Starting a fitness routine after having a baby is no easy task.
During my pregnancy, I worked out up until my third trimester. At 32 weeks, my OB told me I needed to savor all the weight I had since Blakely was measuring small. Before this news, barre, pilates, yoga & walks are what felt good for me. All low impact movement. Since we were in the middle of a pandemic, I did all my workouts from home with just a yoga mat, a pair of booty bands, ankle weights and 3lb & 5lb dumbbells.
After being cleared to workout at my 6 month postpartum checkup, I had no clue where to start. It had been months since I last did any form of movement I used to love.
Now being 14 months into this beautiful journey called motherhood, I have learned a lot along the way about navigating a postpartum fitness routine from scratch that I hope in turn helps you.
This is not a one size fits all plan, but it is what worked for me and I hope that it in the very least gives you some motivation, validates those postpartum feelings, and maybe even might help you reach your goals too.
Rest, Recover & Enjoy The Newborn Phase
After having to have a c-section with Blakely, working out wasn’t on my mind for the first few weeks. I was wayyy too tired to do much of anything besides nurse Blakely and sleep. As the weeks went on, I became more eager to move my body. I’d go on a few light walks with the stroller which felt nice to get fresh air and movement. But I could feel I wasn’t quite ready to dive into anything more yet.
I recommend for the first few weeks to just soak up all the newborn love & snuggles. As you probably know, they don’t stay that small for long. And it truly is such a special bonding time. Give your body the rest and recovery it needs from carrying a baby for 9 months and childbirth!
Show Up For Yourself First
It was always hard finding the time to workout when I first got started. Scratch that. Making the time. I would feel guilty if I would take time for myself to workout or meditate or honestly just relax when there was a million things on my to do list.
One of the best piece of advice I’ve been given is: you can’t show up for your baby unless you first show up for yourself.
I remind myself of these wise words often, especially on hard days. I know I can’t show up as my best self for Blakely if I have no release.
Working out is not only good for the body, but it does wonders for the mind. In the early months I finally would make the time during one of Blakely’s naps to do a barre or yoga session for just 20-30 minutes… and it always left my body & mind feeling better. The laundry pile can wait.
Choose Movement That Feels Good For You
I started off with postpartum videos from my two favorites: Barre3 and Melissa Wood Health. Both are online and were a life saver to me and my mental health.
With that said, just because barre and yoga felt good for me doesn’t mean it does for you. Tune in to your body. What is it telling you?
The only way to know what feels good is to try different things. Maybe you went on walks when you were pregnant and that felt good, but now you’re craving getting in a gym and working with weights. Maybe you ran or did HIIT classes, but you’re body is telling you it’s not ready yet and to slow down.
The only person who knows what feels good for your body is YOU, so don’t be afraid to tune in and try new things.
Focus On Working WITH Your New Body, Not Getting Your Old Body Back
This comes with giving yourself lots and lots of grace. I know you’ve heard that one before. But really. You just had a baby! When I first started my postpartum fitness journey, it was discouraging how weak my whole body was. I even fell into the comparison trap. Comparing my new body to my old prebaby body. Like what!? I didn’t even know that was a thing.
But it’s so valid. It’s real. It’s common.
But we don’t have to make it normal. We have the ability to shift our mindset, to break out of the norm.
Post baby, it may feel like you are living in a foreign body, but with that, you get the opportunity to rediscover yourself. With a recovering c-section scar and body from pregnancy and birth, I had to relearn & reawaken my strengths and my limits. It’s a hard, yet beautiful process.
It takes time. It took time. Building the strength back that you once had is not easy, but it is possible. Now 14 months in I can feel myself stronger both physically and mentally.
My Biggest Tip: Consistency
If you’ve ever looked for advice on how to start a fitness routine, then you’ve heard this- “stay consistent if you want to see results!” It might be repetitive, but that’s because it’s true. Sit down, create specific & achievable goals for yourself, and plan a course of action.
Around 11 months postpartum, my goals changed. I wanted to focus more on strength training, and to do this, I had to join a gym. That was SO hard because I knew I’d have to drop Blakely off at daycare. Since I stay home with her, I rarely do this.
Casey and I toured a few gyms and fell in love with one where the childcare program was amazing. Working out at the gym is not only good for my body, but I get that 30 min-1 hour break from mom life and it’s not a crime to say it’s nice!!! It’s you time! The first day was the hardest, and it’s only gotten easier. I’m 4 months in and can say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in motherhood!
Keep showing up mama!!! It’s hard at first. There are days where you would much rather sleep in, and trust me I still do sometimes. That’s why I made my goals flexible. Choose how many days you want to workout, choose what kind of workouts you want to do, and for how long. If that works for you, stick with it! If you crave more, add more days!
My perfect sweet spot I’ve found is working out at the gym in the mornings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 45 min. But again, I am not perfect and this doesn’t happen exactly like this every week!
The point is to stay consistent if you want to reach your goals!
If you’re struggling with a lack of motivation to workout, check out this blog post I wrote!
6. Rapid Fire Quick Tips
- Find music or podcasts that are motivating/entertaining/enjoyable. It will only enhance your workout. I recommend my favorite podcasts each week in my Friday Favorites blog posts.
- Wear what makes you feel confident. I love a good matching workout set or flattering leggings. Get excited about putting on your workout clothes in the morning.
- That leads me to lay out your workout clothes the night before. This gets you into the mindset that you are going to workout the next morning, AND it’s one less thing you have to do in the AM.
- Follow motivational fitness accounts! Some of my favorite Instagram accounts are:
- Have a workout buddy to keep you accountable – or help you figure out the foreign language that is gym equipment for beginners (lol thank you Casey).
- Follow a workout plan or create one for yourself. I am following the Madeline Moves app for my workouts because it helps to give me structure when I’m in the gym. There are so many free resources out there too like some of the Instagram accounts I just listed or YouTube videos!
Again, everyone has different goals and needs when it comes to working out, but my hope is that this post can help a mama feel less alone & know that she has someone rooting for her to meet her goals!! Here’s to being our best selves!!
Don’t forget to follow my fitness account if you want to keep up with my postpartum fitness journey and cheer each other along!