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
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
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.