Broadcaster Marci Ien was on maternity leave with her second child when she landed her dream job. The 43-year-old became the co-host of CTV's morning show Canada AM when her newborn son was four months. Immediately, Ms. Ien started a post-pregnancy fitness routine to allay fatigue. Seven months later, she says small surprises motivate her to continue.
"I was crossing my legs and I looked down and saw muscle definition along my thighs – results!" the Scarborough, Ont., native says. "This inspires me because some days you wonder if your efforts make a difference."
To shed post-mat-leave pounds. I'd love to be 135 pounds.
I exercise with trainer Garrick Nelson on Mondays and Wednesdays at Phases Executive Fitness Studio and he puts me thorough intervals after work. Otherwise if I get home and if I get an opportunity to nap, I won't leave the house. We do 20 minutes with 20-second rests of 15 to 20 reps of exercise. One day we do legs and abs, then arms on another day plus some cardio – everything from boxing to superman flys to crunches to arm lifts, skipping – we do it all quickly. The cardio is incorporated into weights. I start on the treadmill backward, pushing hard. Next I walk and slow run for five minutes. Then I jump off and box. I go back to the treadmill for a bit, and then do arms or legs, whatever we're training, go back to boxing, and move on. I have a treadmill at home and after I put the kids to bed I exercise on it as I read research for the show. My husband, my eight-year-old daughter and I walk a lot with our son in the stroller.
I'm up at 3:30 in the morning and home by 11 o'clock in the morning. For breakfast, I eat at work in between commercial breaks, which is an egg white omelet and veggies, and if I do carbs it's multigrain toast. My largest meal is at lunchtime, which is salad with chicken and balsamic dressing. Dinner sometimes is a bowl of cereal or a salad with protein, if I didn't have greens at lunch.
My original motivation
With my first child, I did Pilates up until birth. With my second child, it wasn't as easy, so I did modified floor work, treadmill workouts, and 45-minute walks. My husband is amazing! He's so disciplined and busier than I am and eats exceptionally well and I admire that. For Lloyd, exercise and healthy eating is like breathing. I never bother to even ask if he wants dessert. He's been like this for 17 years.
Chocolate with almonds.
At home I love the Rolling Stones' Start Me Up and Michael Jackson's Gotta Be Starting Something.
The hours I keep make it easy to grab a donut because it's there and feels good. The other trap is caffeine; I love tea – sweet almost like dessert. At work, staff replenish my cup and one day I counted: I drank 10 cups! I've switched to water with lemon.
Michelle Mottola, director of the R. Samuel McLaughlin Foundation of Exercise and Pregnancy Lab at The University of Western Ontario, offers her expert feedback.
Avoid postpartum fatigue
"A day of rest in between workout days would be beneficial to avoid fatigue. Intense exercise at four months post-delivery may be too soon for some women, especially if birth required a C-section and if a woman is up several times a night with her new baby breast-feeding. A healthy diet, coupled with moderate exercise that is eased into slowly, ensure safe weight loss in the postpartum period."
Take calcium for healthy bones
"According to Health Canada, pregnant and lactating women should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D every day. This is equivalent to two cups of fortified milk or soy beverage. There will be no immediate change to Marci's bone health, but as she ages, she will keep the bone bank healthy as she goes through menopause."
This interview has been condensed and edited.