Whether its been 2 months, 2 years, or 12 years, getting “back into shape” after having a baby always seems to be a topic that comes up amongst women. Our bodies are amazing! The way they adapt and grow and create life is something to be cherished and appreciated. But, the reality is, once the excitement and anticipation of our growing bodies are over and the baby is toddling all over the place, the desire to get back to “normal” quickly closes in. Your body truly never will be the same, and that’s okay. What is not okay is the mentality that you’re stuck with a “mom bod”--that being unhappy with your body is something you need to accept.
I don’t proclaim to be an expert, but I have had to bounce back a time or two after having children and I think I am just about to the point where I am happy to share some of my successes as well as things that did not quite go my way.
Start Where You Are
Knowing where to start is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll come across. The easy answer: Start where you are! I think this is the most critical thing to know when you’re beginning anything new. It takes time, and time compounds. The sooner you start something, the sooner you’ll accomplish the goals that you set for yourself. Waiting for a new month, after a holiday, for the following Monday, or even waiting until tomorrow is too late. Make today be the new tomorrow!
On a Friday morning, after a friend bugged me, time and time again, to join her at the gym, I finally said yes. I didn’t have the best gym shoes, my t-shirt was old and probably smelly and I felt embarrassed and slow at where I had to start. But I did it. That was nearly 4 years ago, and the strength and confidence I’ve gained going to the gym week after week for those last 4 years have become my new lifeline.
This is a big one, and the number one person you are accountable to is yourself. If you make a commitment to yourself to get up in the morning and work out, keep it! If you plan to start a new meal plan, show up for yourself and do it! Be your best advocate and make things as easy as possible for you to succeed.
Bring a friend along. A workout partner always makes things more fun, gives you someone to bounce ideas off and gives the extra boost and support that you oftentimes need. Not to mention, when you know someone is waiting for you or expecting you, that certainly gives another level of accountability and makes it easier to get up and going when your alarm goes off at 5 o'clock in the morning!
Another way to hold yourself accountable is to keep a record. Write down what workouts you do, what works for you, how you feel, what you eat, and when, your feelings and emotions, your successes, and failures. Give yourself a chance to measure all of that and document your progress. Not only does that keep you motivated, but it also gives you a chance to look back and see how far you've come and what you've accomplished. We all can appreciate that little boost of self-confidence!
As a former coach of mine would too often say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. I appreciate the wisdom now and have found it to ring true with everything in life. It’s hard, and the physical, mental, and emotional struggle we face when trying to get into shape is so real and so daunting. Love yourself and be kind to yourself. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working, or your progress or lack thereof. What matters is that you’re trying, doing your best, and not giving up.
Health and being “in shape” can look like a lot of different things. For some, it’s losing the extra baby weight, for others, it might be fitting into a favorite pair of pants. It could even be getting 8 hours of sleep or eating more fruits and vegetables (something I’m always working on!). Regardless of the goals, you have in mind, reaching them always takes work, and as the saying goes: If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you! And dang-it, time is often the biggest challenge!
Get in shape for yourself, not for your friends, your kids, or even your spouse. There are countless workout programs and “diets” proven to bring success, but if, for example, you absolutely hate running, then, for heaven sakes, don’t run! Or maybe the gym scene may not be your jam, so try a fitness class instead. Or perhaps your neighbor swears the keto diet is the only way to lose weight, but you don’t like meat--don’t try that! Find a way to set yourself up for the most success--doing something that you dread every day is not the answer.
In my journey, I’ve found that running is not my best friend. I enjoy it occasionally, but it’s never my first choice, it’s hard and hurts, so I don’t force myself to do it. I’ve also found that counting macros (another form of counting calories) gives me extreme anxiety, so intermittent fasting is the route I’ve chosen and adapted to my lifestyle to help keep my eating habits in check. For me, that is something I can sustain, and it’s not restricting--both things I need. It's definitely trial and error, and I find myself constantly looking and researching and trying out new things, only to find that I always return to what I enjoy and what is proven to work for me.