Now, I know what some of you may be thinking when reading the title of this blog post; I thought Katie was against dieting!?! And if that was your thought, that is precisely correct! In fact, my "Post Baby Body Shape Up Plan" isn't much of a plan, but rather it is simply a continuation of the healthy lifestyle that I have continued to live all along; Both before, during, and now after my pregnancy!
So although this post won't be about a specific diet plan, I will be sharing some of my thoughts on postpartum fitness, how I feel about my postpartum body, how I view the pressures to get back into pre-baby shape, and also a more detailed plan on how I have always cared for my body, and how I plan to continue to live out my balanced (and enjoyable) healthy lifestyle!
My Postpartum Exercise Plans
I had my 6 week postpartum checkup at my OB’s office yesterday! Thankfully everything went well and my healing is on track and things are going really well! That being said, I was given the clear to workout and resume normal activities again. Hooray!
To be honest when I was pregnant I remember thinking about how difficult it would be to take six weeks off of working out, and taking it easy! I have to admit, I am not one to sit around and relax much. However, this little addition to our family has changed me so much already; And to my surprise, I have been so content just sitting and snuggling her, taking in at all of her sweet features, and taking in all of her adorable baby noises! In addition, I have certainly been busy (and tired) enough trying to feed and care for her, that the last thing on my mind has been working out! I have also really enjoyed taking the time that I would typically work out in the morning and spend it with my sweet girl!
Knowing what I know now, I am convinced that God made it so that you HAVE to rest and recover for 6 weeks postpartum, because it really is crucial that our focus is on our newborns for the first few months. That being said, I am excited to get back to being active, although I do plan to “ease” back into things rather than “jumping” back in.
The past six weeks I have solely been walking outside for fitness, (which was the only workout I was cleared for until my postpartum check). I worked up to walking at a pretty fast pace pretty comfortably, but I have really missed strength training and circuit training type exercises. For my first week back to exercise, I plan to start by doing basic strength moves in my basement at home, as well as a postnatal boot camp dvd that I purchased on Amazon a few times a week and go from there as my body regains it's energy and strength.
Thankfully I feel like I had a pretty realistic expectation of postpartum fitness and recovery thanks to being so close to my sister Emily who has a 7 month old son. She told me that it took her about 3 months to feel like she was really ready to workout at the pace she did before giving birth, (she continued to workout much like I did until she was 9 months pregnant.) She also told me that she didn't start to feel like she regained most of her strength until she was about 6 months postpartum.
Knowing this has helped me realize that it really does take time to recover and regain strength after a baby. I also watched Emily deal with a a few issues where she strained her back and ab muscles because she was doing a little too much too soon. This was also a good lesson for me to witness, as I am aware that it is really important to take your time building your strength back up, and listen to your body.
Not Giving Into Pressure of Society
I think we are all aware that our society pushes women (postpartum or not) to look a certain way, be a certain weight, and get back into "pre-baby" jeans as quickly as possible. One of the problems I see with this mindset however is that it often takes our focus off of our families and newborns (who are only tiny for so long) and it places a great deal of undue pressure on new mommas, (as if we don't already have enough going on).
Instead of falling into the trap of trying to obtain a pre-baby body (whatever that means!?!) I am keeping my eyes fixed on my life scripture, Romans 12:2, which says, " Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." I love this scripture because it keeps me anchored in the truth, which is to not fall into the trap of measuring myself by the world's standards, and instead let God and his Word be the ruler in which I measure my choices, priorities, appearance, and my overall life.
For me, this means finding balance as I try to in every season of life, and think of how I can best care for my body in this new season that would be honoring to the Lord and my family. Overall, my main goal right now is to be strong and energetic enough to care for my sweet baby girl and think of my body in terms of providing nourishment for my daughter.
The best part of all when it comes to honoring God with our bodies is that they just "work" better! When I listen to the natural hunger cues He placed in my body, make balanced choices with my nutrition, and rest/fuel my body right, everything seems to fall into place naturally! In addition, I have already noticed that breastfeeding alone has helped my body recover and go back to my pre-pregnancy weight almost effortlessly, which is another example of how God created our bodies to work so beautifully!
Plans for Caring for My Body Postpartum
My Plans for Postpartum Include everything that I have done all through my pregnancy, and will continue to do postpartum; Which is the beauty of living a healthy lifestyle! It doesn't require some dramatic change, a start or stop date, or any kind of diet.
The healthy lifestyle practices that I currently live by I will continue throughout my postpartum journey. These everyday healthy lifestyle practices include:
- Eat three quick and healthy meals and protein rich snacks as needed throughout the day.
- Continue to meal plan and plan ahead in general when it comes to making healthy choices, (which I now know is even more crucial with little ones!)
- Eat plenty of fiber and protein rich foods, as well as healthy fats in moderation.
- Try to eat out no more than 1-2 times per week.
- As far as workouts, my goal at first will be to workout three times a week for the first few weeks, and take it up from there as I regain strength, (starting with light workouts and progressing as I get stronger). In addition, I plan to continue to take walks as often as I can.
- Eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. (I did away with calorie counting years ago, and I have found such freedom in listening to my body. In addition, I know I need extra calories while nursing, so I don't plan to cut my calories at this time.)
How I Feel About My Postpartum Body
Before I gave birth, (as well as before I got pregnant), I imagined that I would struggle with my postpartum body. I had no idea what to expect, and quite honestly I was scared of how my tummy would look, and I was overwhelmed thinking about how my life would change with a baby. (Would I have time to prepare healthy meals and exercise again!?! Silly and irrational thoughts, I know, but fear is real when facing the unknown!)
But in actuality, I have experienced the exact opposite feelings since having Madeline. I couldn’t be more proud of my body after bringing a life into this world! It created and provided a home for our baby, and it is now providing nourishment for her to grow! I have also found that after the first month (yes those first four weeks are a bit of an adjustment, which is why I was so thankful for my freezer meals), I have had plenty of time to take walks and make healthy meals. It isn't as easy as it once was, but just like with everything we make a priority, I find time!
Since having a baby, I now view exercise, my body, and health a little differently than before. Although my body is not the strongest it's ever been physically at this time, I now look in the mirror and feel that it is stronger than ever before.
Since becoming pregnant (and now breastfeeding), fueling my body properly with nourishing foods is more important to me than ever before. My body is not my own for this season, and it has taught me so much about the reason it is so important to choose proper nutrition, as well as continue in a life of balance!
As far as exercise, I am thankful I can say that I learned a balanced view before I had her, which will continue in my postpartum period as well. For me, exercise is about enjoyment, keeping active, and keeping myself healthy for me and my family; and health is about caring for myself in order to nourish Maddie and to be a positive role model for her to follow after one day!
As always, I hope you guys have a wonderful day and thank you for joining me on this continued journey through pregnancy, and now motherhood! xo Katie