Health and fitness in motherhood. It is one of those topics that every mum wants to talk about but it’s not really a conversation they want to be having. As a mum of two I totally get why because I was one of those people. Sometimes I still am. It is hard to have a conversation about a topic that plays havoc with your mindset when it comes to body image.
PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD…..
Let’s talk about pregnancy and motherhood. These two jobs are without a doubt the hardest jobs I have ever had. Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. Our bodies are amazing machines. I loved being pregnant. At every chance I had I’d glance at my growing bump. If I was walking past a shop window or a mirror I’d admire my pregnant body. My husband also loved my pregnant body and he’d tell me every day how beautiful I looked. No matter how beautiful pregnancy is, growing and nurturing a human is no walk in the park.
Only a woman who has experienced pregnancy knows the true affect that it has on the body. Stretch marks, sagging skin and bulging bellies are just some of the visible changes we go through. Prolapse, abs separation (diastasis recti), flared ribs and pelvic tilt are some of the issues we face that cannot been seen by the outside world yet they affect us massively.
Motherhood is this amazing journey and privilege. It’s the single most rewarding job there is. The love is unconditional, the smiles are precious and the joy is unmeasurable. But, motherhood is hard. Really hard. Everyday is like this beautiful walk in the park with the occasional bee sting. As mums we spend most of our days running around after our little ones and we rarely put ourselves first.
IT’S HARD LOOKING IN THE MIRROR…..
Health and fitness are usually last on the list of priorities. I am not afraid to admit that has been true for me on more than several occasions. There was a time where my kids rarely slept and I survived my days on as little as 3 hours broken sleep. This lasted more than 5 years. I barely had enough energy to get through the day let alone workout and eat healthy.
It is hard looking in the mirror and not recognising the body that is staring you back in the face. I say that from experience. With my first son I bounced back very quickly. I gained 10 kilos during my pregnancy. By the end of the first week of giving birth I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans. With my second son it was a whole different story. I spent more than half of my pregnancy on some form of bedrest due to having placenta previa. I gained 25 kilos. My son was born via c-section and the recovery was tough. I vividly remember being too scared to even look in the mirror at my own reflection and when I did I was horrified.
IT TOOK TWO WHOLE YEARS…..
I had 25 kilos of extra weight to lose and a c-section to recover from which was made harder by some surgical complications. With two children to look after, a business to run and a home to keep I had no idea how I would lose the weight I’d gained. At the beginning I was kind to myself but I was desperate to lose the extra kilos. I did eventually lose it all but it took me 2 whole years. It wasn’t due to lack of trying. I did try. I tried hard but my body didn’t respond as well as it once did. It took me a long time to realise that this was due to my body healing itself.
I tried dieting in the form of Slimming World and clean eating. I didn’t lose any weight. As soon as I got the go ahead from my doctor at my postnatal check up I started exercising lightly. I power walked 5 kms 3 times a week. I lost a small amount of weight but nothing to write home about. At this point I was wearing clothes 3 sizes up from my usual size. As I got stronger and my body recovered I started jogging. My weight loss plateaued and I was stuck. I still had 13 kilos to lose. I was frustrated. Running and healthy eating just wasn’t doing it for me and I was left mortified when a complete stranger asked me how many months pregnant I was.
15 MONTHS AFTER HAVING MY SECOND BABY…..
In January 2017, 15 months after having my second baby I changed my training strategy. I started doing high intensity interval (HIIT) training. I started by following the January Bootcamp offered by the Body Coach free on his facebook page. On each of his videos he’d talk about the importance of nutrition and how important it is to fuel your body correctly in order to lose body fat and get lean. I purchased his books, followed his principles on eating and training, completed the free program and moved on to following his workouts on Youtube. Most importantly I educated myself about nutrition.
Within the first month I noticed a huge change. I didn’t lose any weight according to the scales but I lost an inch off my waist, an inch off my hips and an inch off my back/chest. Within 3 months I was back to my original size and I felt amazing. I have continued this lifestyle since then. Of course, I have had slip ups along the way mostly due to a shoulder injury which put me out for almost 9 months. In that time I have gained weight due to being unable to work out properly until about a month ago.
MAKING HEALTH AND FITNESS A PRIORITY AGAIN…..
I am once again making my health and fitness a priority. In March I started physio for my shoulder injury and I am training regularly and eating well again. I also sought help to heal my diastasis recti (abs separation). Once again I am noticing changes in my body and I am finally happy with my progress. It’s not easy making health and fitness a priority when you have little ones to look after and a home to run. I know this first hand but I think it’s really important that as mums we try to do one thing every day for ourselves. Health and fitness doesn’t necessarily mean working out and sticking to a strict eating regime. It just means that you spend a little bit of time looking after yourself allowing your body time to heal.
MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE…..
It really is true when you hear people say “it took 9 months to grow a baby. Give your body 9 months to lose the baby weight”. Sometimes it takes less than 9 months but sometimes it takes longer. What’s really important that we make ourselves a priority every once in a while and that we do more for ourselves than we tend to. We need to be kinder to ourselves and know that it’s ok to be perfectly imperfect.