Exercise motivation for moms & tips for me-time to avoid depression
Why for moms?
Looking after babies/kids is a terribly hard stage in life. Even though they’re awfully cute, they’re a handful; no doubt. Motherhood can be so physically and mentally draining. Your days are spent in an endless rut of giving, giving and giving without taking. It’s just too much as you don’t get a minute away from these little adorable monsters. You crave some alone time to get your sanity back!
As your baby grows heavier by the day, your neck, shoulders and back can have serious issues. Your mental sanity is always at its edge and even a small trigger can just blow you off! You really need a break. If you don’t, your relationships would be at stake as your body and mind just cannot take it anymore. The best way forward is to make exercise a regular part of your routine.
Addressing our WHY before every change in our life is the most important thing. Following are some reminders on why exercise must be a regular part of our life:
The biggest benefit of exercise for moms is that it increases energy & endurance.
- Helps you control your weight & blood pressure. (vital after having a baby).
- Helps you handle stress.
- Reduce your risk of heart diseases.
- Improve your mental health and mood.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Improve your sleep.
- Help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
- Increase your chances of living longer.
- Improve your sexual health.
- Help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels.
Your personal exercise plan
First of all, think of which exercise you would like to do and what is doable. Badminton, Tennis, Squash, Basketball, Dance, Yoga, Gym, Zumba, Hiking etc. Think of all options and finalize the best one.
Exercise plan with partner
I think you need to take your husband on our side and explain how important it is for you to exercise/go out for your own time. Explain that it’s vital for your mental sanity, physical well-being and self-confidence (that follows with a good fitness routine). Once he understands, set up a time that works for you both and the baby/kids.
So you need to sit down with hubby and figure it out yourself. (Otherwise, you’ll go crazy🤪). I do all this, even then I sometimes have breakdowns as looking after a child (newborn/infant/toddler/kid) 24/7 is more than what our body can take. It’s exhausting, mentally draining and can get extremely depressing if we don’t look after ourselves.
How it helps
On most days, sports is what keeps me sane. I can physically feel my body healing when I exercise. My energy is refueled from it and I become ready to face the challenges again. After sports, I find myself more energized and able to manage housework, work and relationships better. I am generally a much happier person in the house when I’m exercising regularly. Since I’m getting a regular break from my chores, house & relationships, I get less annoyed and frustrated.
The side effect that follows is a good body shape which boosts your self-confidence – EXACTLY WHAT we need after the lasting trauma of pregnancy and childbirth.
Even if you keep the benefits of exercise aside for a minute, just the fact that you’re getting a break from your baby & home and some fresh air is a good enough reason to go for it. Happy vibes after a hard day is all you need.
How I manage sports & baby
I have mostly stuck to sports 5-6 days a week. Nyra’s bedtime pre-covid was usually 7 pm so I would mostly get her to sleep, gave hubby the video monitor. In case Nyra got up, he fed her and got her back to sleep. I came back before 9 pm and then he went for jogging/swimming. I played table tennis with Irani, Indian and Egyptian guys and then went for jogging and cycling. I exercised for 1.5-2 hours 5 days a week.
Due to covid, we couldn’t go for sports but we’re now back at it and are so happy that our apartment gym has opened to make it so much easier to manage now. I go for table tennis, dance/fitness classes or gym. I decide with him which is the best time for us to go in turns. We go every weekday! These days I exercise 45 minutes daily. I do treadmill, cycle, and elliptical, 15 minutes each.
How much exercise do you need?
A good goal is to exercise 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. However, most people need to start gradually. Start by exercising 2 or 3 times a week for 20 minutes at a time. Once you feel comfortable, slowly increase the amount of time and the number of days a week that you exercise.
How to start
To avoid injuring yourself during exercise, don’t try to do too much too soon. Start with an activity that is fairly easy for you, such as walking. Do it for a few minutes a day, several times a day. Slowly increase the amount of time and the intensity of the activity. For example, increase your walking time and speed over several weeks.
If you are into more intense sports like jogging, tennis, basketball, make sure you warm up and cool down for a few minutes before and after the activity.
Trying to push yourself too hard in the beginning could cause muscle strain or sprain.
No energy to move. How can I excercise
Exercising actually increases your energy. It may feel hard only in the beginning: I’ve always been a sports freak so I’ve always been motivated about it but of course it’s hard to start and we can procrastinate when it comes to going to the gym.
I have no stamina
It’s amazing how our bodies can adapt so quickly. Our stamina builds within days. You will have to push yourself to go only in the initial days and you’ll see how it will start coming to you naturally. Then you don’t even have to push yourself much.
I give myself easy goals like 10 minutes or 50 calories and push myself till then. But I don’t push myself too much. If I’m tired on the treadmill, I’ll walk instead of running for a minute before I get back to jogging. I think we have to be kind to ourselves too.
I get bored while exercising & how can I motivate myself?
- Listen to upbeat pop music (or search for playlists ‘Running songs. 2020’) to automatically give your body that push.
- Make targets for yourself. Example Ideas: 15 mins on treadmill, 15 mins on the cycle. Or 100 calorie burn goal etc.
- Go with a friend.
- Join fitness classes like Zumba, Dance, Spin, etc.
- Play a social sport like Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton, Volleyball, Basketball.
- Watch TV while you exercise. YouTube has many tutorials. Throughout pregnancy, I exercised in front of the TV so I knew exactly which exercises are for all trimesters.
- Keep a track of your exercise. Use a log through a smartwatch or a list. A mental list can work too. Calorie, time or step count are some ways to inspire yourself to keep at it. If you don’t have it, notice the stats on your exercise machines.
Can new moms start?
If you’ve had a baby, it’s best to wait at least 40 days for your body to heal before any exercise (except walking of course).
If you’ve had a complication or have extremely low iron levels after delivery (like me), it’s best to wait till your levels are back up. It is also a very overwhelming experience for the couple/family so it is okay if you want to take it easy in the first 3 months. But 3 months should be the mark and its best to make an exercise routine then.
My husband cant manage kids
Your kids may be used to you now but habits can easily be changed. Right now your husband doesn’t manage as he knows you are managing. When you are not there, he WILL step up and learn to manage. How can we expect our husbands to learn unless we give them a chance?
I know it’s hard in the beginning. Thats why I gave Haaris lessons of how to feed, change, change diaper, etc a week before I actually started going regularly. Even now, I make sure I have all her meals, milk, snacks ready and I give him clear instructions on how to cope before I leave. He has always managed very well without me (despite me worrying for the worst which is what moms do!) Let’s stop overthinking and trust the dads! Remember, ALL DADS CAN DO IT.
Where do I exercise?
Discuss with your partner what your options are. If you can afford a gym or a sports complex near your house, its the best. If not, then consider your apartment/work gym/pool.
If thats not available, then outside in a park. If not, then in front of the TV with tutorials on YouTube. If nothing else is available, try the road or your stairs/garden.
Let’s pump you up
Have you been one of those who haven’t exercised in ages? Are you always procrastinating exercise?
Here is your chance to figure out what works for you. Is there a gym that you’re a member of but haven’t been? Does your apartment have a pool/gym that you can easily access? Is there a bike at your home that has been waiting for someone to ride it? Is there a Tennis court right next to your house?
Figure out what you can start now and start with just ten minutes of exercise from tomorrow. What do you say?
Starting with 10 minutes is a good way to get yourself started. Everyday you can increase the time by ten minutes.
Following are some great articles on this topic that I came across while writing this article. They are definitely worth a read:
Talk to me
- Are you a mom who works out?
- If yes, How do you manage?
- If no, what are your concerns?
- When did you start working out after your baby was born?