Today being my due date with baby number two has me thinking about returning to regular running and losing those extra pounds. Of course baby snuggles and soaking up the moments is most important, but this post isn’t about that.
Last time around losing the weight was important to me for several reasons. Those reasons remain the same this time around. While I do believe there are far more important things in life than worrying about weight and working out post-baby, the reality is sometimes these small things are the big things.
For obvious reasons, I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe. I like having options to wear and it feels good to put on those skinny jeans again and have them actually fit. This is only part of the reason though. If I’m being honest, I’m just much happier and more confident when I like the way I look. Feeling like yourself gives you a confidence and positivity to your life and attitude that is hard to get from another source.
Turkey Trot with my little guy at 7 months old.
Beyond fitting into my old clothes, returning to working out is essential to my well-being and mental health. I become very anxious and irrational if I go very long without moving my body. For the sake of my family and those around me, everyone involved wants me to exercise as soon as possible. Being outdoors and running through all four seasons does something for my soul and peace of mind that I’ve never found anywhere else. The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I get from my running is unique and necessary for me to feel like a good version of myself.
Finally, since becoming a mom I struggle to find or make time for myself. As a mom someone always needs you. Something always needs to be done. Mom guilt is overwhelming. I have extreme mom guilt if I ever leave my son even if it is to get groceries or run an errand that is benefitting him or our family. I need to make time for myself a priority here or there for my own sanity and to be sure I’m not dividing my attention when I’m with him (and soon baby girl, too). Exercise gives me that break and time to myself.
As for when my next big race is exactly, I’ve decided to leave that a bit unknown or undecided. However unlike me as this sounds, I’ve got some ideas about when and where I might like to cross off my next state, but I learned the hard way last time around that if there is one guarantee post-baby it is that your best intentions and plans can go out the window in a hurry.
Balancing motherhood with work responsibilities and training was so, so much more complex and challenging than I could have anticipated. Rather than shell out hundreds of dollars in advance to up the ante so-to-speak in helping me remain committed to my goal, I’ve decided to save some cash up front and be real. This might mean paying a higher registration price to wait a bit longer to register for a race to be sure I can actually commit to the race and travel. Despite not committing financially to any races as of yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t have post-baby workout /fitness plans. I do! If that sort of thing interests you, keep reading. If not, maybe skip this post.
Running with baby #1!
During my last pregnancy I had no real post-baby workout plans established. I had no idea how weak my abs and pelvic muscles would be. Seriously no idea. I had done no kegels or pelvic work during my pregnancy, but I thought I had maintained a moderately active lifestyle running a few days a week until 27 weeks and then walking and hiking up to my due date. When I look back at my workouts though, I really didn’t maintain my fitness like I had planned or hoped to. Life got busy, and I made some excuses, too.
Post-partum after baby #1 I felt amazing. I couldn’t believe that I had just had a baby and felt so good. I had felt worse after some of the marathons I’d ran. Walking was a breeze. The first couple of runs felt great. Once the initial excitement of I’m-running-and-I-haven’t-done-this-in-months wore off though, I realized how weak I was and what a work in progress I was. My determination was there, but my abs just were not. I remember sitting in my living room, laying flat on my back (that felt weird), and trying to do something as simple as lift my feet and legs off the floor a few inches. I could not do this. No matter how hard I tried, it was just not possible.
My actual running felt great aside from this lower ab and pelvic issue/pain I had after most runs. I was able to return to running pretty quick, but I was constantly worried about doing more damage than good. You almost can’t stop a runner though.
I spent a lot of time reading and researching about how to correct mild abductus rectis and regain ab and pelvic floor strength. I was so frustrated and felt confused as to why no one told me about this. Why are stabilizing and strengthening exercises not taught to post-partum moms right away? Why are we not told to avoid certain ab exercises like crunches that can make it worse? I spent so much time pre-labor and delivery worrying and researching how to cope with labor pains and the end status of my lady parts I hadn’t even known or thought to consider this. What’s even more is I can’t imagine that many women actually walk away from delivery with strong abs and pelvic muscles. All women could benefit from this being a part of post-natal care.
