Adventures in Fitness While Breastfeeding, Part 2

In my previous fitness post over a year ago, Adventures in Fitness While Breastfeeding, I explained how challenging it can be in our society to be kind to ourselves after having a baby. Instagram is full of celebrity moms snapping glamorously posed shots of breastfeeding and holding their babies oh-so lovingly, making motherhood and the fabled “bouncing back” seems like a breeze to achieve. For some extraordinarily fortunate souls, this may be the case, but for the rest of us normies, it is beyond challenging and sometimes absolutely soul-crushing. We can feel judged and like we are an embarrassment to our friends and family when we gain weight and aren’t as good shape as we once were. We can view ourselves in a warped, distorted manner as if we are standing in front of a fun-house mirror. It won’t matter how many compliments and praises we may get, how we feel about our own bodies is ultimately what matters. Everything else will feel like a lie. What does matter is how we feel inside our own minds and bodies. 

As much progress as I had made previously, life got in the way, as it tends to do. My sister died in December after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis, my husband was preparing for his first deployment as a husband and father, and many other stressful events occurred in a short period of time, one after the other. Symptoms of my pelvic organ prolapse worsened, I got depressed, gained weight, and gave up on the hopes of ever having a healthy weight and a semblance of strength back ever again. I spent months in physical therapy and searching for a urogynecologist so I could have some definitive answers and how I should manage my expectations versus reality. Every doctor and physical therapist I visited had told me I couldn’t do more than maybe brisk walks and gentle, non-weighted exercises. It simply was not enough for me.

Then, I finally found a doctor who was empathetic and took me seriously were the six previous had not. She searched for a urogynecologist for me and sent out a referral. I was nervous, but also hopeful. As I sat in his office awaiting my exam, I gave myself the best internal pep-talk that I could manage. I had read many awful stories about failed surgeries, growing physical pain, and relationships being thrashed because of this condition in the two separate support groups I am a part of. I allowed myself to hope for the best, but to expect the worst and handle it one day at a time. After the exam, the doctor walked me to his office to sit and speak candidly to me. He told me that his strong opinion was that I should start working out again however I’d like, avoiding the more strenuous activities like powerlifting and crazy heavy weights. “Start off easy and slow, listen to your body always, and keep at it. I believe you will actually see improvement as you get stronger. If anything seems to get worse, you just come back here and see me. I’ll even give you the direct line to my personal secretary so you can get a hold me easily.”

For the first time in over a year, I walked out of a doctors office elated, excited, and confident. I sat down in my car and cried. I cried because I had forgotten what believing in myself had felt like and it was beautiful. When I got home, I marked my planner for the day I would start a new fitness program and focus on my physical health again. That day was the day after my husband would deploy for nine long months. Instead of focusing on how keenly I would feel his absence, I would attempt to fill those days with something truly positive and healthy for myself and my family.

So that next morning, I rolled my sleep-deprived and puffy-eyed body out of bed, turned on my computer, and pressed play on the program I had chosen, 21 Day Fix on Beach Body On Demand. It was challenging and I fumbled a bit, but it felt good to be able to sweat and feel proud of myself. So I got up the next day and hit play on day #2, day #3, day #4, and so on. I even hit play on day #15 when I was accidentally hungover and running on a few hours of sleep. Some days, I was able to give it my all and walk away feeling powerful. Some days, I did what I could with lots of modifications and a few pauses to catch my breath. No matter what, I showed up for the entire 21 days of the program until I reached the end. Then I chose another program, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and made the commitment to show up, press play, and get it done for another 21 days.

I’d be lying if I said that last workout on the second program on day 21 wasn’t emotional. As soon as I finished the last move, I dissolved into tears. I could hardly believe I made it a grand total of 49 days (I redid week #3 to include doubles on the first program) of working out every single day without fail. I hadn’t felt that proud of myself in a long time. The best part of the achievement was that I could actually see and feel the difference in my posture, strength, and even my spirit. It also helped that I took progress photos every week and took measurements every 3 weeks. It was motivational and boosted my self-confidence to a level I hadn’t experienced since long before my daughter was born. I have the drive to keep getting stronger and better and healthier, so I’m on to the next program, LIIFT4! One week and two days in so far, in fact! Hopefully, that means in 7 more weeks I will be updating with yet another Adventures in Fitness while Breastfeeding entry!

Measurements from day #1 through day #49

What’s been working well for me:

  • MyFitnessPal – I use this to track my nutrition and activity. This app even has a scanner option for quick food entries. I’ve used it for years and I absolutely love it.
  • Fit Bit Inspire HR: I love being able to see how many steps I’ve taken, how much/the quality of sleep I’ve gotten, and monitor my heart rate with ease. It’s relatively customizable, too!
  • Beach Body On Demand: for a yearly fee, you will have access to all fitness videos available and discounted rates on any products (if you need/want any). You will also have access to trainers and support groups. I absolutely love the ease of selecting a program that works best for me with my abilities, the equipment I own, and the time I have available to dedicate to working out. 21 Day Fix, for example, is only 30 minutes a day and it flies by so fast. You can search for a program by type i.e. low impact, yoga, high intensity, etc. I was skeptical, but now am absolutely a huge fan.
  • I chose 21 Day Fix Real Time at first and loved it. I liked that I could modify and they had a model who was of average size and capability to demonstrate said modifications. It’s also a fantastic program for people who get bored with the same thing day after day.
  • And remember, “Start off easy and slow, listen to your body always, and keep at it.”

Remember: every pregnancy and postpartum are different for each individual and each occurrence. BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

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