Exercising Postpartum: Planning for 2019

September 2018. Barely one week after giving birth to my first child, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Which was great. But.

I'm still fat.

See, I was obese before I got pregnant. I've had a flabby belly with stretch marks for over a decade. If you've been following me for a while, you might recall that this time last year, I'd decided to refocus on getting my health back. I planned to adopt a more plant-based diet. I was going to run my first half marathon, and I began training literally two days before I had that first positive pregnancy test. 

My pregnancy changed everything. 

My OBGYN worked with me to keep me from gaining too much weight during those nine months. His strict low-carb diet (as well as my hyperemesis gravidarum) kept me from putting on anything but baby-related weight. Again, I'm grateful for that because I know lots of women who told me they gained as much as eighty or one-hundred pounds while pregnant. That was terrifying to me, as I started pregnancy at 211. I was seriously scared of finding myself in the 300's.

But nope. I was back to 211 in a matter of days. And I'm still 211, which will be kind of like hitting the reset button for 2019. 

Except this time around, my lady parts are broken, my boobs are heavy with milk, and I have a baby to take care of.

I'm not even sure how to exercise this new body. I'm three months postpartum and even fast-walking remains a struggle. I'm also quite unsure of how I can come up with an exercise routine for myself at this point when just managing to get a shower is an accomplishment some days. 

But I see this chunky mother in photos with my baby, and I realize I've got to do something. 

First off, I hate that I look at these precious photos and only see how fat I look. I'm so self-conscious of my multiple chins and flabby arms, I want to bury these images. Nobody wants to- or should- feel that way about their child's baby pictures. 

More importantly, I have a daughter now. I have to take care of myself to be able to care for her. I want to be a healthy example for her when she's old enough to see that. I have to do this for Claire.

My husband deserves better, too. A healthy wife who is confident in herself. I'm not aspiring to be a trophy wife or anything, but the woman he married was a healthy vegetarian runner who had lost over seventy pounds. Not a 250-pounder with Type II Diabetes, which is where I'm headed if I don't regain some self-control. I have to do this for Matt.

And I can't not mention this. 2019 is a big year for me because, on January 18, I'll turn thirty. 

Man. I can't believe I'll be 30. 30 and still struggling with obesity. A legit grown-up still struggling with putting down the Oreos and turning off the dang TV. Really. How have I not conquered this by now?!? I have to do this for me.

That's where I am. A thirty-year-old wife and mother bustin' outta the seams of her stretchy pants, ready to change.

I received the jogging stroller I listed on my baby registry (Yay! Thanks, Aunt Connie!), so I've been taking Claire for walks in it once or twice a week for the past two months. That plus pelvic floor exercises sums up my current fitness regimen. As I said, I did spend four whole hours pushing a 9+ pound baby out of me. I'm still recovering from a vaginal tear, prolapse, and mega hemorrhoids (the joys of childbirth), so moving hasn't been easy. I'm terrified of overdoing it and making things worse down there. 

I go back to my OBGYN in April to see if things are better or if I might need pelvic physiotherapy. I really don't think it's wise to attempt too much vigorous exercise prior to that appointment, so for now, I will focus on nutrition and light exercise. 

This means:

  • eating a mostly plant-based diet
  • drinking only water, coffee with plain non-dairy creamer, and unsweetened tea
  • walking/misc. low-impact cardio 
  • yoga
  • weights/resistance bands
  • easing into running

I'm longing to run again and do some races, so I'll see how things are going and will slowly incorporate running as long as it feels safe (my doctor OK'd this). I "ran" my first mile postpartum this week (I took three walking breaks and the whole thing took me over fifteen minutes...we'll say it's because I was pushing that giant stroller). It was a pretty rough experience, but it was somewhere to start. 

I'd love some feedback for this post. Any mamas out there who can share advice for easing into a fitness routine postpartum, let me hear from you in the comments! 


Anna Marie Schaefer said...

For the record, you look beautiful in those photos with Claire. Love ya!

Jessica Bain said...

I’m proud of you for setting goals and I know you can reach them. You’ve done it before! Obviously, I need to make some changes as well. Hoping we can hold each other accountable in the coming year.