Let’s be real, after I gave birth in December, the last thing I wanted to do was get out and go for a nice, long jog. Truth be told, I was worried that I would not be able to get out and even walk for a while because I was in so much pain with the normal after birth downstairs issues (see my Things Women Rarely Talk About Postpartum post) and also because I was dealing (unknowingly at the time) with a prolapsed bladder and prolapsed rectal muscles.
Honestly, this was disappointing to me because I was getting a little stir crazy and would have loved to just get outside for a nice walk in the fresh air, but that wasn’t happening. It took about 2 weeks for me to get up and feel good enough to go for a walk around the block with Chris, the baby and the dog and it was slowwww going. As in it took me about 25 minutes to go around the block slow. Chris was extremely patient with me and was also patient with the fact that I’m sure he wanted to tell me that it may be too early to get out and get moving again when I was so sore.
DO WHAT YOU CAN WHEN YOU CAN AND LET IT BE ENOUGH
It’s different for every woman and I’m the first to say that whatever works for you, go for it. If you feel like you need more time before you can get up and go for a short walk, then, by all means, wait until your body tells you it’s good to go. That being said, it was important for me to start walking as soon as I was able so I didn’t fall into the rut of “let me spend another week finishing all the bad food in my house and sitting around because I don’t have to be anywhere.” I’m the kind of person that needs routine and can easily fall into the trap of “well, I already ate a donut this morning, so today’s diet has gone out the window and I need to have a burger and fries for lunch and a pizza for dinner to round it out and then start fresh tomorrow.”
I knew that I had to start slowly and for me, that meant just walking. At first it was around the block, then it was around the block twice, then twice a day. It was what I could do that day and I told myself that was enough for me.
Quick side story: when I first started running, I would put music on and tell myself I would run for the length of one song. Then two songs, then three. I would never go for pace or distance, just for the length of a song. It really helped me build my endurance up and help me wrap my mind around running because I always knew there was an end in sight and if I could just make it the next 1 minute and 32 seconds, I could walk. This is the advice I give to everyone when I’m asked about general running, but especially distance running.
It was great to be able to put Steven in the stroller and take the dog out and just take my time and enjoy nature and being out of the house for 5 minutes. It felt like some “me time” even though it was with the baby and the dog. It was also great for me that Steven was super comfortable in the car seat and stroller and fell asleep about one minute into the walk (and has continued to do so since that first week). A quote I saw on InstaGram one day really changed the way I thought about my fitness journey:
Let it be enough
It sounds so simple, but so many people (me included) tend to beat themselves up over missing a workout or cheating on their diet. As for me, I start to get obsessive about most things in my life when I’m trying to make a positive change and repeating the “let it be enough” mantra to myself on days when I am just wiped out and can only get in a quick 5 minute walk or when I pick an apple over a brownie, but end up eating the brownie at 2 a.m. when Steven is up to nurse… just “let it be enough.” Let the choice to made in that moment be enough for the day. Small changes lead to big changes and that choice to go on a five minute walk instead of sitting on the couch watching another YouTube video is a step (no pun intended) in the right direction.
LOOK FOR ENCOURAGEMENT AND HELP
There are mommy/daddy groups and work out groups all over the world. I live in a military community and found a group called the “Stroller Warriors” that do twice weekly walk/runs with other moms and dads in the community. It’s really nice to be out with other parents who are just working on themselves and happen to have their kids with them while doing it. In fact, the first workout I did with them was the day before I gave birth! Not only has it been nice for me as far as accountability and getting back into jogging in a new way (aka – the added dynamic of the baby and stroller) but it has helped me become more social with other parents and talk about things I’m dealing with as a new parent. There are so many options out there for whatever you’re into whether it’s walking, running, swimming, or even mom and baby yoga (believe me, this 7 pound little boy gives my arms a workout on a daily basis).
FIND OTHER WAYS TO FIT IN FITNESS
There are hundreds of fitness apps out there, but for me, FitSpark is my favorite for a busy mommy. It was made by Tammy Uyeda, a Physiotherapist, Certified Group Ftiness Instructor, and mom of three. The app is great for me because you can select the amount of time you want to do your HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout from as little as 7 minutes up to 20 minutes. Depending on how long or how soundly Steven has been napping, I can select a length of time to workout. Sometimes, I just continue to do 7 minute workouts until he wakes up! Before I know it I’m almost up to a half an hour of exercise.
The workouts consist of short bursts of exercises that last for 30 seconds to a minute long then have a break in between. After selecting the time length you want, the app shows you a preview of the workout with all the exercises, how many rounds of exercises, and the interval between exercise and rest. You can click play on any exercise in the set and it shows you exactly how to do it. If you don’t like that set of exercises, you can select “change workout” and get a whole new workout. Tammy is also on InstaGram and she posts weekly with new exercises that require little to no equipment (the most “equipment” I’ve used is a chair from my kitchen or my coffee table: stuff that I already have, not things like hand weights or resistance bands that some people don’t own). Tammy is not only great at fitness but is super kind and interactive with her followers on IG and routinely responds to comments and tagged posts despite the fact that she has over 15,000 followers, is an entrepreneur, and busy mom of three!
BOREDOM EATING AND FINDING ALTERNATIVES
Lastly, on the food front, I am the kind of person who would rather eat what she wants and exercise it off than eat kale and carrots for every meal and not have to go for a walk. At the same time, I am realistic, and know that not everyone feels that way, so each their own! For me, I just try to make healthy choices when I can. Sometimes, cookies are it and I try to just limit myself to not each the whole package. I have been known to throw half a package of Oreos away after dousing them in Windex because I ate the other half and couldn’t stop myself and even throwing them in the garbage wouldn’t be enough because they are packaged and really didn’t touch any of the gross garbage that’s in there and I could just open them back up and continue to eat them so I force myself to cover them in poison and even then I consider it, but tell myself I shouldn’t because I’m breastfeeding and it’s just not responsible for me to ingest ammonia…
This goes back to the old mantra let it be enough. Just make the best choices you can for that moment and move on. Beating yourself up about eating a cookie doesn’t make the incident disappear, but you can make a better choice next time.
One thing that has helped me with mindless eating (I tend to eat most when I’m bored) is coming up with a list of things I can do when feel the urge to just snack on everything in the pantry. My list is: brush and floss my teeth, (ice cream after toothpaste? Gross) write a handwritten card or letter to a friend, (how fun is real mail amongst all the bills?) go for a walk, do a quick workout, (thanks 7 minute FitSpark!) start a load of laundry, drink a cup of tea, or play with the baby for a while. It helps that moment pass and usually when I’m done, the craving is gone or I’ve had enough time to think more about if I really want it. The last thing that works for me is having a snack size bag of cheerios. A full cup of multi-gran Cheerios (which are delicious and taste like Lucky Charms, sans marshmallows) is only 110 calories and they are so tiny that I’m kept busy for like 20 minutes eating them while tending to the baby!
Lastly, just don’t beat yourself up about fitness or getting back to your “pre-baby” body immediately after you leave the hospital. You just grew a human and gave birth to it! Give yourself a break, do what you can, and let it be enough.