If you’re just joining us, we’ve been following new mom Laura as she experiences the ups and downs of exercise and motherhood. Read Laura’s first post here and then check out her second post here. Today’s post highlights a struggle that most moms can relate to – “no time to exercise.”
Honestly, since last Monday, I have been really swamped with work, meetings, more meetings, and then vacation. I did do a little running over the last week. Last Sunday I ventured out on the greenway near our house to find that it was more off-roading from recent storms, but the challenge was fun and the stroller, pup and I made it through. I probably made it 3 miles running off and on, but it was a good effort.
Wednesday I took our daughter on our new weekly run with Trophy Brewing Co.’s run club. I had lots of support from the others in the club because 1) It was really warm that evening and 2) I was making decent time while pushing a large stroller with a 20-pound baby.
Father’s Day weekend we went to the beach with both sets of grandparents and a good run was a nice break in the action and a chance for me to get out and have some alone time. As I was starting I had some knee pain that I was able to get through and run about 30 minutes.
As for the gym workouts, honestly I didn’t do any. As mentioned before I have been swamped at work and, of course, the first things to go were the workouts. Yesterday was no better, but today I made an effort to find the time to get into the gym. I did a modified elliptical workout and then the trusty 10-minute circuit that Jenn gave me.
I tried the 5-minute baby workout last week, and aside from my daughter being 20-pounds and difficult to get “around the world” it was good. Definitely a workout for the arms and the added weight to the wall sit was certainly felt in all the right places. She will be turning 8 weeks this weekend and she is getting more mobile by the day – I should add a modification to the workout that includes retrieving her from underneath the couch or wherever she’s lodged herself.
Last week was my second week back at running club and I think it is already getting easier. Initially it was somewhat awkward because I’m the only mom in this group with lots of non-baby, fast running, young adults. But, after they got to know my daughter and me they were very supportive and love to coo about how cute she is. Having the crowd (honestly it was mostly women rooting me on, but my husband was also a big cheerleader) really made me feel great and really made my excited to come back and continue with the club.
I find that the real problem is finding the time. A perfect example was last week when I just couldn’t justify the time at the gym. I admittedly use the meetings and crazy schedule as a reason to miss workouts. But what really made me inspired is that I missed them. There wasn’t the relief that I didn’t have to workout, but the remorse that I didn’t get to. I really missed that feeling of craving the sweaty workouts and the feeling after that I used to have. Hopefully I have put myself back on the right track.
Fit for Expecting’s Expert Feedback:
Life is always throwing challenges our way and what you’re experiencing is very common among moms – the busy mom’s life with seemingly no time to exercise. While you might not realize it, you’ve already stepped over a huge hurdle – you KNOW how important working out is for your health and when you don’t exercise you miss it. Life will continue to challenge you and your time will continue to be limited. I believe that flexibility is part of a sustainable, healthy exercise program. Acknowledge that there are days or weeks when you’ll have no time to exercise, or at least the kind of time you’re used to. During those especially busy times, do something even if all you can do is plank for 1 minute and find ways to be active throughout your day – park farther away from your office, take the stairs (even if it’s just a flight or two), squat with your daughter when you reconnect with her at the end of the day, do some push-ups on the counter while preparing dinner. Don’t let these busy times derail your exercise program. Give yourself a break on days when you truly don’t have the time to exercise. On other days when you do have the time but you’re looking for excuses not to…those are the days when you need to remind yourself why you exercise, put on your workout clothes and get to the gym.
Here are some ideas to help with the knee pain:
- Try starting off with walk-jog intervals before breaking into a run.
- Make sure you are wearing properly fitted shoes. Hopefully you’ve purchased new shoes since delivering your daughter – many of my postpartum clients make the mistake of wearing the same shoes they wore throughout pregnancy.
- Try using a foam roller to roll out your quads, IT band and hamstrings before and after you run. Ashley Borden has a great rolling out guide.
Most women, at some point during their pregnancy, experience back pain. Back pain can range from minor nuisance to full-on debilitating. Several factors influence pregnancy back pain, including: bad posture, change in center of gravity, improper lifting and body mechanics and weak abdominal muscles. Click here to read a previous post about these factors and how to use exercise to help.
