The first eight weeks of being a mommy were bliss in many ways, despite the sheer exhaustion, leaking boobs, and generalized sense of zombie-dom. I loved having a pass to get out of working out — is that a terrible thing to admit? But once my doctor gave me the okay to start a fitness routine, the panic set in. Suddenly, I wasn’t not-allowed to move, so I felt like I had to. And sure, light housework or dancing around the living room with my tiny one were valid starts, but they were hardly targeted workouts. I had at least ten pounds to go before I was back to my pre-baby weight — and a mushy midsection — so I became eager to get moving.
With a baby who rarely sleeps during the day, and the outside temps so frigid we didn’t go for a walk until she was over 3-months-old, I was at a loss. How was I going to get a workout in (short of heading out for the gym at 8 p.m. when my husband gets home from work? Ugh). I reached out to a fit mom’s group I’m in on Facebook for tips, and some of what they suggested was awesome. Some of it was absolutely comical; I remain convinced that certain tactics only work with babies who don’t move or scream, or with moms who moonlight as Olympic-level gymnasts. So here it is — the good, the bad, and the absolutely ridiculous:
Workout move: Do crunches with your baby resting on your legs!
This was absurd. Whose baby is into this? Who has abs 8 weeks postpartum? Not only did my baby scream the entire time, but I was so nervous about supporting her head that I could barely get a crunch in. That said, once I had her wedged in a way that felt secure, and attempted that first one, I exploded into a sort of exasperated, exhausted giggle. I maintained a steady, challenging yoga practice throughout my pregnancy, but my abs are just not done healing. Major props to the moms who are ready to sit up and etch those abs right away, but I am not among you.
Workout move: Put her in the baby carrier and do an aerobic workout On Demand.
Okay, so this was kind of cute. It took about 20 minutes to strap her into the carrier, because for some reason I wanted it to happen in a wrap instead of a more structured option. I was envisioning those Pinterest women with their babies happily hanging out in a silken sling while skinny Mom does high kicks or balances on one toe. I call this one a semi-success because I did find a decent aerobic workout set On Demand, and I worked up a sweat. But I held the back of her head with one hand the entire time out of fear, and I definitely was not following along with every move.
Workout move: Lift baby up in the air in a targeted sequence to work out your arms.
Granted, this is not a full-body workout, but Willow absolutely loves soaring above my head. (I soon found that with these mommy-and-me workout moves, half the battle has been won if your baby is happy while you attempt to do the move). Once we got comfortable with these moves, we were able to explore similar ones, like doing the lifts while walking around the apartment and engaging my core. It might not be a full-on workout, but it’s a definite start.
If all else fails, get a footstep tracker or download an app on your phone, pick up the baby, and walk around. I also have found that doing housework vigorously with one hand, while it looks ridiculous, can work up a minor sweat. I squat down to pick up a handful of laundry, toss it in, and squat back down. I walk to the elevator, back to the apartment, and back to the elevator again. To the outside world, I’m sure I look like a total crazy person. But at 16 weeks out and nary a trip to the gym, I am almost bikini-ready. Watching your food intake also makes a difference, but if you want that piece of chocolate, strap the baby on and get moving first. Good luck!
Photos: Jenny Studenroth