As excited as new moms are about the birth of their baby, they also can't believe the body that's been left behind. Our round, voluptuous body seemed beautiful while pregnant and seems like bread dough after labor. What makes matters worse is that new moms 1) don't have time to do traditional exercise and 2) shouldn't be dieting. Your body has undergone a tremendous amount during pregnancy, so the last thing you should do is deprive it of precious nutrients. But yes, there is hope. Stroller Strides, a stroller program created in San Diego, is helping new moms get back their pre pregnancy shape. What's even better is that they get to meet other new moms and spend valuable time with their babies. Classes consist of power walking with intervals of body toning stations using the stroller and the outside environment. Even if you can't make it to a Stroller Strides class, you can follow these tips for getting back in shape.
1) It goes without saying that you need to get your doctor's permission before beginning this or any other exercise program. Most doctors will suggest you wait 6 weeks after your labor date to begin exercise.
2) Use the environment. You don't need a gym and you can take your baby with you. The best exercise out there is walking. It's something everyone can do and you don't need special equipment to do it. You can put your baby in the stroller or in a baby carrier for your walks.
3) It doesn't need to hurt. In fact, it shouldn't. Your body needs lots of energy to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and to take care of your baby (especially if you're nursing). Exercising at the right intensity will give you more energy, not take it away. How do you know if you're working at the right level? Try the talk test. If you can talk so easily to your baby that you can carry on a regular conversation than you are definitely not working hard enough. However, if you're working so hard that you can't sing the ABC's to her, then you are working too hard. Find a good balance of being just a little bit out of breath.
4) Any time is the right time. New moms don't have a traditional 30-minutes, three times a week to workout. So, just get active whenever you can. Take a 10-minute walk here, do some push ups there, and before you know it you ™ll have a workout. Get creative. Figure out ways to turn your chores around the house into a workout. The most important thing is consistency. Make a commitment to get active regularly.
5) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Everyone is supposed to drink 8, 8-oz glasses of water a day. If you are nursing, you ™ll need even more. Make sure that you are drinking water throughout your workout.
Ready to get started? We ™ve included a sample workout for you to try. Feel free to get creative and modify it for your enjoyment.
Warm Up – Stand in front of your baby and roll your head from shoulder to shoulder. Always do head rolls in the front, never the back. After a few of those, do some should rolls. Roll out any kinks and tension you might have in your body. From there, put your hands on your thighs and round your back followed by a slight arch. And lastly, stand behind your stroller and do some gentle squats. Sit back as if you're bottom were reaching for a seat and then stand back up again.
The Stroller Stride “ The walk is where you will get your cardiovascular workout. Always walk with good posture. Your shoulders should be dropped, your arms relaxed and your wrists in neutral position as you push the stroller. Your abdominal muscles (what's left of them) should be pulled in at all times. Make sure you're not holding your breath though. Your stride is nice and long. Use your glutes and your thighs in every step. Your feet and knees are facing forward and your foot strikes heel to toe. Ok, start walking. Try to vary your intensity by changing your stride and your speed.
The Muscle “ To give you a total body workout, we want to start reshaping those muscles. You can stop during your walk every 5 minutes or so for a body toning station . Following are some sample strength training exercises:
Squat “ Begin in a standing position with hands on your stroller handlebars. Feet are about hips width apart, feet and knees are facing forward. Sit down as if reaching for a seat and then squeeze your glutes and thighs to bring yourself back to the starting standing position. Be careful not to go so low as to put stress on your knees. You can push the stroller out as you sit and pull it back in as you come up (optional).
Lunge “ Stand behind your stroller with hands on handlebars. Step forward with your right leg about 1.5 times your normal stride. The stroller will move forward as you move forward. Bend your knee to a 90 degree angle, so that your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your right shin is perpendicular to the ground. Your back leg is almost straight. Keep your torso upright, with your hips and shoulders facing forward. Use your right leg to come back to your starting position. Alternate with the other leg.
Ab Pull “ Again, have your right side facing the stroller. Standing still, use the right hand to push the stroller away, while reaching overhead with the left arm. Use your abs on the left side to pull the stroller back. Focus on pulling the ribs to hips. After about 8 “ 10 repetitions, do the other side.
Push Ups “ Find a park table to do your modified push up. Your hand should be about shoulder width apart on the table. Your torso should stay straight as you lower your chest to the table and push back up. Do not lock your elbows in the up position.
Dips “ Have a seat at that park table or bench. Put your hands on either side of you with your fingers coming off the bench. Bring your body off the bench with your legs at about a right angle on the ground. Lower your body down by bending your arms, without letting your shoulders rise to your ears. The work should be felt in your triceps (the upper part of the back of your arm). Push back up. This is one rep.
These are just a few of the many exercises that can be done with your stroller and with your baby. For more ideas, go to www.strollerstrides.com.