I Had a baby and I Want My Body Back: Reality VS “Reality”

Currently, there are 8 women in close proximity to me, that have had a baby within the past year. How amazing that is as a new mom, to have your own personal baby group? And how amazing is it for my little one: her own immediate entourage!

Quite frequently, these new mommy’s come to me for guidance on when to begin training again, how to overcome their frustrations with accomplishing old workouts they used to excel in, and now really struggle with. Going through this journey myself, I’m often re-evaluating my levels of fitness, and reminding myself of my instagram hashtag¬† #startwhereyouarenotwhereyouwere

The following fact recently occurred to me while out for a mommy-walk with a friend:
Of the women who have had their babies (3 including me…but one making a debut anytime now –quite literally, and another one in the coming weeks) each and every one of us has a very different labour and delivery story. We range from medical complications, sections, mid-wives, home births, inductions, epidurals, multiple births and the list can go on, and on. It really got me thinking today:

Why is it that we have such completely different labour and deliveries, but when it comes to postnatal recovery and getting back into fitness, we quite literally group all moms together and expect the same progress and results?

I mean, I guess I always knew that each of us has our own story to tell when it comes to having a baby, and the experience during the “big day”. But, I find it intriguing that when getting back at it, we quickly forget our own individual journeys and immediately conclude that we’re not as good as, or as fit as another person.

It is so, SO incredibly important to step back, and assess your own levels of fitness. Since I started back into my routines, I had to really scale back my expectations. I’m going to break down ONE of the many, many, different exercises that I had to slowly creep back into doing the way I had pre-baby.

THE PUSHUP
Think about what you were able to do pre-baby. For me, I could do pushups on my toes.. honestly I don’t know if I ever could do more than 15 consecutively. But, I do know that I could do push ups where I exploded up and clapped in between. I could do them on a decline, with my feet on a chair and bring one knee to my elbow as I came down, and bring it back to the chair as I came up. I could do them with my feet on a medicine ball, and my hands on a bosu ball. AND, I could do my favorite: tricep (narrow) pushups. I preferred to do them on my knees to keep my form, but I was ok with that. Sounds great, right? Impressive, even… Now… wait for it…

I got pregnant (Yay!!). Aside from the obvious medicine ball inside of me that made it tricky towards the end to actually DO the pushup, My abdominals were stretching. Stretching and therefore my core strength was changing. I slowly transferred from on my toes, to knees, to standing on the wall. No medicine ball (aside from my belly), no declines, no bosu, and my beloved triceps were removed. All this happened over the course of the next 7 months.

REMEMBER THAT LADIES: It takes your body almost one year to grow a baby, So why assume it will take anything less than that to go back?

By month 8, pushups were done. My workouts were changing, so my body conditioning was being lost. Fast forward Oct. 9th, my little gem, Vanessa arrived! Lots changes in your body after you have a baby. The obvious… baby is out, but then there’s the extra water, hormones, stretched skin, strained abdominals, maybe you have scar tissue, there’s stitches, your hips are sore, body is shifting again because of weight transfer… All valid points that we “know”.. but do we really, ACTUALLY consider this when we look in the mirror?

You should always wait a minimum of 4-6 weeks before you begin working out. 4 weeks at least until you begin walking, again it’s ALL relative to the type of pregnancy, and delivery or other health concerns you are facing. And as for the abs, or core? That area in particular took a hit (aside from the obvious sore spot heh), so it should be the one that is eased into again with the most caution and care.

Back to the pushups: When I started again.. it was on the wall, and even then, I could feel tightness and knew it wasn’t time to push. That was in late November. By the end of December, I was back to my knees. By the end of January I could do no more than 2-4 on my toes, and the rest on my knees… which brings me up to the past few months. Since February here is my official pushup status:

12 on my toes before I need a break in order to continue on
10 on a decline with a chair for my feet
4 narrow (tricep– my FAVES) pushups– ON MY TOES. Yes, I’ve actually IMPROVED my core and can do them on my toes
8 Pushups where I bring my knees to my elbow. Toes on the floor, not on the chair.

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Currently, I’m learning and improving on diamond pushups. These bad boys are tricky, but hey– if you don’t raise the bar, you wont be better than yesterday.

So, my final words are simply this:

Ladies, it IS possible for you to get back to it, and regain the strength. But remember… if your labour and delivery was different than your friends, chances are– the recovery and journey back will be to. Reach out to those going through this similar experience, because even though your challenges may be different– your emotions, frustrations and disappointments will feel the same.

You can always reach me on this blog, or email me mrskooy@gmail.com if you need some extra support. Always happy to talk it out ūüôā

Much love my readers. xo

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Squirrel.

So I’m officially into what I’ve been calling “Operation M.I.L.F (F)”–> decide what you want that to stand for but I’ve adapted the acronym from what I was calling Mom In Love with Fitness… to Mom Is Looking Freaking Fantastic. (Hense, my extra F) haha.

There are SO many programs that you can hop into to get that body back, SO many challenges, work outs, nutrition plans, etc that quite frankly it can be overwhelming. This is why lately, I’ve been feeling a little ‘squirrely’. One day, I’m deciding to go on a cleanse, another day I’m deciding that I’m going to strength train… a few weeks ago I thought I’d train for a half marathon, I agreed to do another fitness photoshoot with other trainers in May, I started HIIT training in between strength days… played around with my circuits again, saw a fitness coach for help… And then took a mental break and went to Alberta to visit family with my daughter. (PHEW!)

