12 Places New Moms Can Find Support for Healthy Living
When you have a new baby, there are plenty of things to do: change diapers, manage a feeding schedule, take care of the rest of your family and take care of yourself (just to name a few). Many new moms are so overwhelmed with balancing the baby’s routine and family life that exercise and making healthy meals seems to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. The trick is not going it alone. Check out these 10 suggestions from moms, fitness experts and nutritionists on where to seek out support.
1. Fellow Moms
Many new moms are in the same boat as you. They feel physically and emotionally drained and find it difficult to muster the motivation to work out and cook healthy meals. Join forces and work together to slim your waistlines. “Walking with another friend who has just had a baby cannot only be supportive but a great way to get exercise,” says Elizabeth Farrell, New Mexico-based yoga instructor and practice manager for Unity Medicine. Designate a few time slots each week to walk together (with or without strollers) or sign up for an exercise class at a local gym that provides day care while you tone and stretch.
Read more: Uplifting Advice From Moms Who Know Best
2. Your Partner
Demands You Did Not Expect
To care for yourself and whip your post-baby bod in shape, it’s important to communicate your feelings and ask your partner for support. Do you need help with dinner so you can jog around the neighborhood? Do you need him to take care of the baby so you can go to the gym? Communicate with your significant other about how you're feeling and what you need from him, says yoga teacher Elizabeth Farrell. “It’s important to continue talking and share what you each are going through as new parents,” she says.
3. Online Communities
The support you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle while juggling new-baby duties may be at your fingertips. Many online communities, blogs and chat boards offer support for new moms. Whether you choose to join a site dedicated to getting your pre-baby body back or a nutrition site that will help you track calories and offer nutritious recipes, forming friendships and bonds with new moms who understand what you are going through can be the motivation you need, says Mary Hartley, New-York based resident dietitian for DietsinReview.com.
4. Older Children
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Just because you're the primary caregiver doesn’t mean your family and older children shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. Make your older children part of your self- and baby-care routine, says Catherine Basu, certified fitness professional and owner of Fit Armadillo in Houston, TX. “While you’re doing some strength training, have your toddler lift paper towel or toilet paper role ‘weights’ with you,” she says. “When you’re looking for healthy food options, involve the rest of the family and have them pick the fruit and vegetables to try.” Your children can offer support and encouragement, especially if they're a part of your post-baby workouts.
5. Family Therapists
Weight and body image can be a deeply complicated issue for many women, says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent. Your self image could take a hit while coping with the changes within your body and new motherhood. “This lonely feeling can work against good self-care,” says Walfish. Enlist the help of a family therapist or counselor to help you work through negative messages that can sabotage your efforts. Talking to a professional about your concerns can help you work through any emotional challenges you are facing during this time of change.
6. Spiritual Colleagues
Tap into your inner strength by enlisting the help of spiritual friends or members of your church community for emotional support. Many times, new mothers working to shape up their post-baby bods are faced with negative self-messages such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not pretty,” says psychotherapist Fran Walfish. A dose of inspiration may be just what you need to put your mind at ease, accept your inner and outer beauty and rely on others with similar beliefs during this time of transition.
7. Nutrition Resources
Seeking out recipes for home-cooked meals that offer healthy and tasty dishes can sometimes be an impossible task with a new-baby routine. Instead of scheduling time to research family-friendly foods, enroll in a cooking class or meet with a nutritionist to plan healthy meals that will simplify your diet and daily routine. Many nutritionists and dietitians can offer healthy choices that are simple to prepare and appealing to the entire family. If you tend to nibble while cooking, plan a day to cook and freeze meals for the week. Don’t forget to ask friends and family members to help keep an eye on the kids while you and your spouse plan and prepare those scrumptious, healthy meals.
8. Fitness Centers
Pick up any celebrity gossip magazine and you’re likely to see a few celebrities who got their post-baby bodies back. One reason for their success is that they have a team of people on hand to make their lives easier, says fitness professional Catherine Basu. “Take a page from their book by making your own team,” she says. Fitness centers offer personal trainers and gym buddies to help motivate you and develop your workout routine. Ask for the support you need by seeking out the resources within your local community and fitness centers.
9. Social Media
If you know where to look, you can find the support you need through social media. Post a status update about your plans to exercise and eat healthy and encourage other moms to join you in your efforts. A social media community can help you set goals, plan meals and offer tips for time management. “Social media has been a great resource for a lot of busy, new moms to support each other, whether they have met before or not,” says Keri Lynn Ford, founder of IgniteGirls.com, an online fitness community. “Reach out to women you met in your prenatal classes, too,” she says. “More than likely, they will be looking for a new mom friend to share their journey on baby and fitness.”
10. Friends and Family
If you're able to get workouts scheduled into your daily routine but still struggle with running errands, cooking and taking care of your little one, enlist friends and family to help with the kids while you’re able to take care of items on your to-do list, says fitness professional Catherine Basu. Call on siblings, parents or friends who have offered to help watch your baby or organize a group of moms and rotate who watches the kids, so each mom can catch up with family, work and household responsibilities.
11. Health Food Stores
Find the support you need by seeking out healthy advice from people who're immersed in the nutrition industry. Stop in a health food or vitamin store for easy, healthy cookbooks, says Tiffany Brown, owner of Fit 4 Life in Charlotte, North Carolina. These types of stores often offer seminars, workshops and products to boost your energy, get you motivated to work out and supply your body with much-needed vitamins and minerals. And many health food stores offer one-stop grocery shopping to help you choose organic and nutritious food for the entire family.
12. Mommy and Me Classes
If you’re struggling to find a sitter so you can exercise, bring the baby along! Many gyms, fitness centers and community centers offer mommy and me classes that encourage bonding with your child while strengthening your body and your mind. “These classes provide great support for new moms,” says Jen Fink Oppenheimer, senior teacher at Karma Kids Yoga in New York. “Typically, each class begins with introductions where moms can share anything going on developmentally with their babies and also anything going on with their own bodies.” When exercise instructors are in tune with what mom and baby need, they can tailor the class to meet these needs.
What Do YOU Think?
How did you find the support you needed to lose the baby weight? Any more suggestions to add? Leave a comment below and let us know. Share how you got your post-baby bod back.
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- Elizabeth Farrell; Yoga Instructor, Practice Manager, Unity Medicine – Integrative Medicine & Ayurveda; Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Mary Hartley; Dietitian, DietsinReview.com; Brooklyn, New York
- Keri Lynn Ford; Certified Trainer, Creator of IgniteGirls.com; Suwanee, Georgia
- Tiffany Brown; Owner, Fit 4 Life; Charlotte, North Carolina
- Jen Fink Oppenheimer; Senior Teacher, Karma Kids Yoga; New York City