How I feel about my Postpartum Body and what I am doing to get back into shape
Healthy lifestyle has been my priority for a long time. People often tell me look almost the same over the years. To me that is one of the greatest compliments I could receive. That just means that I have been able to successfully maintain the level of commitment to myself, through self-care which includes healthy eating, staying active and surrounding myself with positive intentions. Healthy lifestyle is demanding and requires dedication. Just like with anything in life, you have to work for things you want, nothing in life is easy, right?
I don’t feel like myself postpartum
After the baby, I had the hardest time accepting my new body, in fact I still do. The fact that you do not fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes and need to buy a whole new set of wardrobes to adjust to your new body isn’t quite the same as going on a shopping spree. I refused to buy any new clothes and bough 1 pair of stretch band Levi jeans. I was not one of those lucky ones with the body type, who could lose 20 pounds right after birth or by breastfeeding. Also, Instagram really can be your biggest enemy (or an inspiration) sometimes. You compare yourself to those women who flaunt (which they should!) the postpartum body or look like they never even had a baby. Going through postpartum blues and being sleep deprived, I just did not know how to make time for myself. In between taking care of the baby, breastfeeding, pumping, washing bottles and Instagram (jk/lol) I was always exhausted. I was really hung up on looking the way I used to before pregnancy, it was not a number, it was an image of me that I had in my mind. The thought that these clothes may never fit me again really haunted me. I was not being nice or fair to myself. What was I thinking? I was 5 months postpartum; I was no super model and I just did not have the time or the energy to put in for a workout. However, the thought of fitness kept lingering with me every day and my thoughts were taking me to a dark place with each passing day (hello postpartum blues!). I talked (complained) to my husband everyday but him being a sweetheart would always listen to me patiently and then tell me that I look just as beautiful as ever :). I knew I had to take charge of the situation to get myself out of this rut. I know so many women that go through this same feeling of being lost and you are not alone!
How do I make time for exercise?
So, I started with regular walks with and without my baby (left her with my husband or in laws). Exercising releases hormones that makes you feel good (endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine). The days I walked I was happy and felt like myself again. However, I knew that walking alone was not going to get me in achieving my fitness goals. After seeing a million Instagram ads I thought I would give BBG by Kayla Itsines a try. BBG is a 28 min HIIT workout that you can pretty much do anywhere. Could I really not spare that 28 minutes in a day to do something for myself?! So, I created a schedule for self-care; a plan of how, when and what. I worked out when the baby was napping, again since the workout is 28 minutes, even if the baby only naps for 30 minutes, you are covered (yas girl!). Yes, there was laundry to fold and bottles needed to be washed but they did not have to be done right away. My husband was more than willing to help take care of the laundry and bottles after he got back from work, but I had prioritized chores over self-care. Chores could wait, self-care couldn’t. I realized quickly that there are trade-offs in order to make time for self-care and I was on a mission to make the most of it. I took great care in watching what I ate (see: post). I felt that I had more energy post workout which helped me get a lot of those chores taken care of. I was good about my water intake, sleep (thanks to sleep training) and staying active. I also did a 5K, 6 months postpartum (I was back to work full time by now) and a 10K, 8 months postpartum. The first round of BBG showed some great results and I felt really good about myself. I started 12 weeks challenge of BBG Stronger this year and as hard as it was, I have never felt stronger, energetic and more grateful for my body. I don’t know if I’m in the best shape of my life or if I’m back to how I was before pregnancy but I feel good. Although, looking back, I realize that I never appreciated my body for what it was. The basic human desire of always wanting more can sometimes be so cruel. There are certain outfits that fit me better than others and I flaunt them. And for the rest of them it’s time for spring cleaning anyway :). I have accepted the fact that my body has transformed during the pregnancy/postpartum journey and I am at peace with it. However, I am also determined and working towards my fitness level and look my best!
Tips on starting exercise postpartum
- Give yourself time! Don’t be harsh on yourself. Love yourself, be kind, encourage yourself and listen to your body.
- Assess your fitness level by going on a light walk or a jog
- If starting with a workout program, commit to it and show up!
- Make time that works best for you! Energy wise, baby schedule wise or simply your state of mind.
- Chores can wait!
- Make your family aware about your personal time and goal
- Have nutritious snacks readily available (nuts, cucumber, berries, avocado, yogurt)
- Stay hydrated and have a bottle with you at all times
- Lastly, do what makes you happy. You are fabulous and inspiring!
BBG (Bikini Body Guide) and transformation
Today marks the completion of my 12 weeks of Bikini Body Guide (BBG Stronger) challenge by Kayla Itsines found in the Sweat app. For those of you that are not familiar with BBG, it is a 28 min HIIT workout that you do 3 days a week (arms, abs, legs). You add on some cardio on the remaining days to continue to stay active. Now, let me just reiterate that I have been active and healthy at least for the past 10 years of my life. I have run a few 5 & 10Ks, a half marathon, done the Jillian Michaels- 30-day shred and have been a regular at the gym. However, I just felt that the BBG workout has by far been the most challenging, yet promising. If you are looking for a workout that is sort of guided you should give BBG a try. I have to warn you though; it is not easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest workouts I have done. Take it easy, go slow but get it done! The truth is, your results are based on the work you put into it. I did this for myself and I showed up for myself, every time! I made a commitment and I knew that if I just showed up, I could make it through. There were days when I was just so tired and wanted to nap with the baby or just did not feel my 100%. On those days, I gave myself a break and said ‘you’re doing great, give yourself a break’. On other days, I knew, I was letting my laziness creep in so all I had to do was leave the house, and I did.
Your thoughts can be your biggest enemy sometimes. Your body listens and reciprocates to the way you treat it. Let your body and mind heal, listen to them and give it time, it will work with you. Otherwise, no matter how much hard work you put into looking your best, you may not feel that way. Something to also remember is that given the changes in our bodies (hormonal, physical), working out, staying active and eating right should be part of our lifestyle. Otherwise, personally I have felt that my muscles tend to loosen up quicker.
I also highly recommend Headspace if you are looking to calm your mind, find some space and be present.