As if carrying and then pushing out a baby isn’t hard enough, many new moms face the challenge of returning to their pre-pregnancy shape. Fortunately, our city offers many affordable options for getting fit.
I gave birth to my son, Nicholas, in the wintery midst of holiday hullabaloo, and didn’t fully claw my way out of the hole I’d nested in until the spring. With the sun suddenly shining and robins hopping about, I found myself with an increasingly social baby… and the stamina and extra tummy skin of a lethargic possum. Motivated by a friend and new sneaks, I shook off the woollies, sucked it in and up, and off to boot camp I went.
Seeing the guy who used to serve me my 11 p.m. sauvignon saunter by while I attempted to lunge/hide behind my stroller made me question what I’d gotten myself into, and why the hell I chose Trinity Bellwoods—one of the few places in Toronto you can do a burpie and find a joint roach stuck to your thigh—as the venue. But despite the “oh god, I’m an adult” anxieties, split abs, and inclination to pee when doing a jumping jack, the process of finally being able to run again without dropping an f-bomb and falling over, meeting new chums (big and small), and watching them grow has been fantastic.
You can squeeze your eyes shut and hope that breastfeeding will get your body back to what it used to be. Or, in a somewhat particular order, you can follow these tips for getting back into shape:
Have empathy for yourself. If this is your first baby, you’re probably still in shock for the first six weeks. If it’s your second, that likely means your first is now running laps around you, wailing banshee-style, and throwing your “sleep when the baby sleeps” plan out the window. Best to wait until you feel somewhat human again before you lessen the death grip on your maternity jeans.
Have realistic expectations. Your body has changed—your ribs and hips are not where they used to be, and they may not bounce back for a while. Besides that, you may very well not lose the weight in the first months post-pregnancy, so a strict timeline is really just a great way to set yourself up for feeling blue.
You are not pregnant anymore—stop eating like you are. Sure, if you’re breastfeeding you’ll need extra calories, but that doesn’t make a spoonful of Nutella a reasonable pre-dinner aperitif. Being mindful of your diet is key to a healthy body—sometimes “lunch” is a handful of almonds while standing at the counter, but it beats half a dozen mini-Oreos with a tequila chaser.
Walk everywhere. Toronto—with all its neighbourhoods, parks, and paths—is begging to be explored by your baby, who needs to be exposed to as many sights, smells, and sounds as you can throw their way. Strap on your bean and Pedestrian Sunday through Kensington, park and stroll from High Park during Cherry Blossom season instead of paying for street parking on Roncey—however you do it, walking is super healthy, it’s relatively low impact and most importantly, it’s free.
Do some yoga. Explore hospital-run classes, such as the Moms & Babes sessions at St. Joe’s (six weekly classes for $60, starting Nov. 6), or see what your neighbourhood has to offer. Toronto is overrun with yoga studios and most, such as Breathe and Esther Myers, offer post-natal classes that are wonderful for getting stretchy and interactive with your baby. Of course, baby-free classes are where you’re more likely to actually get some yoga in—try to find some time if you can. (Perhaps bribe your significant other with the Oreos and tequila you didn’t have for lunch.)
Break a sweat. If you want to raise your heart rate, there are a bunch of top-notch options—boot camps (Belly Bootcamp and Baby & Me Fitness run sessions in a slew of locations across the city), swimming (try the JCC or the City of Toronto for pre-school aquatics classes), or just belt your baby into a stroller and start running (definitely the cheapest way—and, if you find a willing partner, it still counts as a social event).
Having followed my own advice, my jeans do not fit quite the way they used to. No one has paid me, nor will likely ever be willing to pay me, $4 million to “lose the weight” and sing about it on TV. I’m vain, admittedly, but what I quickly learned is that “losing the weight” is not the most important conversation you’re having as a mum. (If it is, you’re probably being paid $4 million.) I need to be healthy and fit for my son, and not just so I can squeeze my ass back into a size I “used to be.” That being said, I feel really good and can probably beat you in an arm wrestle.