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Strollercize was born when Trindade, a former dancer and a new mom herself, realized that the bulky stroller she was now maneuvering was essentially a ballet barre on four wheels -- and the perfect workout apparatus. She's created an energizing, fun, and effective routine that can be done safely, indoors or out, while you keep your baby with you. Strollercize features:
* A complete cardiovascular routine, from warm-up to cooldown
* Strength and toning exercises for legs, arms, and hips
* A total waistline workout that gets results
* Stretches that feel great and help you regain flexibility
* Back-saving techniques for pushing, lifting, and folding your stroller properly
From choosing the right stroller for your needs to getting motivated and losing the unwanted "baby fat," Strollercize is a complete program and one with fitness rewards you'll be reaping long after your baby is out of the stroller.
Congratulations! You're in the 'Hood . . . Motherhood
You're exhausted, covered with spit-up, and desperate to fit into your old jeans. Welcome to motherhood. If you thought being a mom was going to be easy, think again. In fact, motherhood is one of the greatest physical and emotional challenges that you will ever face. The good news is that the rewards of being a mom make it all worthwhile.
This New Life
No matter how many books you read or classes you took while you were pregnant, nothing can truly prepare you for motherhood. From the moment you first hold your baby in your arms, your life will never be the same again. In the first few weeks with my firstborn, Tatiana, I felt as if my life had been turned inside out and upside down. There were new schedules to follow, new routines to adjust to, and so many new responsibilities. Plus, I was completely drained from around-the-clock feedings and the inevitable sleepless nights.
With everything you're going through, it's normal to feel a little bit overwhelmed in these early days of motherhood. You're tired, you're cranky, you're disoriented-but you can do it, Mom. Let Strollercize be your solution. Here's a rundown on how Strollercize can help you to cope with your new life.
Sleep Deprivation. Sure, I expected some sleepless nights after the baby was born, but not every night. Not only did Tatiana want to feed every ten minutes, but she also wanted to be held through the night. The truth is that unless you have twenty-four-hour child care and a wet nurse, you can't expect to get much sleep in those early weeks.
I know that after staying up half the night, thelast thing you feel like doing is breaking a sweat. But do it anyway. Working out will actually give you more energy. How else do you think I manage to keep up with my three kids?
Mood Swings. Like most new moms, after my daughter was born, I was an emotional time bomb. My husband was walking on eggshells, certain that the next thing he did would be the wrong thing. What was the right thing? Who knew!
Sleep deprivation, hormonal fluctuations, a huge list of things to do-you are needed every second of the day, and you're expected to do ten things at once. You are doing a balancing act, and you can't balance. This can make you especially vulnerable to depression. In fact, an estimated 50 to 75 percent of new mothers experience some degree of postpartum depression. Don't be afraid to talk about these feelings. Seek out another mom, a close friend, or your husband. And get moving. A regular program of exercise can help fight depression.
Social Life. Been out of the house lately? Why is it that so many new moms hide at home? They dress their babies up in those cute little outfits, while they hang out in their sweatpants, afraid to be seen by even the mailman. Sound familiar? Then get out of the house! After "nesting" with the baby for days on end, even the most enthusiastic new mother is bound to go stir-crazy.
Believe me, I know what you're going through. All of your childless friends are going out at night and having fun. They want to meet for cocktails and talk about the places they've been and the movies they've seen. You haven't had time for a movie in months (not even on video), and you'd rather discuss more "important" topics like your baby's feeding and sleeping schedule. Don't worry, eventually you and your old friends will rediscover some common ground. In the meantime, try to make friends with other new moms.
Sex Life. Yep, having a baby means that your marital life is going to change too. Here's a sensitive situation. Some husbands get really romantic right after the baby. Do you blame them? Chances are, they haven't had sex for months. Now that the baby is out, they figure all systems are go! But as far as you're concerned, those "systems" are closed for renovation. Other men are terrified to touch their wives for months (or even years) after childbirth. Who knows what they're thinking? Maybe they're having trouble seeing Mom as a sex object, or maybe they're worried about damaging those still-fragile private parts.
