When I checked the scale at 38 weeks pregnant, I remember thinking, “How am I ever going to bounce back from this?”
As a first time mom, I was intimidated by the idea of losing weight and the pressure of getting back into shape all while taking care of this tiny human. Looking back, I really never should have wasted time worrying. The female body is truly an amazing piece of biological art. I was in awe of my body’s natural postpartum recovery. With a realistic goal and some determination, I was able to get myself to where I want to be. At eight months postpartum, I feel stronger than ever before in my life.
No matter where you are in your motherhood journey, I am here to tell you that you CAN make your health and fitness a priority. You CAN meet your own personal goals. You CAN be a mom and be dedicated to being strong and healthy. All it takes is a little determination, motivation, and time.
From one mom to another, here are five tips to help you get into a fitness routine wherever you might be in your postpartum journey.
1. Invest in a new piece of gear
Treating yourself to a new piece of workout gear, big or small, can be exciting and help get you motivated. Whether it’s a new pair of sneakers or a $5 water bottle from Target, find something that makes you happy and pumped to attend that spin class or hit the track.
Looking to cut back on spending after your new family member’s arrival? Cut an old t-shirt to make a cute headband or tank top. Draw a fun design using a Sharpie marker on an old water bottle.
2. Plan it out
Deciding what workout to do each morning can be stressful and a waste of the already limited time you have for yourself. Instead, create a workout schedule on Sunday nights for the upcoming week. Find a fun template and either write it out or store it on your phone.
With this approach, you will know what to expect each day, making it easy to roll right into your scheduled routine. No guessing or last-minute researching.
3. Start slow and light
Even if you were a routine weight lifter pre-baby and while pregnant, it’s best to start at your lightest comfortable weight your first time back in the gym. For those who are new to weight lifting postpartum, start with three to five-pound weights at eight repetitions and slowly increase as you get stronger. The worst thing you can do is start off too heavy and burnout before your next gym session.
Working out at home? Snag a set of resistance bands on Amazon that work just as well as weights and take up little to no space.
4. Involve a friend
I personally think working out with a buddy is much more fun and motivating. Schedule gym dates with a fellow postpartum mom, plan a Peloton ride, or link up with friends on your Apple Watch’s activity feature. Share a playlist on Spotify where you can both add tunes to inspire your sessions. You’ll be surprised how quickly the time will pass when you have a friend, in IRL or virtual, to sweat it out with.
5. Practice positive self-talk
It just took you nine months to grow a human—take it easy on yourself.
Try not to be so hard on yourself when your body doesn’t look the way you remember it to be. Your body has done amazing work, and it’s gone through incredible changes. Of course, everything is different. Give yourself grace, and allow yourself time to get back into a healthy routine at a pace that fits into your new life.
Skip the gym one evening because you’re exhausted from work and daycare closed early? Don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, snuggle with that little baby and focus on trying again tomorrow.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated for timeliness.