After my pregnancy that forbade most forms of exercise, I was really looking forward to getting back in shape: My abs and belly fat were a mess, my arms were beginning to look like my grandmother’s and my knees had felt the pressure of carrying my sweet little watermelon.
But where to begin? What exercises should I do? And most importantly when should I do them—between my sleepless nights, early morning wake-ups and a clamoring baby in need of my attention (not to mention a house and husband that need to be taken care of, too), how could I possibly squeeze in working out?
I spoke with Beachbody trainer and new mom Jericho McMatthews, co-founder of CORE DE FORCE, an MMA-inspired core-enhancing, 30-day workout. Based on three-minute intervals like a boxing match, the workouts utilize boxing, kickboxing, bodyweight training and cardio spikes that kick your fat burn into overdrive. This program is perfect for new moms since it focuses on the core, there is no equipment, you can do it at home (with baby by your side), and the workouts are only 30-to-50-minutes.
McMatthews had her first baby in June, 2015 and with patience and consistency, her core muscles are back to being strong. Here are her pro-tips for any new mom to getting back into fighting shape:
When is a good time for a new mom to start getting in shape?
Jericho McMatthews: Obviously it depends on the doctor’s orders. If you have a vaginal delivery, it’s usually 2-4 weeks. If you have a C-section, it’s around six weeks. After having my son, I was the most deconditioned I’d been since I can remember. As a trainer I’d kept myself in peak condition—even during pregnancy. I was teaching roughly nine classes a week until my eighth month. I delivered six days past my due date and ended up with an unexpected C-section. I remember trying to sit up—I didn’t have the core strength, which was such a new feeling for me. After my first workout—a 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—I cried. It was so emotional for me because I knew what I had ahead of me to get back into great physical shape. My body was telling me to start slower, so I modified when needed and my fitness came back fairly quickly.
How can a new mom find the time and energy for working out?
I feel like those first several weeks are such a blur. You’re so exhausted, you’re trying to figure out a new schedule and a new groove to get into. What I would advise for new moms is to not focus on the scale or looking a certain way, rather to focus on being healthy and happy, along with the health and happiness of your baby. Focusing solely on the scale or shape of your body is just detrimental to the psyche.
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure to get your body back?
Absolutely. There are so many unrealistic expectations placed on new moms to bounce back to their pre-baby body when every new mom’s journey and circumstances are so very different. It makes me sad to hear about women giving up on breastfeeding so they can go on a crazy diet to drop the pounds. Listen to your body and be patient with yourself—don’t beat yourself up if you don’t workout. If your baby is teething or has a fever you might have to miss your workout. Since your child is now your first priority, things are going to happen and you have to roll with it. Be flexible and do your best!
With everything going on, why do you think a mom should try to get back in shape?
I think the most important thing about being strong is what it does for your confidence, your self-esteem. It’s a ripple effect that improves all areas of your life. Being in shape helps you sleep better, makes you happier from the inside out. Also, when so much of our youth is overweight, it’s extremely important to set an example. It’s a form of self-respect. Treating your body well, eating healthy food, and exercising are all ways of showing respect for yourself.
Why is core work so important for new moms?
Those are the muscles that are the most deconditioned during pregnancy—they get stretched out. Your core is everything—it helps you with your posture, helps to prevent low-back pain, supports your pelvic area, but it’s the muscle group we lose the most during pregnancy, so that’s where we need to work to get back to where we were. Even women that don’t have C-sections will have weak pelvic muscles.
Some women believe that after giving birth they are damaged. But your entire body is connected and with a total body transformation program like CORE DE FORCE, you can get your body back in shape while having some fun. You just need to be patient and stick with it.
The program offers both cardio and resistance-training workouts, and we engage the core muscles with each move by focusing on core rotational movement. So, it’s really perfect for new moms who want to strengthen their core.
And you can do CORE DE FORCE from your home?
Yes! Which is so helpful for new moms who struggle with getting to a gym and having to pay for daycare. At-home workouts is where it’s at for new moms who don’t have a lot of time, where they can’t go anywhere to do a workout. With Beachbody On Demand, there are so many options for quick, effective workouts new moms can do at home.
How does CORE DE FORCE strengthen the core, specifically?
Our core extends way beyond our “abs” and has three-dimensional depth and functional movement in all three planes of motion. Mixed martial arts is one of the best ways to train and strengthen the entire core, since striking combinations require full-body rotation with force generated by the core. We focus and emphasize this type of work in CORE DE FORCE along with isolated core exercises that build functional strength from the inside out.
Is it really possible to get your body “back?”
Yes, but patience is key. There are many factors that play an important role in weight loss for new moms, which vary from person to person. Hormones, genetics, and lifestyle can make a huge difference in the process. Being sleep-deprived produces more cortisol, which is the stress hormone that makes your body hang onto weight. But it is possible. You do the best you can, and in a lot of cases, your body might not look exactly the same. I hope women can be okay with that—because in the end, you have a beautiful child and that’s comparable to nothing!