How to get fit as a new mum
Losing weight and getting fit the safe way post baby
GUEST POST By Rosemary Marchese
Mums give birth all over the world every day. They just do it. You can read every book there is but one way or another you just end up giving birth. But the exercise and ‘getting back into shape’ part that comes afterwards can be a little trickier.
You’ve just had your body go through this mammoth effort to give life to this human miracle. Your body, and even your mind, needs time to recover from that. But long gone are the days where we encourage mums to do no exercise with the fear of it being ‘bad’ for them.
While it is super important to not rush into any inappropriate exercise too soon, a lot of mums I meet live in unnecessary fear of exercise after giving birth. Postnatal exercise has so many potential benefits, including:
- increased cardiovascular fitness
- improved mental and emotional wellbeing of the mother
- improved lipid profiles and insulin response.
And weight loss?
One of the reasons I started writing my latest book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’ was because lots of mums ask me about how to lose weight. My answer is ‘Focus on the twin powers of health - fitness and nutrition - and the right weight loss will come’. What do I mean by that? Well, so many mums focus just on the ‘eating right’ part so that their baby gets the right nutrients if they are breastfeeding or simply because they want to ‘lose weight’. This is great and should definitely be applauded. However what these mums are not realising is that by avoiding exercise they are actually doing their body harm.
Yes, they may ‘lose weight’ on the scales. But this is just a number. What you are losing when you just focus on eating right is muscle. So, on the scales your ‘number’ might reduce but you are not necessarily doing this in a healthy way. Muscle weighs more than fat so it’s only natural that the number on the scales will drop as you eat right but are doing nothing to maintain a healthy level of muscle tone.
If you have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and your body is recovering day-by-day quite nicely, then you should speak to your doctor about starting some appropriate light-to-moderate exercise, such as walking and some light resistance exercise. Without exercise your muscles are wasting away. Muscles use energy and contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. One of the biggest contributors to these diseases is one that the media don’t find too fascinating to report. What is that? Lack of fitness.
Got no time to exercise?
I’m hearing you! Far out. Having a baby is exhausting. And you may have other children to tend to and perhaps even a job to go to. But I can’t stress the following point enough: exercise needs to be scheduled into your diary first.
The good news is that it can be lots of little short bursts of exercise during the day, especially if time or fatigue is providing little obstacles. My tips for including exercise in your day as a new mum include:
- Use the pram and walk whenever possible.
- Do 5-10 minutes of exercise straight after a feed while the baby is playing. Floor-based strengthening exercises can be great because you can be close to your baby.
- Use opportunities to make daily tasks a bit of an exercise. Try squatting when you hang out the clothes. Rather than bend over from your back to get the clothes, protect your back and squat down using your legs and butt to get you back up. If you find the floor too low to squat down to, then place the clothesbasket on a small step beside you so you don’t squat down as far. Keep your legs about shoulder width apart as you do this. If you hang 20 items of clothing that’s 20 squats! That’s a good start!
About the author:
Rosemary Marchese is a physiotherapist with over 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. She has 'trained the trainers' having written many fitness courses and the new fitness standards for Australia in 2015.
Rosemary is a successful author, with her first book The Essential Guide to Fitness now in third edition. She is a highly sought after fitness professional and presenter, both nationally and internationally, and is a subject matter expert for the Australian Institute of Fitness.
Rosemary has now released her first book for busy mums, The Fit Busy Mum: Seven Habits for Success, to inspire and empower busy mums to acknowledge that taking care of themselves is important.
Living her life by example to her three fit kids and husband, Rose knows how to keep it real and realistic and her book is designed with that in mind. In her book Rose acknowledges the role of today’s ‘superwoman’ mum and how easy it is for mums to fall into what she calls ‘The Fat Trap of Motherhood’. Through her seven habits for success Rose shares her insights into how she makes it all work so that she can be as fit as she can be within the realms of the life she chooses to lead.
The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success by Rosemary Marchese RRP: $29.95
You can also find Rosemary at:
Instagram is @rosemarymarchesefitbusymum