Hit the Ground Running: Beating the Post-Partum Bulge

I’m really excited to have Kelly from Kelly’s Corner posting today about her efforts the past few months to get back into exercising after having her first child in March. This is a great read for new moms or for anyone trying to get in better shape!

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First of all I want to say “thanks!” to Misty for asking me to be a guest blogger.  I am a follower of her blog and have enjoyed hearing her story and seeing little Noah grow! Misty and I “met”, you could say, on a fun little website called The Bump.  We were both having March 2011 babies and since joining the boards we have become facebook friends and blogging friends.

One of the hot topics on many of the message boards and mom blogs is the struggle new moms face incorporating health and fitness into their lives after having a baby.  I am currently struggling, and I know a lot of new moms (and not-so-new moms) feel the same way I do.

You can learn more about me by visiting my blog Kelly’s Corner.  If you don’t want to start from the very beginning, my daughter’s birth story may be a great place to start.  I like to have fun and am very outgoing, and my blog reflects my love for my family, friends, cooking and baking, photography, crafts and more! Of course lately all of my blogs seem to revolve around this cute girl, Lillian (Lilly) Grace.

Before having Lilly I was very active and considered myself to be in shape.  I am a former Division I college athlete, and right before we found out we were going to be blessed with our little girl, I completed my first ½ marathon.  I ran it with my husband who was by my side the entire race (even though he could run much faster). I’ve always had a love of food and sweets, but I was lucky enough to be active and didn’t really need to think too much about what I ate although I made an effort to be healthy most of the time.

As soon as I got my first positive pregnancy test all of that seemed to go out the window.  Because I was so ill the first 8 weeks I stopped working out and came home from work to sleep. As my pregnancy matured I would still walk every now and then but would reward myself often with King Sized Caramello’s and big bowls of ice cream most nights.  McDonalds became a normal occurrence.  For some reason healthy food made me ill the entire pregnancy-we would try to eat salads and they would make me dry heave.  Greasy and sweet foods were my staple.

I gained 40 pounds while pregnant but never really felt like I was getting large in places other than my growing baby bump. Then I gave birth and instantly lost about 15 pounds.  Yeah!  And that’s where it ended and the struggle began.  That 40 pounds suddenly showed up in my hips, thighs, stomach and arms – Ugh!  I never felt so out of shape and un-athletic in my life.  I felt like I didn’t know who that person was who ran that ½ marathon.  Surely that wasn’t me.  Could I ever be that person again?  Where was I going to find the time?  Should I even bother trying?

It wasn’t until recently that I made the decision to stop feeling sorry for myself and stop making excuses and do something about this post-partum bulge.
I don’t claim to have all the answers but what I hope is that those of you reading this feeling my pain will hopefully walk away if nothing else with a little bit of inspiration and motivation.  I want to share with you what I have found to be helpful in my journey and share with you my struggles.

I struggle with setting goals…

When I first decided (6 weeks post partum) that I was ready to get back in shape, I had expectations.  I expected I would lose the weight fast.  I expected it to be easy.  I expected to be in my old work clothes at 12 weeks post partum.  I expected I would be running a half marathon come October.  I had ‘goals,’ but in reality they were expectations, and come June when I couldn’t even get my right leg into my pre-baby work pants  I felt like a failure and cried in my closet and then ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Being a mom is hard and finding time for myself is hard.  Setting small doable goals for myself is working wonders.  Goals like – I am going to work out 3 times this week or I am going to eat one banana every day – are working for me.  Setting ‘goals’ like I want to lose 20 lbs in 2 days –  Not so much. OK, that’s a tad extreme for anyone, but you get my point. You are just going to set yourself up for failure. I’m setting realistic goals, and pretty soon eating healthy and working out just won’t be a goal I have each week it will become a habit and will just be part of my life again.

I struggle with finding the time…

There are days when I barely find time to shower and brush my teeth, let alone work out for 2 hours. When I went back to work … forget about it.  There is no way, no how, I would be able to do it all.  So…

I got support…

It really helps to have someone supporting you in your decision to get fit.  My support has come from my husband.  If I don’t have his help I don’t work out or eat right.  I’ve committed to getting up early to work out before work.  If I do it when I come home-it’s not going to get done because either I am tired or I just want to spend time with Lilly.  So my husband agreed to help me wake up at 5:30 and not let me snooze, and he gets up with Lilly if I am out running when she wakes up. We are also trying to make healthier dinners and resist the urge to pick quick unhealthy options.

It also helps if you have a work out buddy.  Twice a week I meet one of my co-workers at the gym before work.  It works because I have committed to meeting her there at 6:30, plus it’s a little adult time for me and allows us to socialize before work – so I get more accomplished during work day!  Bonus!  It is still a struggle making time for it.  Some days I think I need that extra bit of sleep, but it’s gotten easier and I actually have more energy because of it!

I get discouraged seeing that number on the scale…

I weighed myself right before my commitment to get back in shape so I knew where I was, and I don’t plan on weighing myself for at least a month. Weighing myself every day was a real buzz kill and lead me down the “oh well I gained 1 lb today so what does it matter if I eat this entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s” path.

