New Moms Find Time for Fitness

Reaching your pre-pregnancy weight isn't easy, but it's attainable.
mom holding a baby
Bottles and diapers and wipes, oh my! Like most other moms, that's what I had to contend with when my daughter was born. Add lack of sleep and learning how to take care of an infant to the list, and exercise was the last thing on my mind.

During my first few months of motherhood, I lost some weight, but none of it was connected to exercise. As time dragged on, I was headed toward one of two places: either I could let my exhausting daily routine keep me overweight, or take action and lose the 40 pounds that I gained during pregnancy. I chose to commit to regaining my pre-pregnancy shape.

“Planning ahead is crucial. Write down a workout schedule. Remember, you can only start exercising once you’re physically and mentally ready.”

Hours in the day
Reaching your pre-pregnancy weight isn't easy, but it's attainable. Part one of the challenge is having the will and discipline to exercise; part two is finding the time. Between a new baby, cooking, cleaning and running errands, where does exercise fit in?

Planning ahead is crucial. First, give your body time to heal after the ordeal of giving birth, then plan your workout schedule. While that may seem overwhelming — sure, life with a newborn is chaotic — look at your days carefully. You'll notice a pattern from which you can set aside time to exercise. Having a schedule on paper reminds you to follow through with your workout because it's planned.

Not yet convinced? Post it in a visible place, like the fridge, mark it on your calendar or include it in your planner. If you see it every day, your workout has a better chance of being something that you actually work to complete rather than something that you'll get to if the opportunity arises.

Be realistic
At the beginning, exercising every day may be too ambitious, so try to exercise two to three times a week. Eventually you can build up the frequency.

Use your baby's nap time for your workout. Many mothers (such as me) tiptoe through their chores while their babies are asleep. But it's okay to schedule those chores on your non-workout days.

If you use the time to prepare dinner here's a suggestion: Ask your husband to cook a couple of times a week. Or, have a relative bring dinner over. If you're lucky enough to have a baby that naps for extended periods of time, like an hour or two, divide the time into part housework and part working out.

Working out at home while your child is sleeping is easy. If you have access to a treadmill, elliptical cross-trainer, stationary bike or any other type of fitness equipment, what are you waiting for? Use it. If you don't, get your hands on some workout DVDs.

Join a class
A great way to find the time to exercise as a new mom is to join a mommy and baby fitness class. Whether yoga or aerobics, call your local gym or community center, and ask about their fitness classes for moms with babies. Working out with other mothers and their children will provide the regular exercise you're looking for without having to be apart from your baby. This proves useful when you can't find a sitter. Exercising with your baby will not only strengthen the bond between the two of you, but it will also get you out of the house and socializing.

Buddy up
Get yourself an exercise buddy. Find a new mom that shares your fitness objectives. Together, create a workout schedule that works for both of you. It makes exercising easy and fun. Go for walks with the kids, whether using strollers or baby-carriers. How about watching each other's babies while the other takes the time to exercise?

After dinner
If exercising during the day is impossible, your best bet may be evenings when your partner is home to watch the baby. I know that after a long day it's probably one of the last things you want to do. I, for one, would rather crash on the couch and watch TV. But, if you want to get into shape sacrifices sometimes have to be made.

Keeping fit as a new mom is not just about losing weight. It's just as important mentally as it is physically. Make it a priority. Define your exercise time as "your time." After all, as a new mom you deserve it.