Once you have your baby, your mind is flooded with all sorts of thoughts and emotions, but one of them is about fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes again. Every new mom wonders when she can wear her regular clothes again and finally put the maternity clothes away. It’s funny, I had such high hopes of being able to wear my regular clothes just 2 weeks after having Keenan, but boy, was I wrong. This is the stuff that no one really tells you. You come home from the hospital looking 4-5 months pregnant, and continue to look that way for a few (or even several) weeks. Everyone is different, so it might only take you 2 weeks, but for someone else, it can take up to 3 months (and even then, you still haven’t lost all of your baby weight). I always say, it takes 9 months to gain all of the weight for your baby, so you need to give yourself 9 months to lose the weight. Just as there are no miracle weight loss pills, it takes work to lose weight. If you are breastfeeding, the weight can come off quicker, since breastfeeding burns about 500 extra calories per day. In addition to breastfeeding, you need to do some physical activity to create an even bigger caloric deficit to lose weight successfully.
After I had Keenan, I was chomping at the bit to get out and exercise. I was exclusively breastfeeding, but it wasn’t enough to have the weight come off as quickly as I liked. My midwife told me to hold off on working out for 6 weeks (the standard recommendation), giving my body plenty of time to recover. However, I could take brisk walks–no jogging, lifting weights or anything strenuous. As soon as I felt up to it, I put Keenan in the stroller and we took walks around our neighborhood, pretty much on a daily basis. In addition to getting exercise, it was nice to get out of the house those first few weeks. You can get a little stir-crazy staying in all the time. It worked out well, because Keenan would sleep as we walked.
After my postpartum visit at 6 weeks, I was cleared for exercise and I went back to the gym the next day. Since I hadn’t exercised for 6 weeks, I took it easy and slowly eased myself back into my regular routine of strength-training 3 days a week (starting with lighter weights of 8 pounds) and cardio 2 days (doing moderate intensity). After a week, I increased the intensity of my cardio and also the weight I was lifting (10 pounds). After 2 weeks, I started my interval training on the treadmill, doing 20 minutes. I adapted my interval training routine from the book, “Body For Life.” It starts with doing 2 minutes of a low/easy intensity (4-5 on a scale of 1-10) and then at minute 3, you increase the intensity to a 6, followed by the 4th minute at a 7, 5th minute at a 8 and the 6th minute at a 9. After you complete the first set, you go back to a 6 at minute 7 and repeat the set over and over until you complete 20 minutes. I like this cardio workout, because it pushes you to work hard in a short amount of time, which is the beauty of intervals. You burn twice as many calories doing interval training in 20 minutes then you do just jogging at a moderate pace for 20 minutes. You also see much faster results with interval training (both in how your body looks, as well as your endurance and stamina).
I continued my regular exercise routine of working out 4-5 days a week, either getting up early to hit the gym before Keenan woke up (while my husband was home), or while he napped. My husband was able to work mostly from home during those first few months, so if he was home during the day, I would run to the gym while Keenan took one of his naps. Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned; I keep my workouts to an hour or less. Who wants–or has the time–to spend hours and hours in the gym? You can get a good workout and achieve results in an hour or less. I think it is ridiculous when people say that you must work out for a minimum of 90 minutes to see results! Often times, these same people who say you have to spend hours in the gym, don’t look like they have worked out at all!
CrossFit is my new passion, which I started October of 2011, when Keenan was 14 months old. I love it because you get the best and most challenging (an understatement!) workout in 1 hour or less. In addition, you never do the same workout twice and you are in a class setting, so you have the camaraderie of working out with others. Every workout can be competitive because you are ultimately competing for the best time and sometimes reps (or rounds) amongst all of your peers. I played sports when I was younger, so it reminds me of being on a team and competing. Also, CrossFit is based on functional movement and strengthening your core (since the majority, if not all of our bodies movements come from our core), pulling movements and skills from gymnastics, Olympic lifting and Military training. Don’t be scared if you aren’t the competitive type, or are afraid to try Olympic lifting, CrossFit prides itself in being universally scalable to all fitness levels and ages. My husband isn’t competitive, and he loves it, too. If he can do it, so can you!
For me, exercise has been part of my life since I was young girl. My mom and grandmother were big proponents of exercising and eating well, so it is ingrained in me. Exercise is automatically scheduled into my day. But, for others, finding the time to exercise may be difficult. Being a mom, you also need to take care of yourself, so you can be at your best.
MAKE time to exercise! You might think you don’t have enough time in the day, but plan your day around when you will exercise. I hear excuses all the time from moms who say they can’t work out because they don’t have time, but are they really making the time? These same moms continue to complain about their post-partum bodies, but until you make the change to do something for yourself, don’t complain! There are plenty of opportunities to exercise, even for the busiest of moms. Take your baby to the gym with you, putting him in the daycare while you work out. If you work full- or even part-time, get up an hour early (going to bed an hour early) and work out before you go to work and before your baby wakes up. Or, work out during your lunch break. If you are at home, go for daily walks–or even better, jogs, if you have a jogging stroller. There are also plenty of exercise DVDs on the market, so pick up a few or rent them from Netflix or Blockbuster and do them in the comfort of your own home while your baby naps. I love the Women’s Health and The Firm exercise DVDs; they really provide good workouts. I pop in a DVD when I can’t make it to the gym and the weather is too hot or rainy to take Keenan for a jog.
The next time you are feeling bad about yourself when you look in the mirror, tell yourself you CAN change, you just need to make time for yourself!