We love this trick because it’s easy, requires minimal equipment and provides much-needed pain relief. All you need is a tennis ball and a wall. Watch the video below to get started…
In addition to working in the perinatal health field, I’m also personally passionate about all things related to perinatal health and I happen to be pregnant myself right now. As you might imagine, I have countless books on a multitude of topics related to perinatal health, including several nutrition books. I’ve also taken nutrition courses at UC Davis and UCLA, so while I’m not anywhere near being a registered dietitian, I have a pretty good handle on the subject.
This book is an invaluable resource for women of childbearing age. In fact, the term “book” doesn’t really do it justice. It’s more like an encyclopedia of nutrition knowledge that all women of childbearing age should own and refer to specific sections as they are experiencing the different phases of childbearing.
While I sat down and read it cover to cover, I don’t think that’s the best way to read the book. Let’s take, for example, a mom in her first trimester. She should focus on reading the sections on general prenatal nutrition as well as the first trimester section. As she enters her second trimester, she can move onto the second trimester section and so on as she progresses. This way, she avoids information overload and focuses on the information that’s applicable to her and her baby at that moment.
Here’s what I like about the book and why I’d recommend it to any woman of childbearing age:
- Contains a wealth of information all in one place – No need to buy a variety of books or look at various sites on the internet to gather the information.
- Comprehensive – Not only does it include nutrition information, but it also includes other information related to healthy fertility, pregnancy and post-pregnancy including exercise, prenatal care, and what’s happening inside of the body.
- Understandable and relatable – It’s not written with confusing scientific words that most women wouldn’t understand. The author also brings in her own personal experiences and shares stories and insight from other moms, which makes the book feel like it’s written by a friend just for you.
- Accurate – This one might seem odd, but you’d be surprised how much incorrect information is shared in books, magazines and on the internet. As I said, I’m not a registered dietitian, but from what I do know, Bridget Swinney is spot on with the information she includes in the book. Since my focus is on exercise, I carefully read the information included on exercise and I’m proud to say that it’s accurate and even includes some of the information that I share with my clients.
- Specific foods and meal plans – Many nutrition resources just tell you the nutrients you need (i.e. iron) and might suggest a few foods that contain the nutrient, but that’s pretty much it. This book includes a tremendous amount of specific foods and also suggests sample meal plans. I love this feature because I think it makes it that much easier for moms to stick to a healthy diet. They don’t have to do the work themselves of looking at all of the nutrients, finding foods that contain them and then putting together a meal plan.
- Inclusive – The book isn’t just written for women having one narrow definition of a “normal” childbearing experience. It includes sections on PCOS, dad’s role, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and high-risk pregnancy conditions.
Eating Expectantly gets a HIGHLY RECOMMEND from Fit for Expecting.
It would be the perfect book to give as a gift or to buy for yourself and then when you’re done having kids, pass along to a friend. Eating Expectantly can be purchased online at http://www.eatingexpectantly.com/.
What you wear when working out during pregnancy isn’t about looking good. Choosing the right exercise ensemble will give you support, comfort, properly regulate your body temperature and reduce your risk of injury. What you wear while working out IS important for both you and your baby.
Let’s break down the essentials:
The value and importance of a properly fitted sports bra cannot be overstated. During pregnancy, most women experience an increase in the size of their breasts. Breasts are often sensitive and tender. A properly fitted bra should be supportive, without causing any pain or impediment to your breathing. Don’t just keep wearing your pre-pregnancy sports bra because you’re ashamed to go into the store and get a larger size. Try on several different brands until you find one that works for you. Don’t settle for the first one you try on or the cheapest you can find. Our fit moms are currently in the process of evaluating sports bras for pregnancy. The verdict’s still out on the final winner, but as of now signs are pointing to Champion as the brand most preferred. To cast your vote, visit our Facebook page.
I’m keeping this general because the most important point to emphasize here is that you want to make sure your top selection allows you to stay at a comfortable temperature – not too hot and not too cold. Layers are great because you can remove and add as needed. Some moms are able to continue wearing their pre-pregnancy tops, and are okay with the obvious stretching that occurs as the belly gets bigger. Others choose to buy a larger size of a pre-pregnancy style or opt for a specific prenatal top.
