I bruised my butt. I’d decided to try a new cardio dance class at my gym, and while attempting to execute a move I’ve termed “flamingo in a blender” … it happened.
The speakers in the cardio studio thumped with Kenny Loggins’s seminal classic, “Footloose.” BUT, when it was time for everybody to kick off their Sunday shoes and freestyle dance, I got my ankles tangled, caught major air, and landed with a dramatic “thwack!” right on my rear. My horrified neighbor kindly offered me a hand up, but all I wanted was for the ground to open and swallow me whole. For the next two weeks, I looked like I’d spent a little too much time in the amateur version of Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain. Half credit for trying something new?
It’s been almost eight years since the birth of my son, and I’m still working on that baby weight. Don’t hang up! I promise, there are some good fitness and nutrition tips ahead. But, like most of the moms I know, it’s taken me a while to get there. I’ve tried it all – from South Beach and spinning to juice cleanses and Zumba.
One challenge? Making the time for exercise. I once read an article in a fitness magazine about a model, who said she thought of her weekly fitness routine like a stack of seven playing cards. She had 3 cardio cards, 2 weight-lifting cards, 1 for yoga, and 1 “day of rest” card to “deal” to herself each week. Ok, sweetie.
She may be on to something, though. Realistically speaking, I have found that planning gym visits out ahead of time increases the odds that they’ll happen. Now, my husband and I sit down with our calendars every Sunday and figure out who gets to hit the gym and when. Groundbreaking, I know, but a good reminder that that which is not planned, will most likely be abandoned for pizza and reruns of ER on Netflix. When it comes to food you’re putting in your face, I’ve found that calorie counter apps – I like My Fitness Pal – operate on the same principle.
Also on the food front, a friend recently whispered in my ear that she’s had luck sticking to “no snacks, no sweets, no seconds” during the week. I love a catchy catchphrase – and if it’s rhyming or alliterative, all the better. I’ve been trying it out for a while, and I have to say, it’s working. The “no sweets” bit, in particular, has seriously curbed my long, but completely dysfunctional relationship with sugar.
And now, as promised, some tips for my fellow well-intentioned but fitness-challenged mamas out there to lose the baby weight:
- Lift some weights. Want to avoid old-lady bones? Don’t skimp on weight-bearing exercise. I know cardio seems like to way to go when you have limited time and want to feel the burn, but apparently, building lean muscle burns calories too. I know, I know – it sounds like witchcraft, but trust me.
- Know thyself. If, like me, you need someone screaming at you to get a good workout, make that a part of your plan. Need competition? Take a spin class with a posted leaderboard. If you’re a nerd for numbers, get a smartwatch or app with fitness tracking capabilities.
- Missing a day (week, month) at the gym, or doing unspeakable things to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, isn’t the end of the world. Once is NOT a trend (unless your kid slept through the night. In that case, once is a flippin’ streak). Don’t beat yourself up over falling off your fitness goals. Get back on that horse (or rowing machine) tomorrow.
- Focus on fitness, not fatness. Being in good shape doesn’t always mean being thin. Not a stick creature? Who cares! You crushed a 5K and can easily take five flights of stairs at work.
- Be kind to yourself. Remember, comparison is the enemy of happiness. Measuring yourself against a celeb who just had a baby and bounced back to a size zero before leaving the hospital – “I breastfed for 5 minutes and chase my little ones around the house, and the weight just FELL right off!” – that’s just crazy-making.
So, my advice? Find what works for you, and stick to it. And maybe leave the professional choreography moves to Kevin Bacon.