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!
I’m a dietitian and while I definitely don’t have the same pressures you did as a dancer, I definitely feel in my job that I’m expected to look a certain way. When I returned to work when my first child was 4 mos old, a new patient actually asked me when I was due, and it destroyed me! But one thing I can tell you after having two kids now, is the weight doesn’t just “fall off” for everyone. And honestly, I didn’t lose all the weight from either child until I stopped breastfeeding. Some bodies need that extra fat to make milk and my body definitely did. It was easier for me to accept it the second time around because I already knew that my body would return to normal and that year of breastfeeding is really such a short blip in our lives. When I’d stress it and try to cut calories, I always lost milk too. With both children, once I weaned the last 5 lbs seemed to disappear overnight. So hang in there, take care of your body so that it can take care of your baby, and know that you *will* one day be back to “normal” and you’ll realize how fast it all went! <3
Hi Nicole! Thank you so much for sharing and commenting here. It’s so funny you say the weight drops after breastfeeding because so many people tell you breastfeeding also helps you lose weight 😉 But you’re so right! It’s tricky to find a balance between eating to feel good and stay on track but also conscious of what your body needs to produce enough of a supply. And yes, time is already flying and my pregnancy already seems so long ago already. Thank you for the encouragement!
Thank you so much for sharing! I am currently 4 weeks postpartum and am feeling a lot of the same things. I am anxiously awaiting the day I am cleared to exercise again but I’m trying to be realistic about my expectations for my new body. Motherhood definitely changes you, physically and emotionally, and I am having a hard time accepting that my body may never be the same. It’s nice to know I’m am not alone with these feelings.
Hi Erica! Oh man, I can totally relate. My hips expanded early on in my pregnancy, and I don’t see them going down anytime soon. The body is a very strange (but amazing) thing! You just have to take it one step and victory at a time. Progress will come, and hold on to what progress really is! <3
You’re doing great! I initially lost a good amount of the weight post-baby, but honestly didn’t feel confident in my skin until around 7 months, and it’s continued to increase from there. Before 7 months I was doubting or questioning HOW my body would go “back to normal”, and then I just decided to drop those thoughts and TRUST my body knew what to do. Just like I didn’t have to tell it how to grow a baby I trusted it would lead me to eat balanced (really more than ever before because I was entering the height of breastfeeding), exercise as I could fit it in, sleep as much as possible, and really just take care of myself. I think you can definitely make your body a certain way through effort, but maybe also see what happens if you trust 🙂 which it sounds like you’re on the path to doing as evidenced by your last run!
Also 1 word: drawstrings! Shorts (old navy!), pants, PJs, etc they were key for me as things fluctuated and I didn’t want to judge myself on that “too tight” muffiny feeling.
haha YES – I love drawstring pants for this reason! I really need to get some new shorts until I feel more comfortable in my old ones 😉
Hi Emma! Those are all such great tips, thank you for sharing! Trusting our bodies is so important – I have a feeling it knows when the time to “drop” will be!
Heather, your doing great!,I know exactly how you feel andl let me just tell you, raising a tiny human is so damn hard and prioritizing becomes really exhausting too! The fact that your even working out is such a huge accomplishment. I have to say, I think around 12-15 weeks pp is when I started to notice the weight loss. Bf takes so much and you really have to be careful. Keep doing what makes you feel good 🙂
Thanks Jess! Yes, even doing laundry seems like a workout sometimes. Ha! I appreciate the encouragement and am looking forward to seeing how everything progresses in the next few months 🙂
I’ve been following your blog for about a year and this blog promotes fitness and nutrition the way it needs to be addressed. You have one of the healthiest attitudes and look forward to your new posts.
I do not have children, so I cannot fully relate what you are going through at this time. All I know is that your body did the most miraculous thing; it gave life. As long as you keep your thoughts on that (which I see that you do already), everything falls into place. Keep up the good work and positivity you bring to the world =)
Hi Jessica! Aw, thank you so much for following – you seem to know my style … I always have to keep it real! Ha. I really appreciate your support and kind words!
Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups
Your doing great momma! Everybody’s body handles things a little differently. I have two babies and even from one pregnancy to the other, how I was feeling post partum and what I was able to do was so different.
Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups recently posted…Workout Round Up – Quick workouts for busy days
Thanks so much Emily! And I’ve heard that from so many people. That just goes to show that nobody’s pregnancy is the same and standards shouldn’t be how we judge ourselves! Thanks for reading 🙂
This is a great post Heather. Everything you’re experiencing is very similar to what I’ve experienced. I wore a size 10 short when I was down in Savannah and was so sad as I haven’t had that size in ages. I also had to exchange almost everything Brooks sent me as I’m just wider in the chest and hips even though I’m not breastfeeding. But, this week I’ve worked out consistently and feel GREAT so that is a victory!
