Getting my wife in shape

Hello. My ladywife is having a baby in two weeks and has - very, very foolishly - appointed me her personal running coach to help shed all the pounds that have built up.

My knowledge of coaching is strictly limited to finding innovative ways of injuring myself, so I need help.

She has no running or sport background. Actually, she did run for two weeks earlier in the year but then became pregnant and stopped - proof of that old running/libido link?

I would suggest the walk/run line. But my main concern is burning calories and losing weight while breastfeeding. What is a sensible approach?

No ironing-related suggestions please.



  • Oooh, quick apology. "Getting my wife in shape" sounds very sexist. She's the one who wants to change shape, I think she looks fab!
  • I can't help with strategy but having been in a similar position to your wife please make sure you keep a eye on her enthusiam. Labour took more out of me than I thought and I pushed myself to get back to a decent exercise regime too quickly. At that time I would have been better walking in the fresh air, or taking daytime naps (to make up for lost night sleep) than 'working out'.
  • Oh, and congratulations and good luck to you both for the big occasion.

  • Cheers for the congrats. I'll be keeping a close eye on her.
  • Dear Neil,
    I had my last baby April 01 and started back to running after 8 weeks (as per advise form Healt visitor). I did the Race for Life 5K 2 months after that and managed 33 mins. So it is do-able. However it was really hard work.
    I only really started enjoying running this April.
    One tip - get a really good sports bra - for missus not you.
    Good luck with Labour
  • careful mate
    Women post birth-swearing session tend to be a little touchy in my experience.

    Do not remind her of her size, eg by buying a pair of ace jeans that would have fitted her pre-pregnancy. It won't help.
    Tell her she looks gorgeous, but ask her to exercise the neighbours dog/ keep the running machine from seizing up.
    Get it wrong and it will come back to haunt you.

    I'm told.

    By a friend.
  • Hi Neilruns, congratulations on your impending baby. Look forward to reading the details on a couple of weeks - or any day now statistically speaking.

    I've had 2 babies and can say confidently say I've tried practically all permutations of exercise/baby possible. I would say first of all,
    - make exercise and weight loss a gradual low key affair. Adjusting to parenthood is challenging enough without having a training schedule hovering and making you feel guilty.
    - Breastfeeding is good for weight loss (that's one reason all that extra fat goes on in the first place, nature assumes there may be a famine just around the corner and wants to protect the human species) but it is meant to be gradual (6 months is a reasonable target to have returned to pre-pregancy weight, though for some it will be quicker).Your wife will probably find she has a bigger appetite whilst breastfeeding and that's not necessarily a bad thing. You might hear exercise is bad for milk production, take this with a pinch of salt as it's only true in very extreme cases combined with inadequate diet.
    - In the early weeks gentle walking is sufficient exercise, especially given she has no background in sports. Avoid superwoman stories of running a marathon within 4 months of the birth, that will only make her feel inadequate.
    - Get a really good 3 wheeled buggy so called 'mountain buggy' which your wife/you will be able to put the baby in while running later, when it is sitting up and has good head support. Also it's good for walking in rough terrain.
    - In the meantime a comfortable sling (wide straps, firm support for the baby's head) is a godsend as you can get out for walks without carting a pram around all over the place (it's also great around the house if you have a baby which likes being carried). Later, swap this for a good quality backpack.
    - Look for a book/video/post natal class where the baby is incorporated into the exercises.
    - pelvic floor exercises...a must for any would-be runner...
    - cycling is gentler than running whilst building fitness. She could cycle and you could run alongside with your baby in the buggy (you get used to the handles after a while). We got bike seats and later one of those tag along bikes for our kids.
    - try power walking/ie brisk enough to feel your heart rate going up. Say 30 mins/day would start to build aerobic fitness and burn a few calories.
    - once your wife has some fitness and feels comfortable enough to try jogging (probably at least 6-8 weeks after the birth) a walk/run programme sounds like an ideal way to start.
    Sorry this is so long, it's a subject dear to my heart and I'm quite envious of you having the whole experience from scratch!
  • Neilruns that is FAB news - I'm really pleased for you both - seize every happy moment you can as it'll seem like non stop work for the first few years... and you can get too tired to remember the fun times if you're not careful.

    I ran right up til the week before minSS was born (2 weeks late)(probably not a good idea!) and then just once in the next 7.5 years - having been absolutely determined I'd 'bounce' back immediately - I suddenly realised just how important feeding miniSS was and she would never be settled at the rare times when MrSS was available to look after her and give me a couple of minutes of freedom.

    I am sorry to contradict the 'breast feeding is good for weight loss myth' - but I kept at it for 2.5 years waiting to lose the weight and just got heavier and heavier - it sort of lulls you to sleep and takes so long that when you're not asleep you're sitting around anyway! It is really hard work for the mum - and also the Dad who has to suddenly do all the housework cos mum's sitting around, again.

