If you are a mama like me that has struggled with her body image after pregnancy, this post is for you. Don’t know where to start or need encouragement, this is for you. This is my postpartum fitness journey, an average mama, just like you.
Baby #1 and Baby #2
When pregnant with my first son I was 20 years old and I really took the whole “I’m pregnant and can eat whatever I want!” and “I’m eating for two!” thing to an extreme. I knew that I needed to eat for baby but I thought that meant just eating more of what I wanted.
Well let’s just say I gained a good 50-60 lbs. For reference I am 5′ 2″ and before my first child was 110ish.
With my second pregnancy I was 29 and had a better grip on what prenatal nutrition meant. I had gotten in pretty good shape in between baby #1 and baby #2.
The second pregnancy I focused on eating healthy and nutritious whole foods also realizing I only needed 300 extra calories a day. That does not amount to a lot of extra food. I didn’t give in to cravings as much and I stayed moderately active.
I was very cautious about what I did in my second pregnancy because I did not want to over do it. I didn’t really know what was safe or ok for pregnant women to engage in. So walking and light yoga it was.
Towards the end of that pregnancy, I fell of the wagon. I was tired, big and had another child and step child to take care of. I gave in to excuses and fatigue. I just didn’t have it in me to keep up with a consistent routine.
I ended up gaining about 30-40 lbs this pregnancy which I considered a victory. I wasn’t really concerned with fitness after my baby was born because I had a HUGE goal.
I wasn’t able to breastfeed my first child very long for a variety of reasons but I wanted to nurse baby #2 for as long as he and nature would allow.
I heard SO many stories of women trying to lose the baby weight and losing their supply at the same time. I wasn’t willing to risk it.
So during the year (YES I SAID YEAR . . .YAY!!!!) that we were able to breastfeed, I focused on feeding myself and feeding my baby.
That being said I was WAY more hungry when I was a breastfeeding mama than I EVER was pregnant. I was ravenous. All of the time! All of those calories being burned making milk are NO joke!
By the time he naturally weaned at 14-15 months, I was ready to start my postpartum fitness journey and reclaim my body.
My Postpartum Fitness Journey.
When I started to take a look at where I wanted to be as far as my postpartum body went, I felt TREMENDOUS guilt. My body had done SO much for me!
It had grown my 2 children and supported their lives inside of me ! I loved my body for what it had done but I also wanted to be IN LOVE with my body again.
I suffered from a lot of guilt over trying to get back in shape and the time that it might take away from my kids.
I just didn’t feel good about me. I eventually realized that I needed to let go of that guilt and do what was right for me. I had to stop comparing myself to other women and accept myself and my feelings for what they were.
As women, we do SO many things for self care. We go out with girlfriends for dinner, call a friend to chat for support, have hair and nail appointments to feel feminine and de-stress. . . why was fitness any different?
All that other stuff makes us feel good about ourselves so why was I over here beating myself up for wanting to feel better about the way my body looked?
I didn’t have crazy goals or expectations. I wanted to be leaner and feel stronger. I had a general idea of the weight that I felt my best at, but knew it would take time to get there.
I also wasn’t willing to let this interfere with me being present and available for my kids. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice hours in the gym to get the job done.
Beachbody On Demand.
So how was I supposed to make this work for us all? I started out by joining Beachbody On Demand Program in the summer of 2017. I liked it because I could complete the workouts that I chose in 30 min. or less, and it was affordable at 39.95/quarter after a 14 day free trial.
Being able to workout before my baby got up, during naptime or after bedtime was crucial. I did not want to take precious time away from my kids to drive all the way to the gym, workout and haul them back home.
I also needed a program that did not require a whole lot of equipment since I was working out at home.
My first two workouts I was SHOCKED!! It was 30 min that I literally thought I was going to die! It was so hard to get through them. The aftermath was even worse! I hurt in places I did not even know existed. Don’t even talk about going up and down stairs!!
But I was committed! No matter how painful, or how much I hated it in the beginning I kept showing up for myself. I thought I had kept myself in shape. I had NO endurance or stamina in the beginning. My muscle mass was gone and my core . . . yeah that didn’t exist anymore.
I can’t say I really dialed my nutrition in at this point because I felt like I could only focus on one thing at a time. I started small.
I started seeing small victories over the next couple of weeks. I wasn’t so out of breath, I could use heavier weights in my workouts and I was starting to feel stronger!
