Realistic expectations for getting back to it after having a baby.
If I had a penny for every friend or client of mine who has told me, “I can’t wait to get my pre-baby body back,” I would be a rich woman. I might even go as far as saying that everyone that I have known who has had a baby, has said this at some point. I’m sure they are looking for reassurance from me, but then there I go just crushing all of their dreams when I reply with, “That body is never coming back!”
Hold up, hold up… Hear me out.
I am not saying that your body can’t be rockin’, or that you won’t be happy with it. But, you grew a human. Things moved… like really moved. Bones, joints, organs. Physiologically, things will never be the same. The thing that I try to get across, is to LOVE your “new” body. Because Mama, let me tell you… this new mom bod can be amazing too! But, until you accept that this foreign body is yours and here to stay, you may feel like you are climbing uphill with an Ergo full of toddler on your back. When you accept, and learn to love and appreciate your new self, this is when the magic happens.
This is difficult for many of us mothers.
We became a Mom, and we had to get to know this new person, this new identity. And while you love your little person more than you can explain, you may find yourself sitting on the couch, your baby asleep in your arms, looking at old photos of yourself from that summer festival, and yearning to feel as fantastic as you did that day in your daisy dukes and crop top.
Here is the thing. You can feel like that again! C-section scar, lose skin, sweet potato breasts and… “Oh my goodness Kim, just stop!” I WILL NOT! Because, all of those things sit on this negative shelf in our minds, and I am here to tell you to move them onto the positive shelf, damnit! Because, what happens when you wear your scar like a badge of honour, or watch your core slowly gain back its elasticity — is magic. You start to see things like that sexy arm definition from carrying your baby around, or those strong legs from your daily walks — because baby will only sleep longer than 20 minutes in the stroller.
You see… half of the battle is mental. The other half, as I’m sure you expected… is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, here are some tips on loving your new body, and how to keep your expectations realistic when it comes to fitness after baby.
1. Give yourself time to heal
Okay, you literally just grew a human being inside of your body. And whether that baby came out the “conventional” way, or bypassed down south and came out of the sunroof, your body has been through a lot. I know you may be in a rush to put on those old jeans, but, give your body the time it has earned to rest and repair.
2. Start slow
I wouldn’t suggest starting anything more vigorous than daily walks around the block until at least four weeks postpartum. If you feel ready and able before this time, then do yourself a favour and book in a quick check up with your doctor to get the go ahead. If you are recovering from a caesarean, then six weeks is the minimum, but you’re going to want to be careful with this one. Even though you may feel lightyears better than you did on day three when you were hobbling around and fearing every sneeze — your body still has a lot of work to do.
3. Work hard, Play hard
If all you do is push, push, push, you’re going to burn out. Mix up your workouts with some activities that you enjoy. If you do a boot camp on Monday that you don’t really enjoy… I mean let’s get real, those things are tough! Then let your next work out be something like a hike in one of your favourite spots, or a cycle by the ocean. It’s all about that balance!
4. Remember this time is not forever
You may have tough days when you look in the mirror and scrutinize every inch of that foreign body looking back at you. Be kind to yourself. It may not feel like it now, but there will come a time when your body will begin to feel like it belongs to you again.
5. Set achievable goals
If you think you’re going to lose ALL of that baby weight in a few months, it may be time to reassess your goals. Try thinking in one week intervals, to start. What will you achieve this week? Is it making it to three work outs, losing a pound or two, or maybe it’s just getting out for a power walk. Whatever your goals are, think near future and slowly build up to those long-term goals.
6. Learn to love the new you
Positive self-image is not always an easy task. We are our toughest critics. So much of accepting this “new you” is embracing what you have done, and reminding yourself that you are the friggin bomb! You grew a human, pushed (or pulled) it out of you, and your body is still intact. WIN! Go to the mall, try on some new clothes… put things on that you have never worn before. Get a feel for this new body and what you feel good in. Embrace those (a little bit wider) curvy hips, and hold your chin high.
Let go of any external pressure about what you should do, should eat, should look like. Do you Mama. Love… you.