By now, you guys should know that I have two children, Henry and Clara. Of course you know…they’re pretty much all I talk about. I’m guessing by my descriptions, you have these mental images: Clara – angel baby, Henry – toddler of terror…..
…yup, that’s about right. Pictures don’t lie, people.
I’m often asked how I got back in shape after each pregnancy. To be perfectly honest, with hard work and determination. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be VAIN! And it isn’t always vanity for the sake of what OTHER’S think – I just don’t like letting MYSELF down. Like most women, I worried about whether or not I’d look the same, whether I’d be able to get into “those” jeans, and if I could somehow make stretch marks the “new black”.
I think the biggest challenge with each up and down cycle was trying to come to grips with the fact that I would never get my old body back….
…So I just went ahead and got a better one!
Before: 40 weeks pregnant with Henry – Summer ‘08
After: 9 months later – Summer ‘09
Before: 41 weeks pregnant – Summer 2010
After: One year later – Summer 2011
Pictures might lie a little. You can’t see the vein that popped in my forehead from flexing so hard.
What worked for me: Body After Baby
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: nursing works!! Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories per day! That’s as many calories as some workouts, and you aren’t doing anything except what God made your body to do! Another advantage from nursing is that it causes your uterus to contract and your stomach to flatten/tighten. Extra calorie burn = more cupcakes to eat. Plus a flatter stomach!! I’ll take it!! Cuddle time with your children is just an added bonus!
Exercising throughout pregnancy
I had two healthy pregnancies and was fortunate enough to continue for the entire 42 weeks. I remember taking a step class the day before giving birth to Henry. The gym manager gently put her hand on my shoulder and in the nicest way possible said, “Please don’t let your water break on my floor”. I smiled… and kept working out.
While I did alter some exercises (core work, chest press on the ball instead of a bench), I continued exercising at the same intensity that I did while not pregnant. I also allowed for more rest days in between workouts. I listened to my body, and my body told me to keep it up. I really believe that it helped me get the weight off quicker afterwards, because I wasn’t trying to start over at square one.
Like I said, I kept weight training throughout each pregnancy, with some modifications. After each delivery, I would take about 6 weeks before getting back into the gym to lift. The benefits of doing weight bearing exercises are VAST! A raise in metabolism for HOURS afterwards, increased flexibility and muscle tone, better balance, less likelihood of injury….the list goes on and on. I lift 3 times per week, alternating upper and lower body, and work my core every other day.
High Protein, High Fiber
Protein and fiber help to keep you fuller longer, so I try to incorporate both at every meal. Plus, you’ll need protein to help repair those muscle fibers you’re tearing while lifting.
For me, exercising is the easy part. Controlling my diet proves to be MUCH harder. I don’t like people telling me what to do, therefore, sticking to a diet is not for me. I try to eat intuitively and listen to my body. About 80% of my “diet” consists of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. The remaining 20% is made up of daily indulgences, i.e. brownies.
Having the support and help of Travis has been CRUCIAL in finding time to workout. Everyday, when Travis gets home from work, he watches the kids and lets me go to the gym. He HAPPILY does this because he knows how important it is to me. When you take care of a newborn all day, it is quite refreshing to be able to leave the house, clear your mind, and SWEAT. If it weren’t for Travis and his support of my passions, I’m sure it would have taken much longer for me to get back down to my goal weight.
And there you have it! I’m proud to say that after two pregnancies, I weigh less now than I did when I got married. Not only that, but I have more muscle, eat a more balanced diet, and just feel better overall. I guess that’s what reading fitness and food blogs will do to you! INFORM and INSPIRE!
I hope that after reading this, you are just that: informed and inspired!!