At five months postpartum I had already lost all of my pregnancy weight (in kilograms). While it is a great accomplishment, it was not easy. Like many things in life and on social media, people see the results or moments of achievement but often have no insight into what it takes to get there. I may have mentioned in a previous blog post that I wake up between 5am and 6am, daily, to express milk, read a few pages of a book and exercise before taking over mommy duties from Wesley. That rhythm had been the easiest as it was the only part of my day that allowed for routine and predictability. Initially it felt like a sacrifice but it quickly became sacred as it allowed for quiet time and a chance for me to feel a little like myself. I know that it is different for all moms but I have been really down at times when I realised that who I am and what I love doing often needs to wait until the responsibility of motherhood hits pause (in other words, has to wait for Scout to nap). It goes without saying, and I will keep saying it, that I would not trade the joy that she brings for all the time in the world but, for a creative like me, having to postpone a moment of inspiration until a better time is often really tough. But I soldier on and write these posts because, when I can sit down, they bring me great joy too. I could waffle on but that is not why you clicked to read this post. I thought I would share some of the highlights and challenges I have experienced on my weight loss journey.
I wanted to lose weight because I know that I feel better when I am at a healthy weight (note, not thin). Weight for me is largely about how I feel and, until I became pregnant, I had not owned a scale for more than three years, having used my clothing as a guide for my sometimes naughty eating habits. As you might imagine, that same trick did not work with pregnancy and I chose to use the daunting kilograms on a scale to help me get back to where I feel comfortable. I may be there in terms of the numbers but my body is far from where it was before pregnancy.
My back aches daily.
Apparently this is common for many mothers and I have struggled with back pain to the point that I am now seeing a physiotherapist and chiropractor to help alleviate some of the discomfort. Coupled with gluten sensitivity and inflammation, the impact exercises (HiiT/ step/ circuit training) that have helped me lose the weight quickly may become a thing of the past. This fact is difficult for me because I love pushing my body in these various ways – I love seeing sweat. But if I am going to maintain my quality of life, i.e. live pain-free, I may need to opt for yoga/pilates, walking and slow jogging as alternatives. I wonder how I am going to maintain what I have achieved because slower forms of exercise will probably mean that I will need to watch what I eat even closer and that is a real challenge for my new-found love for chocolate and cake (eaten on a Thursday and a Sunday, respectively).
My core is struggling to regain its strength.
Pregnancy really does a number on your abdominal muscles. Forget the appearance of my stomach, I can feel that the strength is gone and it has affected my posture, adding another layer to my back pain. It is a daily struggle to remind myself to sit up properly and to tighten my muscles by engaging them, something I often fail to do because I am so busy taking care of Scout. It does not help that things like changing a nappy, breastfeeding and leaning to play all amount to rounding over in some way, affecting posture, core and back muscles; it’s a vicious cycle, indeed.
Eating well is a decision.
Yes, I have always been a good eater but it is really tempting to turn to easy food, like burgers and hot chips or toasted sandwiches, on a daily basis. I could use the hour that she naps in many ways but my afternoons are spent preparing healthy food for my family. The reward is that she is getting nutrients from the breast milk as well but I would be lying if I said I was not tempted to buy ready-made meals on some days to save me some time. The sodium content in those pre-packed meals help me to stay away but I am highlighting this because the demands of motherhood makes preparing nutritious food an added responsibility on top of your list of things to do. Fortunately, it is a priority for me but it is a commitment, too. The RushtushMomma Glow Cleanse has been a lifesaver for me because I tailor the meals for variety but keep to the basics of the meals for optimal nutrition while focusing on weight loss. I am mentioning this because many mothers find that they just do not have the time to prepare good food and I really understand! It is not easy to decide how you will spend the little free time you have and I have sacrificed relaxing for better food options; I pass no judgement on the choices that moms make to survive the day! And I know that I fall short in other areas, frequent quality time with my husband.
Losing weight can be draining.
There are days when I just want to stay in bed because I am so tired. I will confess that there have been weeks when I have had no motivation to exercise and I felt guilty for not keeping it together. I should take a second to remind all of us that the world-wide pandemic that is COVID-19 often affects us in different ways, some so subtle that the fatigue from stress and caution can make the smallest commitments seem like unachievable. But even without the pandemic I know that I would have had lazy days. I have learnt that it is more constructive to acknowledge and feel through the tough time than to berate myself for my failures; allowing for some downtime means that I have the opportunity to come back rested and stronger, which helps so much with motivation. So I’d like to remind you that it is okay to struggle through a health and fitness journey (or any commitment) but it is also important to remember why you embarked on a journey of self-improvement in the first place. For me, nothing replaces feeling healthy and strong and I often have great skin and shiny hair to complement those feelings, (added bonuses to the sacrifices, I’d say!).
I hope this post helped you to understand that the postpartum journey has many facets to it; I am sure that so many of you can share many layers to this narrative as our experiences as moms are often unique (even when they are shared). I would like to end off by encouraging you to appreciate where you are at this very moment and to draw from strength within yourself to move into the spaces that will serve you in the future.
Until my next post,Bronny