There’s this acceptance in society that we should all love our bodies post birth irrelevant of how distorted they become. While I agree that self-love is important , I don’t agree with ignoring any issues that could be changed with a little bit of effort.
My body post birth has luckily gone back to my normal weight. However after having a large, near 9lb, baby I have a whole lot of work to do before I’m happy with it, my stomach currently resembles a rather delightful looking hanging testicle!
Now I could fall into the camp of giving up and making excuses because I’ve had a child but I’m just not cool with that. The only person that can get me back in shape is myself.
According to the billion ‘post birth Mum’ quotes and pictures that make their rounds on Facebook I should be embracing my hanging testicle and be proud of it for what it did. But tell me that while I stand next to the Mum who’s got washboard abs and toned everything!
Now don’t assume I’m having a dig at your bodies if you do love what you have warts and all, because each of us will embrace or hate our bodies post birth, and we all have that right. But for me I don’t want to accept my body as it is knowing I could have tried to make it better. I have accepted that my body has changed, but I’ve also accepted that I too can make it change for the better as well.
I can suck my stomach in to make it look flat, but it’s resting position is a little bit more cuddly (ok a whole lot). So one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get myself back into shape. For the first year of my Son’s life I didn’t exert myself at all. Having a baby and being exhausted is enough to deal with, but after he turned one I realised I had no excuse.
I’m lucky that the baby weight dropped off me, it took me the full year more or less to get back completely to my former size. The only exercise I did was the Mutu programme after my 6 week check up. Having a big baby caused my stomach muscles to split completely, and I had to work really hard to get my muscles two finger width apart meaning I can up the impact of my workouts now. For those of you that don’t know what diastasis recti is, basically I can stick my fingers through my stomach walls and feel my gut (what a wonderful image). The walls should be fused together but pregnancy can cause them to split, and usually only surgery will get them to refuse together again. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to make the best of a bad situation. While I won’t consider surgery to fix the muscle problem, I will encourage my muscles to return to the best of their abilities.
My local gym has a free crèche for my Son that I can use daily, and so I can enjoy a bit of time to myself and work to make that hanging testicle seem a little more taut. So I’ll be updating you with the results of my workouts, hopefully to inspire those of you that also want to regain your bodies, especially if you’ve given up hope completely.
While I didn’t get any red stretch marks during pregnancy, I did end up with white stretch marks, when the skin is tight these marks are invisible but the texture of my skin is like a deflated balloon, one of the many reasons exercise will be my new best friend. I’ll wear these marks with pride once my stomach is flat
For now let me give you some tips that have helped me really kick-start my exercise journey:
1. Find a local gym that offers a crèche. I have never been a lover of gyms, but having the chance to just be baby free for a few hours is really a great incentive to just go and burn some calories! Being a good Mum is about being balanced and it’s important to have time away from your baby. The socialisation of your child in a crèche is essential for their development too- so you aren’t doing any harm to your child. Plus while someone is looking after your little terror on a bad teething day you can while away the time having a hot shower in peace
2. Don’t buy any new gym wear. Going to the gym and working out isn’t about looking good to start with, it’s about getting yourself into a routine. Tell yourself you’ll treat yourself if you manage to go regularly for at least 3 months. There’s no point shelling out on an expensive membership, and expensive new clothes when you give up after a week. I’m currently wearing my old see through leggings (I really couldn’t care less), some t-shirts I have in my wardrobe and a pair of trainers I reviewed previously (and although I had high hopes of becoming a regular runner never did). I also use my Son’s water tumbler as my water bottle.
3. Follow the ratio 3:1. For every 3 classes you do that you enjoy, do one that you don’t. For me, I love doing pilates, yoga and ab work. But I hate spin classes. However, spin classes are the most effective at burning fat so I make sure I follow the ratio and cycle away manically with sweat dripping off me. It also means that I’m targeting different muscles and getting a full on workout by doing different classes to the ones I have a preference for.
4. Go with a friend or have a friend support you. I don’t have any close friends that live near by considering we’ve not long been in the area. But I do whatsapp one of my best friends regularly as we’re on this mission together. She has two girls both older than my Son, but she hasn’t really focussed on getting her stomach back until now either. We send each other updates all the time, and I’m talking lift-the-t-shirt-up-bare-all kind of pictures. Her support really helps keep me motivated and knowing she’s also trying to achieve the same thing keeps us both pushing each other forward.
5. Make sure you eat enough protein. This helps to build and repair muscles after a workout. My diet can be terrible so I’m making sure I make loads of smoothies incorporating high protein foods. There are also many high protein products you can buy to make life easier such as protein cakes or protein drinks.