With a little planning, busy moms can fit exercise and healthy nutrition into their daily lives.
What’s the most pressing problem new moms face? It could be taking care of a new baby, figuring out how and when to return to work, or balancing attention between multiple kids — or it could be carving out moments to focus on their own health and fitness.
“The biggest challenge is finding time,” says Dr. Meredith Maxwell, a family physician at Touro Infirmary. “I tell patients that if they don’t prioritize, it’s never going to happen.”
Working out and preparing healthy snacks are often the first things new moms neglect, but they’re also some of the most pivotal practices to maintain into motherhood. Dr. Maxwell suggests scheduling time every day for physical activity, even if it’s just five minutes. “Exercise is not even always about weight loss,” she says. “It’s about feeling better, taking control of your life, and controlling the stressors and pressures of parenthood.”
Luckily, there are lots of creative ways to work fitness into your day!
Creative, Integrative Fitness Tips
- Eat a quick lunch, and take a lunch-break stroll with coworkers.
- Work out with resistance bands in the kids’ carpool line.
- Walk or bike to the store instead of driving.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Make Activity a Family Affair
- Moms can also include kids in their workouts — and this family fitness focus doubles as a learning experience. By emphasizing exercise, new moms will help their children form healthy habits. “Kids learn from showing, not telling,” Dr. Maxwell says. “It’s ‘monkey see, monkey do.’”
- Here are a few ways for the whole family to get moving:
- Bring kids to the park for active play dates with other moms.
- Join a “baby buggy” workout program.
- Take “Mommy and Baby” yoga classes.
- Plan fun activities that incorporate walking, like visiting museums or the mall.
- If solo workout time is the best way for you to break a sweat, then share the load and exercise while your partner watches the kids. Don’t forget that carrying your bundle of joy is a workout, too! Kids can often ride along in a baby carrier while Mom exercises.
To make sure you prioritize your health, it’s important to choose physical activities you enjoy. “If you pick something that you hate, you’re not going to stick with it,” Dr. Maxwell says. She recommends beginning an exercise regimen slowly, aiming to work out three times per week for 30 minutes. “Then, gradually increase to 60 minutes four times a week,” she says. “Set a goal and work up to it.”
Eat Well in a Hurry
Planning ahead is key for maintaining healthy nutrition as a new mom. “Weekends are a great time to do your ‘big’ cooking,” Dr. Maxwell says. “Make big casseroles or pots of stew that you can eat during the week.”
To avoid reaching for whatever food is nearest when you get hungry, keep snacks in the car. Since it’s easy to overeat when you’re stressed or in a rush, portion healthy snacks like nuts, carrots and apple slices ahead of time, or buy 100-calorie snack packs.
And never, ever skip meals. “Your metabolism is disrupted because you’re not eating regularly,” Dr. Maxwell explains.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Maxwell, call (504) 897-7007
or visit crescentcityphysicians.com.
HEALTH TIP: Just five minutes is enough time to get your heart rate up and break a sweat. Take advantage of spare moments, and you’ll reap the many mental and physical benefits of exercise!