I hate gyms. I hate structured fitness regimes. I don’t aspire to be a fitness model or bodybuilder. And I certainly don’t do protein shakes, count macros, or weigh myself - ever. But somehow I recently found myself in a gym, doing weights, feeling strong… and loving it!
Since becoming a mum my exercise routine has changed drastically. Before falling pregnant I was a bona-fide Vinyasa-lover and AcroYogi who loved nothing more than to throw myself around a yoga mat doing backbends and stretching my hamstrings. I loved running (and still do) and would go on 30 to 70 minute runs, several times per week.
Having a baby changed nearly EVERYTHING about the way I exercise. Any mum will tell you just how dramatically limited her personal time becomes once baby comes along. I no longer have the luxury of spending an hour a day stretching, or running 3-4 times a week for as long as I like. In fact, I have a total of ONE HOUR a week to myself – what I use that for is described below! Instead, here’s what I do in a typical week:
What I do
- Personal training once a week for 30-60 minutes - a mixture of resistance training and a bit of anaerobic cardio – with an amazing trainer who lets me take my baby along, and who also happens to be a massage therapist of 10 years (i.e. he knows the body). Yesterday it was raining so my trainer Nick got me into the gym. Despite my aversion to the whole gym scene I found myself enjoying it thoroughly! That’s when he sneakily took the above photo showing how much stronger my upper body has become.
- Semi-private reformer Pilates once a week for 60 minutes with an instructor who knows her shit and also happens to be a physiotherapist (i.e. she knows the body – see a theme emerging?!) Here’s where that precious one hour of free time goes – it’s bliss.
- Bush walks carrying Archie most days, 30-60 minutes, with lots of interesting terrain, hills, creek crossings and stuff that generally makes me forget I am exercising. Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts while I walk, other days I prefer silence, my breath and the sound of my baby snoring in his carrier.
Occasionally I might do a short trail run but these days it happens about once a month at most. At the moment I’m doing ZERO yoga, despite teaching it for nearly 10 years. It just doesn’t feel right at the moment, perhaps because the lactation hormones circulating in my body keep me flexible enough. Although I'm not doing a physical yoga practice, I'm definitely meditating daily. One day I will get back into yoga, just not now. I’m loving my Pilates, resistance training, and walks too much!
What I eat
I aim for three to four meals a day, with a healthy balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, good protein… and shitloads of veggies. For a while I started getting into the habit of accidentally skipping meals and under eating, a common new mum’s trap, but managed to pull myself out of that. I now eat more carbs and calories than at any other stage in my life.
Going by how my clothes fit I have probably lost weight from eating more. Eating enough healthy carbs and calories supports my adrenal health, prevents burn out, and allows me to make copious amounts of top-notch breast milk for Archie!
Post-partum weight loss?
If you read my blogs regularly, you’ll know I don’t see the value in weighing patients (there are some rare exceptions), and that applies to myself. I haven’t weighed myself in years - except towards the end of my pregnancy when my midwife wanted to measure my pregnancy weight gain.
I have no idea how much I weigh now compared to just after baby was born, and I don’t care. My goal with movement has always been to feel healthy, strong and capable - I left my body to adapt as it pleased.
My advice to new mums is similar: don’t stress about losing baby weight as soon as possible – you have WAY more important things to think about, like taking care of yourself and your newborn! Please resist buying crappy women’s magazines with celebrities who lost their baby weight insanely quickly. These will only make you feel bad, and they also create an unrealistic and I believe, dangerous ideal for already struggling new mothers.
It’s not in the best interest of you or your baby for you to "lose that baby weight" as quickly as you can. Doing so can jeopardise your health and your ability to make enough breastmilk. I've seen new mothers lose too much weight, too soon after giving birth leading to a cessation in their ability to breastfeed long before they intended to stop. Not ideal.
Eat healthily and regularly, get loads of rest, drink plenty of water and herbal tea, and move in ways that feel good as often as you can without creating more anxiety and stress. The weight may come off eventually, be that in weeks, months or years. It also may NOT come off – having a baby does change your body shape and hormonal balance, especially if you breastfeed. But if you’re healthy, that’s all that really matters.