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How much do I have to exercise?

We all know the answer that comes to mind: more than you are.

It seems like the endless parenting struggle. There will always be more to do than you can possibly do. Laundry, folding, home cooked meals, playing with your children, working, being social, picking up endless toys, exercise. We all have to make choices about what we do in our day.

Often there is so much baggage around exercise. If you want to look good, you need to exercise more (although not necessarily true). And for most of us, our mental health is better when we exercise.

I think we are all doing the best we can. With limited time and energy – if you exercise more, then something has got to give.

 

Ideally, (in a perfect world, I say that half jokingly –ha!) the Surgeon General Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week for adults, [children and teens 1 hour per day]
  • 2x/week strengthening
  • and, they recommend following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of “limiting screen time” for kids
[http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/priorities/prevention/strategy/active-living.pdf]

 

So, for moderate intensity aerobic exercise, that could look like:

Walking, jogging, bike rides, swimming, dancing, home DVDs

  • 3 x 50 minutes per week
  • 5 x 30 minutes per week
  • 7 x 21 minutes per week
  • You get the gist of it.

 

Or less………

This is where the less than ideal, but normal parenting life comes into it all.

There are some weeks (or months) where this isn’t gonna to happen.

But what if you get in x2 walks per week and x2 strengthening sessions.

Or, what if you get in x2 sessions total?

Congratulate yourself, and try to see if you can tweak your life just a little bit next week or next month to bump it up.

 

Strength Training

As for strengthening, I really do love weight lifting. I feel that having extra muscle mass helps to increase my overall metabolism and it makes me strong for lifting kids into car seats.

I think that carting around our kids counts for some of the recommended strengthening time. Squats, lunges and bicep curls are a common-place Mom activity that definitely add up.

My biceps have never looked so good from carrying a 30+ pound toddler! Once I stop lifting my daughter as she gets older, I know I will need to substitute more gym time to maintain my strength.

[http://www.makingmomstrong.com/toddler-22-pound-kettle-bell-can-get-stronger-every-lift-carry/]

 

Many women are afraid of weight lifting because they haven’t done it a lot, or are worried about “bulking up”. Trust me, if it was that easy to bulk up, then anyone who lifts weights would be Miss Olympia without hardly trying!

Now, some women will have weight lifting restrictions if they have organ prolapse, but for the rest of you, if you have access to a gym or have resistance bands at home – use them!!

 

Too many women use aerobic exercise as their main way to burn calories to lose weight, but weight lifting and good nutrition are a huge part of what your body needs to lose weight.

 

Nutrition

Meg did a great interview a few months ago with Stephanie Mull, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). Even Stephanie admits in this interview that she is leaner now than she was before kids, and so much of it has to do with eating well, and eating enough protein.

Check out the interview:

[http://www.makingmomstrong.com/interview-special-top-nutrition-tips-for-moms/ ]

 

My Recommendations for Exercise:

Before 6 weeks postpartum:

  • Congratulations on your new baby and to yourself for an amazing job so far
  • Start to get your deep core coordinated [ Deep Core Part 1 Blog ] and make sure to remember to breathe!
  • I don’t think you should add any abdominal exercises until you can breathe and hold your deep core on – otherwise you are just going to learn to cheat when you add harder exercises.
  • Walking – gently, just for stretching out and moving a little
  • Avoid bad posture
  • Survive
  • Oh, and remember to congratulate yourself for an amazing job so far

6 weeks to 6 months postpartum:

  • Coordinate AND strengthen your deep core muscles [Deep Core Part 2 etc], remember to not hold your breath
  • As your body gets stronger, walk fast enough to get your heart rate up and breath a little harder
  • Maybe do a walk-run program [ MMS walk run program ]
  • Biking (did I tell you I love biking? Low impact, I was even able to do it with my Pubic Symphysis strain after my second child )
  • Swimming
  • Gym : elliptical, gentle classes
  • Survive
  • Oh, and remember to congratulate yourself for an amazing job so far

6 months to 5+ years postpartum

  • Gradual increase to get back to everything you love
  • Remember to congratulate yourself for an amazing job so far

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Recently, Meg and I were talking about how we have both increased our activity over the years. At 5 years postpartum, Meg feels like she is still making gains in her fitness and getting back to herself.

You can too. Give yourself some time.

My daughter is 3 ½ years old now. Bike riding, 20-30 minute elliptical machine sessions, and weight training are my main exercise. If I can get in 4 total sessions a week, it’s a good week. Some weeks are only 2 times a week of exercise, but then I feel yucky and feel pretty crabby – which none of my family enjoys!!

 

Mommy Guilt

Maybe you are like me and have a lot of Mommy Guilt. Early on I felt really bad about taking more than an hour away from my kids to exercise. I didn’t want to be away from them for long periods on the weekends to ski or do long bike rides because I work Monday- Friday almost full time. Maybe it “should” have been a faster recovery in retrospect. I’m sure my kids wouldn’t have suffered as much as I imagined if I did a half day of skiing or longer mountain bike rides on the weekend.

But, I just wasn’t ready.

So what about you?

Are you consistent with x2 / week exercising? Awesome. Maybe 6 months from now it will be x3 – or not.

Shed the mommy guilt. Take some time for yourself.

 

The early years fly by. Do the best you can.

Learn to use your body well so that all of that kid lifting builds you up and doesn’t break your back.

 

That’s all we can do.

 

xx

Jennifer

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