Finally the royal baby has arrived and it won’t be long before mums across the globe start to comment on how quickly the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton gets her trim figure back.
But it is not always easy for women who have recently had a baby to don their training shoes and get back to doing exercise, no matter how little.
Hannah Parker is a young mum from Blyth, Northumberland, who like any other new mother, was keen to get her figure back shortly after baby Reuben was born in August 2012. Although as a busy new mum Hannah naturally shifted some of her pregnancy weight in the initial few months after giving birth, she still wasn’t the shape she once was.
“My hips and rib cage went back to where they were,” the 30-year-old said.
“However, while I was back to where I started on the scales, I didn’t have the same body as I’d had before falling pregnant.
“Various things just weren’t the same, mostly my belly. It was fine when I was stood up, but as soon as I sat down the muscles were nowhere to be seen.
“I hated my lack of muscle definition, so for the first six months following Reuben’s birth I wore a bodysuit. It gave me a bit extra body confidence. It did what my muscles should have done and held the ‘excess skin’ in place when I sat down.
“I felt that after six months it was time to gain control of my body again, get training, and ditch the bodysuit! But with my target areas basically being all my muscles, it felt a bit daunting.”
Eager to get back her shape, but conscious she had a young son to care for, Hannah needed a realistic programme that would fit around her busy lifestyle to achieve her goals, so she enlisted the help of boutique personal training gym, Sound Mind and Body.
Upon joining the Benton-based gym, Hannah was partnered up with personal trainer Dan Bowser. After undergoing a thorough health check to help create a bespoke training programme, Hannah’s journey began.
“I was really excited to kick-start my proper exercise regime after my pregnancy with the help of Dan,” she explained.
“To me, when I first met Dan, he looked like Vin Diesel’s younger, taller brother, who would win a fight with the Terminator. He was so motivated it inspired me.”
As one of the UK’s top mummy bloggers Hannah decided to share the ups and downs of her fight to get her body back on her blog Mum’s Days as she embarked on her three-month journey with Sound Mind and Body.
Hannah’s exercise programme consisted of her training twice a week at the gym with Dan and then some additional training at home. She was also given advice on what to eat and drink to help mirror her efforts to get back in shape at the gym.
The mum-of-one said: “Dan went through the food diary that I kept for the first week or so after we started training, and wrote in red the calories of each meal and handy little notes, which really helped me to think about what I was eating and drinking.
“I learned that I needed to cut the alcohol as it is just lots of empty calories. Drinking is the root of nearly all my bad decisions so I was definitely up for the challenge.”
Dan adopted a range of training methods with Hannah and each was specifically chosen to help her reach her target goals of looking good and feeling great.
Hannah added: “At the start we did a lot of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) which was basically 30 seconds of high-intensity cardio followed by a recovery period and then repeated.
“Dan also worked with me on my diet and a basic introduction to exercise that specifically engaged my core in a gentle way, this strengthened my body for the harder ab workouts he had planned for me in the following weeks.
“My personal favourite HIIT workout was Tabata. This was my first group workout with a very friendly bunch of women at Sound Mind and Body. Each session consisted of a 20-second workout period followed by a 10-second rest, we had to do this six times for each exercise and there were 12 exercises. It was a killer, but I loved it.”
As part of her training, after two months Hannah tried a juice diet which saw her replacing one or two meals a day for a fruit or vegetable juice drink with the guidance and consultation of her personal trainer.
She said: “I tried something different for a health kick. Ideally I wanted to shed weight but I also wanted to feel good, so I decided to try a juice diet. I’ve done it before and it is really effective, if done properly.
“The juice diet was only for two weeks, but now I’m more motivated, I love more, I do more, I work harder and I’m thinner. Overall I just feel so much better.”
With nannies, world-class dieticians and trainers at her aid, Kate Middleton will have less of a struggle to help her get back into shape compared to Hannah, who had to juggle parenting a young baby with her husband Alex and five-year-old step-daughter Gabriella.
“With a personal trainer I felt special and like someone really wanted to help me reach my goals. Now that’s motivating,” she explained.
“Dan was more excited than me when we got the stats back each week. This gave me a focus as I hate to let people down.
“I’ve got to admit at times I did struggle trying to watch my diet as Reuben and I have a major sweet tooth. As many do, I felt really bad when I had a tough time and the scales barely moved at the end of some weeks.
“This motivated me even more to lose the weight, but I still felt so much better. It was the strongest and most active I’ve felt since giving birth. Something I don’t think I would have achieved on my own, or at least not this quickly.”
Hannah learnt a lot of lessons trying to get into shape during the first 10 months of Reuben’s life.
“I didn’t progress as fast as I thought, but like many other new mums I had an unrealistic goal of what was achievable,” she explained.
“I learnt you don’t turn into Jodie Marsh overnight, but I can really tell the difference in my arms, legs and especially my mummy tummy.”
The support offered to Hannah by Dan and the team has given her the confidence and the tools needed to look as good as royalty.
She said: “Dan has completely opened my eyes to what actually working hard feels like.
“All the effort and pep-talks he gave me, I’ve learnt so much about how to lose the mummy tummy in a healthy and safe way.
“I now feel like a princess more than ever and I know I’ve done things properly.
“It’s not about quick wins it’s about retraining your mind and your body to help you maintain your achievements. I’d definitely recommend Dan’s support to any new mum.”
For many new mums getting back to their pre-baby shape can feel like an ambitious dream, whereas celebrities appear to slip back into shape almost instantly. However, with the right support, training programme and healthy eating plan it can be easier than ladies think, but to do it right would never be an easy journey.
Two years ago, The Journal joined forces with Nova International to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution.
The Great North Fitness Revolution is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life.
From training for the Great North Run, to something as simple as increasing the number of steps you walk each day – everyone can get involved.
The Great North Fitness Revolution received the backing of a host of famous faces, including TV presenter Ben Shephard, Olympic boxer Tony Jeffries, athlete Steve Cram and former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn.
Five ways to get back your pre-baby shape
Five top tips on post-pregnancy exercising from Dan Bowser, personal trainer at boutique gym and lifestyle centre Sound Mind and Body.
1. Seek advice from a professional
As with any new exercise regime, new mums looking to shift their ‘mummy tummy’ should always seek professional advice first – whether from an experienced personal trainer or their GP.
Exercising incorrectly can often cause more damage than good, so make sure you begin on the right track, and before starting any abs exercises get signed off by your GP – this is normally done during the six-week check up.
2. Combine your new exercise programme with a healthy eating plan
We all know how important it is to complement exercising with a balanced diet and good hydration to achieve maximum results and it’s extremely important that new mums receive the right nutrients.
Working with a qualified nutritionist will help you to develop a healthy eating plan that’s designed specifically for you.
3. Get the right gear
Whether you’re joining a gym or heading for a run in the great outdoors, making sure you have the right equipment is paramount.
Your body undergoes a huge amount of change during pregnancy, including your feet, so ensure you invest in a decent pair of well-fitting trainers and a good sports bra!
4. Always engage your core
Whether you are bending down, picking up and carrying the baby around, always remember to brace your core. By tensing your stomach muscles, but remember to breath, as you carry out day-to-day tasks, you be will be engaging your core in a gentle way to help prepare your body for your new exercise regime.
5. Try power walking
Fitting in exercising around childcare can be difficult so next time you head to the park with the baby, try power walking with the pram – this means you won’t need a babysitter plus the extra effort needed to push the buggy will increase your workout’s intensity compared to power walking without the baby.
For a higher intensity workout you can always choose a steeper route or take advantage of the local field for a tougher terrain.