Ah starting a new fitness routine from zero; is there anything quite as frustrating as thinking you’re in better shape than you are, and then discovering those first few steps on the treadmill, peddles on the cycle, reps with a free-weight, or push-ups on the mat prove you otherwise?
I can tell you from my own experience I was ecstatic when my doctor gave me the OK to start exercising again and I was sure that I would have only regressed in my training a little bit since my pregnancy and delivery…. Nope. So wrong.
You see, when my husband and I found out we were expecting I stopped running altogether at about week 10 and traded my runners in for a swim suit and yoga pants, preferring prenatal swimming, aquacize and yoga for my workouts. Now that it’s just me/myself/I in my body I was REALLY looking forward to getting my stride back- well I’m sorry to say that between not running at all for months and months, and carrying an extra 30 pounds post-delivery, my stride seemed to be a myth.
So what’s a gal to do when you’re not only starting from zero, but it feels like you’re starting at negative 10 because your body has definitely changed? Start slow. In fact, toss your ego out the window and start way slow.
(And for the record, the picture of the hippo running is a reference to how I feel when I exercise; no one else is a hippo in this reference but me! 🙂 )
So here’s what I did to get back into the groove of exercise, and eventually, I will be running again (which is my favourite activity by the way- if you don’t love running, you don’t have to do it!)
Step 1: See your medical professional for the green light to proceed
I know the last thing I wanted after all the exams I had throughout pregnancy and delivery was to subject myself to another pelvic check, but man am I glad I did. My doctor confirmed that indeed I was healed enough to start exercising gently and that it didn’t look as though prolapsing would be a problem for me. But not everyone will walk away from their delivery like I did- some of you might be in danger of prolapse so check with your doctor to make sure whatever your desired exercise is, that you’re in the clear to start doing it!
Step 2: Start with something gentle
As much as I wanted to lace up and hit the treadmill 3 weeks after my delivery, I didn’t. In fact I didn’t dare to try to jog at a slow and barely non-walking pace. I started with some gentle yoga exercises with a heavy focus on my core and pelvic floor. Man am I glad because my core was basically something I dreamed I had; it definitely needed some attention. I’m also very glad I listened to my doctor and did some pelvic floor exercises! (So many times I wanted to fixate on how my body looked and compare it to how it used to look that I almost forgot it’s what’s going on the inside that counts!)
Step 3: For now don’t run; just walk
Yup- I’m feeling ready to run (in my mind) but my body definitely isn’t. My doctor said things look good enough to start GENTLE exercise but suggested holding off on anything high-impact until she checks things over again in a few weeks. Having a baby is a crazy and amazing experience but it is a traumatic experience (especially for your body); no need to rush into anything high-impact! So for now I’m just walking. And not walking marathons either!
Yes my A-type mind has been trying to negotiate new terms so I can hit the pavement faster, but despite what my mind wants, my body continues to put on the brakes (and for the record, I totally tried to jog a bit this week and was immediately taken aback at how hard it was and that I was clearly overdoing it for me. Remember that thing I said about taking care of your core and pelvic floor? When I tried to lightly jog on the treadmill, I was unpleasantly surprised to feel how loose my core had really become, and how much more strengthening of my pelvic floor I needed to do. Nothing scares you back to reality like the feeling of your tummy jiggling and flopping like a fish, or like you might pee yourself if you take another step at that pace.) Which brings me to my next point…
Step 4: Listen to your body
If your mind is like mine, it’s competitive as f*ck and has a series of deadlines and goals it wants to meet sooner rather than later. Sorry mind, body is in charge now and we need to listen to it. Pay attention to your body; be mindful of what you feel and what’s going on as you start to get into the groove.
Is something hurting? Is something aching? Is something throbbing? Does something just not feel right? Listen to what your body is telling you and know it’s OK to put on the brakes, slow things down and if you need to, stop and get it checked out.
We only get one body (at least until science makes some serious science-fictionesque advances…) so take care of it. And in case you haven’t noticed a trending theme, BE GENTLE to yourself! Go easy- you don’t have to get your pre-baby body back right away, or at all if you don’t want to.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post detailing progress on my 21-day Ayurvedic eating challenge and recipe review; take care out there!