On Postpartum Bodies + My PP Exercise Plan

7.26.2017


I think it's wonderful that these days there are so many positive messages about the postpartum body. I totally agree that we should be proud of our bodies for carrying and birthing a child, and we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves about recovery and feeling pressure to immediately bounce back into shape.

But I think we can all agree that it's one thing to say you are going to be proud of your postpartum body and entirely another to try on your shorts and not be even close to able to button them. I can tell myself I'm only a few days or a couple of weeks or months pp, but I don't think there's anyone out there who isn't at least just a little discouraged to find that they can't immediately put away their maternity clothes after coming home from the hospital. Although maybe we should all lobby for pants with elastic waists anyway, am I right?

It's a weird place to be, because on one hand it's so amazing the way God made our bodies to grow a human. Our organs shift and expand and contract to make room for that tiny speck on the ultrasound screen, which has its own heartbeat and fingernails and a brain and a tongue and tiny eyelashes, for crying out loud. It's a privilege and a blessing to be able to carry a child.

My skin stretched and stretched, and then the baby comes out and of course there's going to be stomach flab. My hips shifted, and so why wouldn't my pants fit differently? I know this in my head, but it's still hard to look four months pregnant and have the scale tell you that after it's all said and done, you're up five, ten, fifteen, twenty pounds from what you were before you got pregnant.

It's good to be proud of our bodies for doing this amazing thing, but I think it's okay to feel frustrated that our clothes fit differently. They may never (probably won't) fit the same way ever again, and it's okay to feel sad to say goodbye our pre-baby bodies. But we also need to be sure and give ourselves grace. We need to not just say that we are okay with our postpartum body and actually believe it.

And we need to be patient.

I'm very much looking forward to getting back in the habit of working out and exercising, but I am going to take a different approach to it this time than I did after R. The main thing I'm going to do is be more patient. The day I received the okay from my doctor to start running again, I laced up my shoes. Over the following weeks, I tried to continue to push myself to get back into shape, and looking back I feel that personally for me, I wish I would have taken more time to ease into it more slowly. Again, that's just me.

This is obvious but worth repeating: you cannot compare your recovery timeline to anyone else's. We all have different body types, different genetics, different ways of carrying a child, different delivery stories, different ability and time and desire to exercise. You do you and forget about anyone else.

I am not a personal trainer or a coach, so the following is not advice, and of course you should listen to your own body (and your doctor) and decide what is comfortable for you, but here are a few things on my postpartum exercise plan this time around:

-Run 1-3 miles only, focusing on getting faster and stronger at that short distance.
Last time, I tried to add miles too quickly, and this time I want to focus on increasing my speed and endurance for a short distance. I am going to sign up for the OKC half marathon, which is in April, but I won't start training for it or running longer distances until I've spent quality time with the introductory miles.

-Do exercises focusing on healing diastasis recti (abdominal separation). 
Thankfully, I only have 1-2 fingers of separation, so it's not bad, but I really want to work on specific exercises to target this area of my body and avoid the things that will make it worse. I didn't do this at all with R, and I probably did some harm to myself with planks and things that I should have waited longer to add back into my routine.

-Do more weights/strength training
I am more of a cardio person than a weight person, but I want to build back muscle that was lost while I was pregnant, and I'd like to incorporate more strength training into my routine this time. 

-Remember that something is better than nothing.
I tend to expect the best out of myself, and when it comes to exercise I often feel like if I don't have time or energy to do a long workout or go for a long run, it's not even worth it to do anything at all. But every little bit helps, and something is always better than nothing. Even if it's slow, even if it isn't very long. I want to keep this in mind and not be so hard on myself and expect to be able to consistently fit long workouts into my schedule, because realistically that isn't going to happen any time soon.

Those are a few thoughts I've had recently, and I'm interested to hear your thoughts about this topic, whether you are newly postpartum, have been in the past, or will be in the future!

Related: Postpartum Weight and Recovery after R

What plans do you have for your postpartum recovery? Do you find it hard not to compare your timeline to those of other moms? What tips or advice do you have to share for good exercises or workouts to do to get back into shape after having a baby?

Things I've Been Doing (Instead of Blogging)

7.20.2017


When R was about a month old, I wrote a post about the hierarchy of needs vs. wants and the things that I choose to spend my limited amount of free time on when I can get it. (You can find that post along with all my posts on motherhood in a handy list here.) 

