Aside from getting enough sleep, whether I workout in the mornings has recently been one of determining factors between a joyful, productive day and a lousy, anxiety-ridden one. As a new mom with limited childcare, finding time to squeeze in fitness can be harder than trying to get the kid to fall asleep by himself. But over the past two months since we’ve been at home, I’ve gotten into a groove with finding time and energy for at home workouts, and I’m starting to finally feel like I’m making progress on my postpartum body. Here’s how I’ve been working out at home with a baby.
Going to Bed On Time
Since I am seven hours ahead of my family, friends, and work commitments, I have in the past few months found myself staying up WAY past midnight so that I can be available through the end of the workday on EST. I know – super smart – especially considering I have a four month old who still wakes up once or twice to eat in the middle of the night, so my sleep is already compromised. After a particularly bad day two weeks ago when I went to bed at 3:30am, I committed to putting down electronics by 11pm so that I can go to bed no later than midnight (ideally I would go full on grandma mode and do like 9pm but a girl’s gotta work). TKB usually wakes up around 7, so the goal is to get 8 hours of total sleep so I have some energy in the morning to move my body.
Working Out During TKB’s Morning Nap
Pre-pandemic, I was able to go to the gym twice a week for an hour and a half because our nanny was around to watch the baby. Since we’ve been staying at home, we’ve also asked her to protect herself by limiting her movements, so I no longer have the luxury of 2 hours of free time. Nowadays, if I don’t workout during TKB’s first morning nap – around 9am – it’s not gonna happen. He usually sleeps for no more than an hour during this nap, so I don’t have time for 45 or 60 minute long workout routines. I’ve been doing 15 and 20 minute full body HIIT workouts (love these ones on YouTube) or 20 minute yoga flows (I use this app, which customizes your practice so it’s different every day), which give me enough time to exercise, shower, and sometimes even eat breakfast before it’s time to feed the kid.
P.S. I know some people advocate for working out with your baby, and maybe I can do that once he’s older. But right now it’s easiest for me to workout when he’s asleep so I can focus on my breath and form rather than on what he’s doing or fussing about.
Doing Postpartum Friendly Core Exercises
After struggling with the softness of my postpartum body for a few months, I’m finally starting to see some progress around definition in my midsection. I didn’t think I had diastasis recti – a separation of abdominal muscles that can occur postpartum – so I was doing regular core exercises like sit ups and planks. But I’ve since learned that those exercises can make your stomach even more distended if the muscles aren’t in the correct place, so I’ve started doing postpartum friendly core exercises instead. I can finally feel my body regaining its core strength now that I’m doing the right exercises!
Eating (and Snacking) Responsibly
When we first started self-isolating, I baked all the things – no knead bread, brownies, biscuits, banana bread – everything! Cooking and baking do bring me joy, but I’ve limited it to one sugary or carb heavy creation a week, rather than the 2 or 3 I was doing a few weeks ago. Aside from showing up on my skin, when I eat poorly I’m less motivated to exercise because I’m ridden with guilt. We started getting our veggies directly from a farm to limit our grocery trip, which has in turn increased our consumption of healthy greens, which helps make me feel better about my body!
Dressing the Part
I know we pretty much live in leggings now, but having high quality workout leggings can go a long way in getting you to get your body moving. I’ve packed away my maternity workout gear and am back to my regular workout pants (mostly from Old Navy and Lululemon). Another thing to consider is a good quality yoga mat – if you’re doing a lot of jumps or squats or even down dogs indoors, its important to properly support your joints to reduce the likelihood of injury. I actually need to upgrade mine (especially since Jonathan uses it now too so it’s getting tons of wear)!