Real talk: Postpartum health and fitness after one baby felt like a breeze. Postpartum health and fitness with a toddler and terrible newborn?? It feels impossible. Well, it felt impossible…

I know, I know — I’ve heard that we make time for things that are important. And if health and fitness are important, you do whatcha gotta do.

But here’s the thing — I tried really, really, hard to live by the motto “DO NOT COMPARE YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS JOURNEY AND YOUR LIFE WITH OTHER PEOPLES.”

For me, I’m telling you, it was impossible to workout and focus on eating healthy in Remy’s first year. I was in full-on survival mode. She didn’t sleep, like, at all. No, I’m not just saying that. If you’ve followed this blog at all over the last year you’ll know she legit did not sleep. 2 hours of broken sleep in a 24-hour period. So I was a zombie. I wasn’t even on Mom-bie level; I was a straight-up emotional wreck without being able to comprehend how to perform normal daily tasks, let alone focus on myself. Heck, I was lucky to make it to the end of the day with all of us alive and well(ish).

I was so tired of hearing well-meaning(ish) people saying “You just have to make time for it.” Because, here’s the thing — I know how good it feels to work out. I really do. I spent the better part of my life in a full-on obsession with eating super healthy and working out 2.5-3 hours a day (yep – you read that right… 3 hours of working out a day). So I know how awesome endorphins feel. And, yes, I craved them. It just wasn’t in the cards for me the first year. I’m really and truly lucky that I didn’t end up hospitalized for postpartum psychosis (I had severe PPD/anxiety, but not psychosis — I know this because I was lucid enough to make the decision to hand my children off when I was at my breaking point).

But then, right around Remy Bea’s first birthday, something magical happened — she began to sleep. She was acting like a normal baby. And I could regain some sort of (new) normalcy back into my life.

It changed everything for me. Not only was I able to hold conversations and laugh again, but I wanted to start working out again!

Here’s what’s been working for me in this moment:

Weight Watchers  //

About 8 weeks ago I got an email from Weight Watchers with an offer that I just couldn’t pass up — but it required a year commitment. And, truthfully? that’s exactly what I needed to kick my butt in the right direction. In my mind, if I commit to one year, then I will be able to make the changes that I need to make and stick to it.

I was successfully with Weight Watchers after Ari was born because it doesn’t require calorie counting. See, I get obsessed with calorie counting — and not in a good way! And in the short amount of time I’ve been back on WW, I’ve already seen weight loss and other non-scale victories!

I really like weight watchers because there is some flexibility. Instead of focusing on each day, I focus on the week. It really focuses on the lifestyle change and creating balance instead of a ‘diet.’

Switching it up  //

The first time around I only did one thing, fitness-wise, to get back into shape: running. It really was the best option for me at the time because I had an hour lunch break at work and a running path right outside the door. So I would lace up and head out during the one hour of the day when I didn’t have my kids and I wasn’t busy working.

But this time, running is… difficult. I’ve been trying to still catch up on sleep, so waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to hit the road while the kids and husband are still sleeping isn’t going to happen. So I have been squeezing in time to work out at the YMCA when I’m not working (which is pretty much always). And instead of going for distance and speed, I’m focusing my treadmill efforts on intervals and incline.

 

Post-workout stretch!

I’ve also committed to three group-fitness classes a week: 2-HIIT/strength training classes and 1-cycling class. There have been plenty of days when I didn’t want to work out, but 100% of the time I am in a better mood afterward. And these group fitness classes are something that I’d forgotten how much I enjoy! I’ve been, unknowingly, longing for the comradery of sweating it out in a room full of other people who have an equal love-hate relationship with exercise! Ha!

Getting out of my comfort zone  //

Recently I did two things that really brought me out of my fitness comfort zone. First, I volunteered for the Cleveland Marathon a week ago. I helped get all of the runners into the starting corrals and watched them take off over the start line. It was energizing! It’s been awhile since I’ve run a race, let alone a major race! It reignited a fire inside of me — my love for running is slowly coming back!

The bonus? I get a free race entry into next year’s Cleveland Marathon just for volunteering! So while it’s a bit far away, I’m not pressuring myself to run a race before my body is ready (which I’ve totally done in the past); but I have set this goal for next Spring — to run the Cleveland Half Marathon!

 

The Starting Line of the 2017 Cleveland Marathon.

The second crazy thing I did was take Megaformer class at Corus Fitness in Beachwood. The Megaformer hits everything: strength, endurance, cardio, balance, core, and flexibility. To me it looks like a pilates reformer; but it isn’t. It uses small, slow movements to create a full-body, high intensity, low-impact workout!