    I am still 2 stone more than I was before miniSS came on the scene.

    The Enell Sports Bra makes me think I'm putting on a bullet proof maternity bra everytime I wear it - might do the job of 2 bras in one for your wife!!! (seriously though it's probably too supportive for that but would be worth every penny if she does manage to get time to exercise!)

    Is there any chance of investing in a 2nd hand treadmill / rower or similar - so that on the rare occassion when baby is asleep and mum is awake - she can exercise at will without having to find someone at short notice to look after the little one. This might also be a good idea with winter coming on and dark nights / mornings etc.

    You're welcome to my cheapo stepper that MrSS so tactfully bought me on Valentines Day 2 years afer MiniSS was born....
  • Congrats!

    I have no experience of post-baby exercise, but when I started running - at mr tinks suggestion (he was insisting that I do some sort of exercise) I found that tact on his part was the most important thing. When I was doing well, I liked to be told so; and when I wasn't doing so well, I didn't want negative comments - so "try harder" for example was not motivating, but "keep trying" was better...

    I also found that keeping a log on the calendar of where I went and how long it took was motivating, as I could look back and see my progress.

    Good luck with the new baby.
  • Thanks for all those excellent ideas. We both went to meet our midwife team yesterday (why are they always such nice people) and the baby is fully engaged and getting his bags packed, so to speak. And yes, he is a boy - to add to the two girls we've got already.

    The aim in encouraging the wife is not just the fitness angle. One of the big benefits of running for me is that it is a regular chunk of "me-time" - selfish, indulgent, but all mine. That's why I've never joined a club - yet. So the plan is to get her out regularly to do something on her own, or with friends if she wants, but not with us (i.e. me and sprogs). If she wants to run, that's great (as long as she is always slower than me - that is v.v.important!!). If she wants to waddle down to Starbucks and eat cakes - fine also.

    If in five years' time we're all going to the local 5k, mum and dad tearing across the line with PBs, granny and the kids cheering proudly and then getting their kit on for the fun run, that would be fab....

  • Good luck to you all!
    Lots of good advice already given. Can I just add don't rush it.

    Babies are exhausting, you would have to be supermum and dad to be able to have time for 2 children and a baby and both running. Leave it until baby sleeps through the night,at least, and start with run walk.
    Let us know when he arrives!
  • No advice - just good luck and congrats

    I hope the delivery is like our second , left the house at 9.05 dropped daughter no.1 off at friends, arrive at hospital 9.15 , daughter 2 arrives at 9.22. Didn't even have time to take my coat off.

    Still we were home in time for tea....
  • Neil, for some reason I thought this would be your first baby when in fact you're already a seasoned father of two, apologies, you've probably already got a stack of buggies etc.
    With 3 kids 'me time' may be restricted to locking the bathroom door. Occasionally.
  • Well done, Mr & Mrs Neilruns.

    I'm with SS on the breastfeeding and weight loss issue. When I was feeding each of mine, I was permanently, ravenously, neuroglycopenically hungry - like pregnancy but without the indigestion. The last stone or so stayed put until after I'd stopped breastfeeding.

    With three children, I'd suggest you congratulate your wife - sincerely - if she's showered and dressed before midday for the first couple of months.

    Enjoy it all. Babies are gorgeous. Much better than running!
  • Totally aside from the congratulations to mr and mrs neilruns good luck with no.3

    - 2 things

    1- VRap - For some reason I assumed you were a man (i know - i know it's a man's misconception) - should have known though - Velociraptors being cunning, stealthy and utterly ruthless - has to be the "fairer sex") - kidding.

    2- Mrs old dog is "sort of" trying to get me to take her out for runs again(non-runner says she gets bored), I'm a little reluctant as we've tried last summer year with mixed results - I dont recommend the "you bike - i run" technique - she ran into my trailing leg after about half a mile and put me out for 2 weeks.

    - Only thing i can say is encouragement is good, but dont take a watch or hr monitor out until she's been running long enough to start caring about times. - My main mistake was I measure everything, and focussed too much on taking things at a pace i could handle when i started rather than letting her set the pace, deciding how far go etc.
  • Laura, no worries. Funnily enough, I have just put a lock on the bathroom door at the ladywife's request. Although if she gets much bigger she won't be able to get out of the bath on her own, so may need to leave it unlocked for a while.

    V-rap, I'm determined to make her take it easy and have started my training for taking over the school run in the morning. Our eldest had her first day yesterday. Getting a 4.5-year-old and a 19-monther fed and out of the door is exercise enough.

    Dustin, you sure were cutting those timings fine.
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