Before I gave birth to my son, I ran almost every day. I ran in the bitter cold. I ran under the scorching sun. I rose at the crack of dawn to run before work. And in college, I even ran at 2 a.m. on the treadmill in my dorm. Running cleared my mind and kept me fit. While I wasn’t a fast runner, I was a dedicated runner, and I always imagined that I’d stay that way.
And then I became a mother. Six weeks post birth, my doctor gave me the thumbs up to exercise again, and I immediately headed to the gym. But just as I was getting into my groove, my husband called. “The baby’s hungry, and there’s no bottle in the fridge! Can you come home?”
Being a parent of a little one is not only a 24/7 role. It’s also a very physical one. While I no longer run, I find that I work my muscles 80% of the time when my son and I are together. In fact, with no formal exercise at all, I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was pre-pregnancy. If you’re a mom looking to get fit with no time to exercise, here are my favorite techniques:
Sometimes my little one refuses to sit in his stroller. Whether I offer him his favorite toy, Cheerios, or even my phone, he isn’t interested in sitting there. So, I end up wheeling the stroller, while carrying him on my hip. Carrying a 19-pound toddler down several blocks is no easy task. But, it’s a great workout, especially for my arms. I just have to remind myself to switch hips every once in awhile, so that both arms work their muscles.
When my little boy was a few months old, I realized that my goals in life had changed. Suddenly, my number one goal was making him laugh. One day, he’d hear a leaf rustle and break into hysterical laughter. On another day, just seeing a curly ribbon would set him off. Every day, it was something different, but there was always one sure way to his heart. While lying down on my back, I hold my little one and lift him closer and farther away from my face, while he giggles with joy. It’s a great workout for my arms and my core, and he absolutely loves it. I actually created a Facebook cover, which features us in this happy pose.
When I ran in my past life, I always used to pass tons of walking women along the way. I wondered how they’d made walking their go-to exercise. Once I started taking my son for walks in the stroller, side-by-side with friends and their babies, I understood. Stroller walks are often a great way to get out of the house and exercise. My son can see the world from his comfortable chair, I can catch up with friends, and we can both enjoy the fresh air. I live in a neighborhood, which is known for its hills, so the steep inclines also add a level of intensity to these walks.
Living in Manhattan, our number one way to get around is via the subway. Some of the subway stations have elevators, but not all — and not the stations that are closest to my house. Instead of confining myself to our neighborhood for the next few years, we invested in a super lightweight stroller. I feel confident carrying it up and down the subway station steps — without relying on others for help — and wielding it throughout the city. I won’t lie and say that the experience is super easy, though. But it’s great exercise for my arms and legs, and very empowering for me as a mom. My own mother was so impressed by my transportation skills that she included a photo of my son and me on the subway together in our family newsletter.
When my husband and I lived in a seaside city, we used to bike all the time. But between becoming a mom and relocating to Manhattan, I haven’t been on a bike in a year and a half. For my birthday, I’m looking forward to buying a brand new bike that’s sturdy, safe, and comes equipped with a toddler seat in the back. My little boy will be able to enjoy the summer breeze, while I indulge in one of my favorite pastimes.
This isn’t exactly an exercise tip, but one of the unexpected benefits of nursing was being able to eat whatever I wanted and then burn every calorie and more. Of course, choosing to nurse is a personal decision, and one that worked well for my baby and me. When I finally stopped nursing, I was worried that I’d put on weight. But, luckily, the above exercise techniques have kept me lean.
What are some of your favorite exercise tips for new moms?