I am a huge fan of Katy Bowman and have been an avid reader of her blog Katysays.com for about a year. She recently brought out a book called Move Your DNA, which finally was available on Kindle last week. I devoured it in an afternoon.
In a nutshell, she argues that modern life prevents us from using our body the way evolution intended: instead of walking every day we sit in our cars, at our desks and on the sofa, rather than searching the horizon for game we stare at computer screens and order take-out. To make up for it all we spend a frenzied half hour at the gym. According to Katy (and the research she presents) that is simply not enough. What we really need, is to move naturally.
Now, exercise regimes and motherhood don't really mix. I'm happy when I can get two showers and a walk in a day, let alone a half-hour workout. Luckily, I found that with a small baby, natural movement isn't only easy but practically necessary. And on top of it all it's wonderfully minimalist - all you really need is yourself and the baby.
1) You finally have a reason to sit, crouch and squat on the floor. Since the baby was born I've had to get down and up from the floor at least 10 times a day. I now also keep a big cushion and rolled-up yoga mat close to the baby's play area to increase my options and include some stretches.
2) Less time to sit still. I don't know your baby, but mine definitely prefers movement to standing still! A lot of my day is now spent either swaying from side to side or walking around the house with the baby in my arms: the perfect time practice all sorts of calf stretches, body alignment and better forms of walking. Also...
3) Needing to use your body in completely different ways, meaning you get to exercise unusual muscles. First there's doing everything with your left hand while holding your baby on the right. Then there's walking, picking things off the floor and opening fridges all with a squirmy baby on your shoulder, which leads to....
4) The baby is the perfect exercise weight - it even gets heavier the stronger you get! I've made it very clear how much I love my sling (and have forsaken the stroller) but even I thought Katy's suggestion to carry your baby rather than wear it was a bit far out. Well, her book has inspired me and baby now mainly gets carried around, with the sling as a back-up in my bag. I get a wonderful workout for my upper body and baby gets to move freely.
To top it all off, all this movement is also supposed to be wonderful for the baby. Not only does he get lots of mummy time, but all that time balancing himself in an upright position helps him practice his core strength and head control.
I still miss having a structured exercise programme, but at least Katy's natural movement approach helps me feel a bit less of a slob and makes it easier to integrate exercise into my day.