Everyone knows pregnancy and birth changes your body in extraordinary ways. From a ballooning belly and loosening joints, to bigger breasts and a widened pelvis, a Mama’s body is transformed to carry, deliver, and sustain life. Incredible?—Absolutely! Eventually however, most Mamas are eager to reclaim a sense of ownership over their own bodies. And, no matter how active you were throughout your pregnancy, staying ‘fit’ in early motherhood can feel like a challenge. Fitness is often placed on the back-burner and before you know it your Little One is about to celebrate his/her first birthday!
The good news is it’s never too late to brush the dust off your runners and recommit to your own health & wellbeing through exercise. So, if you’re feeling ready to reconnect with your strength and want to find ways to prioritize fitness training while being a Mom, we’ve got eight helpful tips to get you on track. Keep glowing Mama—We believe in you!
Tip #1: Dress for Success
Prepare for your workout simply by suiting up. Do this first thing in the morning by laying out your favourite yoga attire the night before. In the same way a little black dress can makes you feel like royalty, donning athletic wear will get you into fitness mode. And don’t forget to lace up your indoor sneakers too—you may just find yourself sprinting up the stairs like a champ!
Tip #2: Find Your “Soulmate Workout”
It’s time to give up on exercise routines you simply don’t want to do, and find what health expert Chalene Johnson calls your “soulmate workout”. If you can’t stand running, weight lifting, or squatting, DON’T do it! Life is too short (and time is too precious) to spend hours on regimes you dread. Use first-time drop-in classes—many of which are free—to try something new. Experiment with rock climbing, cycling, or tap dancing, and don’t be afraid to fall in love!
Tip #3: Set Tiny Milestones
Setting lofty goals you might not reach is only going to get you down. Instead, tell yourself you only need to do one sun salutation, or walk one block. Even a quick stretch or a brief stroll will give your body a boost of energy. Setting tiny goals takes the pressure off, and oftentimes gives you the motivation to keep going. Before you know it you’ll be 20 minutes into a self-guided yoga practice and feeling great.
Tip #4: Pack Your Bag
Carving out time for fitness is all about removing barriers. Keep a ready-packed gym/yoga bag in your foyer so you have one less to-do standing between you and your workout. It’s handy to have your fitness gear ready to go when you are—especially when you realize you can make it to the next Yoga Babies class if you can get out the door in the next 5 minutes!
Tip #5: Cross the Finish Line
From loosing weight to building strength, hitting a ‘target’ is one way we measure our fitness success. But instead of stepping on the scale, change things up by working towards a different kind of goal. Find a charitable race or walkathon happening in your area and sign up! Train gradually with the aim of crossing a real finish line; you’ll feel so proud, while contributing to a worthy cause.
Tip #6: Do the One-Kilometer Challenge
If you live in the city, you are fortunate to have most of life’s necessities mere meters from your doorstep. Challenge yourself to walk to any destination within one kilometer. Do groceries, pick up dry cleaning, and hit the nearest park by foot. Living in a suburban area? No worries! Simply drive downtown or to the nearest ‘big box’ strip mall, park your car, and walk between the many shops!
Tip #7: Partner Up
We all know that staying accountable is a great way to stick to our commitments. Tell someone about your fitness plans—simply putting your intensions ‘out there’ will strengthen your resolve. Better yet, conscript others to join you! Arrange a bi-weekly yoga + coffee date with a girlfriend, or ask your partner to join you for evening strolls. Working out is often better with a buddy.
Tip #8: Start Kidding Around
No one will keep you on your toes like your kids! In addition to the usual running around required when you have diapers to fetch and toddlers to chase, take some time to play like a kid. Notice how they gallop, tumble, dance, and flop outside and around the home. Try climbing the stairs like a cat on all fours, or even jumping through the sprinkler with them! You may not be HIIT training, but you’ll be keeping active and having a blast!
At the end of the day, motherhood is a journey with a new set of rules, so don't expect to adhere to your pre-Mama self-care routines, or past expectations of what your works-outs should look like. Treat yourself with tons of kindness and understanding because Motherhood is demanding. Sometimes sit-ups & planks take the back seat to a sick child or catching up on much needed sleep, and that’s ok. Fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans may happen, and it may not, it really doesn't matter, so long as you do your best to stay active for the sake of your health & strength—goodness knows it will help you keep up with your Little Ones!
