I’m not usually one to be antsy to get back into an exercise routine after having a baby. I live for the excuse to not have to put on sneakers in an effort to exert more physical energy than I do on a regular basis. No, I’m usually the one ordering dessert for the sake of my milk supply, taking advantage of every extra calorie earned for breastfeeding. In the past, the post birth weight would slowly decline until 9-12 months later, I was close enough to my pre-baby weight to feel good in my wardrobe. This time around though, the slow decline quickly plateaued right away, and I knew I would have to do something about it for my energy and my esteem.
Each pregnancy left me with an extra 10 pounds from my starting point, and I don’t have a lot of room for extra weight since I’m pretty short. My postpartum body felt especially frumpy this time around. I’m in my mid-thirties now, and my metabolism is on shutdown mode. Every meal I eat makes me feel bloated, and it’s apparent I will have to be much more vigilant about making healthy eating choices, not just to get back to my pre-baby body, but for forever. What I used to eat as a way to lose a few pounds is now what I must eat to maintain my current weight, and exercise as a habit is a necessary component of ensuring my health for years to come.
I’ve always enjoyed being active and getting exercise. Before I had kids, and up until I was 20-something weeks pregnant with my first, I enjoyed biking 8 miles to work as a way to get exercise, get outside, and avoid traffic. After having my first, the bike commute was no longer an option for me, and I had to find other ways to get moving. It was never going to be as easy to find the time as before I had kids. After having my second kid and quitting my job, I was anxious to exercise as a way to get some alone time to care for myself. The day my baby turned 3 months old, I dropped my two kids off at the Y child watch area (they require babies to be at least 3 months old) and booked it to a spin class. I was sweating out of my eyes as I sat there in the dark with the music cranked. It was pure freedom. Now here I am again, 4 months out, trying to find a rhythm. We have since acquired an elliptical machine, so you would think it would be easier to make it work, but this summer has required so much more of us than just adding an extra baby to the mix. My goal is to simply break a sweat as many days as I can. If I make it 10 minutes before someone or something needs my attention, that is OK. That 10 minutes mattered.
I have been trying to be patient with myself as my body transitions back from growing and birthing a baby. This time around has been the hardest for me to be accepting though, as I’m older, and it’s going to require a little more effort to build back the strength I have lost. Getting back to healthy habits of diet and exercise will keep my body able to support the energy of the 3 little kids I need to keep up with. The investment of time to make it a priority is an investment in my mental and physical health, and it doesn’t hurt that my kids see the healthy choices I’m making, even if it means that my exercise time is not always alone time.