Mama talks... goals, part 2: Postnatal fitness

This week we're talking about goals.

Yesterday we featured the brilliant Liz Ward, who was here talking about how to build firm foundations for your goals and dreams, and how to reinforce them tiny step by tiny step. If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

Today fitness pro Kim Saha is here to take us through her SMART approach to postnatal fitness. And thankfully she's got a very similar message, which is that every little helps! Kim has a fantastic series of mini fitness videos on YouTube, including some which you can do with the kids, so go check out her channel!

Don't wait for the right time or the perfect moment to make your dream a reality. It's never too late to start, or start again. Just start small, and start now!

Postnatal fitness goals

As a physiotherapist, ex-athlete, fitness professional and mum of 3, I’m very practiced at goal-setting when it comes to multiple journeys back to fitness – both for my body and yours. You might be familiar with the concept of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed), and I’m going to use this model to give you my take on how to form and reach your postnatal fitness goals.

Specific

Your goal should be something you want to achieve… something you feel strongly about. YOUR goal. Not something you, or anyone else, thinks you SHOULD achieve. If you dig deep you know what you want to be able to do and who you want to be. This could be anything from wearing a pair of shorts and a vest confidently in the summer to competing at your previous level at your chosen sport. It’s all possible, depending on the work you put in.

Measurable

Physiotherapists love measuring stuff! We enjoy seeing improvements and proving it with calculated measures. So make a training diary and enjoy filling it in! You can use a tape measure to see your shape change, or time your runs using a fitness accessory.

Achievable

This is a biggie! I encourage people to set their goals low, not because I’m a glass half empty kinda gal (I’m not :) It's because so many people, especially parents, promise me that they will get up at 5am (before the kids wake) every morning to do a workout, despite not being a morning person. It’s unlikely you’ll achieve this and therefore you’ll give up and feel bad. Instead, plan to do 30 minutes every day while the kids are sleeping, watching TV or eating dinner. Even 10 minutes a day can make a positive difference, and that’s much more effective than 90 mins once per week because you failed to get out of bed on the other mornings.

Realistic

As above, think about the end goal. If you’ve never worn a bikini on the beach or played netball, then this may not be the best goal for you (although never say never). Being realistic means you know that with a little hard work you’ll get there because you’ve been there before. You can always set a new goal once the first is achieved. With one week to go before your beach holiday, you may not be able to get that toned bod you’re looking for, and you may not beat your 10k PB 3 months after your first child is born.

Timed

That brings me onto timing: you need to set your time scales realistically. Think carefully about how long things take to change, when you had your baby and whether you are you still breastfeeding. It is also important to acknowledge what the challenges are and how they will slow you down. How much help do you have? Do you have other children? Is there a crèche at the gym? Are your kids happy with carers? What are the potential setbacks? Illness, sleepless nights, partners travelling and holidays can all impact on your fitness routine. Include them in your timescales, give yourself a break and don’t try and workout on Christmas day or when you’re full of cold!

Finally, go easy on yourself! Don’t set yourself up for failure, celebrate the small wins and don’t underestimate the challenges of being a mum. My main piece of advice is to do something every day and don’t wait for the ‘right’ time. Every little helps!

Kim Saha is a physiotherapist, ex-athlete, fitness professional and mum of 3. Based in West London, you can find her at www.kimsahaphysioandpilates.com and on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.