Hi and Happy Hump Day!
I have some truth bombs to drop today, so I hope you are ready for the long-winded post of a ride. And for anyone who is going through the same stages of self-reflection post-baby or is in recovery from something physical, this post is for you!
At nearly twelve weeks postpartum, I’m finally starting to feel more like myself on the fitness front, but at the same time, I still feel like I have a long way to go. If you follow LIL on Instagram, then you might have caught a story or two about my thoughts on postpartum fitness and where my journey is taking me. (By the way, I’m a lot more active on that platform these days. It’s super easy and convenient to post behind-the-scenes food, fitness, and – LOTS OF – baby photos and videos every day.)
Since I haven’t shared what the last two weeks worth of workouts looked like for me, I figured that I could quickly list them out and then touch on my overall thoughts on working out postpartum and the expectations that come along with it.
Here’s what the last weeks worth workouts looked like for me at 10 and 11 Weeks postpartum!
(May 21st – June 3rd, 2018)
I’m currently working out at home as much as possible and getting out to jog/run or fit in an hour at Orangetheory Fitness whenever I can. I would love to explore more fitness studios and styles of workouts in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, but I’m not quite there with childcare just yet. It’s a good day if I can leave Skyler with Scott and get out long enough to walk a mile down to my OTF studio, take an hour workout, walk back, and hop in a quick shower before he needs me again.
We plan on getting a few babysitters for things that pop up here and there, but I’m just not ready to go that route until he’s a little older. It would be different if we had family in town to help watch him, but for now, it’s us … which means me ninety percent of the time while Scott works various jobs during the days and nights. (Don’t get it twisted though, I absolutely love my time with him while I’m on maternity leave, and I am already crying inside at the thought of leaving him to complete a full shift at work.)
Anyways, there’s my backstory!
(May 21st – 27th)
- Monday – 60-minute Orangetheory Fitness class
- Tuesday – REST
- Wednesday – 20-Minute Muffin Top Workout – hehe … this one was as amazing for the obliques as the title suggests!
- Thursday – 60-minute Orangetheory Fitness class
- Friday – 3.5 mile run (ended up jogging – wasn’t feeling it)
- Saturday – 60-minute Orangetheory Fitness class
- Sunday – REST/long walk around the neighborhood
(May 28th – June 3rd)
- Monday – REST (Memorial Day)
- Tuesday – 3 mile run (wasn’t really feeling great, walked a lot)
- Wednesday – 60-minute Orangetheory Fitness class
- Thursday – 3.2 mile run & 10 Minute Abs Workout (love this one because it flies by!)
- Friday – 30 Minute No-Equipment Barre Sculpting Workout & long walk around the Brooklyn Bridge
- Saturday – 60-minute Orangetheory Fitness class
- Sunday – REST
Workout Thoughts & Goals
It didn’t feel like I worked out that much, but I’m feeling pretty good about the work I put in when I look back at that lineup. As predicted, I spent most of my time sweating at Orangetheory which is the perfect workout for me right now. It’s an hour of go-at-your-own-pace HIIT training with cardio and strength training, and I always leave a sweaty mess feeling accomplished.
(1o weeks postpartum)
I would like to incorporate more barre and yoga workouts, and I do miss doing my own workouts at the gym, too. I am planning on getting a membership to a local YMCA when Skyler is close to six months old to be able to take advantage of the childcare, group fitness classes, and gym equipment that I haven’t had access to in quite some time.
For now, however, I’m focusing on gaining strength, regaining muscle tone, working on endurance, and losing pregnancy weight. I’m getting stronger and faster with every workout, and that feels incredible. But, I still get tired quicker than I ever have before, and my cardio endurance is something that I’m struggling with and working on.
A Frustrating Turning Point
I had a huge reality check this week when I went shopping for an upcoming trip. Only a small portion of my wardrobe fits me right now, and I needed a few pairs of shorts and pieces to get me through the next few months of summer. I optimistically took Skyler with me on a trip to Target, because I needed groceries and other items including clothes for him, too.
He had an extremely fussy day and wouldn’t sleep at all, which made the already hard task of picking out new post-baby clothes in new sizes even harder. I felt like “that mom” – a hot mess express, pushing her empty stroller and crying baby through the aisles with hands full of clothes and a distressed look on my face. This went on for hours, and I felt like a failure in so many ways.
I eventually got him to nap long enough to go back and grab a final round of items that I prayed would fit and work. Luckily, they did … but the sizes are a lot larger than I thought they would be.
I didn’t even dive into swimsuits, which is something that I also needed for this trip. In fact, I didn’t want to try any of them on because I didn’t want to know what size I truly was.
A few days later, I knew that I needed to get my act together and just pick something out or I would be stuck wearing an extremely small bikini which isn’t doing anyone any favors. So, I took two important things with me this time, Scott and a positive attitude. It’s funny how I walked out of the store within an hour this time, suit in hand. It’s a two-piece, and it’s a Large top and a Large bottom when I’m used to wearing a Small on both. But, that’s me right now, and I’ve accepted it.
I was proud of myself that day. I got past the numbers and the sizes and picked out what worked best at 11 weeks postpartum. To me, this is the biggest progress of all.
