I’m no master at this. I’m not a personal trainer and I don’t play sports. But, I am fit, I think. I’d be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge that and feel good about it. So, here’s how I did and do it. I’m a normal person, and I feel good in my body, a lot of the time. That is a really big deal for me.
I had a baby nearly three years ago. She’s wonderful, and I love her, of course. I was as prepared as I could be for pregnancy. I dealt with it as best I could. Mine wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the best. I was sick most days for about 6 months. When my bump got bigger, I had major pain in my hips. I was referred to a physio but due to the timeline (I wasn’t having a baby elephant, so there was a reasonable deadline to my pain!), there wasn’t really much they could do that would be effective in three months.
I even adjusted to the number of women I’d have to show my various bits and pieces to – I was comfortable with this REALLY quickly, which is strange because I am very private about my, er, privates! Anyway, this is all part of the things I either prepared for or adjusted to.
There was one thing I hadn’t given any thought at all to, and it didn’t appear in any of the mountains of advice I’d been given or found for myself:
You don’t get that independent body feeling back when that baby is out and you can see her.
This sounds obvious, but in my head it didn’t click. I felt a bit blind-sided. It’s not that I thought I’d just wake up the next day thinner, that wasn’t the problem. It was the amount of pain and discomfort I had to deal with for the next six months. SIX MONTHS? On top of this, I felt a bit selfish that it was one of my frustrations. I had this lovely little girl, who needed me, who I cared for, but I wanted to feel like me again!
We made it to 5 months of breast feeding before I called time on that deal. She moved to formula and we started trying some weening foods not long after. And you know what, she was TOTALLY fine about it. Happy even. I felt lumpy and heavy and didn’t know where to start.
Pause. Before I got pregnant, I wasn’t super fit. I was fit enough. I used to swim, cycle and walk (the dog). But I hadn’t followed a strict schedule with myself for about two years – life had just been in the way of that, traveling for work, tired from work, you get the picture. So it wasn’t like I was mourning the loss of anything specific. I just wanted some control, and to feel good about myself. I didn’t want to become one of those mums who define themselves through their children (no judgement, that’s just not me). I wanted to be comfortable in a room, whether I was stood by myself or with her or anyone else.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t ready for what I did next. I was mean to my body, but I would do it again tomorrow. What I did was really simple, I started with the squat challenge that kept taunting me on my Pinterest feed. Then I did Shaun T’s INSANITY! I did it all the way to the end, I stuck to the schedule.
I loved and hated it in equal measure. My knees went through a whole journey of pain! They went from not being able to do it, to feeling much stronger to my body deciding I should probably be kinder to my knees!
I didn’t particularly watch what I ate, but I didn’t go crazy. I reduced my carbs but I still love bread and crisps and wasn’t about to abandon them. I’d eaten really healthily during my pregnancy (to try not to put on too much weight – although I was probably 28 lbs/13kgs heavier now), so I just stuck with that.
Then when I finished INSANITY! I found myself a bit lost, and totally in love with Shaun T. Let’s be honest, once you’ve done INSANITY! you don’t really want to do it again – like, ever. Then a friend recommended T25…
I am totally addicted to it. I’ve run through the alpha and beta schedules over and over again. When I take a break from that, I just pick the ones I want to do (this is cheating!). Then I did gamma.
Now, I pick the ones I want to do and force myself to do the ones I hate. I sort of create my own schedule depending on how I feel and how long it’s been since I avoided those nasty ones (you know I’m talking about you Lower Focus!).
This isn’t a shameless plug for T25 or a love letter to Shaun T – this is just how I did it. The message for me is that I found something I love. Something achievable – it’s only 25 minutes, so get it done! When I think I might be bored of it, somehow I find this whole new enthusiasm. I ate and drank way too much over Christmas. Three weeks back into T25 and I don’t remember that lumpy feeling I had on the 2nd January (I was too hung over to notice, care or put down the crisps on the 1st).
When I started, I’d take photos to measure progress. You know, same pose (side on worked for me), same day each week over a course of months. This motivated me far more than any number on the scales – I’ve always been heavy for my size. Today, I don’t know how much I weigh, but I know I can do the workouts and any other fun, life activities without any problem at all. It’s a good feeling. If my sister calls because her friend is sick and can’t go stand up paddle boarding – no problem, I’ll give that a go (it was GREAT fun and you realise how not/awesome your core is). Do I want to do a 5k run (for the first time) with 3 days’ notice? Yeah OK, I’ll give it ago. Turns out, I still hate running – but I can do it, with no specific training.
The point is that it isn’t about opening up opportunities for me – it’s about taking away barriers. I am still not the most body confident person ever, but if I take a quiet moment to look at the facts – like how often I exercise, my resting heart rate, my dress size, etc. I have to be pretty proud of what I’ve achieved.
So, find something you love, be kind to yourself and stop and take note of your progress. You can do it!