The Biggest Mistakes New Moms Make Trying to Get Fit After Baby

exercise baby postpartum
Trying to get back into shape after having a baby? Don't make these mistakes! (Image: @makenamedia via Twenty20)

Kate Hudson graces covers of some of the country's top fitness magazines, with headlines like "Kate Hudson Looks Hotter Than Ever," and "Damn, Kate, You Look Good" — impressive, considering she had her third child in 2018. Maybe she's blessed, maybe it's because she has a ton of money and a staff she calls "Team Kate." Or, maybe she just knows how to overcome the common pitfalls that derail women's postpartum fitness goals.

Not making the time, not asking for help or taking on too much too soon can trap you in your baby fat forever. Set yourself free by learning how to avoid these common mistakes, then make a plan and stick to it as best you can. Oh, and maybe avoid looking at Kate Hudson's Instagram page — it will not do anything good for your self-esteem right now.

Not Making Time

This goes for anyone, whether or not they just gave birth: You cannot get fit if you don't make time for it. Hudson is a mom of three, co-founder of athletic apparel brand Fabletics, and still takes on film roles. "Team Kate" or no, it's safe to say she's no stranger to the time crunch. “Let’s be honest, kids take the number one position and it’s haaaaard to make the time for yourself," she wrote in an Instagram post shortly after the birth of her daughter. "It is the most challenging thing in the world to balance kids and personal time."

But you must. Many new moms feel guilty for not devoting all their time to baby's needs. But as with any type of care-taking, it's important to attend to your needs first — especially when it comes to your health. Improving your fitness will only boost your Supermom powers, if you aspire to that. Even if you can only free up 10 minutes a day to start, make the most of it.

Not Getting Creative

"'I can't get to a gym,' is an excuse I hear all the time," says Erin Aynes, an Atlanta-based personal trainer and mom of two (who looks ah-mazing). "You don't need a gym to get a workout. Just get you and baby outside for a walk," suggests Aynes. Enjoy some fresh air and sunshine walking at a brisk pace for 20 to 30 minutes. Find some hills to push the stroller up to build leg and upper body strength.

"You could even jump around your house and get a workout during nap time if you really can't get out," says Aynes. March in place and do high knees, air squats, lunges and wall push-ups while baby snoozes. You can also check out some online videos or a fitness app on your phone.

Not Taking Advantage of Free Childcare

That's right — free childcare. It exists, and it's worth finding out if your local gyms or fitness studios offer it. "YMCA has great options," says Aynes. Not only do you get in a workout, you also get a little "me" time to decompress and refresh. "I have also made lovely friends at the gym," says Aynes. "You might just meet some other moms there that will hold you accountable and understand what you're going through."

Taking an 'All or Nothing' Approach

Having a baby is not easy, and all you want to do is sleep right now. "Your body feels like a hot mess, you have this tiny, fragile creature that is totally dependent on you, you don't know what you're doing, sleep isn't happening, you have work to do..." says Aynes. When you feel like that, a 60-minutes aerobics class is probably out of the question. But that doesn't mean you should plop down on the couch with the remote. Even five minutes walking up and down the stairs or doing walking lunges across the living room is better than doing nothing.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Young Asian mom trying to work with her baby boy
Comparison is the thief of joy — so don't do it! (Image: lechatnoir/E+/GettyImages)

Forget about Kate Hudson — or as the saying goes, 'You do You'. "I remember seeing moms on Facebook or Instagram who made having a baby look so easy," Aynes recalls. "They seem to just bounce right into their old bodies and workout routines." Whether it's true or just a facade, those images can make you wonder why you don't look like that or what's wrong with you for not feeling ready to work out.

That is a train going nowhere. Focusing on what other moms are or are not doing and how you measure up will only make you want to crawl back in bed and eat cookies. Get off social media and focus on YOU and how YOU are getting better and stronger each day. "Once I let go of comparing myself to others, I was able to listen to my body and accept what was right for me," says Aynes. That's when real success happens.

Not Asking for Support

It takes a village to raise a child, they say. Well, that same village can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Tell your partner, friends and family that you want to devote time to your own health so you can be better prepared to manage motherhood. Ask them to help with childcare whenever they can, and try to get them to commit to a certain day and a certain time each week or every other week. Then you can plan to do some new activities that are interesting to you. Including novel exercise methods in your new routine can help prevent boredom and burnout.

Doing Too Much, Too Soon

"One big mistake a new mom makes is to push herself into workouts or a program that she just isn't ready for," says Aynes. Although you may be pumped and desperate to lose the baby weight, doing CrossFit or signing up for a marathon at three weeks postpartum is not a good idea. Even at six or 12 weeks postpartum, your body is still healing and exercise that is too strenuous can compromise that.

"I had to slowly get back into working out after both my babies. I remember having to walk out of yoga class after my second because it just felt bad," Aynes recalls. Don't force yourself to do something you're not ready for. You might get injured, you might compromise breastmilk production — or, you might burn out and drop exercise all together. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Not Paying Attention to Your Diet

Mother and baby girl on bed
Healthy eating is a must for new moms. (Image: LSOphoto/iStock/GettyImages)

Getting fit is about more than making it into the gym a few times a week. Any gains you make during those workouts can be ruined by neglecting your diet. "It's hectic keeping up with babies and everything else in your life, and it's easy to forget to feed yourself healthy meals and snacks," says Aynes. But poor nutrition can lead to a host of problems, including fatigue — which will definitely keep you from exercising.

"You don't need to be on some crazy diet, just be mindful of what you are eating," Aynes recommends. Get enough lean protein at each meal, carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats from olive oil and avocado. Avoid packaged and processed foods — even though they may be the easiest thing to grab when you're short on time. Keep healthy snacks such as cut up fruits and veggies on hand for snacking, and avoid giving in to sugary cravings.

And, later on down the road, Aynes warns moms not to make this common mistake: eating your toddler's leftovers. "It's okay to save or throw away their leftovers. Don't eat it. Don't make a habit of eating their snacks," she says.

Remember — always be kind to yourself and take time to get into a fitness routine. You just had a baby! If you can do that, you can do anything.

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