Being a mum is a tough job, but the most rewarding! I also believe, ‘Happy Mum, Happy Family’! If you are feeling good about yourself, if you have lots of energy and if you are eating well, you are more likely to be happy in general, which will reflect on your kids and your partner.
Before you start any exercise you need to think about the following:
- If you are a new mum and just getting back into exercise after birth, it is best to have a check-up from your GP or obstetrician to ensure you are OK to exercise. You don’t want to rush back into it, if it means you will do long term damage. I wouldn’t be doing any of these exercises before your 6 weeks check up.
- Make sure you have a good, supportive sports bra.
- Ensure you wear the correct footwear. You can’t expect to get results when wearing incorrect shoes. You won’t activate the right muscles and you won’t get as much out of the exercises. Back pain, knee pain hip pain etc, can sometimes be a cause of wearing the wrong shoes. Make the investment, so you can exercise properly and get the best results you can. Go get professionally fitted. It’s worth the investment. Check out Footpro http://www.footpro.com.au/ or Athletes Foot.
- If you haven’t exercised in a while or are pregnant, take it easy to start with and make sure you also have the OK to exercise from your doctor.
- Make sure you keep your pelvic floors turned on and don’t forget to always pull your belly button back towards your spine and hold it there – ALL THE TIME, not just when you are exercising!
- Make sure you wear comfy clothes
- Make sure you have a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated
- Wear sunscreen & a hat!
- Have fun, if you have the kids with you, make it a game!
Now that all that is out of the way, let’s get on with the exercises!
So how can exercise help?
- Give you more energy
- Help you burn calories, even after you have finished exercising
- Be incidental – at home, out & about, even with the kids
- Be a great stress reliever
- Give you Vitamin D, fresh air and a clearer head if you are doing it outside!
What exercises are best for me?
- Cardio training– walking, running, skipping, swimming, riding – you don’t need expensive gym memberships to do any of these things.
- Walk with the pram, push it up some hills, walk faster and then slower with it
- Go running with or without the pram. If you don’t have the pram mix it up with shorter/faster runs and then longer/slower runs. Ensure you do some interval training as well – as that is the best cardio exercise to burn calories. Interval training is when you sprint as fast as you can for either a distance (say from 1 lamp post to the 5th lamp post) or for a set amount of time – 1min – but you want to be really out of breath and can’t sprint any longer. Then you recover, get your heart rate back down to a comfortable level. And then repeat. This is a great workout to do if you are short of time – eg 20mins of intervals can be equivalent to 40mins of just jogging. Challenge yourself with time and distance. Do the same route for 2-3 weeks, but then try and do it faster!
- Skipping – buy a skipping rope and skip! Do it with the kids. Skip fast, skip slow. I bet you haven’t done it since you were a kid.
- Swimming – at the local pool, or at the beach. Do some fast laps, do some slow laps, get a kick board and do some kicking
- Riding – if you have a bike, put your helmet on and go riding – make the gears harder and then easier, go up and down hills if you live near some.
- Strength training– this will help to tone you up – to get great legs, a tight bum, great shoulders, arms & tummy – but you won’t bulk up unless you are doing loads of heavy weights for hours a day! Strength or conditioning training is SO importance for burning calories. The more muscle you build (not bulk out!), the more calories you will burn after exercising. Your muscles work harder, when you are challenging them, which in turn burns more calories! When doing strength training, you don’t want to stop when it starts to hurt. That is your muscles switching on. You want to keep doing the exercise – the burning sensation is good – it means your muscles are working and the results will start to kick in. When training yourself, just think when I can’t possibly do any more ‘squats’, cause it hurts SO much, then just do 5 more! And really go for it.
Here are 5 basic exercises that will burn calories and get you toned up and looking hot! All you will need is a step/bench, or a stable chair:
- Stand with feet hip width apart
- Go to sit on an imaginary chair
- Keep your knees behind your toes, with your weight on your heels
- As you come out of the move, squeeze your butt cheeks together
- Stand with your feet slightly apart & take a big step forward, keeping your feet on imaginary train tracks
- Bend your knees, so you have approx. 90 degrees at the front, 90 degrees at the back
- Keep your chest up, back straight, shoulders back
- Step back to the starting point and repeat on the same leg
2 options: On your knees, or on your toes
- Hands a little wider than shoulder width apart
- Keep your tummy tight
- Bend your elbows and go towards the floor, keeping your head in line with your body.
- Imagine a hot guy (partner/hubby!) underneath you and you want to give him a big kiss!
- Breathe in as you go down and out as you push up
- Find a bench, ledge, or stable chair
- Put your hands on the bench, with your fingers facing forwards and your knees at 90 degrees. The further out your legs are from your body, the harder it will be
- Keeping your elbows behind, dip down, keeping your back straight
- Don’t lock your arms out on the way back up
- Come up and repeat
2 options: Either on your knees or on your toes
- With your elbows on the ground, making sure your elbow is in line with your shoulder
- Push your belly button to your spin
- Hold for as long as you can, and then each day add another 5-10 seconds to your time.
- If you are on your knees, do not cross your feet over.
What else can I do?
- Always make your workouts different – test your body, don’t let it get used to doing the same thing over and over again. ‘The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect to get results.’
- Don’t weigh yourself - I know this is how most of you will want to measure success of and your progress to losing weight. This is really the worst thing you can do when you start exercising! I have trained so many women, that can lose a dress size, but haven’t changed on the scales. WHY? The reason for this is your weight shows your current levels of body fat, muscle, hydration status (fluid levels!) and the weight of your organs, bones, blood etc. Therefore if you drink more water, you will gain weight. If you build more muscle, you will gain weight. However these things can off-set losses in body fat. Long term you will see the scales decrease, but it is not something you should be measuring on a daily or weekly basis. Muscle weighs more than fat, which is another reason not to hop on the scales, as you will be building muscle when you exercise. The more muscle you build (not bulk out!), the more calories you will burn after exercising. So how can I measure progress? Take your measurements, pick a piece of clothing you want to fit into, or want to feel more comfortable in. Let that be your guide. Take some photos if you want too.
- Stretching - is REALLY important to re-lengthen your muscles after exercising, so that you don’t exercise on shortened muscles.
- Eat well 80% of the time – think about the combination of good carbs, good fats and protein at each meal.
- Don’t think about going on a ‘diet’, think about it as a lifestyle change.
- Stay away from sugar and diet or low fat foods, as they are full of sugar. It’s not fat that makes you fat, its sugar that makes you fat. Take all sugar out of your diet for two weeks and see how much better you feel – that is – cakes, biscuits, fruit, cereals, fizzy drinks, yoghurts, most breads, pasta etc. There are LOADS of alternatives.
- Take wheat and dairy out of your diet and notice how much more energy you have and how much less bloated you feel. There are Loads of alternatives.
- Exercise in the mornings. I do it while my daughter is still asleep (most of the time) in bed, and my hubby is still home. Then it is over and done with for the day. It will give you more energy to get through the day, as well as make you more productive!
- If you want to get results, give it 110% each time you exercise. The key is to PUSH as hard as you can. Make your workout count, especially if you are short on time, which most of us are!
- Have fun, enjoy yourself and have a positive CAN DO attitude!
Amanda Ferguson is the owner of Blue Sky Health & Fitness in Bayside Melbourne. Subscribe to Amanda's blog http://www.blueskyfitness.com.au/health-fitness/ for regular updates, hints and tips on all things exercise, staying fit and healthy and all while juggling motherhood. Amanda also has a website http://www.blueskyfitness.com.au and if you are in Bayside, Melbourne go and try one of her workouts..