We can work it out – getting fit after baby

Even self-professed exercise junkie MJ Ong struggles to keep up her regimen with a baby in tow.

I’m not your average postgraduate student. On the first day of my doctorate course I was eight weeks pregnant. Ironically, my research is on pregnancy and exercise. I was also an exercise junkie, having completed an undergraduate degree in exercise science and worked as a fitness trainer for six years. I was determined to maintain my exercise regimen throughout pregnancy, knowing how much it would benefit my child and me. Then I started experiencing morning sickness, and exercise was no longer the first thing on my to-do list.

Fast forward two years and the house is a mess – the dishes have piled up and the floor is covered with stuff I don’t want my child picking up and eating. I wonder what time my 18-month-old son Metha will go to bed so I can get some study done. After a long day of entertaining him, exercise is the last thing on my mind.

Fitting exercise into pregnancy and motherhood is hard. I have become a ‘statistic’ like so many women who don’t exercise enough. I think most mothers lack the mental and physical energy to exercise. When I do get the time, other priorities such as tidying the house, doing the laundry or vacuuming take precedence over that hour of exercise, and this is coming from someone who was an exercise junkie.

Fitting exercise into our busy lives is possible here are some ideas:

  • Find a mum friend and exercise together with your kids. You can alternate doing a muscle toning/weight session. For instance, when you are doing push ups,
    the other mum can be entertaining the kids and then you can swap.
  • During swimming lessons, try the same tag-team technique. My husband and I alternate between who joins Metha in the pool and who has a 30-minute swim.
  • There are great exercises you can do in the comfort of your home while the kids are asleep or entertaining themselves in front of you. Body-weight exercises are a great way to start for someone who hasn’t done much or any weight training. To warm up, do three minutes of jumping jacks, or chase your little one around. Next, complete eight to 10 minutes of these exercises: 12-15 push ups (on your knees or toes); 12-15 squats (you can pick your baby up and give them a cuddle for extra weight); 15-20 crunches; hold-the-plank position for 30 to 45 seconds; 12-15 walking lunges around the room; 12-15 tricep dips using a chair or couch. Finish with two to four minutes of jumping jacks or silly dancing with the kids. Aim to do this twice a day (if you are not going out walking), three to four times a week.
  • Finally, it’s important to increase incidental exercise. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.