Well, there’s one thing that happens to every mama after having a new little one. She gets stretched—emotionally, mentally, and, oh yes, physically too.
As for this mama of two little ones who is trying to get back in shape for a half marathon, one place on my body that has always been of concern is my midsection. I’m pretty short (5’ 1” on the best of days), and there’s not a lot of room for error (or cheesecake). Now, after having my tummy stretched to accommodate first one baby and then a second, it’s, well, not my favorite body feature.
Before I had kiddos, I always thought that women who whined about their post-partum bodies had their priorities mixed up. “You had a baby,” I’d think without much sympathy. “Why do you care? Isn’t that worth the price?”
But then I had my own kids, and while I am beyond thrilled by this, I can’t help but feel a twinge of self-pity for the midsection that will never again be mine. Then again, I tell myself, “Look, whiny lady. It doesn’t matter whether you had kids or not. Your tummy wasn’t always going to look like it did when you were a teenager. Get over it.”
And I can do something about making my belly look great. First of all, as most of you know, the best way to a fabulous midsection is a good, healthy bodyweight. So, on my quest to Brittany Spears-type abs (you know, those ones from the music video Oops I Did It Again), I’m exercising and working on my diet (which is tough when all you can think about are those animal crackers sitting on the second shelf of the pantry).
Next, as I get myself slowly but surely back into shape, I can triangulate my ab routine. What I mean is that I’ve found the perfect trifecta ab workout for the running mommy. One maneuver for flattening, one for strengthening my core, and one for definition. And even if you’re not a new mommy, the benefits from these three exercises certainly won’t hurt your never-been-stretched-out gut. Lucky you.
So here it goes. (Remember, if you did just have a baby, you should talk to your doctor before starting any workout routine. I also highly recommend meeting with a trainer to ascertain exactly what your body needs.)
Bring your legs in to your chest and then straighten both legs so that they’re perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower both legs toward the floor, going as far as you can without arching your back. Repeat for 5 to 10 reps, and work up to 20 reps.
This one is known as the plank. Start on your stomach, and raise your body up on your toes and elbows. Hold for at least ten seconds, and work up to a full minute. Repeat 2 to 3 times. (See it here.)
A reverse crunch is the key. Start by laying flat on your back with your legs straight and hands at your sides. Exhale your breath out of your lungs while simultaneously lifting your legs up, bending your knees. Continue to lift until your butt rises off of the ground and your thighs touch your belly. Breathe in as you lower your legs back. Complete 1 to 3 sets for 10 to 20 slow repetitions.
I think if I can manage to complete this little ab circuit a couple times a week, maybe I’ll see some improvement. Of course, I’ll have to keep the hands off the animal crackers too!
And remember, I’m always happy to hear of exercises that have worked for you as well!
This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.