Especially because I have three girls, I feel an immense pressure that they don’t see that I am never happy with how I look. I try to model good eating behaviours on them (even if I get stuck into the choccies late at night) and I try to keep them as active as I can. We never talk about fat or overweight, we have banned the word “treat” in our house and I try to never let them pick up on my body image issues. I know body confidence is a hard battle to win. But I’ll keep trying.
I actually have found shifting the weight post baby number three the hardest of them all. I was 25 when I had my first baby, 26 with the second and 31 with my third. Maybe age is a factor but who knows. I’m not sure if my skin has just lost elasticity, or the fat has just been stubborn refusing to leave, or maybe the exhaustion got to me the worst and I made tired food choices. I ended up putting on the least amount of weight in my last pregnancy but sadly have lost the least amount this time too.
My husband bought me a voucher for 12 weeks at a personal training gym. Most people would think that’s a horrible present but he knew that not fitting into clothes was frustrating me on a daily basis. I bought myself a whole new wardrobe of exercise clothes, new trainers (ok maybe two pairs) and off I went. Whilst I did get positive results relatively quickly, my trainer left me feeling guilty for not going to more classes, or for arriving late. One time I did actually bring all three of my kids including my 12-week-old baby. I felt so good that I actually made the effort and that I was going to show my big girls what a rock star mum I could be. When I asked my trainer where I could set up the pram he told me to put the baby behind the reception desk facing a wall. I wouldn’t haven been able to see her and she wouldn’t be able to see me!!!! So I spent the session running back and forwards checking on her…not the way that I wanted to get my heart rate up! Other times I would tell him that I couldn’t make a session because I had sick kids he would simply tell me to bring them along. I know he was doing it from a good place, he thought he was motivating me and initially it may have helped. But long term it really was anything but motivational and I started dreading the sessions. No longer did I feel stronger with each weight I lifted. I felt stressed and tired by it all.
I left that gym hoping to go back one day when I wasn’t so time poor. I wanted results for sure, but I especially wanted to start feeling good about myself. Enter Gaby. I had heard about her from some other mothers but didn’t think a home gym would “do it” for me. I had followed her on social media and always thought her posts were so realistic and even funny. I thought she would be good for me because she is not just a personal trainer but knows how to train a post natal body properly and whilst in my head I have the body of a 21 year old skinny girl, the mirror says otherwise. I have problems with a hernia from pregnancy, maybe a little separation; a sore back from lugging my chunky baby around lets not talk about my pelvic floors!
Two minutes into my first session and I knew this would suit me perfectly. She is a mother of two girls and already that means she gets a lot of what I am about. She understood if I needed to miss or change appointments, she knew to ask me about feeding, about abdominal separation and maybe the best part is that when I brought my kids she was there ready to hold one, give them toys or sometimes to even use them as weights. She motivated me not by guilting me but by helping me set realistic expectations. Once I revealed to her that I have a chocolate every night as a late night goodie. She didn’t make me feel bad she simply said lets start with cutting down to 4 nights of chocolates a week. As I said – realistic. When I sent her a message with a picture of me running with the pram and a dog she only had positive words which inspired me to keep doing it. She would check up on me throughout the week to see how my training and food was going and even busted me tagging my husband in a Messina special on Facebook. The bottom line was that I felt she cared – which really did drive me to get the results I wanted.
I guess what I wanted to say is that exercise is really about finding what works for you. We mothers have no time and what we do have is precious. We also find it really hard to prioritise ourselves above everything that we “should” be doing but really we need to retrain our brains to realise these things are EXACTLY what we should be doing. I’m trying to shed the weight and its happening slowly but shedding the mother guilt seems to be just as hard.
I spoke to Gaby about mothers and fitness and I got her to write it all down because I knew it could help other mothers.
- Why are mums your target?
Mums bodies are put through so much stress from being pregnant, giving birth, the physical demands involved in caring for a baby and being a mum in general. As a result the body develops new imbalances, strengths and weaknesses. Many women told me that they struggled with exercise after becoming a mother but couldn’t find someone who had the skillset to help them. After becoming a mum myself I became passionate about filling this void. I already had a solid knowledge of Personal Training but decided to become qualified in pre/post natal training, rehabilitation, nutrition and Pilates to enable me to train mums to achieve their fitness and body goals in the safest way possible.
