I don’t know about you, but there are certain messages out there, about your body after having a baby, that just didn’t resonate with me.
That whole “my body is amazing for what it’s been through and who cares what it looks like!” viewpoint never really sat well with me. But neither did the pressure of having to fit into my pre-baby jeans right away. I needed a message that settled somewhere right in the middle of those two extremes.
During my pregnancy I stayed pretty active. So imagine my surprise when I checked out of the hospital with a baby AND an extra 60lbs. Oh well, I figured it would do what everyone had told me it would do…fall right off! Two and a half years later I am still carrying around a few of those extra pounds. It has been a journey consisting of every type of diet, workout and filled with negative self-talk. However I am happy to finally say that I have a whole new outlook on this postpartum journey and the fourth trimester.
My journey back to feeling like me was going to take time, patience and a lot of grace with myself. So I tried different things. I cheated my way through several rounds of Atkins and Whole 30. Started and stopped “running” again. Finally, after a lot of trial and error, I finally found a routine that works for me.
I now workout five times a week which includes three days of cardio and two days of weight training. I never thought I would be saying this, but I get to the gym every morning at five. Getting my workout in before my daughter gets up, helps to ease the guilt I have for taking time away from her during the day.
All of that being said, finding a routine that works for me and my family has taken a lot of trial and error. What started as a desire to lose weight has shifted to the need to have some time for myself. It has also now become something I do because it just feels good.
“You must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new” – Elizabeth Gilbert
I have put together a list of five ways to help you ease back into fitness after having a baby and sticking with a routine.
Whatever your goals are, start with being kind to yourself and the rest will follow!
5 Ways to Ease Back into Fitness After Having a Baby
1. Talk to Your Doctor
This is definitely the fitness instructor in me talking. Before you start anything new you want to be cleared by your doctor. Your pregnancy and birth story will have a role in how you move forward into a fitness routine. Many women develop Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal tissues) and while it usually heals on its own, it may require physical therapy or seeing a specialist. C-Sections, stretched ligaments and leftover hormones can also change how your body is moving. So check in before you start.
2. Set Attainable Goals
As a new mom, there are plenty of opportunities to get overwhelmed without adding unrealistic goals for yourself. Start small and build up from there. It’s best to start with things that you can do with your baby like go for a long walk or take a mommy and me yoga class. There are also a lot of online resources for classes that you can take at home during nap times or whenever you can squeeze them in.
3. Move Gently
It’s safe to say that your body is probably going to feel different after a pregnancy. Things shift, your boobs will hurt (all the time!) and you might not be able to do the same things you did before with the same ease. Even your relationship with balance and gravity changes! You will want to ease back into fitness after having a baby. And when you get back into a movement practice you want to start slow and gently. It might not feel good to run anymore or take an intense, heated yoga class so it’s important to test the waters and see where you are at with things. Don’t be afraid to talk to your teachers or trainers and explain to them any new sensations you might be feeling, we are here to help!
4. Treat Yourself
Celebrate your achievements and reward yourself when you meet your goals. One of my goals last month was to workout 20 times with my “prize” being a spa day at the end of the month. I will do just about anything for a spa day and it was nice to reward myself. Over time I found that treating myself to things I feel I have earned has also helped with that mommy guilt that we can all relate to when we get out of the house for a couple hours.
5. Be Patient
It is going to be so easy to compare yourself to everyone around you. If you are struggling with losing weight you are going to want to try anything and everything. While there is nothing wrong with crowd sourcing information or taking to social media for advice, comparison can sometimes be poisonous to your progress. As time goes on you will have more energy. Things will settle into place allowing you to to develop your own routine outside of nap schedules, feeding schedules and everything else you have on your plate. Be gentle with yourself and your body and most of all, be patient.
“Postpartum is a quest back to yourself, alone in your body again.
You will never be the same, you are stronger than you were” – Amethyst Joy
Jackie Parks is a certified Pilates instructor and owner of Jackie Parks Pilates (@jackieparkspilates). She has studied movement in a variety of ways and that blend of knowledge, passion and experience allows her to approach each body from a different angle. Jackie is passionate about functional movement, especially after injury or the beginning of your practice. She started her training in Yoga and moved to Pilates in 2014 where she has been happily stuck ever since. When she is not teaching you can find her chasing after her toddler, Waylon or enjoying Scottsdale living with her husband Jason.