Happy Monday, friends! Today, I’m finally sharing my postpartum fitness journey as it’s the number one thing I get asked about. I know this can be a touchy subject so I want to say a few things before I dive into it.
First, I’m not a doctor/trainer/nutritionist so I can only speak to the fact that this is what worked for me. I am simply sharing my pregnancy and post-pregnancy fitness journey. Every woman and pregnancy is different so again I can only speak to my own.
Second, I’m slightly obsessed with working out – it’s my “me” time, how I clear my head, and makes me feel good from the inside out. But, I do know that you don’t have to workout as much or as intensely as I do in order to reap the same benefits. So, I just want to encourage you to start or keep moving whether you’re a few months or a few years postpartum!
Third, pregnancy changes your body. There’s no doubt about it. But there were two things that I did not like hearing during my pregnancy – two things that I hope my small little blog post can address:
- First, that it wasn’t safe to workout while pregnant. This is crap. Staying active while you’re pregnant is just as important if not more so than when you’re not.
- The second thing I hated hearing was that your body will never be the same after pregnancy. Does your body change? Yes. Is it harder to workout and eat healthy once you have a baby? Yes. Is it impossible to have your pre-pregnancy body? No. We need to stop spreading this message. Because if you want your pre-pregnancy body back, I believe and know that you can get it. If that’s what you want. Instead we should say you will never be the same after pregnancy. Because you won’t. You’ll be forever changed as a person. You’ll be a mom.
Okay, so with all that being said, my post pregnancy fitness journey really begins with my pre-pregnancy and pregnancy fitness journey so I’d like to start there. If you’re interested in reading the whole journey (it’s a long one), then grab a smoothie/coffee/glass of red wine (hey, everything is fine in moderation!), cozy up, and start reading 🙂
I got pregnant with Andrew one month after Patrick and I were married. And before we got married, I was in the best shape of my life. Like I mentioned above, I’m obsessed with working out. Since I had a pretty good excuse to get in great shape, I worked out a lot leading up to our wedding. I was doing bootcamp, barre classes, and crossfit. I worked out six days a week, sometimes twice a day, and loved every second of it!
Of course, I love working out for how it makes you look – who doesn’t – but I’m obsessed with it because of how it makes me feel. I always feel more energized after working out, less stressed, have an easier time falling asleep, and find that it helps me feel more confident in other aspects of my life. If I can push myself and complete a challenging workout, then surely I can finish x project at work or tackle x issue I’m having.
So, with all that being said, going into my pregnancy, I was in pique physical shape, was living on the high of working out, and wasn’t ready to give that up just because I was pregnant.
At first I was nervous about continuing crossfit because of all the unclear messages on the subject. However,after talking to my doctor, my coaches, and other women who did crossfit throughout their pregnancies, I ultimately decided to continue given I had been doing it consistently before I got pregnant. The best advice I received was to always listen to my body, avoid maxing out, and stick to a pace that I could comfortably talk at. Throughout my pregnancy, I loved following Emily Breeze and Nancy Anderson, both female crossfitters who advocate for moving your bump!
I mainly did crossfit during my pregnancy and would go about 4-5 times a week. I quit going to barre as it didn’t make sense to pay for two different memberships any more and the boot camp aspect of my gym actually shut down, so crossfit it was! During the first trimester it was hard to motivate myself to workout. I was so tired all the time – I remember wanting to go to bed the second I got off work. However, I stuck to it a few times a week and am so glad that I did. Somehow, I always felt more energized after going, and once the second trimester hit, I felt like my old self.
I worked out basically up until Andrew was born. He was five weeks early so I don’t know what it would have looked like if I had gone the full forty weeks. The only thing I had trouble with was running as I felt like I had to pee every quarter mile so I stopped doing long runs at about 25 weeks and stuck to the shorter runs in the crossfit workouts. Like I said above, I’m not a doctor and I’ve only experienced one pregnancy but I believe working out kept me feeling energized, kept any pregnancy pains, aches, or discomfort at bay, and helped me push through a natural, unmedicated birth. At 35 weeks, which is when Andrew was born, I had gained twenty pounds.