Chances are your choice in bottoms will vary as you progress throughout your pregnancy. In the beginning, you’ll probably be comfortable wearing pre-pregnancy bottoms. As your belly expands, you might prefer a bottom with a roll-over waist band, under the belly band, or over the belly band. Choose what feels most comfortable for you, gives you support and doesn’t compress or cause pain in your belly area.
Workout shoes during pregnancy are another very important piece of the ensemble. Properly fitted shoes that are appropriate for the specific type of exercise will give you support and reduce your risk of injury. The scenario I see far too often is women wearing the same workout shoes throughout their entire pregnancy that they wore before getting pregnant and then even worse, continuing to wear them after pregnancy. During pregnancy you gain weight, your center of gravity shifts, your joints loosen and in some cases your feet might even get larger. These factors increase the importance of getting fitted with a new pair of shoes that you can use during pregnancy (or multiple pairs depending on how active you are). It might be tempting to get cheap shoes from DSW or buy some online, but I’d encourage you to find a store that does personalized shoe fittings. I’m a big fan of Fleet Feet Sports because they do a great job fitting for shoes and they care more about what’s best for you rather than pushing the most expensive pair (this has been my experience with the Fleet Feet in my area and obviously I can’t guarantee this same experience elsewhere).
Now’s your chance to weigh-in: What are you wearing when working out during your pregnancy? What brands do you love? What brands didn’t work for you?
Getting back into exercise after pregnancy is no easy feat. Laura is a real mom who is sharing her experiences with exercise and new motherhood. If you missed her first post, click here to catch up on her story.
I finally stopped making excuses and remembered I had a small gym in my building at work. I have been able to go in there about 3 times a week for a quick 30 minute workout, post pumping, and pre-lunch-at-my-desk. The workout consists of a 10 -15 minutes of elliptical warm up and then Jenn’s 10 minute circuit. I hate to reveal that I’m a big sweater, but after these little workouts I’m really sweating!
In the evenings, I really have the best intentions to do the baby-and-me circuit but pulling on sneakers again and sweating again doesn’t seems appealing, and I spend most of my time feeding my daughter and catching up with my husband. I will try and put a little more effort into it this coming week. Promise.
Last Saturday I did go on a long walk/jog with my daughter in the jogging stroller, and the pup on a leash (we all survived) and even that little run really felt great! I also felt really empowered because I was able to wrangle all those elements at once and not injure anyone.
That same Saturday night, my husband (who is working on a couch to 5k) and I were invited to a run club event downtown Raleigh on Wednesday night. It was at Trophy Brewery if there are any Raleigh-ites readings. My husband couldn’t make it, but with a pit in my stomach I went with jogging stroller and baby in-tow. We made it the 3-mile route, it was definitely a challenge, and there were some parts where I walked. But we made it.
I should be forth-right and tell you I have been on Weight Watchers for the last few months, mostly just to keep a record of the foods I’ve eaten and to remind myself I can’t mindlessly eat. As a breast feeding mom you get a TON of points, so there is still a lot of wiggle room while you’re getting back to “normal” eating (at least for me). I do a pretty horrible job of tracking my points on the weekends, but most weekdays I can keep a tab on them.
All in all it’s been a good week. I will say after a few days of doing the circuits, I was sitting next to the tub washing my daughter and my tush was a little sore. I thought “ohh, that is a nice feeling! I haven’t felt soreness in my muscles in a while, this might be working!”
Expert Feedback/Recommendations from Fit for Expecting:
- Great job incorporating exercise into your busy mommy life!
- Exercising in the gym at work is a great way to get exercise out of the way so you don’t need to worry about it after you get home. I recommend that you stick with exercising at work, make the best of your workouts there and then you can relax and enjoy your family in the evening. I put together a 26 minute elliptical workout that you can do a few days each week. Try doing this workout 3 days and then the circuit the other 2 days.