After the delivery, doctors usually suggest that you abstain until the first checkup or six weeks. You'll thank your doctor for her or his sound advice. It's normal not to want to have sex after having a baby. After all, it's hard to feel romantic when you're sleep deprived and your body is not your own. Plus, you've got all those postpartum hormones working against you, especially if you're breast-feeding. While there are no magic spells to jump-start your sex life, Strollercize can help. Not only will the exercises increase your stamina, but pretty soon you'll feel more sexy with your buff new body.
This New Body
If you've made it home from the hospital without passing by a full-length mirror, consider yourself lucky. Chances are that you won't exactly love what you see. A few weeks after having the baby, my husband and I wanted to go to a movie to celebrate our new family. After vainly searching my closet for an outfit, I finally collapsed in tears. How could I go out in public with this deformed body? My flesh was the consistency of Jell-O, and everything jiggled when I moved. My breasts were bigger than a porn star's, and my butt looked like the "before" picture in an ad for cellulite cream. I wanted to take the baby with me everywhere I went as an excuse for looking the way I did.
The fact is that most women leave the hospital looking like they did when they were six months pregnant. Then again, why would you expect anything different? Your body has taken a serious beating. After nine months of growing and stretching to accommodate the baby, it's going to take at least nine months for your body to recover its prebaby form. If you dare take a look in the mirror, be prepared for the following:
Your Abdomen. If you're like most new moms, the first thing that you'll notice is the sorry state of your midsection. The skin that was smooth and taut during your pregnancy is now droopy and wrinkled. And that glob of flesh underneath has the consistency of Play-Doh.
Strengthwise, your abdominal muscles are at ground zero. They're so weak that getting up out of bed may be more difficult than doing those prepregnancy abdominal crunches. And your weak, stretched-out abs may not be up to one of their most important tasks: supporting your lower back. As a result, many women experience lower back pain after the baby is born (see page 25). For some women, the abdominal muscles stretch so much that they end up separating down the center of the abdomen. This condition is known as diastasis recti, and most sufferers don't even know they have it. The bad news about diastasis is that it means you're getting even less support for your lower back. In Chapter 5, I'll say more about diastasis and show you a simple test for this condition.
No matter how severe the damage, with a little time and a lot of effort your belly will return to its former self (or close enough). The Strollercize abdominal routine in Chapter 5 will help.
Your Hips. After Tatiana was born, I was certain that I'd never again manage to get my hips through a narrow door frame. During your pregnancy, you too may have noticed that your hips started spreading like wildfire. You can thank the hormone relaxin, which works during pregnancy to loosen you up to make room for your growing baby. Relaxin stays in your bloodstream for up to six months postpartum. So you may have to forget about those tight skirts and narrow doorways for a while. To get rid of that flabby stuff on the outsides of your hips quicker, you'll need to Strollercize.
Your Pelvic Floor. Here's an important lesson: Do not sneeze, cough, or let anyone tell you a good joke until you have mastered the technique of "holding it." Yep, stress incontinence (i.e., leaking urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze) is one of those postpartum surprises that nobody talks about. This happens because the muscles of the pelvic floor (PF) are weakened from the stress of pregnancy and childbirth. The PF muscles are very important-they support the contents of your pelvis, and they play an important role in sexual enjoyment. Weak PF muscles can cause problems during exercise, as you may leak when you run, jump, or even walk briskly. Wear protection, and "hold it" during high-impact movements. Chapter 5, which includes a great series of exercises to target these muscles, will come in handy for this tightening move.
Experts estimate that at least half of all postpartum women have some degree of laxity of the pelvic floor, with or without symptoms. And the problem may worsen over time and with each pregnancy. Whether you're leaking or not, you need to be strengthening your pelvic floor muscles as soon as possible.
Your Feet. Sorry, Cinderella-but there's no way you're fitting into that glass slipper anytime soon. If you were one of the many women whose feet swelled up three sizes during pregnancy, don't expect them to shrink back to normal right away. I gained a full shoe size with each of my pregnancies. But at least I had an excuse to buy some new shoes!
Even if your feet didn't grow during pregnancy, you may have to get used to using them again. It seems that after months of not being able to see their own feet, many moms simply forget they're still there. Besides, thanks to relaxin, your arches are flatter, your ankles are floppy, and your shins are weak. In the late stages of pregnancy, you may have waddled when you walked and did not use your feet in a proper stride. This can cause your toes, your ankles, and the arches of your feet to become stiff and weak.