After Andrew’s birth, I was anxious to start working out again. I was stir crazy and the stresses of being a new mom made me crave a personal escape. Thankfully, the lack of sleep and free time, kept me from pushing myself before my body was ready. For the first four weeks, I stuck to easy walks with Andrew and low impact exercises to work on my pelvic floor. At four weeks postpartum, I began body weight exercises similar to the bootcamp workouts I used to do but on a less intense scale. The day I went to my six week postpartum visit, I was fully cleared to workout and went to crossfit that night ;0
Since I had an amazingly long maternity leave (24 weeks), I eventually had plenty of free time to focus on my health and fitness. At six weeks postpartum, I went back to working out five times a week. I tried to go to the crossfit gym as much as possible but that didn’t always workout at first due to my husband, Patrick’s, work schedule. When I couldn’t make it to the crossfit gym, I would go to the gym at my apartment complex and bring Andrew along with me. In those early months, he would typically sleep in the stroller while I did a 20-30 HITT workout. And, if I didn’t make it the 100 feet to our apartment complex gym, I would just do a quick 10-15 minute workout in our apartment. I’m all about just getting a workout in no matter where or how short it is! If you need help with what workouts to do just google HITT workouts and tons of options will come up! Or, download the SWEAT app – Kayla has some great workouts in there and most require minimal equipment!
As Andrew got older (around four months), I started bringing him to the noon class at our crossfit gym. I would try to time around his naps so that he would just sleep during class but also brought his saucer with us for him to play if he was awake. Plus, the two instructors who typically teach the noon class bring their little girls so they’re always willing to help out so I can get my workout in!
Two postpartum fitness goals I set for myself during pregnancy were to complete a half marathon and be able to do strict pull-ups. For the half marathon goal, I started working towards this six weeks postpartum but have yet to accomplish it. Another girl at my gym was looking for someone to train for a half with so I offered to join her. We ran every Sunday morning for about a month and got up to six miles. However, she ended up moving unexpectedly with her husband’s job and when she did I stopped training. Nevertheless, I think this also really helped me get back into shape and I still run about once a week. Now, I need to get a half on the calendar so I can start training again!
As for the pull-ups, that is one goal I have accomplished! Originally, I set out just to get one strict pull-up and now I’m up to eight! All I did was follow this Armstrong pull-up training program for beginners for four weeks and I was able to do four in a row after that month!
Now, I want to share a little bit about my typical diet as I do think this has a huge impact on whether or not you see results from working out.
Like I mentioned above, after having Andrew, I was anxious about getting back into shape and I knew that eating well would help me get back to where I wanted to be even quicker. In those first few weeks, it was nearly impossible for me to figure out how to balance going to the grocery and cooking a homemade meal while also caring for Andrew. In those weeks, I ended up eating a lot of takeout. Once I finally figured out how to travel to the grocery with Andrew and set him down long enough to cook dinner, I decided I wanted to jump start my healthy eating and thus signed up for Nancy Anderson’s 30 day slim down in September, nine weeks postpartum.
With the slim down, I wasn’t trying to lose a ton of weight – I was almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight at this point. I really just wanted to get back into eating healthy in order to feel good in my workouts and more energized. Plus, I wanted the benefit of having someone tell me exactly what to shop for, cook, and eat, as I felt like I had little time to think through and do all of this. I ended up using the slim down as more of a guideline and resource for snack and meal ideas and did not follow it strictly.
After Nancy Anderson’s slim down, I went back to my normal diet, which I should disclaim is a dairy free, gluten free diet – both highly irritate/aggravate my stomach. Here’s a typical daily menu for me:
Breakfast: Eggs, slice of gluten free toast, 1/2 avocado, and chicken sausage
Snack: Rx bar
Lunch: Spinach salad with grilled chicken, hearts of palm, almonds, avocado, and homemade sugar free balsamic vinageraette
Snack: Protein smoothie – my favorites are the fab four smoothies from Kelly’s book Body Love. I especially like the PB&J which consists of frozen strawberries, vegan protein powder, peanut butter, flaxseed, and almond milk.
Dinner: Pork chops, quinoa, side salad (mini version of lunch salad w/o the chicken), and a vegetable such as asparagus or green beans
My postpartum body
It took me 17 weeks to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. While I was happy to return to my pre-pregnancy weight and size – mainly so that I didn’t have to buy new clothes – all I truly cared about postpartum was having the energy, strength, and positive mindset to be the best mom that I could be for Andrew every day. For me, working out, eating healthy, and feeling confident in my body helps me do just that. Becoming a mom has changed me – it’s my new motivator for continuing to take care of my physical health.
Since returning to work, it’s become even harder to find extra time to do things like working out or writing for Midtown Magnolia. I’ve tried to set realistic goals for both of these areas in my life and to also give myself some grace when I fall short of achieving these. With that being said, I’ve made it my goal to go to crossfit three times a week and workout at my apartment gym or go on a run with Andrew, now that we have a jogger (!!!), the other two days. I’ve decided Saturday’s and Sunday’s are my days off, so that I can focus on Andrew, Patrick, and other things that need to be addressed in my life like grocery shopping and cleaning the house!
I’m still figuring out how to balance it all on a daily basis but I know that maintaining my health will always be a top priority.