This post was written for Mom’s Little Running Buddy, a blog that’s a “journal of our adventures as we run through our days.” Love to run and are a mom? Visit Moms’ Little Running Buddy, run (pun intended) by Katie McFarland.
So you’ve finally gotten some sleep and are feeling a little bit like your old self. You are getting used this new adorable little creature that has taken over, and enriched, your life. You’re loving every minute of being a mom. What you’re not loving, though, is the way your body is not bouncing back as quickly as you’d hoped it would.
It’s never too late to get your health back on track and fit into your jeans again—even if your “baby” is no longer a baby. (My youngest was in Pre-K and my oldest was in 2nd grade when I finally fit into mine.) The important thing is that you start—right now—whatever way you can. Here are some tips to get you going:
- Don’t reach for the “s.” When you’re tired (as we moms often are), it’s easy to reach for quick foods that contain a lot of sugar (the “s” word) and fat. Sugars make us feel temporarily more energized so it’s often our first choice. Better snack ideas are ones that contain protein, which helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Hard boiled eggs, fat free cottage cheese, low fat string cheese, lean lunch meats, or a spoonful of peanut butter all make great quick snacks. Add some fresh fruit (or frozen berries) for a natural sugar boost. Need a little treat? One square of dark chocolate with a dab of peanut butter on it usually does the trick. The peanut butter slows the sugar’s absorption—the chocolate makes you feel happier.
- Eat before the kids do. If your children are small, don’t wait to eat until you feed them. Sometimes by the time our kids are fed and everything’s cleaned up, we are so famished that we will eat whatever is within our reach. And sometimes…we eat our kids’ leftovers and then our own dinners to boot. Eat first. Then feed the kids. Family dinner time will come as they grow older. Hunger=desperation. Desperation=fat.
- Trade off with other moms. Finding the time to exercise or getting to the gym can be really hard, especially if you’re frequently pulled off the treadmill to change a diaper. Try to “trade” time with a mom friend—she’ll watch yours while you exercise, then you’ll watch hers. The best part of getting some uninterrupted exercise time is not only the physical benefits, but the mental rewards, too. 30 minutes of cardio will boost your mood, empower you and help you connect with the woman you were before children.
- Play time. Put your baby in a front or back carrier and hit your ‘hood. Walk as many hills as you can find, vary your pace and pump your arms briskly. Or exercise with the front carrier on, holding onto something sturdy as you squat and lunge, forward, back and side-to-side. You can also hold your baby on your chest as you do crunches, or for an older child, play a game of airplane and lift them up into the air, strengthening your legs. Sometimes, the only time you have to exercise is with your child, and while it’s not always the most intense of workouts, it’s moving you in a positive direction—and giving you some “face time” with your baby.
- Get some zzzzs. Make sure you get enough rest and nap as often as you need to. When you’re sleep deprived the levels of the hormones responsible for hunger increase, while the levels of the hormones that tell you you’re full decrease…and you know what that means. The Rollings Stones said it best, “I can’t get not satisfaction.”
- Sprinkle exercise into your life, and try to make the healthiest food choices possible. You will make mistakes and that’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just do the best you can and remember—you are doing the most important (and demanding) job known to man: parenting.