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My Blog

February 2013

The Unexpected After Expecting

When I was pregnant I had grand fantasies about getting my pre-baby body back before I could even say the words "skinny jeans." The thought of taking 6 weeks off from exercise was absurd in my mind.  I was sure I would only need a couple of weeks before I was back on the elliptical in the very least. I envisioned myself sneaking off to the gym every night when my husband got home, doing my core work during nap times, and catching a yoga class here and there. I expected my abs to magically fuse back together and my pelvic floor to re-tighten. Granted, I had worked with many postnatal clients, and I knew that it was a grueling process to get back into those skinny jeans, but for some reason I thought my personal trainer body would be an exception. I thought my will power was unbreakable, and my obsession with exercise would speed things up... It turns out that nature makes no exceptions, and quite surprisingly, I am okay with that.

I gave birth to my daughter naturally, free from drugs. It was the most intense physical challenge I had ever experienced. When I was in labor I remember saying (or maybe I was just thinking) that I would much rather be running a marathon.

Afterwards, I looked in the mirror at my post pregnancy body. I saw what looked like a 4 month pregnant belly, only slightly wrinkled and droopy. My hips and thighs had a little more cushion, and of course there were the oh-so-huge breasts that looked strange on my usually flat chest.  I normally would have been critical of myself. Never had my body looked so put through the wringer. But surprisingly I felt a sense of pride when I looked in the mirror. I was in awe of what my body was capable of. I grew a human being for 9 months and then somehow (like out of a science fiction movie) I was able to push that little human out! Looking back, I am impressed that I could keep the criticism at bay.

It was about 3 weeks after giving birth when I finally felt like I could walk normally again. Already my plan to stay active was a bust. Exercise? I barely had the energy to shower or brush my teeth at that point.

By Week 4 I decided to start with some light yoga. It felt good to move and stretch. But my joints were still flimsy from the hormone relaxin, and my core muscles felt mushy and weak. I realized that there was a lot of work ahead of me. Trainer body or no, I was going to have to be patient (something I was never good at until spending a number of nights bouncing my crying baby into a slumber). So I continued with yoga for a few more weeks, doing only things that felt good, nothing too strenuous. Nothing geared to weight loss. My body was still in healing mode.

At about week 7 or 8 I decided to kick it up a notch. I thought, "okay the vacation is over, let's get down to business."  But my dreams of going to the gym every day were shattered when I realized my baby's witching hour happened to coincide with my husband’s return from work. Evenings were spent breastfeeding, soothing, and maybe taking a long awaited shower. The gym was the last place I wanted to be after a long day with baby.
That’s when I began working out at home while my baby napped. I started with p90x and some other DVDs I borrowed from friends. I found those workouts to be good for getting me motivated (Yes, even personal trainers need a little push sometimes), but they were not great for my still healing body. High impact jumping was tough on the pelvic floor, and intense core work was not great for my diastasis recti (abdominal separation). I found myself modifying A LOT. It was a good next step for a while...until my newborn stopped napping for long stretches during the day. All of a sudden my 2 hour midday break turned into a 30 min power break. Maybe I had enough time to get dressed and make myself a snack.

That’s when I created Mind Body Mama, a workout I have since started to teach to other moms and currently use for my own exercise régime. I started designing workouts that would help me lose the extra poundage, strengthen my core, and keep the baby entertained. That way I had no excuse to skip a workout. All I needed was my yoga mat, my baby, and 30 to 60 minutes.  I mixed up vinyasa yoga with cardio exercises like Burpees, mountain climbers, and speed skaters, and then folded in some core and pelvic floor toning. The end result was a simple full body workout catered to a postpartum body.

Is it ideal to be working out with my baby every day? No. But it's getting the job done. Would I like to be back to running 3 to 6 miles on my own as I listen undisturbed to my iPod? Uh, yeah. But right now that is not in the cards for me.

Now, 4 months postpartum I am 3 lbs. away from pre pregnancy weight. I give Mind Body Mama workouts a lot of credit. My body is starting to feel like it did before baby came. This is not the set up I was expecting when I envisioned having a baby, but am I okay with it? Absolutely.  Not only do I see a strong and healthy woman when I look in the mirror (complete with hips and boobs). But I am realizing that my body is capable of amazing things. I can trust that it knows what to do.

For now I will let go of my gym filled fantasies, and concentrate on what’s going on at home. I’m sure one day I am going to miss those afternoon workouts with my little one.


 
 
 
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