In honour of our Summer Wellness Special, we spoke to our expert team of wellness professionals about their personal health philosophies, what inspires them the most and their best piece of advice for a healthy/happy life!
Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Nikita Sander
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Mondays, Fridays, Alternating Saturdays and Sundays
What does wellness mean to you? The term wellness holds such vast meaning and what I love most about this is that it can mean a very different thing from one person to the next! But, when I think about wellness, it’s the following that comes to mind: Wellness is an action. It is the act of making personal choices every day (no matter how big or small) that help prioritize my health, create a life of fulfillment and achieve quality of life. It is the active pursuit of a mind-body-spirit connection. It is the permission I give to myself to take the necessary steps in order to live the life I want to live.
What is your favourite form of physical activity? I am currently obsessed with hiking as a form of physical activity, although I do enjoy good ol’ strength training and weight lifting.
If you had a wellness mantra, what would it be? Simply, “let go”
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? I will never tire of repeating this: Prioritize health and make the time for self-care, whatever this may look like for you. No excuses…just do it. Every aspect of our life and our connection with others depend on the state of our health and wellbeing. So, why wait for illness to arise before we value health? I truly believe that when we are healthy, we can achieve anything.
What is your favourite wellness quote? “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee
Registered Massage Therapist, Sandra Goldenberg
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays
What does wellness mean to you? Feeling relaxed and comfortable in my body and in the world.
What is your favourite form of physical activity? Walking in nature.
If you had a wellness mantra, what would it be? Relax into everything.
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? Aim to listen to what your body is telling you, rather than imposing rules from the outside. In other words, eat what feels good to you. Move how feels good to you. Forget what instagram is saying.
What is your favourite wellness quote? A line from Mary Oliver's, Wild Geese: "You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves."
Chiropractic Doctor, Dr. Crystal Draper
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Mondays, Fridays, as well as one Saturday a month!
What does wellness mean to you? Wellness to me means feeling well and being well, or as the kids say these days, “living your best life!”
What is your favourite form of physical activity? Well, I am a small-town girl, so I love my green space. That said, one of my favourite forms of physical activity is going for a nice long walk most commonly enjoyed with dogs, family and friends in parks, trails, or countryside.
If you had a wellness mantra, what would it be? Eat healthy (mostly plants), move daily, sleep well, breathe deeply, laugh often, enjoy life.
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? Listen to your body, she’s intuitive. If it is demanding rest, than rest. If your body is craving movement, move. But, if something hurts, don’t do it (and go see your chiropractor!). Most times your body knows what it needs, we just need to get better at listening.
What is your favourite wellness quote? “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou-To me, this quote embodies my definition of wellness; feeling your best and being your best. I try to follow these words in my own wellness journey, in my role as a chiropractor, and in life!
Registered Physiotherapist - Pelvic Health, Women's Health, Lamiya Zaidi
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Monday through Saturdays
What does wellness mean to you? Taking care of mind, body, and soul from the outside and inside!
What is your favourite form of physical activity? Any form of Moving! Through sports, spinning, barre, yoga, walking...occasional running.
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? Listen to your body, it’ll tell you exactly what it/you need!
What is your favourite wellness quote? Health is Wealth!
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Taya Griffin
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Mondays
What does wellness mean to you? In terms of breastfeeding it means defining your own unique goals and working to achieve them :). Overall wellness means feeling good mentally. All else follows.
What is your favourite form of physical activity? Definitely yoga and Pilates!
If you had a wellness mantra, what would it be? You do you :)
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? Always begin with thinking you are perfect just the way you are - especially on the inside. Then simply do the things that make you feel good and more “you” versus listening to the noise of who you think you should be.
What is your favourite wellness quote? "A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three." Grantly Dick-Rea
Counsellor, Lisha Cash
What days are you available at Yoga Mamas? Tuesdays
What does wellness mean to you? Wellness is physical, emotional and spiritual self-care that leads us to a healthier, more fulfilled life. So much of our time is spent focused on other people and tasks, often we forget about ourselves, especially mamas. It is so important that we dedicate time to ourselves each and every day, to develop more self-awareness and attune to a more holistic approach to wellness.
What is your favourite form of physical activity? I am very active and enjoy many different types of physical activity, including HIIT, Yoga, and running. However, I truly fell in love with swimming during my pregnancy, as it was a great form of cardio that required less pressure on my growing body. I have continued it postpartum, and enjoy it equally.
