First of all, let me start off by saying I don’t consider myself a fitness or healthy junkie by any means. If you put a mouth-watering cheese pizza in my face, chances are I will devour it before you have time to even ask if I want a slice. I enjoy a leisurely jog yet there is no way I could fathom the idea of signing up for a marathon; however, I will put out a hard sprint at the opening of a sample sale. Fitness to me personally at the age of 37 is being able to fit into my skinny jeans, join my husband on a hike without complaining, and actually enjoying bikini season and shopping for one.
Before having my first child, I was petrified of pregnancy, labor, and everything that comes with the aftermath. It felt as if it would be an alien implanted in my body, taking over, and morphing me into a whole different entity forever.
I got pregnant with my first child at 35. It had taken me almost two years and three miscarriages to hold a healthy pregnancy. Hormonal rollercoasters and a workout hiatus due to a lisfranc injury from running in flat shoes (not recommended ladies) set me back a bit before I got pregnant with my daughter. I was working at a popular Greek restaurant and went to the gym on the regular. While I was a few pounds heavier than I would have liked, I was solid and toned. I’m 5’8″ and my pre-pregnancy weight was 134. In nine months I gained 40 pounds. While I still worked the first three months which burned calories, I didn’t workout much due to my high risk factor and I was down right sick as a dog all day. I didn’t throw up, but I was so tired and nauseous I would lie down all day before heading to work. By month four, I was on an early medical maternity leave and felt like new again. I started working out every day at the break of dawn for 45 minutes at the gym. Afternoons I spent doing yoga at home and swimming for thirty minutes daily at the public pool. I slowly gained the weight, but by keeping up with light weights I maintained my muscle tone and shape. I have a super long torso, so I didn’t even show until I was nearly eight months pregnant. I tended to eat what I wanted without pigging out. The day my water broke I had gone to the gym for an hour and swam for an hour. The first week after having my daughter I dropped 30 of the 40 pounds effortlessly. My appetite increased while breastfeeding, but I started going to the gym 4 days post. I had no clue the dangers or that my internal organs could have collapsed, but they didn’t – ignorance is bliss moment. When I look back at photos I saw the rest of the weight and shift in body change happened gradually. By 8 months I was my pre-baby weight and after one year post I was almost at my skinniest I had been in 20 years. My elimination of dairy and eggs combined with workouts had gotten me to 126 pounds.
I tried for number two that spring, but it didn’t work out as planned. Three more miscarriages in six months. I gained four pounds bringing my weight to 130 before finally conceiving my second daughter. While the pregnancy was similar to the first, my lifestyle and habits were not.
When I found out I was pregnant in December we just moved into a new home and it was quite the project we had undertaken. I had a hyper toddler, no gym membership, and had to manage my previous home on the market, renovations, and my small business. Needless to say, workouts were a thing of the past. The previous owner left us a workout equipment set from the 80’s which helped me squeeze in ten minute workouts here and there but there was no regular schedule of training time.
This pregnancy I ate way more healthier. I didn’t have much of an appetite or any cravings. I had to force myself to eat in general and normally chose lean foods, salads, humus, crackers, steak, and vegetables, not because I was trying to be healthy, but I just wanted basic foods. I worked out at home when I could, as well as renovating and chasing my escape artist toddler. I managed to keep up with squats the whole pregnancy, but I didn’t have the stamina for many since my second baby was head down pushing my pelvis since week 24. She came two weeks early and was a bit smaller than the first. I only gained 33 pounds this time around, but my body felt softer in general. My arms where tighter from lifting my toddler and household projects. I wore the belly wrap hours after labor, this helped contract my uterus down again and shrink the belly. I dropped 17 pounds the first week. At four weeks post I am 141 pounds. The extra weight doesn’t bother me, but I feel I need to tone up in a major way. My stomach feels so soft and my booty does not have its bounce back shape it held previously…not to mention the cellulite factor. This doesn’t make me sad, but I feel motivated over time slowly I will get where I want, and I am excited I survived pregnancy! I am still the crazy old me in the same body that is just a bit worn down. I’ve done stretching, narrow squats, and more core work and resistance bands this month. I’m scared of my uterus falling out, so I haven’t over done the workout or gone for a job. Maintaining our bodily strength and stamina as we get older is a feat in itself – not to mention adding a crying baby or toddler smearing oatmeal on its head demanding to watch Paw Patrol for the 100th time. Give yourself goals but don’t forget to give yourself a guilt free break and enjoy the process.
The day I went into labor vs 2 weeks postpartum
Here are some tips to help you get where you want to be during and after your pregnancy.
- Force extra calories or healthy meals in with quick shakes, juicing, or ice cream. The times I was a bit under weight I ate more ice cream. Diary is good for the baby and the calories are easy to eat. If I needed more healthy stuff I’d whip up a juice with apples, carrots, beats, you name it.
- Give yourself long-term goals. Don’t expect noticeable changes over night or within weeks. Create a lifestyle that works for you whatever it may be positively.
- Go easy on yourself. We are our own biggest critics.
- Motivate others, and you may find you motivate yourself as well!
- Give yourself a break. Sleep more, skip a workout, eat that cheat food with your kids. Enjoy life.
- Maintain your muscles throughout your pregnancy journey. You just want to keep them alive. Once you shed the pregnancy fat and water weight, workouts will bring you back to where you want to be. You can eat a cookie while dropping a squat. The goal isn’t losing weight. It is keeping the muscles working.
- Cardio is good for blood flow to the baby.
- Don’t deprive yourself of cravings. Use portion control. I used to stock up at Bulk Barn all types of treats such as candy, chips, sweet, sour, and everything in between. I’d place them in small zip lock bags and when I had that craving I would only eat that portion.
- Hydration is key. Drink as much water as you can daily. It promotes blood flow and oxygen to the baby as well as keeping skin supple which reduces stretch marks.
- Don’t forget or take lightly your internal health. Take Folic acid, omega oils, probiotics, vitamin D daily throughout your whole pregnancy. After labor you can take raspberry tea leaf to help your uterus contract. I still take prenatals while breastfeeding. Eat foods that promote a healthy baby. Nuts, kale, eggs, salmon, lean meats, and veggies.
- Oils such as fractionated coconut oil, grape seed oil, rosehip oil keep things nice down under and can help prevent tears or minimize them at the least.
When you look in the mirror, know you are beautiful no matter what size you are. Don’t sweat the small stuff like spider veins, some extra cellulite, or love handles you have just created a human who will love you for years to come.