Can I just take a minute to be real with everyone? Getting back to my pre-baby body and fitness routine is hard. Way harder than I thought it was going to be. Throughout my pregnancy I stayed very active. I continued to run approximately 2 miles per day up until just a few weeks before delivery. Everything I read told me that women who were active during pregnancy would bounce back faster. And while this has proven true, I read this as “1 week post-partum you should be at your pre-baby weight and running marathons.” I’ve been holding unrealistic expectations of myself to say the least.

My oldest son is almost 8 years-old, so I feel like a brand new mommy again with my new baby. It’s a change in my life that I feel like I’ve adjusted to very well; in everything but getting back to my former fit-self. Its taken me the last 7 months to understand that expecting myself to give birth and bolt out of the hospital looking fabulous in my super-tight yoga pants and start running marathons was not realistic. The truth is that I’m tired. I’m nursing (and have struggled significantly doing so), which leaves me as the one who’s up 3+ times per night, and when I’m at home I have felt like I can barely get a minute to pee let alone go for a run. Between my 24/7 job at home and my full-time job in corporate America, finding time to work out is borderline laughable, but I’ve finally managed to get into a (albeit rough around the edges) routine that has improved my mental, emotional, and physical health. Slowly but surely… I will get my sexy back! So this one is for those bleary-eyed mamas out there like me who want so badly to feel like themselves again.

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Start slow. Like I mentioned earlier, I held unrealistic expectations of myself and that set me up for some serious disappointment. If at first all you can do is find a few minutes to go for a short walk or stretch on your living room floor, then be proud that you took that step to take care of your body. Relish in the small victories at first. Those larger goals can wait, and you’ll get there.

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Eat as much as you want of the right foods. Especially if you’re nursing, cutting calories is a bad plan and doing so is nearly impossible. I am always hungry. I’ve never been a huge snacker, so being a bottomless pit (a feeling many have while nursing) has been a new experience. It took me some time to keep my paws out of the cookie jar and go for as many fruits & veggies as I wanted instead. I don’t beat myself up about satisfying my sweet tooth with as many grapes as I can get my hands on.

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Workout with and without your baby. It can be somewhat liberating to leave the baby in the care of your significant other or another person you trust for an hour so that you can take some time to yourself, but if you don’t have a caregiver, that doesn’t mean you can’t workout. Babies love to be held, so use that to your advantage instead of viewing it as something restrictive. Use a baby carrier to do lunges, squats, and sometimes I even use him as a weight (who needs free weights?) Or stick them in the stroller and go for a walk/jog/run.. whatever you feel up to. Even when my little one is inconsolable, taking him for a quick stroll around the neighborhood changes his mood entirely.

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Take 5 minutes to consider how you’re feeling. Now we’re talking mental and emotional health, which are just as important as your physical health. Having a new baby can make you look in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back at you. It’s important to recognize that those feelings are normal and temporary. You could write them in a diary if that helps, but at least take a few minutes (even if its in the shower) to consider how you feel each day. If those feelings are negative, try to let those minutes of reflection be the only time you allow yourself to dwell on them. Once you’ve acknowledged them, let them go. If you feel positive and hopeful, embrace that. Think about what has made you feel that way and keep it up. Add some deep breathing (exhale the negative) or even some yoga if you want to combine this with physical activity.

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Be confident in yourself and your abilities as a woman. You can’t argue that confidence isn’t sexy. According to Fox News Magazine, confidence is the #1 quality men are looking for in women. You just endured the unparalleled feat of creating a new life in roughly 40 weeks. You’ve already earned your superwoman cape, now wear it proudly!