and flexible again, if not more than I used to be! I want to actually have a core again! I want to get back to dance classes, choreographing and making dance videos for the heck of it!
So this is how I think one can begin the journey of getting back in shape while having a totally dependent young baby:
1. Forget the large chunk of exercise, do short bursts throughout the day
Five squats while hanging laundry, ten push ups while baby is crawling/having tummy time, ten knee lifts while baby is in the carrier, twenty sit ups while waiting to see if baby will resettle to sleep…Keep doing a minute here and a minute there and it will add up!
2. Use baby as weights
Why buy weights when you have an 8 kg chunker who is demanding to be picked up and swung around? Mummy works out and baby has fun. Win win. And if you have a toddler, even better! Babies make good weights but toddlers make killer personal trainers! What I did over the weekend is try to play with my 3.5-year-old in a more physical way to try to get moving more (putting music on and dancing, picking her up and twirling her around etc). At one point I picked her up by her ankles (she is 15-16 kg), ran to her room with her hanging upside down and put her down on her bed…and then I regretted it as she loved it so much she made me do it over and over and over again. Seriously they will push you ("Again Mummyyyyy!!! Again!!!") until you threaten to send them to time out!
3. Look up YouTube videos for quick workouts
For inspiration and motivation, just look up "Mummy workouts" on YouTube and you will find so many quick options available that you can do if you have a baby who actually naps in their own bed or in a pram…or after you put them down at night. You can also look up 5 minute workout videos. Stick to super short workouts so you have energy to do everything else you need to do and don't burn out! Like I said earlier, it all adds up! Especially if you can do it more than once a day. We are so blessed to live in the digital age where we can access all these resources so easily and for free seriously. I remember buying an exercise video when I was a teenager and working out to the same routine over and over and over again. Now you can follow a different routine every day if you wanted to!
4. Ditch the car
Cardio isn't an issue for me because I don't drive. So I walk and run to catch public transport with the baby and toddler in pram on most days. It is quite the workout. Of course the bonus is that most really young babies love being walked to sleep too. I think incidental exercise is key to staying fit.
5. Eat clean
I admit being more mindful of my diet was a little bit of a challenge to me as I did eat as a stress reliever on bad days. Nothing like chocolate or ice cream to pick you up when the kids are driving you up the wall! But the effects of bad eating on the body is not hard to see. For me, I knew I was eating too much carbs and dairy and was feeling bloated and sluggish. Now I'm trying to be more conscious of eating more fruits and veggies and taking less sugar and dairy. Smoothies are a great way to start the day. I like to put oats in mine along with fruits, spinach, and nuts.
My current fitness goal
So what are my goals? Right now it's pretty simple. Just to build up my core strength again and get a strong, flat tummy and also save my back from getting hurt from carrying this heavy bubba so much! My weight is not an issue for me, it's more a lack of tone and definition. I'm also trying to stretch more throughout the day to try to start regaining some flexibility in my body.
Are you a Mummy? What are you doing for exercise?