Your Body Image. In a culture where svelte supermodels and movie stars are worshiped like goddesses, your postpartum figure can be hard to take. But remember, your body did a miraculous thing. You should feel proud. And speaking of superstar moms-you know why they always seem to emerge from childbirth with perfect bods? They have high-priced personal trainers, live-in chefs and nutritionists, and around-the-clock child care.
Famous or not, every mom has a job ahead of her. Some women may lose weight faster than others, but every mom has to work to regain her strength, stamina, and endurance. Be patient with yourself. With a little time and effort, you will surely be able to Strollercize your body back into shape.
Motherhood's Labor Pains
As if pregnancy and childbirth did not do enough damage to your body, motherhood can also take a serious physical toll. I'm talking about the aches and pains from lifting the baby, carrying the baby, feeding the baby, bathing the baby, and last but certainly not least, pushing the baby in the stroller. New moms are especially susceptible to injury because their bodies haven't fully recovered from pregnancy and birth.
After each of my three childbirths, I felt pains in areas that I had no idea could even be injured. The prenatal classes prepared me for the birth, but none of the instructors said anything about how I would feel after the delivery. Actually, some of my worst "labor pains" surfaced long after the baby was born. Allow me to clue you in to some of the body parts that can be wounded on the battlegrounds of motherhood.
Shin Splints. If you've ever experienced that burning sensation up the front of your lower legs, you know firsthand how even a mild case of shin splints can ruin your day. This painful condition stems from poor posture, which is often worsened by pregnancy and motherhood. Another big "shin buster" is inactivity. If you slowed down (or stopped moving) during pregnancy, it may take some time for your shins to spring back into shape.
You can prevent shin splints by walking tall, wearing proper footwear, and always warming up these muscles before strolling (see Chapter 6).
Knee Pain. Chances are, your knees have had it. Due to the weak leg muscles and joint laxity brought on by pregnancy, your knees are probably not as stable as they once were. Plus, with the new baby, you're doing a lot of sitting, standing, bending, lowering, and lifting. Your baby's weight (and your own) puts a lot of stress on your knees. The exercises in Chapter 8 will help strengthen your quadriceps muscles to protect your fragile knees.
Lower Back Pain. If you've managed to make it through pregnancy and early motherhood without suffering from lower back pain, you are blessed and a rare case. Back pain is the number one complaint of new mothers. Just think about it-your growing baby put pressure on your spine for nine months. And now your weakened abdominal muscles aren't up to the task of stabilizing your spine. Then there's the poor posture, the widened hips, and the swollen feet. If you think you're strong enough for daily activities like bending over the changing table, carrying the baby, or loading the stroller into the trunk of the car-think again. Get started training your muscles to meet these daily challenges.
Upper Back Pain. While you're holding, cuddling, and kissing this miracle gift, your shoulders round and fall forward. You're feeling the joy of motherhood. But your upper back is not feeling so joyous. Here's a test: When you walk past the mirror, do you see a proud, erect mom or the Hunchback of Notre Dame's wife? If your back is rounded over and your head is on the same level as your shoulders, then you're asking for trouble. In the chapters that follow, I'll show you how to straighten up and put your head back on your shoulders.
Shoulder Strain. Motherhood is full of twists and turns. Getting your stroller through doorways, reaching for the toy that rolled under the couch, and securing your baby in his car seat can all involve physical contortions that even the most advanced yoga master wouldn't attempt. It's no wonder that many new parents wind up straining their shoulders. Add to this the fact that most new moms don't have the arm strength to lift and carry their babies. Once again they call on their shoulder muscles, and you have an injury waiting to happen. In Chapter 10, I'll show you how you can carry out your daily activities without straining your shoulders.
Wrist Pain. Wrist pain (like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis) often surfaces in the last few months of pregnancy and can persist for months after the baby is born. New moms are especially sensitive to this annoying arthritislike pain. This condition is due to fluid retention, as well as the demands of the mother's daily life. Holding the baby, bottle feeding, and pushing the stroller can make the problem even worse. Proper body mechanics, wrist-strengthening exercises, and wrist braces can help.