Postpartum Progress & Outlooks
It makes me sad to think that a tiny blinking number on a scale is how so many women solely mark their postpartum fitness journey and recovery. I have to admit that I fall into this way of thinking from time to time, too. I certainly know better, but I’m also a former professional dancer who got weighed in as part of my job for years. I couldn’t go to the gym without weighing myself to make sure that I was staying on track, but again, it was literally in my contract to stay within a certain weight range throughout that entire season of my life.
That said, I know what it takes to get my body to gain weight and what I need to do to lose it … or at least I used to pre-baby.
Everything has changed post-baby! I gained close to 40 pounds during my pregnancy, and it’s not coming off easy. I didn’t weigh myself until I was forced to at my six-week postpartum appointment at my doctor’s office, and I was down to 13 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I was pleased about that.
Fast forward to ten weeks postpartum and I became discouraged. I was still 13 pounds away from my goal number, which means that I hadn’t lost any weight during that entire first month back working out. I also got annoyed. But, then I remembered that a weight on a scale is just a number and that there are so many other (more accurate) ways to track progress.
First, how about taking a step back and acknowledging what your body can do?
(And how about being able to grow a human and take a hike at 37 weeks pregnant?!)
The last few weeks have been all about giving myself grace. I shared more of my thoughts on this regarding my progress at Orangetheory here. Instead of focusing on a number on the scale, I track my numbers by the weights that I’m holding during exercises or speeds I get up to on the treadmill.
I could barely handle getting through an endurance block on the strider when I started working out again. I slowly got more comfortable with that machine (it’s like an elliptical, and I usually opted for it while I was pregnant, too), and then decided it was time to get back on the treadmill. I started as a jogger (using the lowest settings) and eventually worked my way up to being a runner again. It took me about a month of consistent visits to do that, so it definitely didn’t happen overnight!
When I first started, I could barely keep my balance with any dynamic movement like a reverse lunge or step up. I didn’t feel comfortable holding weights, and I moved at a very slow pace to ease back into everything. Over the course of a few weeks (going to three classes a week), I started lifting light weights and moving quicker. The next week I upped them. I’m still not back to the weights that I used to use pre-pregnancy, but I’m getting pretty close and feel awesome about that.
The plank position felt very strange at first post-baby. I felt so weak, and I couldn’t hold my body up. I modified any plank movement by going to my knees, and I felt comfortable straightening my legs after a few weeks. I still modify from time to time, but I recently did side plank dips for the first time without modifying last week! I was so proud of my body.
The biggest progression that I have noticed over the last month is in the running loop at my favorite park.
I didn’t even attempt to get on it again until just a few weeks ago, and I would casually jog to about the 1.5 mile mark, take a break, and jog home. I tried to pick up the pace and ran after a few jogs like that. Like clockwork, I felt good until I hit the 2 mile mark and then couldn’t go any further. I drank some water, stopped to rest, and made my way back home by walking or barely jogging after that. This happened for a while until just a few days ago.
I set out on a run with a clear mind and I didn’t have a distance goal in mind. I just wanted to run and enjoy the loop, no matter how far I got. Not only did I make it past the 2 mile mark, I went all the way around and home … totaling about 4.5 miles. I took about two walking breaks, but I consistently ran the rest of the time and felt great!
(And I had to snap a photo to document this feat!)
Am I still hovering around the same weight that I have been for the last five or six weeks? Yes. Is that frustrating? Absolutely. But, I’m not dwelling on it because progress is clearly present, and that’s all that I can ask my body to do.
Quick Workout Motivation Tips
There are a lot of things that aren’t easy about new motherhood, and finding the time and motivation to work out is one of them. You’re tired, busy taking care of a newborn baby at every moment of the day, and the thought of working hard during the time you finally find for yourself to rest isn’t always appealing.
Finding the motivation to work out postpartum could be an entirely different blog post, so I’ll keep this list quick and to the point.
Here are a few things that help me get in my workouts:
- Baby hand off! Scott and I both like to go to Orangetheory, so one of us will take a workout while the other stays home to watch Skyler. Then, the person staying home brings Skyler to the studio for the person who already worked out to take back home. It’s gotten us both out to work out countless times!
- Realizing 20 minutes is better than nothing. Seriously. There have been so many times where I didn’t want to work out at all, but it felt wrong not to complete something quick like a 20-minute bodyweight workout before taking a shower and going to bed.
- Staying hydrated. It’s always important to drink enough water, but this is especially true when you’re breastfeeding. The more water I get, the more energy I feel like I have to take on my days and this helps me get my sweat on!
- Scrolling pictures from a few weeks before. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged about my progress, I’ll scroll my Instagram feed to see where I was a few weeks before that point. I generally look slightly different and post about the goals I attained that day. Realizing that I bypassed these goals that long ago makes me feel better and ready to take on a new set of goals!
I have so much more to share on this subject, but for the sake of giving your eyes a break, I’ll save it for other days and more posts down the road. I hope that any of you who are recovering from having a baby or some type of workout injury can find comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone in thinking this journey is hard. That’s because it IS!
The biggest take away that I’d love you to remember is that progress is progress. Don’t get caught up in the numbers and feel good about the little victories you make every day.
And finally, know that you’re doing a great job! Hold on to that and keep on keepin’ on!