- Great job doing the weekend walk/jogs! To make your sessions more effective, you could try including intervals. So, for example, jog for 5 minutes and walk for 2 minutes. Keep alternating for the duration of your session. Once you get more comfortable running, you can add sprint intervals to the mix. You can set up intervals however you’d like – some people who run in a city/suburb environment will run for a certain number of blocks and then walk for a few.
Fit for Expecting is launching a new blog series of real moms sharing their experiences and challenges with exercise and motherhood. At the end of each post, our experts weigh in with their tips and recommendations to help them reach their goals and overcome the challenges they’re facing.
Hi everyone! My name is Laura. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband, our dog, and 7-month-old little girl. I Commute 45-50 minutes twice a day to Durham, North Carolina where I work at an affiliate of Duke Medical Center.
As a recovering overweight teenager, I turn to food in times of happiness, sadness, tiredness, or any excuse to eat. I have learned better things to eat, but sometimes fail in making good choices.
While in college, I made the decision one day that I was going to take charge of my health and change my outlook on food and exercise. I lost 40 pounds over one summer and a semester.
In the years leading up to my first pregnancy, I had lost and gained weight, wavered between running 45 miles a week to zero miles a week and everything in between. I’ve run a handful of 5Ks and 8Ks before I got out of “running shape.” Immediately before I was pregnant, I began a serious weight-loss program, lost 25 pounds and was attending intense spinning classes 3 times a week. I was in the best health of my life and felt great. This was the best time to get pregnant because my body was in peak health to carry and grow my baby.
When I last checked, I was about 10-15 pounds from my ideal pre-pregnancy weight and, like many other new moms, everything is still very “squishy” and out of its original place. I have made strides to bring workouts into the home with yoga DVDs, the corresponding yoga mat, walks an the occasional 3 mile run, where is it blatantly obvious that I am very out of shape.
I make excuses for not working out everyday, or even the measly 3 days a week that I would like. My biggest excuse is that I drive at least 1.5 hours everyday and am able to spend 3 hours with my daughter on a good day. These 3 hours are the most meaningful and important times for me, which is why I have made it a priority over going to the spin classes that I loved and craved. I enjoy having an early dinner, so after nursing my daughter and putting her to bed for her 7:15 PM bedtime I don’t feel the urge to workout, I would rather spend time with my husband and relax from the long day.
I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences as a working, commuting, nursing mommy. I hope it will encourage me to get back on to the proverbial exercise horse, and lay the groundwork to show my daughter how important and fun exercise is to our health and happiness.
Lots of moms out there can identify with the struggles that come with being a mother and having a full-time career outside of the home. I applaud you for your commitment to finding ways to exercise while balancing a demanding work and home life.
You might want to try out splitting up your daily exercise into two short workouts. For example, do a quick 10 minute circuit in the morning before leaving for work and then a workout where you use your daughter as the weight when you get home. Click here for an example of a baby weight workout.
One way to measure your progress without stepping on the scale is to do regular fitness tests, such as the plank test. Hold a plank for as long as you can and record your time. Repeat the test once a week and then after a month, look at your times to see if you’ve been able to gradually increase the amount of time that you can hold the plank.
Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle. I’d also recommend keeping a food journal. It’s a great way to keep yourself on track, especially since you have a history of food issues. At the end of the week, take a look at the journal and identify potential issues and opportunities to improve the following week. Often times you can identify areas that need improvement on your own, but if you feel like you need professional help or want a detailed analysis done on your eating, visit a registered dietitian in your area. Click here to find a registered dietitian near you.
To answer your questions about postpartum depression, we have with us today Dr. Duncan Wigg and Jennifer Johnson. Dr. Wigg is a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist and has developed the Postpartum Distress program at Pepperdine University’s Community Counseling Center. Jennifer Johnson is a perinatal exercise specialist and founder of Fit for Expecting. Dr. Wigg and Jennifer Johnson have partnered to revolutionize the treatment of postpartum depression with an integrative care model of exercise and psychotherapy.
Q: What’s the difference between “baby blues” and “postpartum depression”?
