Smutty Fitness: Postpartum expectations
I'm a second time mom (my youngest is 4 months) and I'm struggling with what is realistic right now combined with whether I'm approaching my postpartum weight loss the right way.
I'm normally about a size 6-8, so not tiny but I've never had a weight problem and I eat mostly clean and I'm always active. I exercised throughout pregnancy, and I was taking daily walks two weeks postpartum, and got right back to the gym when I got cleared after 6 weeks. My problem is, I'm about 5-8 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, and ALL that weight is on my belly (where I always carry any excess weight). Normally a little bit of belly pooch is just annoying but 5-8 pounds combined with the fact that it's just SOFT and awful looking post baby has me discouraged. I'm eating well, and my current fitness routine is running 4 miles 4 days a week (each mile I walk 2 minutes, run 5 minutes, run very fast/sprint 3 minutes) plus resistance band work and ab exercises. I work for a university and can use the campus gym for free, so that's where I currently work out. Since I work and have kids, I work out at lunch to maximize family time and have time for other things.
The other three days I walk and do light yoga and I'm active with my kids outside a lot. I'm very big on not wasting time- which is why I like lunchtime workouts- and I want to be sure I'm not wasting time with the wrong kind of exercise. I'm just not seeing results as quickly as I want to right now so I'm wondering if I'm doing the wrong types of exercise.
Part of me wants to go back to a nearby fitness place called Exhale which does core fusion and core fusion cardio classes. It's right by work and I can also take classes there during lunch (see a theme here with time management). I have always loved the classes and feel like they get me in great shape, but they are very expensive to do multiple times a week (for unlimited monthly classes it's $200 per month).
SO, am I being unrealistic about how quickly I want to "bounce back" and also what should my exercise focus be right now? It's so hard with the mixed messages of celebrity "body after baby" stories featuring women in bikinis after 6 weeks, and the old "9 months on, 9 months off" adage. What's realistic and what's the best way to spend your time at the gym?
I hate to say this but yes, you are being extremely unrealistic on how quickly you want to bounce back to the body you had pre baby number two. You need to take a deep breath and relax and stop stressing about the fact that you do not look like the new Hollywood Moms that stare at us in the magazine aisle. But I get it, and I understand that you are frustrated and I am sure I will find myself feeling the same way when I have children. You are not alone in this battle as I have worked with many amazing athletes post-partum who are not only frustrated with the fact that their bodies do not look the same but also that they do not feel the same either and the strength they once had is gone.
So, I will tell you the same thing that I tell everyone who is trying to make changes in both their bodies and their lives. Do not try and change everything at once! Your fitness routine right now is nothing to be ashamed of and most people who do not have children would be happy to be getting as much exercise as you are.
Do not add more to your routine, just change what you are currently doing. I would suggest you take out one of your runs a week and one yoga class and replace them with strength training workouts. These workouts will add muscle mass to your body, which will not only help burn a few more calories but also give your body the strength and energy you need to be a mom. Focus on posture exercises (pulling exercises that strengthen your back), lower body exercises (squats and lunges) and core exercises (front planks and side planks) as well as exercises that will target your glutes, which are very important muscles to strengthen post baby.
Give yourself a break and understand that it may take you another six months until you see the results you want to see. Our bodies have a way of knowing what they need, and right now your body is trying to take care of a new baby, so it will keep the weight it needs on it. This is especially important if you are breast feeding as you will keep a few extra pounds on your midsection in order to produce milk.
Next time you compare yourself to someone in Hollywood be realistic about what you are comparing yourself to: an extremely photoshopped photograph of a woman who is surrounded by an entourage that takes care of her every need.