Baby Got It Back
Carrying a baby is a beautiful process. For nine months a tiny human forms in the belly of a woman. The woman’s body manipulates itself for the benefit of her young. Stretching, curving and filling is all a part of the metamorphosis a woman’s body takes to keep the baby safe as it grows. However, the aftermath is not always as beautiful as the process.
While happy to have their bundle of joy, many mothers are left feeling “bent out of shape” so to say. Months pass and some women find that their body has not returned back to its original form. This can be uncomfortable for many women because ideally everyone wants their snapback to happen over night. Flabby skin, stretch marks, and love handles can make a new mother feel inadequate and unlike her old self. These feelings can put a woman in a very vulnerable space and it can be difficult to try to fix the problem all on your own. It’s not always as simple as getting up and going to the gym. Many new moms don’t have the time to invest into going to the gym as intensely as needed to get even close to their original form. And if they do, they may not even know where to begin.
Strong Like Mum
One mom in particular took notice to this problem and decide to make a stand for it. The ‘StrongLikeMum’ campaign was founded by fitness trainer and journalist, Shakira Akabusi. “My Dad is an Olympic Athlete and my mum is a Personal Trainer so fitness has always been a big part of my life. After giving birth to my son, I had lots of people reach out to me online asking how I achieved such quick results to regain my pre-pregnancy body. A few magazines reached out to me and asked me to contribute a few articles on my journey and experience. That inspired me to create ‘StrongLikeMum’ and start sharing my knowledge on a wider scale. ”
Based in the UK, Shakira is preparing to release a step-by-step guide to postnatal exercise in early 2017. Shakira will use the platform to share her prenatal and postnatal fitness expertise with the world. “I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 7 years and have specialized in Pre and Postnatal exercise for 3 years. It’s my passion to inspire other Mums to keep fit and healthy. Balancing work, family life, and fitness can be a challenge. I want to show other women how I’ve done it, share my ideas and tips to help them find a balance.”
The best part of Shakira’s approach to helping other women get back in shape after having a baby is that she has first hand experience in balancing motherhood and working out. Through her ‘StrongLikeMum’ program, she acknowledges the challenges that new mothers have to overcome in finding this balance. “It can be tough to find the time alone to workout as a mum so I started exercising with my son, making workouts a game. Rio (my son) loves being outdoors and being active so we’re always outside expending energy. It’s important to get creative with your workouts as a mum, using everyday objects as weights or levers. Things like tin cans, broomsticks, chairs, cooking pots and benches” Shakira says.
Shakira also makes the point that workout equipment is not necessary to achieve your fitness goals. Its important to be resourceful while working out as a new mom. One of her personal favorite tricks is filling a laundry basket with shoes or towels and using that as a weight to squat with. “I workout about 3-4 times a week and it’s usually outdoors or in my living room. I also love exercising at the park; Swings are a great way to challenge the core and I often use them for single leg squats, decline press ups, and knee pull ins.”
Another challenge Shakira helps confront through her ‘StrongLikeMum’ program is the hardships of trying to pursue fitness on your own. It’s important to develop some sort of support system to help reach your goals. Shakira says, “A great way to stay motivated is to connect with other mothers looking to get fit and stay healthy. Whether it’s locally or online, finding people to share ideas and tips with is a great way to find new exercises and recipes. It’s been so important to me on my journey!”
I’m currently putting together the StrongLikeMum fitness program. The next step is filming the workouts and putting everything out there for people to engage with. It’s my passion to inspire other Mums to keep fit and healthy. Balancing work, family life, and fitness can be a challenge and I want to show other women how I’ve done it. I want to share my ideas and tips to help other women find a balance themselves. There are also a few modelling opportunities and collaborations in the pipeline which is also really exciting. I love connecting with other like-minded people and creating cool content and health and fitness.
What are your 3 essential productivity tools, how do you use them, and why do you love them?
I very rarely workout with equipment but three items I couldn’t train without are:
1) A good pair of trainers! Getting a Pair of good running trainers (Asics are my favorite) to support your feet is crucial if you’re working out a lot to reduce the risk of injury an help give you good support for any high impact work!
2) A good sports bra – All women can relate to this but in particular Mothers who are looking to keep fit and might still be breastfeeding.
3) A smoothie maker is great for making quick and healthy snacks for a mum and baby on the run. Try using some vegetables though and not just fruits! Other great items I love to use when I workout are a bench, which is great to create levels for decline press up, squat jumps or tricep dips etc and if you like using equipment a resistance band is also a great piece of equipment. It’s so diverse and it’s light so it’s easy to pack and take with you when you travel.
A lot of people see the challenges of being a Mother (especially to young children) as an unsurpassable obstacle. What techniques do you use to overcome that resistance?
It’s about creativity and getting used to working-out without gym equipment, however it’s also so important not take fitness too seriously. A healthy lifestyle is about sustainable change and not a ‘quick-fix’.
Sometimes I start a workout but Rio (my son) isn’t in the mood and starts getting irritated so I just stop the workout for the day and try again tomorrow or later that same day.