This post has been a long time coming for two reasons: one, because getting back in shape after having a baby took longer than I thought it would (more on that shortly). And two, because even after it happened I struggled a little bit with how to word this post.
Why? Because it is an extremely sensitive topic. As an avid fitness lover, I love reading other women’s stories of how they overcame obstacles to get back into or stay in shape, and I’ve been especially encouraged by hearing other mom’s stories. But I also know how easy it is to fall into the comparison trap. I know I sure have. Getting back into shape after having a baby is HARD work, and it presents different challenges for different moms. Some moms are able to bounce back more quickly than others, for some, it takes awhile to start looking like they did before they had a baby. I hope that you’ll find my story informative and encouraging– and that’s it! No need to compare it to your own. So here is my story:
When I was pregnant and eagerly anticipating not being pregnant anymore and holding my baby in my arms, I thought it would be a fun challenge to lose the baby weight considering I had never needed to lose weight before. No sarcasm here, I truly did think it would be fun. I pictured myself eating only the healthiest of foods and doing all of the pre-pregnancy strenuous workouts I used to do as soon as I was cleared by my doctor.
I had a smaller than average baby, but I did not have a smaller than average weight gain. I gained 30 pounds and still had 15 more to lose after we left the hospital.
To me, 15 pounds seemed like a lot of extra weight, but it was also fairly easy to hide. I got dressed like a normal person and left my baby briefly for the first time for an event one evening when she was two weeks old. I was talking to a group of other women who I had just met at the event and it came up in the conversation that I had a two-week-old at home. They all started gushing about how great I looked and how I didn’t look at all like I’d just had a baby. I should have been thankful for their encouragement but at the time, all I could think was I may look great but I feel awful. At that point, I was waking up every two hours to feed the baby (which was normal, but still tough!) and it meant I felt like I was constantly moving through a sluggish haze all day.
A couple weeks after that my doctor cleared me to begin working out again, which I did right away, eager to get the weight off. But I had to stop working out after only a few days back into the routine as some of the symptoms I’d experienced shortly after giving birth started to return. I waited a week and began again, and it was better this time, hard as it was with the lack of sleep. And eventually, the weight started coming off. I had hoped it would take three months and it ended up taking five. In the words of Rachel Hollis, here’s what worked for me:
- Consistency. This is SO key. You’re never going to get results without consistency. Once I started back up with my workout routine, I never stopped. Sure, I sometimes have the time and energy for a harder workout and some days my only exercise ends up being yoga or a walk, but I make sure to get something in 5-6 days every week. Every workout instructor or trainer that I’ve had has reiterated this truth. Stick with it.
2. Sleep. It’s so very important for your health and wellbeing, and yet I don’t think any of us realize just how essential it is until we don’t have it. I’ve read some studies that have shown that it’s harder to lose weight when you’re tired or stressed. I definitely saw that to be the case with me. When I got out of the tired fog of the first three months and my baby started sleeping through the night (yay!) is when I actually started to see some results and lose most of the first ten pounds.
3. Healthy Eating. This has been a struggle for me, I’m not going to lie. I had all of these ambitions to only eat the healthiest of foods after I had the baby and to lost a lot of the weight that way, but that didn’t happen. I have had to eat more than I had planned on because of nursing – I feel like I’m still just about as hungry as I was when I was pregnant. And that’s totally fine, but eating more food makes it easier to eat more food that’s not great for me. I’m still trying to find that balance, but overall it’s improved. My favorite way to start the day is with a green smoothie loaded with nutritional value or with a hot bowl of oatmeal topped with lots of fruit. Healthy starts mean I’m more likely to stick with it the rest of the day!
4. Yoga. I’ve done yoga off and on throughout the past few years, but I’ve really fallen in love with it these past is months. It’s actually kind of funny how it started: the first month or two after my daughter was born, I was SO tired in the mornings because I’d been up with her multiple times during the night. Even after dragging myself out of bed with a cup (or two) of coffee, the thought of doing an intense, high-energy workout just wasn’t going to happen most days. So I started doing Yoga With Adriene in the morning. It was good for my body to find gentle movement and helped to shake off the brain fog. I found that I loved it so much I’m still doing it most days in addition to my regular workouts – right now I’m doing her annual 30 day yoga journey – I can’t recommend it enough for a great at home yoga practice. It’s especially helped to strengthen my core, something I’ve been focusing on post baby.
5. Mom’s Workout Class. I’m a member of Baby Boot Camp Columbus, which I found when my baby was less than two months old. It’s a mom’s workout class that holds several classes each week (outside in warmer months, inside in the colder months) and it’s taught by certified group fitness instructors. Every week I go and just about every week I want to die – yes, the workout is that hard. I wanted something that would push me harder than I would push myself when I work out on my own, and this sure does! Without a doubt I wouldn’t have been able to be as successful with losing baby weight and regaining strength without this class, and it’s been great to do it alongside other young moms.
So that’s my story–for now! That’s where I am today after having my first baby. And, if you’re still reading, please know that all of this is 1,000% worth it. I wouldn’t trade any of my experience for the world, because it means I get to hold my sweet, precious, healthy baby daughter. She truly is my greatest gift!