I love the internet.  You get to meet really interesting people from around the world every day.  It’s great being able to help others from a distance but I also learn something every time I have an exchange with someone.   Many people offer honest advice on real life issues—how they lost weight, how they finally stuck with their exercise program and many other tidbits of wisdom about how THEY conquered issues and survived.

I recently received the following email from a woman in Miami who was looking for ways to incorporate strength training into her busy day:

Hi Molly, I know I need to make strength training a part of my routine but I honestly don’t think I have the time. I recently lost 40 pounds that took me 3 years to lose (baby weight and then some). I’m happier and have more energy to keep up with my 3 1/2 year old daughter. I still have some belly fat and extra skin (from the weight loss) but I will be trying for my second in a couple of months. I’m a pharmacist, and only have time to work out in the morning or on the weekends (being on my feet for 10 hours makes me too tired to exercise after work).  I’m only using the elliptical 30 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per week. Personal trainers are too expensive ($55/hour) and I can’t go to a gym at 6:00 am because I don’t have anyone to watch my daughter that early. I do have a multi-purpose weight machine my husband bought. Are there short, simple exercises I can do to strengthen my arms, legs, and stomach. I hate doing sit-ups, but I know I have to do something about my belly. Thank you in advance. Take care.  Sincerely, Ana

My advice to her was as follows:

Hi Ana: You have a very busy and hectic schedule.  Good for you for doing everything you can to do what’s best for your health and YOU. I’ll make just one suggestion for now.  Try this for a month to see if you notice a difference.

Change up your workout on the elliptical.  The fact that you’re doing 30 minutes is great.  Now, all you need to do is make those 30 minutes more intense.  Warm-up for about 3-5 minutes, then go 1 minute hard (to the point where you feel out of breath), then go 2 minutes normal.  After a couple of these “sprints”, increase the resistance on the elliptical (so it feels like you’re walking through mud) and pick up 3-5 pound hand weights for some upper body exercises.   Lift those hand weights in SUPER SLOW MOTION.  Take at least 20-30 seconds to lift the weights then another 20-30 seconds to lower. You won’t believe how heavy those weights get!  Pick some exercises you like (overhead press, lateral raise, bicep curl, triceps extension).  In between each strength exercise, you’ll do 1 “hard” interval.  While performing these exercises, focus on tightening your abdominal muscles but make sure you don’t hold your breath.  When you get off the elliptical, take 5 more minutes and do slow motion lunges (with the weights), 10-20 push-ups (modified if you prefer) and some abdominal exercises.  I posted some great ones in this article:  https://mollynap.com/2010/04/3-absolutely-awesome-exercises/

I hope this helps.  You should definitely notice some muscle toning in month.  Plus, the increased exercise intensity will boost your ability to burn calories…thus help you drop a little weight.  Remember, take small steps—this will ensure that you continue to “WIN” over your lifetime!  Thanks for the email and good luck. Please follow up with me in a month to let me know how you’re doing.

Ana wrote back and was excited about combining some strength moves into her cardio routine.  Not only did she promise to follow up with me, she also offered some really great advice to other new moms:

“Having a baby can be the most wonderful thing you’ve ever experienced in your life.  But it can also be a very scary time for many new moms.  Sleep deprivation alone can make those first few months extremely difficult.  Add hormonal fluctuations, residual pain from delivery, and a crying baby to the mix, it can feel overwhelming.  Many women start to think they’re “bad” moms at this point because they feel like everything should come naturally to them.  For some lucky moms it does—for others, those first few months are a struggle.

  • Don’t obsess about your weight after giving birth.  Focus on bonding with your new baby.
  • For the first 6 weeks, just focus on eating healthy foods.  Watch your portion sizes but do not go on a diet.  Begin losing weight slowly with the goal of losing your baby weight during the first 6 months.
  • Don’t try to be the “perfect” mom.  First of all, it’s impossible.  Secondly, you’ll drive yourself crazy with guilt.  Just do the best you can.
  • Communicate any bad/depressed feelings you’re having—even if you think you’ll sound like a “bad” mom—which you’re not.  You’re not the only new mom who has felt overwhelmed and has experienced feelings of resentment, loss, and fear.
  • If you don’t feel an immediate bond with your child, don’t panic.   Bonding can happen in a split second when you first “meet” your baby, but, for some women, this can take more time.  Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings with your significant other, best friend or doctor.

Falling in love with your child is magical.  You suddenly realize your purpose in life.  It’s not about you anymore—it’s about him or her—and you wouldn’t have it any other way.”  

Thank you Ana for sharing your great advice and for taking the time to reach out.   We’ll look forward to hearing how your new elliptical workout is going in a month or two.

If you have any first-hand tips, advice or stories for new moms, please share with us.

Stay Strong & Smile,