 

Corus Fitness!

I really like pushing myself, but this was totally out of my comfort zone! I spent the first 15 minutes of class thinking “I don’t know if I will be able to do this.” But by the end, I was thinking about when I could make it back for another class! See?? It pays to get out of your comfort zone!

Focus, focus, focus  //

I have to admit, I feel defeated when I see the scale get just a couple pounds lighter each week. Defeated because I feel like it should be coming down faster. But I remind myself (almost daily) that this hard work is paying off and sticking with it will be beneficial.

Heck, I’m already feeling stronger and leaner! Slow and steady is my motto. And even if I have teeny setbacks, this is all paying off; and I am feeling better about myself in the process.

I think I like who I’m becoming  //

Rarely do people talk about how having children really changes who we are as women. I’m not talking about all the things you ‘give up’ to become a parent. I’m talking about how we change into completely different people at the core of who we are. I guess the term really should be ‘grow into’, but still. You catch my drift. Motherhood changes us.

I’ve struggled for a long time at being this new person — absolutely happy about motherhood, but also a bit sad that I don’t recognize myself anymore. But I’m finally growing into my role and embracing this new me. And part of this has been finally being able to make myself a priority again.

I’ve come to terms that I will never be the person who can dedicate 3-hours in the gym 7 days a week; I’m happy with squeezing in a faster, more effective workout and then chasing kids around the park the rest of the day. I’m accepting that sometimes dinner is less than ideal; but I’m making better choices and holding myself accountable. And so much of this is just accepting where I am and the stage of the life we’re living.

 

So if you’re in the thick of it — the hardest, worst part of motherhood, just hang in there and know that you will find yourself again.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Catherine Short May 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

I appreciate your honesty about how hard it really is to find time to workout in the first year of a child’s life. I am fairly active but I’ve worked out maybe three times since my son was born. He sleeps okay now (he still wakes up 1-2 a night) but he’s needy and there’s just a lot of other things to do! My husband and I have a goal to find a way to fit in the YMCA into our budget after he’s a year old. I’ll feel more comfortable putting him in the kid’s care without fear he’ll just cry the entire time!

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Meg May 31, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for sharing your journey. I was inconsistent at working out even before I had kids, so now is been REALLY hard. I’ve found some success in training for races in the summer, but I’ve been a bit of a bump on a log this year since I’m pregnant. I love your comment about not comparing fitness though, just be inspired.

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Tayler Morrell May 31, 2017 at 9:42 pm

I feel you! It was so easy to spring back after my first. I am now 5 months postpartum with my second, and I’m GAINING! Even though I’m working out! It’s terrible…but then again, although I’m not eating OUT, I’m eating a lot of crap (and drinking Pepsi almost every day).

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brittany ASHMORE May 31, 2017 at 10:40 pm

I love this! Man I feel like getting healthy after 3 is going to be REALLY hard then. I need to make better food choices! Great tips friend!

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Anna May 31, 2017 at 11:50 pm

This is such a beautiful story, postpartum is not easy to deal with. I had experienced this after I gave birth to my daughter. It was very challenging but I am glad I was supportive by the people who loves me and helped me get through it. Working out is definitely a great hell and eating healthy.

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Harmony, Momma To Go June 1, 2017 at 7:30 am

I didnt start getting into any post partum fitness until my second was one. At that point my son was in preschool and I would take my daughter to the daycare at the gym. My son was also the kid who NEVER slept his first year, so I hear ya. Survival.

I find I have to plan out my workouts. http://www.mommatogo.com/fitness-tip/

And I have now done a few half marathons. They are a commitment to train, but I found that if you could make time for that one long run a week, and fill in with a few short runs or workouts during the week you can do it! http://www.mommatogo.com/half-marathon-training-tips/
Hope you find my posts helpful! You look great and sounds like you are doing awesome!

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Hanna Smith June 1, 2017 at 7:54 am

So glad that you’re finding your health and wellness groove! Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy, but it’s always worth it!

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Anna June 1, 2017 at 10:30 am

Postpartum self care is so important! It’s crazy hard to make the time and find the motivation, but it definitely makes a difference!

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Gloryanna June 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

It’s sooo hard with the toddler and newborn! I’m in the same boat, mama! I like the changing it up and finding a weight management system that works for you and is positive. For me it’s calorie counting with Fitness Pal. Being aware of how much I’m eating makes it so much easier to eat in moderation! Keep it up!