A: Research indicates that baby blues is a minor affective disorder that occurs during the first postpartum week, with symptoms that include mood instability, sleep disturbance, a sense of emotional fragility, and tearfulness. May last for several weeks, but does remit. Reportedly affects 60-80% of mothers. On the other hand, postpartum depression, affecting 10-15% of mothers is characterized by extreme mood emotional fragility, intense sadness, overwhelming fatigue, severe sense of isolation and loneliness, inconsolable tearfulness and crying and sense of hopelessness. The psychotic features sensationalized in the media are quite rare. These features can last many months and may require professional intervention to facilitate remission.
Q: When should you seek help and how do you find it?
A: Any of the aforementioned emotions and experiences are worth addressing with your health care provider. Do not hesitate to speak to friends, family and those that you count on to assist you in putting these experiences in perspective. You may find that others have had similar experiences and can speak to steps they took to resolve the fear and confusion surrounding the unexpected emotional phenomenon of motherhood. The frequency of mothers who have experienced postpartum depression (10-15%) is sufficiently significant such that there is a great deal of familiarity with this emotional phenomenon to include steps to take to seek professional emotional assistance.
If few referral resources are available to a mother suffering from postpartum depression, she, and her family can contact Postpartum Support International for resources and psychological referrals. Research also indicates that mothers struggling with postpartum depression benefit not only from individual and family psychotherapy, but can also benefit significantly with a program of structured exercise supervised by a perinatal exercise specialist.
Q: How does exercise help to treat and reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression?
A: Research has shown that a structured and supervised exercise program can be very effective in the treatment of and in reducing the risk of developing postpartum depression. It is an attractive option for many pregnant and nursing moms because it does not involve the use of medication which can be harmful to the baby.
A properly structured and supervised exercise program …
- Gives moms a break from the 24/7 job of caring for a newborn
- Reduces feelings of anxiety and stress
- Improves body image and self esteem
- Provides social support
- Decreases physical and mental fatigue
- Increases mood enhancing endorphins
Dr. Wigg and Jennifer Johnson are available for speaking engagements on this topic. To book them for your next meeting, convention or workshop, please email email@example.com.
After pregnancy, your core needs a lot of TLC. Even active moms complain about the tone, strength (or lack thereof) and outward appearance of their core muscles. To help get you on the right track, I’ve created a weekend core workout. This one’s just for non-expecting moms. If you are pregnant, click here for the prenatal core challenge.
Click on the image below for a larger view of the core workout. Have fun!
Having a strong core is important during pregnancy. During pregnancy, a strong core supports your spine and protects your back against pain and discomfort. Strong abdominals are needed during labor to help push your baby out. Not all core exercises are appropriate during pregnancy, so it’s important to stick to safe exercises that will help you build a strong core.
I’ve created a weekend prenatal core challenge for expecting moms. Click on the image for a larger view. Enjoy!
Lower back pain is a very common complaint among moms (pregnant moms included). Exercise can help a lot in preventing and relieving back pain. Quite often, especially for moms with little ones, the source of back pain can be traced to poor posture, improper lifting technique and/or weak abdominals.
Posture awareness exercise: Stand against a wall, with back of head, shoulders, buttocks and heels touching the wall. There should be a small space between the wall and your lower back. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your lower back. Feel how much space there is between your back and the wall. Inhale. Exhale scoop your pelvis under (perform a pelvic tilt). You should feel the space decrease. Repeat five times.
Lifting technique: Mayo Clinic has a slideshow on their website explaining proper lifting technique: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00004_D.
Try these techniques when picking up your babies/toddlers and toys around the house. It will make a big difference in your back pain.
Exercise to strengthen abdominals: The plank is a very effective exercise at strengthening your core. Plus, since your abdominals are being pulled down by gravity, you have a built in reminder of what you’re strengthening. Get into the plank position (either with extended arms or on forearms) and hold for 15 seconds. Rest and then repeat four times. As you get stronger, increase the time you hold the plank – 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute.
Before you do this or any other exercise post-pregnancy, check for diastasis recti, a separation of the recti muscles that can occur during pregnancy or delivery. Check out our resources page for instructions on how to check yourself for diastasis recti. If you have diastasis recti, you need to perform special recovery exercises before beginning a regular exercise program. Fit for Expecting can design a recovery program for you. We work with women across the globe and have successfully corrected large and small separations. To get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org.