Postpartum Body Pressure

Annoyingly for some I have always been the sporty type, actually enjoying exercise (well, afterwards anyway), I’ve been a consistent gym member for most my adult life.

Before getting pregnant I was planning our wedding, our little bundle of joy was a honeymoon baby you see. As with a number of soon to be brides I was dieting and exercising more than normal to try as much as I could to be in the best shape possible for my big day.

To be honest I was borderline obsessive, incessantly weighing myself most days and recording my weight accordingly. I logged every morsel of food in my food app to keep track of calories and to keep track of weightloss, and even kept a spreadsheet tracking my weight and the days I had exercised. God help my friends if I weighed myself to see a slight gain (probably water retention in hindsight), I would have a meltdown and spend hours emailing them moaning and whining that my efforts weren’t paying off. You’re probably thinking she had a problem here, maybe you’re right but at the time I didn’t see it.

My wedding day

I need to point out that I didn’t have a lot of weight to lose, I was crazy, I always have been a healthy size 10 and I’m not exactly sure what I was trying to achieve. This is one of those moments when I look back and think ‘you crazy fool, you looked great’ as now post pregnancy I’d LOVE to look like that again. They do say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Alongside planning the big day I also had a lot going on. I was helping to care for my Mom who was suffering from a terminal illness, I was studying for a Masters degree and  holding down a high pressure job,  with the wedding it’s safe to say my stress levels were through the roof. On top of all that there was me adding more pressure on myself to look my best for the wedding.

Even with the pressure I placed on myself I did enjoy exercise and the healthy eating habits I had adopted. The exercise helped keep my head clear and the food made me feel healthy. When I found out I was pregnant I however stopped exercising altogether, I just felt like I needed to do whatever possible to protect the little guy growing inside me, plus during the first trimester I felt so sick and exhausted there was no chance of me heading to the gym.

I didn’t pig out or eat unnecessarily when I was pregnant so my weight didn’t skyrocket, I ate what I wanted and it was fun but I did still try to choose healthy foods to and make sure I was passing on the right nutrients to my growing baby. I did at one stage go through an ice cream, orange juice and Big Mac phase though, that was a particular highlight, not all at the same time I’d like to point out.

However, all through pregnancy I knew that when the time felt right I would get back to the gym after having Jack. Partly because I wanted to and partly because I felt pressure to. I didn’t weigh myself at all whilst being pregnant as I’m well aware that it wouldn’t do me any good mentally. I didn’t want to put anymore pressure on myself if I saw my weight increase so I packed away the scales and let go of the reigns. I think this was healthy for me, for the first time in years I wasn’t that worried about how I looked or that number on the scales. My sole concentration was on Jack and that was great.

I will admit though, after giving birth I didn’t feel great about myself. The changes your body goes through are immense, recovering from child birth I was sleep deprived, caring for a new-born, playing host to a stream of visitors all while feeling like I’d been run over. It wasn’t long before I began looking at myself and seeing the areas I wanted to work on. I think I weighed myself roughly 3 weeks after I gave birth and I’d gained just over a stone, not to bad at all I hear you say, not really no, but still a stone none the less and I knew I wanted to lose it.

I think there is such a huge amount of pressure on new moms these days, you see in the media new celebrity moms that seem to ping back to their pre-pregnancy bodies, looking so glamorous without a hair out of place, how do they do it? (surely with a harem of helpers, stylists, personal trainers and dieticians no doubt).

But for the rest of us, it’s like you’re supposed to just get it, get the whole caring for a baby thing, make bottles, change nappies, settle their crying, get them to sleep and look great when to be honest I was completely winging it. Without the help of my own mom and being the first out of my close friends to have a baby I found myself stumbling through the baby caring role with a trial and error approach. This meant that my body insecurities were well on the back burner, I was lucky to shower and wear clean clothes let alone think about losing the baby weight.

I did do the silly silly thing and try to get back to the gym WAY before I was ready both mentally and physically. I went with a friend on a Saturday morning when Jack was around 8 weeks. This was not a good move, I completely over did it and ended up in agony for a week. I think my muscles went into shock, I seriously had to try and think of what I would need to get through the day and bring it all downstairs to try and limit the times I would have to face climbing up and down the stairs. Not wise.

