Before her son was born, Erin Arifin worked a sedentary office job. During her pregnancy, she squeezed in runs and walks at the gym near her job in downtown Minneapolis. But staying home with her son, Matthew, now 20 months, has been a surprising fitness and wellness boost: Breastfeeding, wearing her son in a child carrier and generally chasing him around create a balance that leaves her well rested and fit (she even weighs a few pounds less than she did before she got pregnant) -- despite not having a specific fitness routine.
No snow? No problem. "[The other day] we played outside. Matthew saw the sled in the porch, so I took it outside. I ended up pulling him around in the sled for about 20 minutes total -- no snow. I pulled him around in the sled in our yard in the summer, too."
Old house, unexpected benefits: "I don't find myself sitting still for long with a baby. Our only bathroom is upstairs, so most times I still carry my son upstairs with me so I can keep an eye on him. Our laundry is in the basement so again I bring him with."
Benching baby: "A few months after he was born, I became a big fan of baby wearing/carrying. My baby carrier is my most important baby-gear item. There is no need for me to go to the gym to lift weights. I put on the carrier, put in my baby and away we go for a walk, shopping at the grocery store or on other errands. Until Matthew was 1, I would wear him during part of his naps while I did tasks around the house. I love that we live in Minneapolis so we can walk or bike to school, the library, grocery store, etc."
The double-team: "The Midtown YWCA has a large running track with hours for strollers. When he was 3 months old, my husband and I would take turns walking or running around the track."
Breastfeeding benefits: "I am still breast-feeding on demand. This burns many calories for me. I eat a lot, meals plus snacks. I ate well before our baby was born, but now I eat even better because I have learned about nutrition and babies. And I get to sit and relax when he needs to eat. I'm better rested now. I think the breastfeeding helps you really slow down and relax and sit during the day."
Tips for new parents: "Having the tools: a good carrier that has good hip and back support, and a bike trailer. I feel very lucky that I can stay home so we can have more time to exercise. I think living in a community that supports multiple ways of transportation with sidewalks, bike lanes and things is helpful, too."
All in all: "It is an awesome time in my life."