Hi friend! Oh my gosh – my hips got SO much wider early on in pregnancy and haven’t gone down since. After talking to some of my momma friends, I’m not sure if they ever will. The body is pretty amazing to grow and birth a human, so we just have to remember that! And it really comes down to how you feel. I’ve stopped going by what the scale says and now measure my progress by how everything feels. And guess what – my clothes are slowly starting to fit better, too. We’ve got this! 🙂
My son is 13 months and I am STILL struggling with not being where i want to. Then I remember it is ok if i never go back to that size 2 I was. My little guy has some health issues and we also have a toddler and a teenager, so i realized i need to cut myself some slack!
Also, Carters online for baby clothes!! They always have sales and usually free shipping as well!
Hi Erin! Oh yes, it’s SO OKAY. Our bodies might not ever be the same, and that’s okay too. And YES, oh my goodness, give yourself some credit. You’re doing the best you can and I hope your little guy is doing well!
Oh man, I remember trying on a pair of jeans “just to see” where I was at about 2 months postpartum. Yeah that was a mistake. It honestly took me about a year to be back to my regular size, which was when I stopped nursing. I know it’s different for everyone and it can be frustrating for sure….but it just takes time, which is so annoying to hear. haha. You are doing great and you will feel like yourself again soon!
Marielle recently posted…A Summer with Toddlers
Oh man, I did the same thing. I quickly learned that might not be the approach for me. It’s not just about weight … SO many things changed about my body when I was pregnant including my hip size, and I’m not sure if that will ever go back. So yeah, not a great idea to try on the old jeans obsessively. Ha. Thank you so much for the encouragement! xo
Ughh, thanks so much for this post! I also didn’t lose any weight from 6-12 weeks PP despite adding in physical activity. It was so frustrating but now that I’m 15 weeks out, I’m down about 4 more lbs. Unfortunately, I’m still up about 15 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight which is a little frustrating because at this point in my postpartum journey after my first, I was only about 5 lbs up. Hard to remember that each pregnancy and PP journey is different. Thanks for reminding us to keep perspective. As of last week, I’m officially back at my prepregnancy base pace at OTF! My core is still pretty weak but it’s exciting to see the gains I’m making in my strength. I’ve really been impressed by your motivation to fitness after having Skyler and it’s been wonderful to have you to follow along with on this postpartum journey. Thanks for being such a great encouragement and always keeping it real!!
Hi Erika! Congrats on your little one and it sounds like you’re doing amazing on your postpartum journey! And yes, I’ve heard that multiple pregnancies are so different from many of my friends – so thank you for confirming that. That’s awesome about the base pace!! I’m slowly getting back to my running base pace, too. Woo hoo! I really appreciate your support and following along – sharing my progress here helps motivate me, too! <3
You are doing great—12 weeks feels long but your body is still recovering. I wanted to do plyo stuff at 5mos & my trainer was very cautious. I worked out a lot while pregnant & so many people told me “you will bounce back fast” or “breastfeeding will melt the pounds”. Both were not accurate for my body which was (I suppose) prioritizing healing & milk & repair. My scale wasn’t budging but clothes slowly got more comfortable- muscles had to start from scratch. I kept doing weights & the extra stuff did start melting around 6mos & gone by 9. But getting used to a little bit bigger shoulders & wider hips is taking more time—it’s another trade off for motherhood. So many factors to juggle—you are doing so well for your sweet baby & family too!
Hi Katie! Thank you so much. Haha, I’ve heard both of those phrases so much. They’re true, but so not. And YES to the widening body parts – I’ve talked to many friends who are mothers who say the same thing. So we’re all on the same page there! I guess it’s just something to get used to, and I’ve been struggling with that as well. BUT – as with everything … SO WORTH IT. <3
I recently found your blog and I can so relate to the struggles of trying to get back into shape after baby. My son is 9 weeks old and it’s so hard to find the motivation to work out because when he sleeps all I want to do is relax. Thanks for this post–there are so many other ways to measure progress!
Hi Elizabeth, Congrats! And yes, I can so relate to that. Honestly, tracking my progress on this blog and social pages helps keep me accountable – but you just have to remember that you’re doing the best you can and sometimes your body really needs that rest! Listen to it 🙂
Yup the post partum body is a real adjustment. The whole mom body is an adjustment. I’ve been very lucky that I have a pretty balanced self-image. I have a ton of stretch marks and a jiggly belly and I’m okay with it. Sometimes you’ll find me at the pool with a bikini and if it bugs you … look away. I am able to love my body for what it does and not how it looks. I know that I’m very lucky that I can do that. Self-image is a tough thing and many people can’t adopt the attitude that I have. That’s okay too. 🙂 Live and let live.
If you have a minute please check out my latest post on my timed free 5k fun run while on vacation. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Heather you said that you didn’t feel like you worked out that much but after seeing your 2 week plan, I’d say you really did a great job. That barre sculpting workout actually look pretty intense. Your muscles weren’t sore afterwards?
I love workouts with dumbbells. I think you should include them too, it will help to build muscles and speed up metabolism 🙂