If you had a wellness mantra, what would it be? Take time to nourish your mind, body and soul.
What is the best 'wellness' advice that you could give? Schedule in time for yourself. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle and get overwhelmed by all of the other pressing matters. If we physically schedule time in our calendar, we are more likely to do it. This shouldn’t be a task that is stressful, it should be a task that provides some relief. Whether it be, a bath every Tuesday night at 8pm, or going to your favourite yoga class on a Sunday morning, scheduling it in makes you accountable and provides the space to ensure you don’t book any thing else during that time. Self care is vital, therefore, you have to make it a priority and protect that time.
Written by Yoga Mamas' Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Nikita Sander
The beauty of breastfeeding can be the ultimate bonding experiencing for mama and baby and by now, many of us are well aware of the numerous health benefits breastfeeding has for both mama and baby. Yet, as beautiful of an experience breastfeeding can be, it can also be a common source of stress, frustration and anxiety for many women for a variety of reasons. One such reason may be the perception that milk supply is low or insufficient. It is important to note that the two best indicators for adequate milk supply are:
Although many women worry about the sufficiency of their milk supply, truth is, more often than not, most women need NOT worry. For most, supplementing with herbs known as galactagogues, which are substances that help stimulate an increase in milk production, are not necessary. If you are concerned with low milk supply, the best course of action is to consult a trained and certified lactation consultant who can help determine if there truly is a concern for low milk supply, determine the cause and treat the cause.
Before we move on to exploring the wonderful world of galactagogues, it is important to also be aware that optimal hydration and nutrition is also fundamental to ensuring optimal lactation and milk supply. For each breastfeeding baby, mamas need an extra 500 calories per day in order to keep up with the demands of milk production!
Even the quality of milk can be traced to the mama’s nutrition and eating habits! A combination of quality sources of protein (animal and plant-based proteins), healthy fats (fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, etc) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes) are fundamental! And while hydration needs vary from woman to woman, dehydration can be a significant contributor to lack of milk production. Aiming as close to 2.5 to 3L of water daily while breastfeeding (and beyond) should make a world of a difference!
Now for the herbal GALACTAGOGUES! Here are a few of my favs:
If you are thinking of supplementing with any galactagogue, receiving individualized guidance from your naturopath, lactation consultant or doctor is always recommended first. These herbs can be found in many different forms from dry or fresh herb to capsules, tablets and tinctures.
Not quite sure where to start? Feel you could use a boost in milk supply? Give the following DIY herbal tea recipe a try:
Lactation Tea Tonic (Makes Approximately 100 cups of tea)
Equipment you’ll need:
BUT, if you’re not into the DIY thing, check out the tea formula called Mother’s Milk by Traditional Medicinals, which combines a number of the above ingredients ready to go in individual tea bags. It can be found at a local health food store, grocery store or even Amazon and is often my most recommended formula!
Cheers to Happy Lactation!
Written by Annalisa Gonsalves, Registered Massage Therapist
We see so many mamas-to-be, from just a few weeks to ready to welcome baby! Massage is wonderful to begin with, but when you are a mama-to-be, it is BLISS! Here are my reasons why…
1. Improves circulation.
It helps increase blood flow, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the heart, placenta and baby. It also helps to stimulate the lymph system which helps build immunity and flush out toxins. All of this is especially helpful during the third trimester!
2. Reduces nerve pain.
Two of the most common nerve pain complaints are sciatica and carpel tunnel during pregnancy. We work on loosening and stretching the muscles and connective tissue that is compressing those areas to help reduce or eliminate the nerve pain.
3. Reduces swelling.
Lymphatic drainage massage is excellent for reducing swelling in the lower extremities (i.e. feet and legs), but also in the hands and wrists where some mamas may experience temporary carpal tunnel.
4. Reduces stress and anxiety.
The positive touch from massage helps to calm the mama’s nervous system and release endorphins, which helps to improve her mood and is also a natural pain reliever!
5. Loosens tight ligaments and muscles
During pregnancy, a woman’s body is producing Relaxin to relax joints and ligaments, but the muscles surrounding the areas begin to tighten to compensate. This leads to the tight hips, low back, glutes, etc. We help to relax and stretch out the muscles to help them try and adapt to their new “normal” state during the pregnancy stages. We even work on the belly (if you want)! This a great way to release tight muscles such as the diaphragm and muscles between the ribs … imagine being able to take a big breath again!