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Updated: May 8, 2014 19:39 IST

From flab to fit once more

Sangeetha Devi Dundoo
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Mothers who are consistent with their workouts are more likely to be fit. Photo: M. Periasamy
The Hindu
Mothers who are consistent with their workouts are more likely to be fit. Photo: M. Periasamy

As more young mothers turn to fitness routines to battle post-partum bulge, fitness trainers list a few dos and don’ts

A few months after she delivered her first baby, a young mother posted a photograph of herself with a caption ‘getting back to shape project’ and Facebook friends of the former journalist were quick to cheer and motivate her. She followed it up with sporadic status updates, outlining her diet and fitness routines. Months later, she posted photographs of herself, much slimmer after all the working out.

Many young mothers choose not to be oblivious to post-partum weight gain. The intention to walk that extra mile and get back to being their former selves stems from a growing awareness towards being healthy and fit and the yearning to be a young, fit mother. “There’s a lot of peer pressure. I looked around me and realised all my friends went back to being fit in no time after pregnancy,” says Sunaina Sood, a mother of two.

Between golf, swimming, gym and jogging, Sunaina manages to keep herself fit amidst her family and work commitments. “Women today take on so many responsibilities that keep us on our toes because unlike the previous generation, we have only one or two children,” she adds.

The journey towards being healthy and fit begins during pregnancy with a firm focus on ‘eating healthy’ than ‘eating for two’. “The book ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ was my bible and I was stuck by an observation that one could get away having an ice cream in normal condition but during pregnancy, the empty calories without nutrition are going to add to your waistline. I understood the need to eat sensibly,” explains Sunaina.

Women who habitually lead a healthy lifestyle find the path back to fitness easier to handle, observes fitness trainer Gavin Holt who mentions a young mother’s transformation from flab to fit in six months. But he also points to the danger of fitness turning into an obsession. “When new mothers come to the gym, we check their medical history — normal delivery or a C-section, and find out if they are nursing. Nursing mothers should take up easy to moderate workouts and have a regular, nutritious diet.”

In many cases, training new mothers calls for counselling to deal with post-partum depression. “Some women take time to cope with the changes in their body. They want to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible and don’t like walking around with a sagging lower abdomen. We make them understand that it’s all part of a natural process and losing weight is not tough,” says Gavin. In the initial stages, he suggests working out as and when possible. Twice or thrice a week would suffice for women attending to the new born day and night.

Consistency and moderate exercise help in gradually knocking off extra pounds, notes trainer Faiyaz Ali. “One has to be rational. For nursing mothers, I would recommend a 20 to 30-minute workout that consists mainly of cardio and light weights. Going overboard can stress the body that’s witnessing hormonal changes,” he says. Faiyaz suggests maintaining an active lifestyle coupled with healthy eating habits. “I ask women to take it easy and be judicious with their workouts. The intensity can be stepped up eventually. I’ve come across mothers who are good runners. Think long term and don’t fret if it takes a few more months to get back in shape,” he sums up.

Fitness checklist

- Consult your doctor before you begin a fitness routine.

- Sleepless nights while attending to the newborn can make it tough to stick to a workout pattern. Begin with two days a week.

- Remember the basics — eat moderately at regular intervals and get enough sleep.

- Do not starve.

- Eating leftovers of baby food is not a great idea.

- Exercise can help overcome post-partum blues, so enjoy the process.

- Don’t give in to peer pressure to get back in shape. For some, the process takes only a few months while for others it might take a year or two. Be consistent with workouts.

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