Some of the resources I used the last time are linked below. Of course, I’m not a doctor so listen to your own body and talk to yours before trying any of these! I will definitely be using these again this time around. I also already asked my midwife about post-partum PT. She said she will make the referral and that they refer people all of the time. After having two children 18 months apart I know that my pelvic floor will be able to use some extra attention, and I want to make sure I’m prepared.
Six Exercises to Rebuild Your Core After Pregnancy
Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise App
You Don’t Know Squat
5 Alternatives to Kegel Exercises
I also plan to do as much walking as I can immediately post-baby, but I know this will be really hard this time around since I live in Wisconsin and baby is due in October. I doubt we will be walking 100 miles together by the time she is five weeks old like I did with her big brother, but I guess I can hope for a warm, late fall. I do have a treadmill that I didn’t have with big brother, so hopefully she can sleep next to me while I get some walk time in and enjoy some intelligent TV or Hallmark Christmas movies. I’m such a sucker for these feel good movies. Add in post-baby hormones and I will probably be a mess.
After having my son, 21 Day Fix really helped me make healthy food choices and get in a great workout in 3o minutes last time around. I plan to use this again after baby #2. Going to yoga and barre classes once a week also helped me get out of the house and get stronger, too. I’d love to include this in my post-partum return plan, but the reality is with my husband working full time (since it won’t be summer like last time) this may be difficult to impossible.
I also hope this time of year (late fall/winter) gives me a chance to put less pressure on myself to run long runs right away and really take the time to do the pelvic floor work that needs to be done. I’d like to complete more strength training too, so I can build a strong foundation to really return to running in the spring with longer runs. The pressure we put on ourselves though is hard to stop.
After having my son, I also spent a lot of (unnecessary) time obsessing about how I would lose the weight. Not so much during the first three months. I was totally devoted to my little man and caught up in those new mom emotions and challenges. After three months though I had expected breastfeeding and the running and walking I was doing to have taken care of those extra pounds. I lost 22 pounds that first month and thought I was going to have no problem losing the rest.
The reality was I had a long way to go. The worst part was I was eating right (dairy-free for baby meant a pretty clean diet) and exercising along with breastfeeding, and I just was not seeing the results I’d expected. These three things were I’m sure helpful in maintaining a steady weight loss, but the one thing that seemed to be required for my body to lose the weight was the one thing I didn’t have patience for-TIME!
Knowing all of these things from before will, I hope, better prepare me for the after the second time around and make other frustrated mommies realize they are not alone. I wouldn’t say the after was a hard transition the first time, but I was caught off guard by the extent of my weakness and the time it took to lose the weight. Often we hear that breastfeeding is the key. The reality is that it may not be the only thing necessary.
Every person is unique. Everyone’s journey their own. No comparison needed; just support and knowing that for most people a combination of healthy eating, exercise and time is what is needed to lose baby weight. No luck. No fancy gimmicks. No easy tricks. Sorry! Just hard work, commitment, determination and, again, TIME!
Six months post-baby I was back at my pre-baby weight. Nine months after I was down an extra couple of pounds and would very soon be pregnant again.
After running a half marathon at 16 weeks.
This pregnancy I worked out a lot more as I really wanted a more fit pregnancy than the first time around. I also ate better in part to limit the pounds I gained, but also largely due to my gestational diabetes diagnosis. I’m very curious how running more and until 35 weeks will play into my overall fitness and return to running. I know running more and longer into this pregnancy has played a big part in me gaining about ten pounds less this time around. At my recent 39 week appointment I had gained 26 pounds. I’m sure I have a bit to gain yet, but don’t think it’s possible to gain 11 pounds before she gets here. Let’s hope not!
It should be added that this plan is all pending a delivery similar to the last one. I am very aware that if I have a more difficult delivery or a c-section for some reason that my plans will have to be adjusted. A combination of eating healthy, exercising and taking care of myself will make my return to the fitness I love possible and the baby weight come off with time. I hated hearing this last time around, but it really seemed to be true for me.
My biggest tip to new mama’s-to-be when it comes to returning to working out is to have a plan that includes a healthy diet and exercise you enjoy, but know that that plan might have to be adjusted. So much of having a baby is out of your control. Be flexible with yourself. Workout when you can and try not to stress when you can’t. Think about what you put in your mouth. Above all, enjoy those new little baby moments. They grow sooo fast!
Now if I just follow my own advice.
What tips do you have for new moms?