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Work-Outs and the Over-Worked Mom

Apparently this is the only photo I can find of me doing anything physical.

If you hop on the internet and Google postpartum weight loss or workouts, you will be met with a very modernized, western philosophy that encourages postpartum sedentary lifestyle habits. Your search will leave you feeling guilty that you want to be healthy. Please note the use of the word healthy in this post and not thin or getting back into shape. When I say healthy, I am not talking about looking good again in your size 0 jeans or looking sexy for your man. The kind of healthy change I am talking about is the kind that will bring down your blood pressure, reduce the impact of your weight on your body, stop you adding sleep apnea into the mix, and give you the energy to deal with sleep deprivation and keeping up with little people.

When it comes to postpartum weight loss and exercise, most people have a modern view that creates to sedentary mothers who are afraid to do ANYTHING that might promote weight loss, especially if they are breastfeeding. All over the world there are women who are breastfeeding and have extreme physical demands placed on their bodies (walking for water?) and minimal food supply in comparison to our frequent access to pantries and plush couches. Nothing makes me feel more frustrated when you are sharing with someone about your efforts to get healthy and they try to comfort you by saying, “Well, it took nine months to put it on…”, I can’t think of a time that has motivated me or made me feel good about my decision to get healthy again. I think what mothers need to hear is “wow, you are doing a great job, it must be really hard after having kids. Keep up the good work!”.

Yes, motherhood parenthood is exhausting. Before kids finding the time and motivation to work out was always a challenge, however something as easy as cutting back on screen time (tv and computer) will not create vast holes in my daily routine for me to get up and get moving anymore. I want to share with you a few ideas to consider for over-worked moms who need to workout more.

1.) No Sweat Workout: Breastfeeding. While breastfeeding your body burns anywhere from 200-500 calories per kid. The more you nurse, the more calories you burn. Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn’t an option for all moms and some breastfeeding mothers have trouble losing weight while breastfeeding. But, you should strongly consider giving it a try. Just make sure that you don’t blow your calorie burn by adding too many extra calories to your diet (especially junk!). Check out this great article on exercising while breastfeeding.

2.) Schedule your workouts. Life with kids is unpredictable, so our workouts cannot be if we want to get them done. If you do not make a specific plan to exercise, it will be very easy to forget or tell yourself “I’ll just go tomorrow”. You may need to plan to work out EARLY before the kids wake up or you go to work, that way you’ve got it done and out of the way or after the kids go to bed. If your little kids aren’t going to bed until late, you may need to consider helping them get on an early sleep schedule. It will be better for everyone, I promise!

3.) Be Creative. Just because Tae-Bo worked for you back in 1996 does not mean it is going to work now. I have found this to be true with both workouts and diets. Billy Banks may not be the best option for you at home while your kids are around unless you aren’t worried about the possibility of power striking your kid across the living room. Look into memberships at gyms that have a nursery or kids programs. We enjoy a family membership at our local YMCA that has a toddler town and kids gym if we need them. Now that we’ve got three kids, I think it is easier for my husband and I to go individually and leave the kids at home because taking the kids gives us more excuses to stay home. I also find that I hold back when working out if my kids are at the gym because I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m firing all cylinders.

If a gym membership isn’t an option for you, try dvd workouts or youtube. I know these seem really lame, but Leslie Sansone workouts are great if you’ve got little ones around while you are working out because they are mostly just walking in place. Another suggestion would be to get outside with your kids. Take them to a playground with a good walking area. Let them play for a while on the equipment and them push them around in strollers to unwind after a hard play. Baby wearing is also another great way to add a little extra calorie burn to what you’re already doing. Wear a baby while you’re grocery shopping, and you’ll burn a few extra calories. (especially at Walmart! I always come home exhausted shopping at Walmart because I forget things that are at various different places in the store)

4.) Have Goals and Rewards for reaching them. Once you decide how you want to get your exercise, make goals to keep you motivated. Right now I am teaching myself how to “run” with Podrunner Intervals Day 1 to 5k podcasts. By Will’s second birthday, my goal is to be able to run for 35 minutes straight.

5.) Find a Support Person. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be working out with you, but they need to be supportive of your goals and give you encouragement. They will be the one who will not tell you the usual, “it took nine months…” but give you a high five when you tell them you lost a pound or you signed up for a gym membership.

I am excited to see that there are a few of you who are on similar journeys right now, if you’ve got any ideas that you also want to share, please post in the comments below. I know that there are many of you for whom one or all of these suggestions will not work, but don’t let that stop you from achieving your goals. As with any diet or exercise be sure to communicate with your doctor before making any drastic changes. (I am not a medical health professional, and my post is for encouragement only)

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About Jamie

Jamie is a creative-techie mom, raising three boys under three (twins!) with her husband in Pennsylvania. Jamie now writes at The Red Robinson,


  1. Did I tell you about the Darrell’s Dream Boundless Playground yet? I couldn’t remember but you can google it if you’ve never been. It’s designed for all children (including handicapped) so it is fully stroller accessible. Most of the big equipment with slides have ramps so younger kids can walk up those instead of having to worry about them on stairs/ladders. It is at Warriors Path Park in Kingsport (not far off the interstate). But if you go I would definitely recommend taking someone else with you that can keep up with Will while you push the twins in the stroller. It is quite large and different things extend back into the woods, so if he gets excited and runs to things (like mine does) then it is hard to keep up with the kids while pushing a stroller. They also have a trail where you can walk around the lake, we usually walk first, then let Aubrey loose on the playground! But it’s pretty cool, and I love your suggestions about getting healthy! (I think a lot of people need to get out and play with their kids more, its no wonder all they want to do is sit around and watch tv!)

  2. Kristine says:

    Before I got pregnant (and got really sick), I had started doing Zumba with some friends. It’s a really great workout and you have so much fun! I’m planning on getting the dvds (since I don’t have the time/ money for classes) and starting back up again either when my doctor gives me an ok for it or after the baby comes. My 2 year old loves dancing to it too 🙂