Sport after having kids
I want to share my experience of getting into (and staying) in shape after pregnancy. It has taken time, but I have finally got the balance right, and I am stronger than I was pre-pregnancy. At the end of the post I have written some questions that might help you figure out what you can do to get on-track with your health & fitness – when you are ready.
Sport: How to make it happen when you are exhausted and lacking motivation
The past 2 years of my life have honestly been a blur. After our twins were born in March 2013 I had 7 months off work. During this time I was determined to get myself back into some kind of “healthy shape”. During my pregnancy I gained 20Kg (45lbs / 3 stones) and that happened fast! The boys were 6 weeks early but still weighed over 5 Kg/ 11 lbs together when born. I was fully aware that after a twin pregnancy my body wouldn’t be what it was before, however I wasn’t just going to sit back and balloon. Sport has always been a part of my life and I was working out with a personal trainer at work until I was 26 weeks pregnant, which I really think helped me to stay mobile for so long. The euphoric feeling you get after a good workout is engrained in my brain, so I have never had a real problem getting back into training after a break.
What I didn’t anticipate was how physically and mentally exhausted I would be after the boys were born. During this phase of zero sleep I was craving high carbohydrate foods. Basically my body needed fast, easily accessible energy, and despite all of my knowledge and experience I will honestly say I fell into a trap of coffee and carbs. It was about survival at this point. The need to lose baby weight took a back seat and my time was 100% about the family. I was still active, I was going on 2 walks every day for 1.5hours at a time and during the day I was always moving.
Let’s move on to the part where it all changed.
Having 4 hours of broken sleep a night really took its toll. However, my stubborn genes kicked in and when the boys were waking me up at 5am to feed, I would finish feeding them then do 20 minutes on our spinning bike at home (looking back I have NO IDEA how I was doing that!). I started to eat better, reducing the carbohydrate snacks, cut the caffeine and focusing on “real foods”. I felt amazing, I went back to my pre-pregnancy weight by 5 months post-partum and in turn I had the motivation and energy to train again. I joined the local gym that has childcare and would go twice a week. I felt such guilt leaving the boys there, but it was for 1 hour and afterwards they had a happier, more energized mummy!!
I went back to work part time after 7 months maternity leave. I was working for a fitness company so my office was literally next to the gym….however I can honestly say I didn’t train there once in the first 6 months of my return, I was too busy with my workload. Life was a military operation, getting everything ready for work a day in advance. So yet again I wasn’t looking after ME. I was exhausted, short tempered and more annoyingly my weight started to go back up. As soon as I realised this I spent time figuring out how I could juggle everything! That was the hard part. However I found a solution that worked for me, and this was focused around my fitness. I made sure I was making the most of my walks with the boys and would also do interval running, I trained at the weekend with my husband in the gym and then everything inbetween involved me darting around like an idiot anyway! All it took was for me to fix 2 things into my schedule and I saw changes – I have become the energetic person I never thought I would be again.
My boys are VERY ACTIVE 2 year olds now so my main activity comes from running after them! I use a wristband to track my activity, and I can easily reach 12,000-19,000 steps/day on average. I don’t always get chance to go to the gym, however I do make the most of my time with the boys. We are lucky enough to have an outdoor fitness track in the woods where we live. When the weather is nice I take the boys there and while they run around I am doing squats, push ups, planks…..you name it. The best part is that the boys are starting to copy me, which in a time where we can see a childhood obesity epidemic, reassures me that they will hopefully one day benefit from this exposure to looking after your body. Children want to copy, and I can see that with our boys when we do fitness. They love doing the same things that Mami & Papi are doing, and sometimes I wonder how long it will be before they are showing us what to do!
Something else which has helped my fitness, and was our best purchase, was a double seated bike trailer. As the boys reach an age where they occasionally (think they) don’t need their afternoon nap, I take them on a 20Km (12.5mile) bike ride. They get chance to have quiet time/sleep (as long as they don’t start scratching each other’s eyes out), and I get some exercise.
When it comes to sports it is the little things that count. It isn’t about squeezing yourself into lycra and killing yourself on the treadmill. It is really about finding things that work for you. Remember, this didn’t happen straight away for me – it was a good 18 months before I found my old self! My best advice is start when you are ready, you will know when this is.
If you like you can use the list below to work out what might be holding you back from achieving your desired health & fitness goals:
Where do you spend most of your time?
- Depending on where you are for the majority of your day will influence the activities you can do.
- If you have a desk job, then make sure you get up and move at least every hour. This not only keeps the blood flowing but will actually help you re-focus on what you are doing.
- If you are standing for most of your day but not getting your heart rate up then make sure you go outside for your lunch – walk to the shop to buy something, or eat your packed lunch somewhere that takes at least 10 minutes to walk to. The fresh air will energize you and help you get through the afternoon.
Do you lack energy during the day?
If this is your issue then let’s find out why:
- Do you rely on caffeinated drinks to perk you up?
- Do you have issues with sleeping?
- Do you find yourself craving sweet foods during the day or in the evening?
- Do you restrict your dietary intake?
- Do you find yourself stressed regularly?
- Do you experience all of the above?!
Each of the points above play a role in your energy levels. Either directly as an energy source, or indirectly by inducing hormonal responses that negatively affect your energy levels.
Perhaps you lack the motivation to workout, do any of the following points relate to you:
- Do you think you are too overweight to workout?
- Have you trained before and not seen any results?
- Do you feel intimidated by fitness centres?
- Do you lack the time to set aside to workout?
- Maybe you can’t afford a gym membership?
- None of your friends or family workout and they are fine.
- You don’t like working out.
All of these points relate to your true readiness to adopt a new lifestyle. When someone is ready to change then it becomes easier to find a way to make it work. As I explained above, I have gone through this, so I understand! The first and most important step is figuring out what the barriers are that are stopping you from making a change, and then to find a way to work around getting over these barriers. In my opinion this applies to everything in life. When we want to do something, we can make it happen. It is just about getting your mind engaged and vocalising this desire to change to those around you – we all need a support system (the people who respond negatively to your wish to adopt a healthier liefstyle are generally the people who feel guilty themselves about their own lack of motivation. Perhaps use this opportunity to invite them to join you, they will probably decline, but you can rest assured that you will have planted the idea in their heads and this might help them start their own process of change).