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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