Need help setting realistic fitness goals after having a baby? Here’s some important info to help you get started. Note: This post may contain affiliate links. 🙂
We all know that some celebrities and many big-timers in the fitness world present unrealistic post-body expectations to the rest of the world. Those of us with our heads on straight know that you don’t just “bounce back” to your pre-baby body in a matter of days, or even weeks.
But what is realistic after having a baby? How can you set realistic fitness goals after having a baby?
We can start by saying this: your baby took 9+ months to create. You shouldn’t expect a complete rebound until at least 9 months postpartum. Postpartum weight loss is one thing – but regaining your overall muscular strength and endurance are another.
The key words here, in my opinion, are “at least.”
That’s because after having a baby, you aren’t going to jump back into your regular fitness routine (if you had one) a day after having a baby.
If you’re currently pregnant, be sure to check out this post about finding cute & affordable maternity activewear.
At least the first six weeks post-baby should be spent loving your baby and learning how to make things work. In fact, doctors recommend no exercise until 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a c-section. You must be medically cleared to do anything but walk.
When I had my c-section, I was forbidden from driving, vacuuming, and going up stairs for that 8 week period.
(Most of us would rather not work out during that 6-8 week period anyway. But there are many people who are very physically fit and who had great deliveries and are cleared for exercise much sooner. Kuddos! This is for those of us who don’t get that.)
Anyway, the point is that you are still recovering from huge hormonal, physical, and life changes in those first 6-8 weeks.
So there goes about 2 months of the 9 month grace period you’re giving yourself. But since you lose those two months, why don’t we just go ahead and extend the 9 months to 11? Heck, why not just say a year?
The truth is that there is no magic number of months or amount of time for postpartum recovery.
But if you’re going to put pressure on yourself in order to hold yourself accountable for your own health, remember to at least start with giving yourself 9 months – because that’s how long it took to make your baby.
With my first baby, my weight and overall fitness fluctuated for 3 years postpartum. I don’t tell you this to scare you, but to let you know that there are a lot of factors that contribute to your health. One of them is called, “life.”
Here’s what happened to me, in a gist:
- My daughter was born in 2014 and I immediately got back to my pre-baby weight. Like within 2 months. (I’d had gained 45 lbs during pregnancy.)
- I struggled to breast feed and adjust to being a mom. When I quit breast feeding, I gained back all but 5 lbs of the baby weight.
- I started working out consistently and got back down to 149 lbs (initial starting point was 125 lbs).
- The baby blues parted way for severe postpartum depression. My weight climbed to an all-time non-pregnancy high of 172 lbs about two years after having my daughter.
- I sought treatment and invested in a personal trainer. I got down to about 162 lbs before getting pregnant again a little over three years after having my daughter.
It sounds, pretty bad, I admit.
But I’m telling you this to encourage you if you can relate to the constant struggle that is getting back to a “pre-baby” body.
This time around, I know a lot more about pregnancy health, fitness, and being a mom. I feel much more in control of my body, a lot more relaxed, and more motivated than ever. It’s partly because I’m no longer a “newbie,” but it’s also because I’ve chosen to commit to fitness, even becoming a personal trainer during this pregnancy. I’m ready and able to set realistic fitness goals for a healthy future and family.
So today I want to help you set realistic postpartum fitness goals using the exact methods I’ve learned in my studies as well as what I know from being a 2-time c-section mama.
Let’s start with the three most important things you need to have on this journey:
You must have appreciation for your body and what it is capable of. You made a human! Plus, lets not forget the juggling act of “mom” and all of the amazing things you do every day to keep your baby healthy and happy. Without appreciation for yourself, how can you feel worthy of spending time or money on your own health? This is seriously important.
There is no such thing as a mom without some degree of flexibility. Life happens, milk spills, crying happens. Don’t be hard on yourself when things go wrong. Your stress will be reduced if you are able to “go with the flow”. Less stress is always healthier.
This is your belief in yourself. Believing that you can in fact do something is obviously a major factor in weight loss and fitness. If you don’t feel that you have a lot of “I can” in you, start with small, easy tasks or goals and work your way up. Just believe in yourself.
Now let’s look at setting realistic fitness goals from a fitness professional’s perspective.
I have been studying for the NASM personal trainer certification, and they have formulated a very specific way to set goals with clients. (Update, I’ve been a personal trainer for a year now!) I’d like to share this with you because I think it can be very effective in the way of fitness. It’s known as SMART, and it breaks down as follows:
This pertains to setting a goal that says, “I want to lose 30 lbs by the time my baby is 1 year old,” as opposed to, “I want to lose some weight.” Setting a specific overall goal helps us create a plan to get there. For me, after having two babies that ended in c-sections and later, back injuries, I needed to focus on strengthening my core. That’s why I created Restore The Core, a home workout program designed to be done before jumping back into regular exercise after a long break. Completing this 4-week program could be a great specific goal to start with!
This means that you are keeping track of your starting point. Whether you are using your weight in numbers as a goal or keeping track of inches lost, you must be able to measure your goals somehow so that you may be rewarded with progress.
Can you actually achieve your goal at some point in the future? Can it be achieved in the timeline that you have set for yourself? Let’s say your goal is to lose 60 lbs in three months. Well, for starters, it’s not generally healthy. And secondly, you may not even have 60 lbs to lose. The point is that you goal has to be something you can actually really reach.
This has to do with setting goals that aren’t extreme. It’s not realistic to expect yourself to be running a marathon two months after having a baby. It might be humanly possible, but only if you’re an established runner or extremely committed. Setting a goal like, “I want to run a marathon by the time my baby is one,” would be more realistic. (Ahem, this is important! This whole post is about setting realistic fitness goals, so make sure this is a top consideration.)
There needs to be some sort of accountability in goal setting. Your specific goal must include a time frame. If you don’t put any pressure on yourself to get something done, it probably never will. Here is where your 9 month or 1 year goals come in.
I truly hope that this information helps you set realistic fitness goals, especially if you’ve recently had a baby.
So, what realistic fitness goals do you have for yourself? I’d love to know, so tell me below!
Want to know how to jump into a new group fitness class? Here’s how I did it after having my daughter.