This put me off for a number of months and it has only been fairly recently that I have been in a place ready to concentrate on me. That doesn’t make me selfish as I believe a happy mom makes for a happy baby and then everyone is a winner. It’s important to look after yourself too. The beginning of 2015 saw a marked approach to lose the baby weight and so far it’s been going well. I’d like to think I’m approaching it this time round in a healthier way, I don’t try and stick to a stupidly low amount of calories and I’m not chaining myself to a treadmill in a bid to lose weight. I have a gym buddy who also wants to lose baby weight so we rely on each other for motivation. We’ll go to the gym on a evening two nights a week when the little ones are tucked up in bed and then again at the weekend. There are days when I really can’t be bothered but I know my friend is relying on me and that helps me stay consistent.

My current routine involves resistance training 4 times a week with limited cardio, I work a different body part each time and follow that with some uphill walking on the treadmill or a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session. HIIT is great as you really get your heart rate going but also get those lovely breaks between each round too, it basically involves 30 second short sharp sprint on the treadmill followed by a 30 second rest, the minutes go by much quicker than a normal long run and it’s rumoured to pep up your metabolism so much you burn calories for up to 24 hours after. It’s also great for fitness levels and increasing your stamina.

So far since exercising regularly again I’ve lost around half a stone and I’m back in my pre-preggo clothes. I haven’t been restricting myself massively and this has helped me to keep sane. I am still enjoying a glass of wine here or there and food out with friends. I’m pretty much back down to my pre pregnancy weight and not even too far off my weight on the wedding day (yes, I was so obsessed I weighed in on my big day, crazy I know). Even though my weight is there or there about I have noticed I definitely don’t look the same, and you know what? that’s ok. I’m definitely jigglier and my skin isn’t as toned but I look at Jack and see what a beautiful baby I have made. I’ll never look the way I did and I’m trying to accept that. I guess its just one of the many sacrifices you make when you sign on the dotted line to become a Mommy. We have a hard enough job as it is without us having to worry that we don’t look perfect too.

I really feel like I am beginning to have the balance just right, I’m not killing myself in the gym anymore, I’m more relaxed towards food and I’m still spending my time playing with my little man and taking in everything he has to offer. At the moment it seems to work, however I’m due back at work in a few  months so no doubt I’ll need to review our routine again then.

Do you feel pressure to lose baby weight or get fitter? How do you feel about your post baby body?

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Our Weaning Journey

Weaning Jack has mostly been lots of fun, stressful some days but definitely lots of fun. image I love food, I mean, really love food, I’ll be eating lunch whilst thinking of what were having for tea and I’m certainly no fussy eater. It’s really important to me to try and raise a child that at least shares half of my interest towards food. I’d like to think I’d try anything once and I’d like Jack to be the same. I have this whole little person to pass on my passion for food and this concept massively overwhelms me. You could say I’m somewhat paranoid of raising a fussy eater so I’m going to try my hardest to get Jack to embrace food like I do. Even though current health guidelines recommend introducing solids at around 6 months we decided to start Jack on solids at around 19 weeks. This may seem early to some but it was right for us. Even though guidelines are there for a reason, I also believe all babies to be different. Jack has always had a healthy appetite and been a big baby. At this stage no amount of milk seemed to satisfy him as he was draining 8oz bottles every 2.5 hours. He’d also had started waking in the night, even though this isn’t supposed to be a sign to start solids it was too coincidental for us. He had slept through from around 8 weeks so for him to start waking 2-3 times a night was a MASSIVE shock to the system. We held off for a few weeks hoping it was a growth spurt or just a phase but it just wasn’t working out that way. After running on fumes for a few weeks and looking like an extra from Shaun of the dead we finally caved in and introduced solids. His weaning journey began with a few tiny spoons of baby rice mixed in with his usual milk with his lunchtime milk feed. I chose baby rice as being a first time Mom I didn’t really know any better, everywhere I looked I saw that it was ‘an ideal first weaning food’. It has added vitamins and is easily digestible but in hindsight I don’t think I’d give Jack baby rice at all.

