Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dancing to Fitness - For new moms

It is most ironic that just when a woman needs to get back in shape the most (after giving birth), she has the least time and energy for it. The new baby takes over every aspect of life and basically monopolizes all the time and energy. Most new moms are chronically under-rested and under-slept. So even when they ever get to tear away from their little bundle of joy, the scarce "time out" is usually filled with chores or needing to spend time with husband/family/friends.
But what about the new mom herself???

As a new mom, I understand the situation first hand. I am a working mom, who cooks all her family's meals, does laundry, shops for groceries and does all the usual home chores. All this on about 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep each night.

It is worth noting that in addition to the 6+ months of stretch in the waistline that average pregnancy brings, the post partum lack of sleep, helps keep the waistline pounds on through release of stress hormones. The other nasty side effect of sleep deprivation is limited ability to concentrate. Concentration is very important in keeping a regular, committed exercise routine. Any jogger will tell you that it is mental focus which keeps them going when lungs and legs feel like giving up.

So what's the good news?

The good news is that you can work around your baby and the hectic schedule it brings. Turning the virtual homebound existence of a new parent (at least in winter months) into an asset, is as easy as deciding on a routine that you can do on your living room floor, without equipment. DANCE! Babies love music and they love even more to see their mommies next to them. Why not bring these two elements together and include your baby in your exercise dance routine as audience. I can tell you that my 8 month old son loves to stand in his little walker and watch me dance for him as he enjoys and takes in the music, my movements, and even tries to move in imitation. When he is old enough to walk, he may join me, but for now I dance solo.

In terms of music style, it is best to pick music that gets you moving. However, keep in mind that reggae beat is about 60 beats per minute which is similar to heartbeat; this is trus of roots rock reggae, not dancehall. So for very young babies 3 months or less, it will be very soothing as it will remind them of mom’s heartbeat, which they came to be accustomed to in uterus. My son, for example, loves Blues. Try to stretch before and after your dance routine and if you manage to keep your dance going for 15-25 minutes you will work up a nice sweat.

Choosing an exercise routine that is congruent with your schedule and lifestyle will have the most longevity and therefore most beneficial results and impact on your health. I tried gyms, jogs in the park and mommy-and-me yoga, but none lasted because they all required leaving home at certain time, travelling to certain destination, etc. But since your baby is your boss, at least for the first two years of his life, he does not usually cooperate with your other commitments. As they say: If you can’t fight them, join them. So let your baby join you on the dance floor of your home and see yourself transform back into more limber, slimmer and upbeat you, again!

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