Maybe you're working on losing the last of the pregnancy weight. Maybe you've always been active and you've just gotten the clearance from your ob-gyn to get back into the swing of things. Maybe your local gym offers free childcare and, well, as long as you're taking advantage of it, you might as well work up a sweat. Whatever your motivation is to get your heart rate up, it's a decidedly different endeavor on this side of childbirth. Here are five ways that you can expect your exercise routine to change after becoming a mom.
1. You have a new appreciation for your body.
Or at least I hope you do. Because damn, girl, you made a tiny human. Your body provided everything that baby needed for nine long months and then figured out how to get that baby out into the world. And even now that your baby survives outside your body, it's still your arms that comfort her, legs that walk her, your chest that she wants to snuggle into. Your body is a superhero. Exercise postbaby is a way to acknowledge all that your body has done — and is still doing — and say, "Yep. This body is the bomb." (Are we still saying "the bomb"? You can rest assured that I'm a real-life mom because that's how out of touch I am.)
2. Turns out there's a new level of exhaustion you didn't know existed.
Did you ever go to yoga class before you had kids and have trouble fully relaxing during the final relaxation poses? Yeah, that time in your life is over now. I fell asleep during a dental cleaning the other day, so I obviously don't stand a chance during Savasana (Corpse Pose). My mind still wanders, but my body melts into my yoga mat, overjoyed at the thought of a few minutes of rest without the possibility of a crying baby or a "Mom, watch this!" to interrupt me. And so what if that's my favorite part of yoga some days? Whatever gets us to class, right?!
3. Postnatal urinary incontinence means no more plyometrics.
Yep — I'm going there. "There," of course, is the land of grown-up pants-peeing. There are entire fitness studios devoted to trampoline workouts now, and I can only assume that whoever invented that idea has not experienced the miracle of childbirth. The pelvic floor muscles are taken to task during pregnancy and childbirth, and for many women, they're never quite the same again. So when your bootcamp instructor gives an option to "modify" those jumping jacks or squat hops, listen up. Your yoga pants will thank you.
4. You have a new appreciation for alone time.
Motherhood is a boisterous endeavor. Whether it's shrieks of delight or toddler rage, laughter or tears, declarations or questions (so. many. questions.), there are very few moments of quiet. Activities that your 20-year-old self might have considered boring now seem simply sublime. Listening to a podcast while walking in place on a treadmill? It's basically a mini vacation now.
5. Your relationship with yoga pants gets a little more casual.
Remember the first time you tried on a pair of maternity pants? You couldn't believe you had wasted so much of your life putting up with zippers and buttons and nonspandex waistbands. The glorious comfort of multiway stretch and the flexibility of a fold-over waistband changed you forever. Shall I wear it pulled up high to keep everything sucked in nice and tight, or shall I fold it down and let this belly breathe? There are no wrong answers here. It's amazing. But long after you pack up the maternity clothes, the first cousin of your beloved preggings — your trusty yoga pants — is ready and waiting. And why would you reserve that level of comfort just for yoga class?
Motherhood changes everything. Even your workouts. So gulp down some coffee, throw a panty liner in your gym bag, and keep at it. Even if that means listening to Serial while lying in Corpse Pose.