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I Want My Body Back: Strategies for Post-Natal Moms

Posted by Elisa Taub
I Want My Body Back: Strategies for Post-Natal Moms

by Mike Monroe

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Congratulations! You are now the proud mother of a new baby. You toiled through the pregnancy and are now toiling with a life that has been turned upside down. As a man, I have never been pregnant (really, Mike?) but have lived through pregnancy, birth, and the post-natal period, twice...with my wife and two children. I have also trained many a female client through both the pre and post-natal periods. I understand the difficulties and challenges you all face. Here are a few strategies and suggestions to help you on your way to reclaiming your body.

Take your time
Your body goes through a tremendous amount of trauma when you deliver a baby. (They say it is a "natural" occurrence but you can't totally convince me of that). Don't rush back into physical activity too soon as you need to give your body time to heal and recover. Before you resume any form of exercise make sure your doctor clears you. Generally, for a normal pregnancy, you will be told to wait 6 weeks before starting to exercise. For a C-Section you should normally wait 8 weeks. Again, check with your doctor.

The 3 Little Helpers
Before your doctor lets you loose to really start exercising there is a point, usually a few days after birth, that you can do three very simple "exercises" to get you ahead of the game. (Make sure this is ok with your doctor).

1) Leg slides - Sitting in bed, with legs straight and using some pillows to prop up your back, simply bend one knee and slide that leg in toward your chest then back out. Alternate legs. Work up to doing a few sets of 10-20 (per leg) of these each day.

2) Kegels - Most of us know these. If not, they are simple contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. (Imagine trying to stop yourself mid-tinkle. Those are the muscles you want to contract). Perform a few sets of as many of these contractions as you can.

3) 4 point draw-ins - From a hands and knees position, simply pull your belly button toward your spine as you exhale. Perform 4 sets of 10-20 of these in a day.

Plan your Plan
The biggest problem I encounter with post-natal clients isn't their lack of desire to get back in shape, it's the new mom's estimation of available time to work out. Once you are cleared by your doctor, set up a plan that works with YOUR schedule. Start by coming up with a realistic amount of time you can make available in a week. It may be just a few minutes a day. Don't fret. The key is to build your plan based on the time you know you have, not the time you think you will have. Once you know your time, then split that into two equal blocks of time--one for cardio and one for strength/sculpting. So, if you have 4 hours in a week then you get 2 for cardio and 2 for strength/sculpting.

Now you have your time, the next thing to do is to lay out what you are going to do during each workout. I encourage my clients to keep a Body Planner, which can be a simple notebook that they fill in every Sunday night, detailing when they are going to work out and what they will do during the workouts for that week. Having it written down in front of you is a great way to motivate and stick to a plan.

Remember your base
If you were fit before the pregnancy and worked out during, then you will bounce back faster. If you are like the majority of women, you did not work out much before or during the pregnancy (and you ate all kinds of interesting things!). For those of you in this camp your road will be a bit tougher. Remember where your body was pre-baby and don't try and start at an unrealistic point. This will only lead to excess soreness and potential injury.

Where to Start?
The area of the body that bears the brunt of pregnancy and birth is the torso/core/abs/butt area. This is where you should start when you first get back into exercise. Focus on exercises that will help strengthen and tone these areas. Two excellent exercises can be found in the accompanying. Additionally, make sure you are slowly building your cardio to burn off some of that extra weight and to build that stamina back up.

Nutrition and Energy
Along with your strength/sculpting workouts and cardio workouts, your nutrition is the third key to your success. You will find yourself with no spare time to cook and you will gravitate toward easy-to-eat, quick meals and just snacking. Don't put stress on yourself to cook a big meal for yourself or your family.

Plan a once a week shop that will ensure you stock the house with good foods. Try to have nothing but healthy snacks and meals around the house. Most women find that just cutting out the junk they ate during pregnancy helps them shed some weight. If you keep the garbage calories out of the house you won't be able to put them in your body. If you are going to diet don't over-do it, well balanced with portion control is the way to go. And, if you are nursing, remember that your body actually needs about 300 calories extra a day to keep you and the baby nourished.

My last two tidbits under this category are related to energy. Try to sleep when baby sleeps. Rely on family and spouse/partner to help give you a break during the day. In our house my wife and I work off the "Divide and Conquer" principle--We each have our roles defined and work to give the other person time for themselves.

PARTING WORDS - Congrats again on the baby. Try to apply some of this information and you should see a difference. Don't get overwhelmed. It is tough for everyone in the beginning but try to savor the moments. They grow up so fast. Keep up the great work. Moms are amazing!

That's it for me. I have a 23 month old to wrestle and an 8 week old to go feed.

Mike Monroe is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and the Fitness Director and architect behind the PUSH program. His personal training philosophy stems from a lifetime of adventure and charitable work. He's competed in five Ironman triathlons and has used many of his endurance events as platforms for charity - such as The Children's Hopes and Dreams Foundation. Mike also founded "Moms Who Marathon," an empowering program that gets Moms with little or no running experience into top marathon shape., is a PROGRESSIVE full-body personal training system that gets delivered monthly to your door on DVD. A revolution in the industry, partners the freedom and affordability of in-home workouts with the luxury and personalized attention of your very own world-renowned personal trainer.
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The material in this article and on any DVD may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, or otherwise used without the proper written permission of PUSH. PUSH is a trademark of PUSH Media, LLC (c) PUSH (TM) 2006. All rights reserved. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone and this or any other exercise program may result in injury.

Any user of the exercise program assumes the risk of injury resulting from performing these exercises. You should consult your doctor before beginning this or any other exercise program. The creators, producers, participants, and distributors of this program do not assume liability for injury or loss in connection with this exercise program and the instruction therein.

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