Before all things babies and motherhood, I worked in the fitness industry. Aside from work, I spent an average of 5-6 days a week training for absolutely nothing except a perfect body. I was a vegan most of the time and dieting ALL the time. Not in a fad dieting way, but in a I-must-count-my-calories-and-not-exceed-1600-a-day kind of way. It was all very stressful. But hey, I felt good naked. Most of the time.
When I got pregnant, everyone would tell me, “You are going to bounce back real quick! Don't you worry!”
Let me be honest for a second...I hated that. Like it really bothered me. Of course I was flattered by their opinion of me, but then I felt the pressure.
What if I didn’t 'bounce back'? Would they like me less? Would I lose their respect? Would I be less attractive to society’s standards? Would I hate myself?
But then I would think, what if I did? Would I be putting pressure on other mamas out there? If I did “bounce back” quickly, does that make me better than all the other mamas who still have that last 10 lbs to go?
Absolutely freakin' not!
I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be a part of this madness. I had other things to worry about, like pushing a watermelon out my hoo-haw.
This idea that we all are supposed to “bounce back” into the body we had before just pisses me off. The idea that our post baby body should look just like our pre baby body is absolutely insane. Women's bodies fluctuate more in a month than a man will encounter in a decade. Do you understand how many bras I’ve bought in the last 2 years? None of which are the same size.
The expectation that we’ve put on ourselves to fit back into our pre-baby clothes right after giving birth is absurdity. Simply because we aren’t the same girls we once were. No matter how much cardio I do, that gold-sequenced crop top just doesn’t look good on me anymore. Also! Where would I be going in a gold-sequenced crop top?
When I was pregnant, I read an article in a pregnancy magazine that completely changed my attitude for good. It was an interview with some gorgeous ex-model who was currently pregnant, or had like 1 or 4 kids. I wish I saved it because I can’t remember any details. But I do remember this—
She felt pregnancy brought a freedom that she’d never experienced before. It was the first time ever that she could fully listen to her body and respond without any guilt. When she was tired, she would lie down. When she had the energy, she would exercise. When she was hungry, she ate. And the best part about it…that was acceptable to her and to those around her.
I wanted that. I didn’t want to feel guilty anymore for taking a nap when I was tired or eating an extra piece of bread at dinner when I was really hungry (or just because I wanted more bread). From that moment on, I decided to really listen to what my body was asking and not feel guilty for those decisions.
Within reason, of course. My body will forever tell me to eat the entire tray of ooey gooey brownies, but we can all agree that’s not healthy, right?
So, how did I get my “post-baby” body back?
Mentally, I let go of the pressure and I listened to my body.
- If I was feeling achey, I would stretch. 20 minutes of yoga and I swear you will feel like a new person.
- If I only slept 4 hours that night, I would try my best to rest before doing any sort of exercise.
- If I was hungry, I ate. By the way, when you’re breastfeeding, you are constantly famished. The key is to only buy healthy snacks. If there are cookies in my pantry, I will eat them.
- I made exercise a priority. If it’s not a priority, you will find every excuse not to do it.
Physically, I focused on rebuilding my strength.
Exercise for me was not just about getting my perfectly toned body back, but almost more about getting my strength and flexibility back. It didn’t take long before I felt the aches and pains of motherhood. My lower back ached constantly. Sharp pains rushed up and down my back, hips, and legs. I basically lost all my flexibility.
I want more babies, so working that hard to stretch it all out again didn’t sound worth it, honestly. But not having the strength to walk up and down the stairs to do laundry was more depressing than anything. Full on panting wasn’t ok with me.
So, while baby slept, I spent 30 minutes doing the basics- jumping jacks, squats, lunges, pushups, planks, dips. When there was too much to do during nap time, babe and I would go for a long walk. When all that got easy, I introduced myself back to the weights.
How often did I exercise? When I had the time. There were times when I could train 4 times in one week! But then, there were times when I didn’t work out for a whole month. And that leads me to my last point. The most important of it all…
Nutritionally, I cleaned up my diet.
On a Netflix and chill kind of night, the husband and I decided to watch the newly released documentary “Fed Up.” If you haven’t see it, add it to your “must watch” list this week. If you don’t watch it, know this— Sugar is a sneaky little snake and it’s literally killing Americans. Since watching, I started reading and rereading nutritional labels of all the food I buy. By cutting out excess sugars, cooking at home, and not calorie counting, I didn’t feel guilty about the times when I couldn’t make it to the gym.
I hope this article helps you in the same way those ex-model's words in that one magazine article helped me. There’s freedom in letting go of things that are simply out of your control. Which also sounds a lot like being a parent.
Planks, by the way, should be outlawed.
You can learn more about the documentary here http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home.