I’m not sure how much weight I lost at this point because I was focusing on how my clothes were fitting and how strong I was feeling.
Kayla Itsine’s Sweat App.
After a few months of using Beachbody, I got burned out on doing those workouts so I switched to Kayla Itsine’s app Sweat. I started this program about January 2018.
These workouts challenged me again and took me to another level of fitness. I started seeing changes in my body by gaining muscle and leaning out. I started to see visible results! This only motivated me to continue doing what I was doing and not give up. I started to focus on eating better during this time too.
The same reasons I loved Beachbody were why I was interested in trying Kayla’s program. It was affordable at 19.99$/month, took about 30 minutes to complete and could be done at home with minimal equipment.
This app also comes with a community feature where you can connect with others using the program to stay motivated, share successes as well as set backs. I loved this part of the app.
How I Completed a Half Marathon.
During the time I started my postpartum fitness journey, my family was living with my sister and her family while we were building our forever home.
She was training for her first half marathon and kept trying to get me to join her. I told her NO several times. I was doing good to get through a 30 min workout much less run 13.1 miles!
On the day after Christmas of 2017 my sister asked me to join her on a run. I finally said yes. All of the holiday food was beginning to catch up with me.
She said we would just go for a short jog. She was keeping up with the distance on her phone with an app and I figured we would stop when I just couldn’t keep up anymore.
It was like a scene from Forrest Gump, I kept running and running and running. I made it 5 miles without stopping! Never in my life have I been able to do that!
I was so shocked that I had run that far! Before getting in the car that day I had NO belief in my physical strength or endurance. It made me realize that every single 30 min workout and the commitment I had to myself over the last few months was beginning to pay off!
I agreed to enter the half marathon and start training with my sister. Several times a week we would run and on the weekend we would go for longer distances. Before the marathon the longest I had run was 9 miles continuously.
The day of the marathon came and THE ONLY goal I had was to finish. Not finish for time, just finish within the time they gave me to complete the marathon before I was disqualified.
Not only did I finish, I finished a half hour before the cut off time! There are no words to describe how amazed I was at yet another thing my body had supported me in doing and helped me to achieve!
How Postpartum Fitness Changed My Life.
People often say that fitness and nutrition should be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. I wish that was anything but true. Its not.
It took me a good solid year and a half of hard work, determination and learning what about good habits before I saw my body respond.
I feel good about me again. Not just what I see in the mirror or how my clothes fit.
I learned that when I can get in a workout, even if it is just 20-30 min, I feel better. I have more energy. I get more done. I play with my kids longer.
Your brain perceives exercise as stress, and puts you in “fight or flight” mode. Endorphins are then released. they are a chemical in your brain that can block feelings of fear or pain, This results in a euphoric feeling.
When I am consistent with my workouts (I shoot for 3-4 times a week, that is realistic for me) I feel my mood improved, I am better able to handle stress and am generally happier. I also feel more mental clarity and I am able to focus more.
For me, I have an all or nothing personality that I struggle with. I have to make an effort to be consistent with my workouts and nutrition or it is VERY easy for me to get off track. “Screw this, I ate terrible the last two days, I’ll just wait until next week to get back on track.” or “Well Im only able to workout 15 minutes today so it’s not worth it to try.”
I have had to realize, as a mama, sometimes I’m only going to get 15 min. Maybe my workouts get interrupted and I have to start over again. I might be eating only my kids leftovers that day.
I have to realize, it is NOT ALL OR NOTHING. This journey is teaching me balance and perspective.
If I ate like crap at breakfast and lunch I still have 1 meal left to kill it. If I didn’t get a workout in that morning, I can do squats with my kids at the park and that’s good enough.
Other times I have to get back into my routine and make sure I am making myself a priority. That might be getting a workout in before my kids get up, while they are eating lunch or napping or after bedtime.
I have to be flexible and find what works for where we are in life.
All of this happened because one day I decided I wanted things to be different. I was realistic and patient with myself (sometimes). I took it one day at a time. One workout at a time. One meal at a time.
I celebrated small goals and victories. I had set backs, I felt like giving up and I didn’t believe it could be done.
I’m just an average mama on a journey to become a better version of myself. I did all of this at home. No fancy trainer. 30 min a day. 3-4 days a week. I had rest days. I had cheat days. My kids were there the whole time. No special diets. If I can do it, you can too! If you are on a postpartum fitness journey let me know!