Ten Tips for Postpartum Fitness: Part 2

Ten tips for postpartum fitnessAfter the birth of a baby many women are eager to feel strong, healthy, and fit. Although it is often overwhelming to know where to even start; especially when you look into the mirror and see a body you don’t recognize as your own. Additionally you are busy adjusting to having a new family member to care for and it can be hard to find the time and/or motivation even when the desire to exercise is very strong. Remind yourself that you ARE worth it AND that being healthy is a highly valuable aspiration. Investing time and energy into your health has a positive impact on both you as an individual and your entire family.

A while back I shared some Simple Postpartum Fitness tips. Here are a few more important tips to get you started.

Nutrition Counts
Honor your body by feeding it nutritionally dense (and of course delicious!) foods. I cannot emphasize this enough. Exercise is only a percentage of the equation to being healthy and fit. Your food choices will greatly impact your energy levels and your results. Keep in mind though that a healthy diet is not at all about deprivation. It is about nourishing your body with the optimal fuel it needs to function at its very best! Focus on a clean diet consisting of whole foods rather than worrying about calories, fat content, etc.

Sleep is Essential
Another HUGE piece of the puzzle is sleep. Study after study show that exercising when you are sleep deprived holds very little benefit. Your body needs adequate sleep in order to restore, regulate, and balance itself. Hormone levels are especially effected by sleep and when our hormone levels are off, a myriad of issues can ensue. In other words proper sleep trumps exercise! BUT one thing to keep in mind is that exercising actually HELPS you sleep better. So there is definitely a reciprocal relationship to the two elements of a healthy lifestyle and finding your balance is key. I know for about the first six month postpartum if I had the option between taking a 30 minute nap or exercising, I often chose the nap. At first there was a little bit of guilt associated with that, but I kept reminding myself that sleep was just as important to my health as exercise.

Practice Functional Fitness
What does this mean? You don’t have to spend countless hours at the gym or on a treadmill to be active. Instead embed activity into your everyday rhythms and routines. Simple changes can make a big difference! One easy place to start is simply walking more. Are there places you go on a regular basis that you could walk to instead of drive? Do you have a friend you can meet up with to take walks together? As a family can you take an evening or weekend? We got into the habit of taking a family walk together shortly before bedtime. My older boys ride their bikes or scooters, while the little one is in the carrier or stroller.  This has seriously increased our family wellness tenfold! Hubby and I get time to chat about our day and the boys get some fresh air and exercise right before bed (and I feel they are sleeping really well because of it!). With the winter approaching we might need to find a new rhythm, but remember that’s all part of life; being able to roll with it and adapt to the seasons of life. Which brings me to the next tip…

Focus on What You are Already Doing Right
It is easy to focus on where we feel we are falling short. Maybe you missed a workout or indulged too much over the weekend? Don’t sweat it! Seriously, just move forward. The negative energy and/or stress you place on yourself is not worth it and is counterproductive to your health. Focus on all the wonderful and great things you ARE doing! Maybe you took a walk with your baby. Or played tag with your older kids at the park while your baby napped. Or nappe with your baby. Or enjoyed a healthy meal with your family. Honor and celebrate whatever positive things you are doing for yourself. A positive mindset feeds your spirit and leads to abundant wellness. Each season in life brings you new opportunities, so embrace them fully!

Love Yourself
Don’t worry about what your neighbor who had a baby 8 days after you is doing. Don’t worry about what that celebrity on the cover of People magazine who just had a baby is doing. Focus on you. Look at your own body with loving eyes. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Appreciate all the amazing things your body has done and will continue to do. You grew a baby. You birthed a baby. You have nurtured LIFE! I made a commitment to myself that any time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I would smile and appreciate my reflection exactly as it was. It may sound kind of hokey, but that made all the difference for me. Stop any self-loathing about your postpartum body. Immediately! Your journey is unique to you. Be patient and curious about what your path to wellness will hold.

Sarah is a crunchy mama to four boys. Her family feels blessed to currently live abroad in the Netherlands and enjoy exploring all it has to offer.  She blogs about health, nutrition, and exercise at fitafter.com

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