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Getting into Shape for New Mums

New mums getting into shape by pushing a pram

New mum getting into shape by pushing a pram


Into the second month of the year, Christmas is now a distant dream. So too, for many of us, are those New Year resolutions, with a survey finding that three-quarters of them will be broken soon – many of them by the end of January! With the top New Year resolution for 2012 being to get physically fit though, the experts are encouraging us not to give up on our plans – because a healthier Mum means a happier Mum!


“Having a baby is a major life event in many ways,” says personal trainer and owner of Brisbane-based Core Health Coaching, Cameron Corish. “And most new Mums can experience more mental stress than a large company CEO, as well as increased physical stress, all on a reduced quality and quantity of sleep. Compounding that, most Mums will tend to see their own health as being a lower priority than looking after the immediate needs of the family.” But with international research finding that the happiness level of a Mum has a significant influence on the overall happiness of her children, there are important reasons to stay in shape!

What you eat

We all know that healthy food choices are a big part of staying in shape – but sometimes it’s easy to forget that when juggling the needs of a baby and perhaps a toddler, all on just a few hours sleep.

“Having a baby is life changing. It can take time to settle into a new routine and to work out how to balance diet and exercise,” says Philippa Golley, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. “And it’s easy to fall into some common dietary traps such as eating for reasons other than hunger (for example because you are bored, tired or when your mood is low) or filling up on high sugar snacks instead of more nutrient-dense foods.  We can also fall into the habit of drinking tea, coffee and sweetened drinks instead of water.”

Getting the right nutrition is vitally important though, so Ms Golley suggests the following tips for Mums:

Keep a running shopping list on the fridge, and make sure that you stock up on healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables, low fat yoghurt, wholegrain crackers and English muffins. Freeze bananas, mangoes and berries to make a low fat, luscious fruit smoothie.

* Meal planning is essential! Include some protein (e.g. meat, chicken, fish, eggs or legumes), carbohydrate (potato, pasta, rice or, wholegrain bread) and plenty of vegetables in each meal.

Also, prepare meals ahead of time – where possible, prepare casseroles and soups early in the day when you have energy to spare. That will help avoid the “I’m too tired to cook” dash for takeaway in the evening.

Pay attention to eating triggers and try to avoid ‘non-hungry eating’

Hydration is very important, so have a jug of water on the go and pour a glass each time you breastfeed. Try soda water with a slice of lemon or lime or a dash of fresh fruit juice.

Take the time to prepare a fruit smoothie, a low fat hot chocolate, some popcorn, raisin toast or veggie sticks with homous. It’ll be better for your baby and will help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

What you do

As well as food, of course, another aspect of getting into shape is exercise and Cameron Corish encourages new Mums to take some time out for their own needs. “Most new mums feel guilty and selfish about taking time away from the family to focus on themselves but I tell my clients that this investment will reap rewards with increased energy levels and sense of wellbeing,” he says. “Because of course that old cliché – happy wife equals happy life has a lot of truth in it!”

Mr Corish encourages Mums to incorporate the following tips into their lifestyle:

Combine cardio and strength. “ The fitness industry has ongoing and rigorous debate on the right sort of exercise,” says Mr Corish. “But ideally a combination of both will get you best results. As an example, most new mums want to lose their pregnancy weight gain and typically will complete cardio exercise, such as long hours walking. Unfortunately, this ignores some of the key problems resulting from child birth and the resulting benefits of strength training. So ensure that you combine both for optimum health.

Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle. Parents are time-poor, so use your limited time well to incorporate more incidental exercise. Some examples would be having your mothers groups catch up at the park/tennis centre rather than the coffee shop, and catching up with your partner at the end of each day for a walk as opposed to a glass of wine.

Make it relevant!  Any exercise will improve your fitness of course, but if your goal is to be an in-shape Mum then choose some exercises that will target the right areas. “Get some professional advice to set up a training plan that is tailored for your own needs,” says Mr Corish.  “New Mums and Mums with young children have particular core strength needs, as they are often picking up and carrying babies and children. The right type of exercises can help to avoid day-to-day injury.  As an example, one of the most common post-baby injuries I see is lower back pain from hip displacement. This is from mums sitting the babies on one side only. Share the load between the hips even if one side is more difficult or weaker.”

Proudly published in 2012 by Essential Baby


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