Baby's first tastes

Baby’s first tastes

Jack now has three meals a day along with 4 milk feeds, I think he is soon to drop another bottle as he just doesn’t seem interested in his 3.30pm feed. image We started with puréed food, mainly because I was worried about the choking risks and as we weaned him a little early I didn’t think he was ready to feed himself. However, more recently he has been having finger foods as well. After puree I’ll give him finger foods to play with so that he can experiment. The whole process has proved VERY messy and the dog has soon learned that when Jack is in his chair food will soon fall on the floor for him to hoover up. The Annabel Karmel book has been brill for recipe ideas and meal planners. Homemade purees have been great when home as I know he is eating fresh without any nasties, the hidden veg pasta sauce is a particular fave as I know it’s jam packed with veg. But, when we have been out and about or needed a more convenient food for him we use the Ella’s Kitchen pouches (spag bol is  his favourite!) which are ideal, there is loads of choice but they are expensive. . image So far Jack has tried: bread/toast crumpets breadsticks cheese egg pasta blueberries strawberries (cut into 4) grapes (cut into 4) banana (finding fruit it difficult for him to pick up as it’s slippery) avocado sweet potato cut into fries carrot baby biscuits (Organix, Heinz and Rusks) cheese sandwich egg mayo sandwich peanut butter Yoghurts Goodies snacks (carrot sticks, rice cakes and onion rings) I’m trying to keep things interesting for him and to introduce new and exciting foods but it’s hard to be continuously inventive. I’m super paranoid that by somehow trying to encourage him to be adventurous it’s actually going to have the opposite affect and turn him fussy. I stress most days that he’s not eating enough as some days he eats more than others. I worry that less food one day is going to mean a sleepless night (even though that’s not turning out to be the case). Eating out can be stressful, those wooden highchairs are a nightmare, even with a bib he gets FILTHY and there isn’t much choice for really little ones (must remember to be organised). All in all it’s been a fun experience so far but I know I need to learn to chill out more. Unfortunately that worry switch got turned on when I found out I was pregnant, don’t think it’ll switch off anytime soon. How is your weaning journey going? Does your little one have a favourite food? Can you recommend any finger foods to try?

Yes we did!

There’s no such thing as a gruffal-oh!!

Yes we did!Since Jack has been old enough to grasp anything in his tiny little paws he’s enjoyed a good book. Not necessarily the contents of the story but holding a book he has loved.

The first book he took a shine to was the one of the world’s best-loved monster, The Gruffalo. The book is an award-winning story of an encounter with a little brown mouse in the deep dark wood and since 1999 has continued to delight children and adults the world over. Jack included.

There could be numerous books out in front of him and without fail he always reaches for this one. I don’t know if it’s the illustrations or if he has a weird thing for big scary monsters but it’s his favourite.

Coincidently to celebrate the Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary fifteen lucky forests, including Cannock Chase Forest, have been joined by a giant wooden Gruffalo sculpture and a self led trail to find him. As we know Jack loves the Gruffalo story we saw this as a perfect day out for our little family.

Cannock Chase

Cannock Chase

The trail is a flat mile long walk or a shorter half mile loop and is great for all ages.

The Gruffalo Trail was great, there are a series of boards that encourage different activities for kids such as thinking about what different things are made of wood and making pictures out of twigs. There are lots of sculptures and statues along the way too from log benches, animal houses to wooden statues. The links to the Gruffalo are quite subtle though as you don’t meet a creature from the book on every turn but kids still excited by the various activities and finding the characters from the book. At the end of the trail lies the individual Gruffalo statue, each one being different from the other trails across the country.

Owl

Owl

I’m not sure Jack had the faintest idea what was going on but he seemed happy enough while we were there. Our friend’s kids had a ball, each one loving the adventure playground at the end too.

A mouse took a stroll...

A mouse took a stroll…

The trail in Cannock Chase starts from the Birches Valley Centre where there is a cafe and toilets. The parking does cost either £1 for an hour or £4 for all day which when you’re almost certain to spend longer than an hour there is quite expensive. But the trail itself is free so not an expensive day out at all unless you forget to eat breakfast and want to consume everything in sight in the cafe.

The Gruffalo

The cafe there was great allowing us to take the dogs inside. They had a great choice of drinks including many much needed caffeine based beverages  (always welcomed) and freshly made food choices, they had a highchair for Jack too so we could feed him easily. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed eating every morsel he happened to drop.

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The fresh air always does Jack some good, as soon as we started our drive home he was fast asleep sleeping the whole journey. All in all we had a great day out, there certainly aren’t many days out where you could potentially spend less than a tenner, get some exercise and see a beautiful forest all in one go.

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