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Babies are curious little explorers. They're tiny, delicate, a little wild, and—of course—adorable. Know what else they are? Unpredictable. Who can blame them? They've been dropped into a brand-new world, and they don't even know what they need yet—except you, of course.
From day one, that little person pretty much owns you and your time. Trust me—that will change, but not overnight. And even when you finally feel ready to start working out and your doctor says it's OK, you still might not see how you could possibly find the time.
I know the feeling! I was there too. But with experience, I found that post-pregnancy was a great opportunity to examine—and attack— some of the biggest reasons women say they "can't" get fit. That's right: This is an opportunity!
On this page, I'll talk about some of the ways you can rebuild your fit life in the middle of a crazy, unpredictable schedule. We'll go over managing your expectations, preparing your space, setting your priorities, and a skill that, let's face it, many moms have trouble mastering: sharing responsibility.
Let's figure out how to make this work. You deserve it!
Time Management Overview
Watch The Video - 10:59
Solution 1 Manage your expectations
Jamie's Nine-Month Plan
- Months 1-3: Post-pregnancy circuits
- Months 4-6: Post-pregnancy fitness trainer
- Months 7-9: LiveFit
Many women find they are able to exercise to some degree throughout most of their pregnancy, depending on their specific circumstances and what their doctor says is OK. But all of that changes when the baby comes. You don't even know what you'll be recovering from—only that you'll be recovering. For instance, I developed a painful condition called De Quervain syndrome because I could only nurse my son on one side. I definitely never saw that coming!
But acute conditions like that aside, your first couple of months as a mom are still pretty difficult, whether this is your first child or your fourth. People say it's like a haze or a dream—and they're right. You sleep when you can—or if you can. You struggle to solve problems you knew you'd have, and some you couldn't have predicted. Plenty of women also have to deal with going back to work, or their partner doing so, before they feel ready.
Because there's so much going on, many women gladly wait until they get a "green light" from their doctor to begin exercising, usually at around 6-8 weeks. But if it takes longer than that for you, then that's OK. I can't emphasize that enough!
I know that when you're in bed and not feeling great about how your body looks, it can be easy to set big, ambitious goals on little, ambitious timelines. Resist the urge! The nine-month plan I describe in the program overview is just one possible outcome. You might need longer than that—maybe a lot longer. That's fine. What matters far more is simply making progress and making healthy choices.
My biggest advice is to make the three-week ramp-up plan to the Post-Pregnancy Fitness Trainer—which I talk about in the Months 1-3 Overview —last as long as you need it to. But while you're keeping things simple, keep your eyes open for opportunities to make a "system" to give yourself a bit more time. Maybe it's as simple as having your partner take a daily feeding, so you can slip into your workout clothes—or just into bed.
And if your body says that you need to hit "pause" for a few days, you can just pick up where you left off when you're ready.
Solution 2 Prepare your space
Home workout essentials
I've heard many, many women say they "can't" train effectively at home for one reason or another. They don't have the physical space, for instance, or they simply can't avoid getting pulled in a million different directions. I understand these concerns, but I think that in most cases, there are solutions. Prepare your space before you start working out, and you'll be able to thrive in it!
What does this mean? Let me give you a few examples. I did the majority of my workouts during this trainer at home, but make no mistake: I didn't have a "home gym," per se. All I had were a few key implements, but I chose them carefully.
For instance, rather than buying a whole range of dumbbells, I picked out adjustable ones. They take up the same amount of space, but you won't outgrow them in just a few workouts like you do with nonadjustable bells.
I could tell you to always train in the same place in your house—say, the garage or the living room—but that doesn't always work. Sometimes, you may have to train in one room, sometimes another, depending on what's happening and who's sleeping or playing where. So instead, I'll just say to have a dedicated space where you store your fitness essentials, so you can find them quickly and take them where you need to go to train.
I's crucial to make everything as convenient as possible. All it takes is one excuse like, "Ugh, I have to go to the garage to find the so-and-so" to make a workout disappear. That's one reason to train during the morning—like, early morning —before your excuses have a chance to wake up and get in the way.
Put your workout clothes by your bed so you can scoop them up and not wake anyone. Prepare tomorrow's workout today, and watch your excuses go up in smoke.
Solution 3 Establish your fitness priorities
I know what it's like to feel as if you have to choose between options you'd prefer not to have to choose between—like "sleep or a workout," for instance, or "dinner or cleaning." But it's a part of parenthood, and especially new parenthood. So what do you do if—or rather, when—you find yourself in a position where you can't do it all? Stick to your fitness priorities.
Here's what they are during this trainer:
- Working out
Let me break it down.
Sleep: Fitness needs sleep. Even with my background in fitness, getting back to the gym wasn't even on my radar until my son was 3 months old—and barely then. I was waiting for him to get on a more regular sleep schedule, and I was still feeling tired more often than not. I know for some women, even this timeline seems ambitious.
But I also knew from experience that without proper sleep, I wouldn't be able to regain my lost muscle anyway, so I was OK waiting. This can be hard for some people to understand, especially if they've never really prioritized sleep in the past. But those of us in the fitness industry know that if you want to change your body, you need sleep. Your baby definitely knows this! So until you are getting sleep regularly, that's your highest fitness priority.
Movement: During the first 1-3 months after your pregnancy, you're ahead of the game if you're able to get outside and walk every day. Not run, walk. It's OK if that's as far as your fitness ambitions go for a while. Simply moving is a much higher priority than getting fit.
Working out: If you have family, friends, or a sitter to watch the baby, you might even be able to squeeze in some time at the gym. But, as I mentioned earlier, it's not crucial. When you're ready, simply working out on a consistent basis is a higher priority than crushing it at the gym. A lot of babies enjoy watching their moms exercise, especially with some music on. You can have your own little audience while you take the first steps in regaining your pre-baby body.
Nutrition: It may surprise you to see nutrition here, toward the bottom. When you do something like prepare for a competition or event, sure, nutrition is the highest priority. But new moms usually can't afford to be that scientific. Your baby's digestion is still immature, and if you're breastfeeding, some of your favorite fit foods may make for some sleepless nights.
Should you make healthy choices? Of course. But understand that, for a while, simply getting enough calories is more important than dialing in your macros. If you're really hungry, it may be a sign that you need to eat more! Your body is going through a lot right now. Babies have a way of complicating the best-laid plans, so get ready for it.
Solution 4 Share responsibility
You've heard people say it takes a village to raise a child. They're not lying! And once you set the goal of reclaiming your fitness level and physique, you'll need make use of whatever support system you have. Those who love you will want you to feel good, and they know that being a mother isn't easy. So let them help you.
I know what you're saying: "It's not that simple." I said the same thing. But once I began to look for ways I could share responsibility rather than taking everything on myself, my life definitely changed for the better.
Let your partner take a feeding or strap on the carrier so you can have a little time to yourself. Invite over a friend or hire a babysitter, even if you're just heading into the garage to lift some dumbbells. If you have family locally, let them watch the baby for an hour or two. When the time comes, consider dropping your little one at your gym's daycare, if it has one.
Sure, it can be hard to let go, but think of it this way: You're modeling a healthy, reasonable approach to the fit life for your child to follow. In the long term, isn't that the most important thing?
The Time of Your Life
No two pregnancies are the same, and no two children are the same. So I can't predict the specific challenges that will try to get in the way of your post-pregnancy fitness goals. But with the tools I've outlined here, I hope you'll be better equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
Now be sure to watch the Months 1-3 Overview , Training Overview, Nutrition Overview, and Supplementation Overview to learn everything you need to take control of your physique and get back to fit!