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Amanda June 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

So great to hear a success story that follows not being able to do anything! My babies have been terrible sleepers especially the first year..,and not sleeping well til two. It is difficult when you run on fumes! I need to get into a routine soon to try and get back in shape, too!

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Nikki June 1, 2017 at 11:33 am

I also have a daughter (9 months) who is a terrible sleeper! I also “wake-up” tired every day and have not been able to fit in working out or me-time. I am hoping that the 12 month mark and end of our nursing journey will help her sleep better and let me have a bit of me time! Luckily the eating healthy is pretty easy for me, but I’d love some time to tone and feel strong again! They are worth it, but it is hard! I totally get where you are coming from!

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Ashley Peavey June 1, 2017 at 11:40 am

This is awesome. Way to go mama!! I need to get going now too!

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Amber Battishil June 1, 2017 at 12:37 pm

Oh man, I totally relate to so much of this! First baby was a breeze, second one…not so much! It took a long for me to get back into the swing of things and much of it started when sleep got better as well. Yoga is my go to this time around and I’ve been adding more running in lately too. Contemplating a half marathon for fall, but we’ll see.

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Heather Montgomery June 1, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Coming back after baby was so much harder for me than I anticipated! Keep up the good work.

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Kelly June 1, 2017 at 9:38 pm

You are awesome and inspiring! I love your tips on switching things up. I get stuck in a calorie counting/running rut when I’m not careful, so this post really resonated with me.

P.S. I’m on the WW train with you 🙂

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Logan June 1, 2017 at 10:17 pm

You are awesome. I know this is going to sounds really bad, but I am so glad to “meet” another woman who’s newborn/baby did not sleep. My son is 3 and a half now and STILL doesn’t sleep. I now have a third baby (6 months old) who is also not sleeping. It is the most miserable thing in the world. I feel like their doctor doesn’t believe me about how little they sleep but I’ve never seen anything like it. I love that your baby did start sleeping and I am praying my boys do, too! You are right, though. Working out is next to impossible when you can hardly even bathe yourself because you are THAT tired. haha

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Rachel June 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm

Solidarity, Mama!! 😘😘 I envy moms whose babies sleep and don’t cry. I? I don’t have those babies. Nope. Sigh.

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Cheyenne June 1, 2017 at 11:38 pm

I’m struggling to find the motivation to get back in shape. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Davi June 1, 2017 at 11:54 pm

Thank you for sharing your journey! My first daughter was adopted, so I didn’t have the physical post-partum to overcome. I have a bio daughter due in July, so I’ll soon be adding the physical experience of having a child, and the months that follow getting my body back. Thanks for all the tips!

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Amanda Rinehart June 2, 2017 at 12:16 am

girl, yes!! Sometimes you “make time” for keeping yourself and your littles ALIVE… instead of for fitness. And that’s ok too. I had my first 2 kiddos 2 years about (to the week) and it took a WHILE to adjust to life that way. Now I just had my third in November and I’m the most out of shape I have ever been. 🙁 Ive been back in the gym for about 2 months and I TOTALLY feel ya when you say you wish it would come off faster. RIGHT THERE with you.

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Tamara Goyette June 2, 2017 at 4:14 pm

I keep hearing great things about Weight Watchers. I am debating trying it.

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Dealman June 2, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Great post. I love your tips on switching things up. I will have to check out the store baby shoe.

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Rachel q June 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

I did Weight Watchers after college (because for some reason I gained a bunch of weight then) and I really liked it. Now I’m much more into fitness and love to mix it up.

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Jess June 3, 2017 at 8:20 am

RACHEL!!!! I am so sad I couldn’t have been here to meet you, but Hillary said you killed it and you were a blast to teach!! Please, please, please come back to CORUS!!! :):) xoxo Jess

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Rachel June 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm

I hope to come back! I LOOOOVED it! Seriously it was AMAZING!!

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Holly June 4, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Preach it. I found an old post on my blog recently where I wrote that I ran 10 miles and then went to yoga class after. IN WHAT REALITY? Oh yeah, that was 2012.

The sleep deprivation is real. I tried running during the first year postpartum and it felt horrible. I waited until well after her 1st birthday, tried again, and now it feels good.

Diet was all over the place while nursing. I was the sort who was starving 247 and could eat whatever I wanted and still loose weight while nursing. After weaning that all changed. I now have to watch what I’m eating and I’m back to working out 6 days a week – and I am feeling good about my health and appearance – but I only work out up to 1 hour. No three hour workouts in my future, either.

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Janette June 6, 2017 at 3:21 am

Thanks for sharing. My running group Will appreciate the rad!

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