After having Giulian I was not in a rush to “get my body back”. The article “A Letter To My Daughter About My Postpartum Body” by Taylor Roybal perfectly portrays my views on how amazing, powerful and beautiful our bodies are. Being pregnant, giving birth and then breastfeeding made me realize that my body is more powerful than I ever knew. I now have a deeper understanding and appreciation for my body, I see it in a whole new light thanks to motherhood.
With that being said, I also knew that I wanted to get back in shape after having Giulian. I knew I wanted to challenge myself in fitness, feel strong, get my stamina up so I can have more energy to keep up with our baby boy and of course the added bonus of fitting in all of my super cute clothes I had before baby G. After Giulian was born I took about 6 to 8 weeks off from working out (the normal suggested time), we went on a ton of walks but that was about it. After that I did some workout classes, at home workouts and hit the treadmill a few times a week. Then in early March of this year (2018), I began my running journey. I had two of my best friends say they were going to run the Boulder Boulder, a popular 10K run here in Colorado. I decided to do it with them and since I was the rookie in the group I felt this pressure to make sure I was going to keep up with them on the day of the run. They both had ran the 10K before, but I had never participated in anything like that so I had an extra layer of nerves about it, thinking “gosh, I can’t be the weak link of the group!” So, I picked a training plan and stuck to it for the weeks up until the race. I was so strict about the training, I didn’t miss a single day. On the day of the race we had a blast, I was absolutely prepared and we had a wonderful time. Then I decided I wanted a greater challenge, so I signed up for a half-marathon. Training for that was a whole new commitment, the days of the long runs kicked my butt and were incredibly time consuming, but I did it and I’m so glad I did.
It feels great to be proud of yourself, to challenge yourself, and to finish what you start. It’s the mental part of all of it that I think is such a good thing for women to do postpartum. As mothers with new babies we can get so consumed with the daily tasks of motherhood that we forget to take care of ourselves, too. Having something for myself was so important in regaining my happiness after having Giulian. I struggled quite a bit with feeling happy for the first few months of Giulian’s life, I was exhausted and stressed out. Even on the days where I was tired, going on a run really helped me to relax and regain perspective on everything. I think it’s such a positive thing to do after having a baby and I’d suggest it to any woman going through a similar journey.
Here are the 5 reasons why I think running is a positive way to get in shape after baby:
It gets you in shape without having the focus be your weight.
I didn’t want to obsess over my weight and the way my body looked after having a baby. I didn’t want to get caught in a downward spiral of shaming my body for how it looked because of having a baby, instead I wanted to focus on being happy, healthy and feeling good in my skin. What I love about running is that my goal was never a number on the scale. My goal was always to increase how far I could run little by little over a long period of time. My goal was to stay consistent with the training plan I had picked out and to finish the race I had signed up for. And that’s exactly what I did, for both the 10k and the half-marathon. I simply picked out a training plan and stuck to it. For the 10k I literally did not miss a single day from the training plan, I was extremely strict about sticking to it and training properly. I missed quite a few runs on the half-marathon training but overall I stuck to the plan and increased my distance little by little. It was amazing to watch my body change, and to feel the change. When I first started running, one mile without stopping was a huge challenge, this was 27 weeks ago. Now one mile doesn’t feel like much, I’m so proud of how far I have come.
The truly amazing thing is I have not focused on my weight during this entire process, I didn’t obsess over how I looked, what size I wore or what the scale said, and I actually weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant. When I got pregnant I weighed 135 and I now weigh 129. I’m so grateful that this is how I lost the “baby weight” because I don’t want to say I starved myself, deprived myself or mistreat my body just to lose weight. I used to pull that crap in high-school, obsessing over how skinny or fat I felt, and I really didn’t want that to be my postpartum story too.
It gives you goals outside of motherhood.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like this before, that it’s good to have goals outside of motherhood. I strongly agree with this. I’m not trying to diminish the job of being a mother, it’s hard work and also extremely fulfilling. However I do think it’s healthy to have goals, dreams and work outside of motherhood, even if you’re a stay at home mom. The more full your cup is the more you can pour into your children and your family. And accomplishing goals and growing as a woman outside of motherhood will fill your cup and make you a better mommy. Giulian is too young to understand now, but I want him to be inspired by me and the goals I’m pushing towards. I want him to see that mommy and daddy both value growth and are ambitious. And if for no other reason, it’s good for you to feel proud of yourself mama!
You get time to yourself.
Not gonna lie, sometimes I wish my time to myself was sitting in a peaceful coffee shop sipping on a latte, but you know what—going on a run is good too. Just to have some time away from the kiddos is a great thing. I don’t think any mama would argue with that.
It gets you outside, fresh air and vitamin D.
Parents.com has an article on ways to prevent postpartum depression and one of the things mentioned is make time to exercise. The article shared a quote that I found so true, it said “Taking a brisk walk, getting fresh air, and enjoying nature can improve your outlook," says Karen Rosenthal, Ph.D., a psychologist in Westport, Connecticut.” I personally think running outdoors instead of on a treadmill is the best option for postpartum workouts (if the weather permits of course). There have been so many moments where I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious from the baby being upset or just stressed out from my “to-do list” and then I would go on a run and feel so much more relaxed and ready to conquer my day. It’s been a wonderful stress reliever over the last six or so months.
It’s a great opportunity to push and challenge yourself .
Like I said before, it’s so important to feel proud of yourself. It’s a great way to build your self confidence (which can be lower during the postpartum phase of life). Running helped me regain a ton of confidence after having the baby, I began to feel better about how my body looked and how my body felt. Every time I set a goal to run a little bit further and I achieved the goal, it was a boost in self confidence and over time it let my subconscious know that “I can finish what I set out to achieve”.
Whatever form of fitness that is best for you, is best for you. I just wanted to share my running journey with you all and the reasons why I feel it is a wonderful way to get back in shape after having a baby. Comment below if you’d like to share about your postpartum fitness journey, I’d love to hear!