It’s not always easy to get back in the swim routine after giving birth, but exercise is important. Here are some motivational tips and tricks.
Some new mums head back to the pool after giving birth and seem to be able to pick up right where they left off. For others, getting into a regular routine is more of a struggle. Maybe you have little time or energy, or it’s discouraging to have to stop and rest constantly because it feels like you’ll never get back to your pre-pregnancy fitness level.
Intellectually, you know you ought to make exercise a priority, as it will help you feel more energetic, and the health benefits more than justify the time investment. But that realization isn’t always enough to get you out the door. Here are some more concrete tricks you can use when your motivation flags.
Hold yourself accountable. If you really want to make swimming a priority, put it on your schedule just like any other appointment, and don’t let yourself cancel unless you have a really good reason. Training with a friend and having someone count on you, or making a commitment to take a class and paying a fee up front, can help motivate you when you you’re looking for excuses to stay home. You can also post your workouts to Facebook or another online platform, so you’ll feel accountable to (and get support from) your online community. Or really go all in and put money on the line with an app like stickK or Pact.
Reward yourself. If your intrinsic motivation is low (swimming may not be enjoyable for its own sake at first if your fitness has really deteriorated), create some positive extrinsic motivation by promising yourself a reward. Maybe it’s a healthy treat after each workout, a new swimsuit after a few weeks of regular training or permission to watch your favourite TV show on days you go to the pool.
Set manageable goals. First, identify why you want to swim. Do you want to lose the baby weight? Get back to swimming faster laps? Enjoy some ‘me time’? Understanding your objectives can help you find ways to motivate yourself accordingly. If your overall objective seems overwhelming, break it up into bite-size pieces that you can tackle each week: lose just a bit of weight, shave a little off your lap time, swim a bit farther before resting.
Add variety. If you’re one of those people who can do the same workout time after time without getting bored, more power to you. But if you feel like you’re getting in a rut, or you’re no longer looking forward to your workout, you might need to think about changing some things. This could mean working on different strokes, adding a water aerobics or aqua cycling class, or alternating swim workouts with other sports.
Identify as someone who exercises. We tend to create our own self-fulfilling prophecies, so make sure you think of yourself as a swimmer, not an ex-swimmer. Reinforce that identity by leaving your swim bag out where you can see it during the day.
Do what you can. Some days you’ll have more time and energy than others. Remember that any exercise is better than none, so don’t throw in the towel if you aren’t able to complete a full workout. And don’t feel guilty if you need to skip a day; that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What’s important is to develop good habits and a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to get so focused on taking care of your family that you put your own needs last, but exercising, along with eating well and finding effective ways to manage stress, are more important than ever now that you’re a mum.
Do you have any other good motivational tips to help new mums get back in the swim routine?