Pregnancy, man. What a trip.
Let me just say … I did NOT like being pregnant.
Of course, I was thrilled to be expecting a baby girl, and so grateful to have a healthy pregnancy and a delivery without complications. But the side effects? Umm, no thanks. Swollen feet (KKW-style), nausea, crippling fatigue, insomnia, acid reflux, mood swings … I could go on, but I’ll spare you. And of course, putting on a bunch of weight and feeling huge was icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, I gobbled it down at every opportunity for 9 months, which leads me to my next point …
…I gained about 33 lbs over the course of my pregnancy. And once I gave birth, I wanted those 33 lbs gone. Like, now. But of course, it doesn’t happen that easily.
When I came home from the hospital I was down 9 lbs (7 of which were the baby), and by the end of Week 2 I was down an additional 10 (I assume from fluids and other mysteries). That left 14 lbs I had to get rid of the good old-fashioned way … through diet and exercise.
By the time my daughter turned 4 months old, I was back to my pre-baby weight. More importantly, my strength and endurance was back up, my jeans buttoned and I finally felt like myself again. Getting in shape after pregnancy had a lot to do with breastfeeding and eating well, but I was also very active before, during and after my pregnancy and that made a big difference.
Is my body the same as it was before I had a baby? In a word, no. How could it be? It’s been through something pretty insane and badass, and I’m fine with that. Every woman is different – some moms seem to “snap back” instantly, others take a year to feel back to normal and some never go back to their pre-pregnancy weight. And it’s all ok! It’s not a success if you lose all the weight, and it’s not a failure if you don’t. As long as you feel healthy and confident, that’s all that matters.
Here’s my postpartum fitness journey.
Weeks 1-5: Walk, Walk, Walk
For the first 6 weeks after giving birth (longer if you have a C-section), you aren’t supposed to work out at ALL so your body can properly heal. For a fitness freak like me, this was torture. So, I walked.
The day after we got home from the hospital, I took a short, slow walk around the block. It wasn’t much, but it was something. Every day I went a little bit farther. After a few weeks, I was averaging 5-6 miles a day – my personal best was 9!
I’d walk with my daughter in the front carrier or in the stroller. I’d walk to get coffee, groceries, lunch. I’d walk just to walk, for an hour or two, leaving right after feeding her and arriving home right before her next meal. I charted routes in different neighborhoods and added in hills whenever I could. It kept me sane – and kept me burning calories.
Weeks 6-12: Ease Back In
After I was cleared to exercise again, I knew I’d have to rebuild my strength and stamina. After 9 months of pregnancy and 6 weeks of recovery, I couldn’t just jump back in – especially because I was freaking exhausted all the time! I mean, I was awake all the time with a newborn. I had nightmares about falling on the treadmill due to being overtired. So I started slow.
I started going to Baby Boot Camp and Pilates ProWorks Mommy & Me Pilates three days a week – workouts where I could bring my daughter with me. Sometimes she cried and I had to leave class halfway through, and it sucked. But sometimes she slept the whole time and it was awesome. The key is was just keep trying. I mean, I had nothing better to do on maternity leave.
On the weekends my husband watched her for an hour or two so I could take a class, and I started going back to SoulCycle and CorePower Yoga Sculpt. Eventually I was ready for Core40 and Barry’s Bootcamp. I probably averaged around 4 classes per week during this period. And along the way, I made modifications in every class. I didn’t push it too hard, I didn’t choose the heavy weights, I was careful about ab exercises (pregnancy does a NUMBER on your abs!) and generally didn’t do anything that felt uncomfortable.
I know lots of new moms love at-home workout videos and apps so they can get a workout in while the baby sleeps. But I just can’t get motivated at home. The thought of doing lunges or pushups in my living room is depressing to me. It probably would have been more convenient, but oh well.
Weeks 12+: Fit In Fitness
I went back to work full-time at 12 weeks, and my days of long walks and midweek classes were over. Between breastfeeding the baby before and after work, commuting downtown and pumping at the office – plus, you know, actually doing my job – I don’t exactly have a lot of downtime for exercise. I had to get creative and efficient.
The first thing I did was maximize my commute time. Instead of taking the streetcar, I started walking 1.5 miles to the nearest subway station (BART, for my Bay Area friends). The subway is much faster anyway, and now I’m able to log a good 3 or 4 miles of walking every day.
A busy workweek makes weekend workouts extremely important. I almost always take an early morning class on Saturday and Sunday. And I’ve been choosing classes that are hard (gotta make every minute count!) but still fun – for me, that’s Barry’s, Core40, CorePower and Soul. I’ve also been going to class after work on either Thursday or Friday, for a total of 3 classes per week.
I’m guessing that once my baby is a bit older I’ll find new ways to fit in fitness. I’m sure that, like with all aspects of raising children, my “routine” will change over time. I’ll just keep adapting and if I find something that works, I’ll let you know!
Would love your tips on how you fit in workouts, whether you’re a mom, a dad or have a crazy busy schedule! Please comment below!
*Please note: if you are pregnant or postpartum, consult a doctor before beginning any new workout program