Weight can fluctuate daily for many reasons – like water weight or for us ladies during certain times of the month (source).  I hope that weighing myself once a month instead will help me see my progress and I will be more motivated by the decreasing numbers on the scale.  I am taking pride in how I feel each day and what I have accomplished instead of focusing on those pesky lbs.

I will be positive…

Instead of beating myself up over eating an entire row of Oreos or having that brownie at lunch, I am trying to focus on what I  did healthy today (and tomorrow and the next day), such as the fact that I got up and worked out or I ran 1 mile straight without stopping.

Positivity is contagious (just like negativity), and I hope to continue feeling better about all the progress I am making instead of focusing on what I didn’t do or what I may have done wrong. It’s not always easy, but I’ve found that as the weeks go on, these positive thoughts are helping me make better choices so it’s easier to pick up an apple instead of a brownie at 3 p.m.

I will TRY not to feel guilty!

I know there are many moms out there that feel guilty for spending time away from their children or families – just to work out.  I know I struggle with this a lot, but I came to the realization that being healthy is going to benefit my family. It doesn’t stop me from thinking about Lilly every second of my time running, but I know I am doing the best thing I can for her.

Lilly’s healthy habits such as exercising and eating right start with me as a parent (source).  I am just preparing to be the best example I can for Lilly! Plus exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which make you happier, more energized and more alert, and those results are immediate and will make me a better mom (source).

I always sleep better, too, when I am working out!  Makes for one happy mama!
I am learning to let go…

In order for me to make time to work out I needed to learn to let go of some things, too.  Like vacuuming every day or making sure the house looked perfect.

I’ve learned to let go of that (a little) and it’s really helped me relax more and has helped me make more time for Lilly, working out and spending time with my husband.  Because when it comes down to it – Lilly won’t remember that there were toys all over the house or the beds weren’t made or the closets organized – what she will remember is all the fun we had together, and I don’t want to miss that because the bathrooms needed a cleaning. They will get done when they get done.

I plan our meals…

It’s hard as a mom to balance everything, and it’s so easy to just grab something quick and shove it in my mouth in between naps or as I am running out the door – and quick often means unhealthy.

It’s really helped me stay on track to plan my meals each week.  By planning meals I feel more prepared, and I am less likely to stare at my pantry, close it in frustration and grab the take-out menu. By planning out my meals and working from my list of things needed to make those meals grocery store trips are faster, and it also helps us save money at the store. I am less likely to wander aimlessly down aisles and fall victim to the allure of Oreos and ice cream.

I was so proud of myself when I shopped this weekend because I only had to go down one middle aisle to get pasta noodles – all of my other purchases were on the perimeter of the store, which is where all the fresh food and meats are and often the more healthy choices!

I just try to have fun…  

I always had it in my head that working out meant going to the gym, popping in a workout dvd or running so many miles.  My struggle was finding the time to fit that in.  If I didn’t do a ‘traditional workout’ I felt like I failed.

I’ve come to the realization that I can have fun and still get my burn. Each weekend we try to go for a long walk in the park as a family. There is a huge playground we take Lilly to when we are done. It’s becoming a tradition now, and I enjoy my day rather than focusing on the fact that I HAVE to walk 3 miles today.

While during the week I go to the gym and run, I try to make my weekend workouts not so mundane to keep it fresh and to help work different muscle groups without having to think too much about it.

I’ve also gotten into squeezing in mini workouts while playing with Lilly.  Instead of sitting there making funny faces at her I make funny faces at her while I jump around the room for a few minutes. Yes, I probably look nutso, but I probably burned a few more calories, and Lilly thinks it’s hilarious!!

For me, the key to fitting it all in has really been the realization that I may not fit it all in the way I used to pre-baby/pregnancy, and I am (now) ok with that. Some weeks I my get in 5 workouts and get the laundry done and whip up a mean dinner, and some weeks feel like a major fail in all of those departments.

Not giving up just because I didn’t get it all in has been key for me.  Realizing that it’s OK and focusing on what I am able to do that week has really helped me stay on the track to getting my body back (or some form of it).  I am learning to embrace this new figure of mine and instead of desperately trying to wear the same size I did 2 years ago or get back those washboard abs I had, I am re-focusing my outlook.  Hopefully the rest of my body will catch up to my vision eventually!

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Thanks so much for sharing about this, Kelly! Like I told her in an e-mail, I really needed to read this, because it is so hard, especially as a new mom. I hope you enjoyed reading Kelly’s story, and I hope you’ll come back to read the upcoming Hit the Ground Running posts this month!

Other posts in the Hit the Ground Running series:
Hit the Ground Running in September

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3 responses to “Hit the Ground Running: Beating the Post-Partum Bulge

  1. This is awesome! I have been blaming the Texas heat on why I haven’t been getting out of the house and doing some sort of exercise. But now it’s bearable weather and I still haven’t set foot outside. Of I think “eh its Thursday, I’ll start doing better on Monday” and then I haven’t done anything. I have to enlist the bf to do some helping and motivating.
    And I have heard about all the stuff you really need is on the perimiter of the grocery store. I need to do better. Thanks Kelly! (And Misty)

  2. such a great post with fab tips! i need Kelly’s motivation!

  3. Pingback: Hit the Ground Running: Loving yourself |

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