Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring how we can define for ourselves what “Fit at 50” (or any age, really) means. It is in that vein that we now want to redefine what it means to be a “Fit Mom” to an infant or toddler.
Why does being a Fit Mom need redefining? Look no further than the grocery store checkout, where this starlet or that famous actress looks A-MA-ZING after her fourth child, in a bikini on some tropical island in an area of the world you will never visit. Or see Parents Magazine or the corporate-type pubs that fawn over those moms who juggle this big-time job, have Pinterest-worthy homes, and whose babies are perfect, sleep all night, eat only organic foods, and poop in small, scented baggies (biodegradable, of course) that miraculously are disposed without any trouble…all while looking stunningly beautiful, of course.
Because the truth is, after baby, many new moms feel exuberant yet also broken. We feel exactly the opposite of what magazine covers show, and because of that we worry that we are failing. Breastfeeding is either a success or, like me, not. Babies cry. Babies get sick. Both are scary and can be intensely frustrating, even isolating.
Last year, Fitness on the Run had a record number of new babies added to our family. Mercer had her third baby; Jaime, her second; Eliza (not pictured), her second; and, Alexander and Julie each their first. Our “new” moms are redefining what it means to be a “fit mom.” And, no, it isn’t how they look. It’s how they feel. It’s who they are as moms of newborns that makes them “fit moms.”
Instead of taking on the expectation of what it means to be a mom of 1, 2, or 10, let’s challenge the norm; let’s give ourselves permission to redefine being a new mom, like these women are.
These moms made the decision to make fitness important…but not for body image or for keeping their pre-baby physique. Training after baby is for the betterment of herself, the person who will be caring for this baby day and night. They chose fitness so they could have their time for self-care; so they can get stronger. Training after the baby is about taking care of #1.
At FOR, we know pregnant moms can be really nervous about training during pregnancy. For this, look no further than these moms. Yet it is after delivery when our pelvic floor strengthening skills help. Pre-baby workouts are one thing; post-delivery training is another.
Pelvic floor distress happens with both vaginal and C-section deliveries. It is about the sheer weight of the baby on your pelvic floor for X months/weeks/days that can cause distress. So, we will ask you if any exercise causes you to need to use the restroom, or did you feel like you were leaking during a particular exercise. This is important to know so we can adjust the program accordingly. (We have a highly skilled specialist to whom we refer clients we believe may be suffering from pelvic floor distress.)
The best workout for these ladies is one that leaves them feeling energized and with the strength and confidence to take on their new life. No need to pound them with 50 Burpees (eek on the pelvic floor). Instead we give them movements they can accomplish without compromising form. We prefer carries and floor work, and trunk strengthening is key.
Mercer, Julie, Alexander, Jaime, and their beautiful babies (not pictured: Eliza)
When asked about what is means to be a fit mom, here are the answers from our new beautiful moms:
I am all about usable strength and mobility these days. I have to be – my job as a mother of a mobile 9 month old depends on it. I am able to carry the baby seat without neck pain; I can stand up from the floor holding my cute 22lb weight; I can hinge down to pick up tons of toys without hurting my back. Fitness on the Run has taught me how to do all these things. Further, and perhaps more importantly, my two older daughters value strength in themselves and their friends. Instead of pointing out pretty moms, they point out fit moms. I love that.
Being a fit mom means being physically and, more importantly, emotionally fit. Taking care of me helps me take care of Quinn. That means making sure I work out during her morning nap, heading out of the house for a relaxing mani/pedi, handing her off to my husband so I can get a shower or enjoying a glass of wine when she goes down for the night! Finding a new routine has been the hardest for me and I’ve learned you just have to be flexible. When she was a newborn my workouts consisted of breathing and pelvic floor exercises. Gradually, I added body weight exercises, kettlebells, and have upped the intensity as I regained my stability and mobility. In the beginning all my energy was focused on Quinn and giving my body time to heal but it’s time to start focusing on me again. My body feels different and looks different. I am ok with that. Eventually it will become a new normal and I plan to embrace that, too!
After Alexa was born, my goal was to get back into the gym four times a week. As of a couple of months ago, I am finally back to that! My gym time is my “me” time. It’s the one-hour a day I really get to do something for myself. However, being a “Fit Mom” to me means being OK when my time in the gym doesn’t happen. Babysitters cancel, my husband has a last-minute work meeting, etc. Being a “Fit Mom” is letting myself have a glass of wine at the end of a really long day. Being a “Fit Mom” is finding balance between my family, my business, and my health. Am I 100 perfect back to where I want to be post-baby? No. But, I’m working on it. Fit is just part of the equation. Mom is now the priority.
Being a fit mom of an infant is about taking care of yourself during a time when your body and mind are under extreme stress. Working out does so much more than strengthen your muscles or burn fat. It is the time that you can focus on yourself and your goals. It also means that I have the energy to engage with my baby in a healthy way because I feel good and am not overly tired. I wouldn’t give up my gym for anything! It helps keep me and the family running smoothly. I also have an elementary-age son. Giving myself this time helps me take heed of his needs with more focus and love than if I didn’t give myself those workout breaks.
As many women know, pregnancy and delivery of a baby really messes with your body. Thinking back to last March when I had our daughter, getting back into shape was not even on my radar for at least the first month or so. I could tell my body wasn’t ready. Walking was enough for me. But when she was four or so weeks old, I could tell my body felt pretty good so I started slowly reintroducing working out until my doctor gave me the all clear at six weeks post-partum.
Flash forward to nearly a year later and I feel great! My sessions at Fitness on the Run, coupled with my own running or swimming workouts, have really help me regain my strength and conditioning so I can keep up with our kids and most importantly — feel good about myself. The truth is that when I’m at home, I feel like I never sit down. There’s always someone or something to take care of. The biggest challenge with managing two kids, both of whom are on very different schedules, is finding the time to work out outside of my scheduled sessions. Our daughter, at almost 11 months old, still periodically has bad nights of sleep where she’s up a few times, and that can make it difficult for me to wake up early in the morning to work out. But I find that if I can get up right away – and not hit “snooze” — I’ll be able to pull off the workout.