Exercise, Motherhood & Me | Guest Writer Erin Puckett
My name is Erin Puckett and I am an Exercise Scientist and a Mother. Fitness has always been a part of my life in some form or another. We were active children playing hockey, basketball, cricket, swimming, you name it we probably tried it. So when it came to choosing a university degree, Sport Science seemed the perfect fit.
I have been working in the health and fitness industry now for over 12 years. I have trained women through every stage of pregnancy including myself and I can unequivocally say, every woman’s experience with pregnancy and exercise is truly unique, including mine. When I fell pregnant I was exercising 5 days a week, teaching RPM classes and weight training as I had been doing for several years. I was a healthy weight with no serious health concerns and injury free. My beautiful daughter turns 3 in June and I am only now managing to maintain a regular exercise routine…. and I work in a gym!
So why has it taken so long? A number of reasons both physical and mental. My body wasn’t the same post pregnancy and my energy levels were nowhere near what they used to be. Lack of sleep will do that to you! Additionally, I suffered from pubic symphysis (early separation of the hip bones) thanks to hyper mobility and was cautious about injury. But mostly, my procrastination was a mental battle. Whilst I well and truly know the benefits of exercise and the positive effects it can have on mental health, I couldn’t seem to match that knowledge up with my new mum brain.
Trust me I tried. Daily walks with new bub were easy but they werent enough and they definitely weren’t helping shake the baby weight. I returned to the gym aiming for sessions 3 times a week. Seems reasonable right? But I would get there and feel guilty for not being at home being a mum. My workouts were ineffective because I was distracted and eventually, I just stopped bothering. And I am not the only one. With all the Mums I have had the amazing pleasure of training over the years, there are a few commonalities. So here are a few key things I have learned through experience that will hopefully help other Mums reading with their journey to health and happiness.
1. Exercise is different for everyone and so is pregnancy. So always seek the advice of your doctor regarding what type and intensity of exercise is best for you. Supervised training sessions with an exercise professional are highly recommended for specific conditions such as gestational diabetes etc. This allows you to continue exercising while controlling those factors.
2. Mindset is everything. As a new mum, you tend to skip out taking care of yourself. So make sure you make yourself a priority. You need to be happy and healthy to take care of that bundle of joy, so schedule some me time and get those endorphins flowing. Make a plan for exercise and stick to it. Your body and your baby will thank you for it. And ditch the guilt. You are being the best mother you can be by taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family.
3. Keep it simple. I have seen women give birth and return to Pump class with a 6 pack 8 weeks later. I have also seen women gain 20kgs in 9 months baking their babies. Don’t expect the same results as someone else. They’re not you. Simplicity wins when it comes to healthy choices especially when kids are involved. Move More, Eat Fresh. Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise 3 times per week. Stack your diet with fresh produce, lean meats and whole grains. The less processing the better.
4. Rest, relax and recover. Your body needs it. That doesn’t mean you absolutely HAVE to get 8 hours sleep a night (which would be impressive to pull off with a kid in the house anyway!). It means downtime. A slow down where you can let your muscles recover and your brain reboot. A warm bath and a good book are my go to.
5. Love yourself the way that kid loves you. Unconditionally. And they always will. So take care of yourself body, mind and soul so they know how to do it too.
It wont happen overnight. It has taken me 12 years of exercise experience and 3 years as a mum to reach where I am. I’m still a work in progress, like the rest of us. So take your time and enjoy the ride.