Fast-forward two years, and I find myself facing the hierarchy struggle once again, only this time it's with even less free time than I had before. (Example: I tried to start this post once already and R decided to go on a nap strike and cry for a half hour, and then just as soon as I got her to sleep, J had a giant poop explosion! I think they planned it.)

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately, although I did have a few sponsored/review posts that I needed to get done, so thanks for sticking with me. The truth is, although I have a lot of ideas, I find myself with less time to write and many days lately less desire to choose blogging as the thing I do when I do have a free moment. I do still love blogging and don't plan on quitting or anything, but it just might be a lot less regular for a while. 

I thought I would share a few things I've been doing lately instead of blogging, in no particular order...

Taking walks
See: photo above. I bought that double stroller back in March. It was a garage sale find, so I was pretty excited about snagging it for a cool $40 considering I looked this stroller up and it sells for a couple hundred dollars online. But it's large and somewhat hard to push, and I feel a bit like a drunk person weaving all over the road. It's a workout for sure! I recently started taking R and J on a morning walk before it gets unbearably hot. We go for 30-40 minutes, and I come back drenched in sweat and I don't hate it. I feel lame calling it exercise, but every little bit helps, right?

Making Turkey Sandwiches
I am utterly obsessed with cold turkey sandwiches right now. Forget pregnancy cravings, I have taken this to a new level. When my mom was here the week after I had J, she made me a turkey sandwich, and I don't know what kind of voodoo grandma crack she put in it, but I have craved one every single day for the last four weeks. I've made multiple trips to the store solely to buy lunch meat and swiss cheese. Our fridge may be bare, but at least I can make my sandwiches.

Not Working
Being on maternity leave is the best thing ever. I mean, I know that's probably obvious, but I'm just saying. Being at home with two little kids is challenging and sometimes frustrating, but there are so many things I'm just totally loving right now. I love having a slow morning where I don't have to rush out to get to the office on time while dealing with rush-hour traffic. I love being able to take afternoon naps on my couch. I love spending so much time with R, and I do not miss the feeling of missing her. I love being able to get out for a walk or run to the store in the middle of day instead of after work when everyone else is there. I'm so thankful to have 8 weeks off instead of only 6, and I'm trying my best to not let the cloud of my return to work hover too dark over this sweet time. Maternity leave forever amen.

Reading
The above book came in the mail from Blogging for Books just before I went on maternity leave. I'm not reading a lot, but I have been enjoying taking a few quiet moments to dive into a book. It's the perfect book for me right now because it's pretty cheesy and predictable, but it's fun too and something easy to pick up throughout the day when I have a second. Brings me back to my Christian historical romance roots. I used to read that genre alllllll the time.

Organizing
Is post-partum nesting a thing? I have been feeling the desire to clean and organize everything lately! I want to go through my closet and get rid of clothes and organize the bath towels and buy storage bins for the random stuff in the closet in the extra bedroom. I don't even know.


Scrapbooking
I am making a photo book for J's first three months of life just like I did with R, and I have been trying to keep up with uploading and editing photos so I don't get too overwhelmed. It blows my mind that I am working on week FIVE right now! I have also gotten J's baby book up to date with photos and stats and printed off some photos to hang around the house.

Taking Naps
After I had R, I really don't remember taking too many naps, but I am killing the nap game this time. Every single night after R goes to bed, I feed J and then hand him off to Jordan so I can head to bed. I get an hour or two of sleep before he wakes up to eat, and it has been a game changer for me as I head into the midnight hours. I also usually take a nap in the afternoon if I can get both kids to sleep at the same time. Although right now they are both napping and I'm writing this, so you are welcome ;) But seriously, if I could give a new mom any piece of advice, I would tell her to nap. It really has helped me not feel so much like a total zombie person. Just do it.


Snuggling Babies
Last but certainly not least, when I'm not blogging or taking walks or doing dishes or editing photos, I am snuggling my baby boy. It's so cliche to say, but I really do appreciate so much more this time the fact that this is just a short stage of life. Even at 3:00 in the morning, I sometimes find myself wanting to just keep snuggling him instead of trying to put him down.

On that note, someone is crying, so I'm going to sign off. When I'm not blogging I am also keeping two other humans alive. Ha! Thanks for reading and for all the lovely comments you've been leaving me even though I haven't been as great about responding. I promise I read every one and will try to be better about responding in a timely fashion again soon.
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