- If a Mum has 30 mins what should she do?
Every persons exercise needs and goals are different but in general the following should be a nice breakdown:
In the 30 minutes make an effort to focus on exercising and not the craziness of life.
2 minutes: Perform some dynamic full body stretches.
22 minutes: Perform a circuit of several exercises that work at strengthening the upper body, lower body and core. If you don’t have access to a gym some simple body weight exercises you could try include squats, deadlifts, hip raises, wall holds, back extensions, push-ups, planks, dips, bent over rows. If you’re exercising at home I’d suggest buying a few basic dumbbells/bands or just be creative by using random objects as weights. Make sure technique is on point.
3 mins: Cardio – You could do one or a combination of some of the following… Walk/ run around the block, some stair walks/runs, jumping on your kids trampoline, skipping rope, straddling a pillow and punching it (so satisfying), mountain climbers, etc
2 minutes: More stretching similar to the first 2 minutes but hold the stretches for longer and go deeper into the hold.
1 minute: Meditate… seriously!
- Why doesn’t walking count?
Honestly this depends on your fitness level and goals. Walking has many health benefits but too many mums limit their exercise repertoire to walking (or promenading). A balanced fitness plan should include a range of activates that address the whole body. Also, constantly pounding the pavement can lead to injuries. For the times that you are walking try to challenge yourself a bit – include some hills, stairs and increase your pace, etc.
- How long after having a baby should Mums wait to exercise?
This is a great question and the answer has so many variables. Initially every mum should practice perfect posture, commence pelvic floor exercises and regularly stretch their body (especially neck, shoulders and spine).
If you have stayed fit and healthy throughout the pregnancy, had a natural birth and have your doctors permission you could introduce exercise as early as a week after birth. A light stroll with the pram for 5 minutes is a great start.
The answer is difference for those who haven’t exercised regularly, have injuries, had C-sections or have abdominal separation. In this case a DR can give a more accurate time frame and plan.
What is very important is to ease back into it slowly and pay close attention to aches/muscle pains, dizziness, bleeding, pelvic floor weirdness, changes in breast milk and energy levels.
- What are the mistakes you see Mums making?
Doing what they did prior to being pregnant.
Not prioritising their health by seeking help from professionals (physio, chiro, personal trainers, dietician, etc.)
Having no fitness plans/just winging it.
Having unrealistic body expectations.
Not making time to exercise.
- How much does your food consumption count for verses exercising when losing weight?
For fat loss if someone hasn’t addressed their diet correctly then losing fat becomes a struggle regardless of how much exercise they do. Exercise is important though as not only does it aid in fat loss but it also tones the body (less jiggly), improves posture (gives the illusion that you’re hotter than you actually are) and increases metabolism (so you don’t feel like you are starving yourself to lose more body fat).
There are many common postnatal issues which can impact how a mum should exercise. The main issues I see are:
- Pain/injuries from pregnancy, birth and the mum lyf – very common and they need proper treatment as generally these problems don’t just disappear and can get worse.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction – The pelvic floor undergoes enormous strain during pregnancy and possible damage may occur during delivery, so pelvic floor exercises should be recommenced as soon as possible. I’d recommend most mums get advice on how to do this as it’s not as easy and many people do it wrong. If these muscles are not adequately strengthened before returning to impact exercises this further weakens the pelvic floor muscles and increases the tension in the ligaments so that they are more likely to be overstretched which leads to prolapse (not fun).
- Ab separation – Separation of the abdominal muscles is common amongst postnatal woman (around 50%) and appropriate management of this problem is very important. By undertaking an appropriate ab strengthening exercise program after the babies birth the size of the separation can be reduced which helps support the back and firms /tightens the abdominal muscles.
I hope that helped some of you with regards to questions with exercising particularly as a new mum. This blog is not an advertisement for Gaby (although she is the bomb). This is an advertisement to keep finding what works for you. If you hate it, don’t do it. I wasted money and more importantly my time and what is more precious as mothers than either of those! If what you are doing hasn’t worked for you then speak to Gaby. If you live near North Bondi then book her in and if you don’t, then even just start following her on socials (https://m.facebook.com/gabyspersonaltraining/) she has good recipes and little tid-bits of information that you’ll find helpful and hilarious.
Just do what works for you Mummas x