So I get back, and it immediately all comes flooding back to me. I think to myself:
– your core strength and leg strength was brutal snowboarding: let’s work on that
– you rocked a one piece in the hot tub: let’s change that
– hum.. 1/2 marathon? You almost collapsed hiking back country with your sisters on the mountains: let’s fix that
– Your “cleanse” failed miserably, and you’re not eating right at ALL: let’s get on a plan
– You’re extremely tired, and not taking the proper supplements/ vitamins: find a PLAN

PLAN, PLAN, PLAN… FIX, FIX, FIX,

Squirrel.

Time to reset, and remember what it is exactly I want to accomplish. What do I REALLY want. Yes, I DO want to accomplish those things above, but just READING all of those things makes me squirrely. So, SELF: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

When I ask myself that question, the answer is surprisingly simple– almost embarrassingly honest.
I want to feel comfortable in my skin again.

How many people can relate to THAT? I bet hundreds, maybe even more.

So how can I do that?

Since I seemed completely incapable of making my own decisions, I tagged in my other half. Hubby told me I’m biting off too much (yes, that I knew– I asked you why?) and then told me to forget about it all, and do 12 weeks of insanity with him. In doing this I can stick to a program, have an accountability partner, incorporate that HIIT training I wanted, increase my stamina, quite possibly want to die throughout every workout, but most importantly–> I can track my results with little complications and start to feel like me again. Hum, start to feel like me again– that would ultimately lead to what it is I really want: to feel comfortable in my skin again.

We also decided that WE would use Sundays to prep our food for the week, that WE would get our food scale fixed, that WE would stock up on multivitamins, BCAAs, Protein, etc. For this journey, I think it’s important for me to remember that I’m part of a WE, and that I’m not in this alone. (After all HE did this to me — heh just kidding!)

Having a goal is SUPER important because it gives you that motivation, and keeps you focused on what you want, but sometimes you have to step back and really ask yourself what do you want?
If your goal is too vague, you can get lost on which path to take to get there
If your goal is too complicated, you can loose focus on what’s most important, and end up making zero progress

I was the latter of the two. Wanting too much, too fast and therefore getting NO where. They teach you in training to make S.M.A.R.T goals, I’d like to make a S.M.A.R.T goal that can K.I.S.S my …
Specific –> Want to commit to insanity for the full 12 weeks
Measurable–> Will track progress before, half way, and after.
Attainable (I’m changing to ACCOUNTABLE)–> touching base with my husband to keep me focused
Realistic –> It’s one program, 12 weeks, with my husband. I can do that.
Time Oriented–> 12 weeks is enough time to see progression

This goal can K.I.S.S myyy buttt! because I have remembered to Keep, It, Simple, Steph!

I start on Sunday.

Let the games begin.

When You Battle the Voice Inside Your Head

Last night was tough. Earlier in the week I went to my first kickboxing class since I had the baby. It felt fantastic! I was so happy to be back, and of course I challenged myself to do exercises that I am not quite used to again… but it really felt amazing. Naturally, I have been sore since that class so I took the next day off to recover.. but anyone who’s ever done a REALLY good workout knows that it’s actually the second day off when you can barely move.

So yesterday, was my second day. It was my second day and emotionally I was feeling defeated. Looking at my post baby body I have been feeling frustrated, disappointed, and quite frankly: ugly. Silly, I know… but honest.¬† I felt tired, I felt sore, but mostly in my upper body in abdominal area–which clearly meant I was totally fine to do my lower body– or at least I thought.

Hubby and I went downstairs to set up for our workout, and I created my plan for leg day. Ugh. It was horrible. It was that kind of workout where my head fought every single movement that my body was doing. It felt like I should have had an angel and devil positioned on my shoulder whispering lies to me.

The first exercise that I wanted to try (since obviously the only thing to do when you’re already tired and feeling defeated is introduce new exercises, and increase your weights) was Ham curls on the TRX. I set the goal for 12 reps, and forced myself to do 4 sets. Why did I want to do 4 sets? Well, because that voice inside my head was telling me that 3 wouldn’t be enough to feel anything, so suck it up and do it. So, I would get to about 9 reps and want to cry. Not because it hurt, and not because it was hard– but yes it was hard. I wanted to cry because while I was doing the reps I had to battle the voice inside my head that was telling me each rep sucked. I was literally trying to ignore phrases like
“Why are you doing this?”
“That rep did nothing for you”
“Just quit, you’re never going to loose this baby weight”

It was awful. And it didn’t stop there. When I got to my deadlifts with the trap bar, I decided to add 10 lbs to each side. I honestly think I was getting so angry at myself that I would counter my negative comments by increasing the weight and working harder. I finished 3 sets, and there was that voice again:
“You know, you did 3 sets, you’re sweating… just stop there”

No. I wont stop there. Screw you, voice.

I have to say, I was so thankful to have my hubby there with me last night. There were so many times where I felt like I could have just crumbled and sat on the floor crying. But each time he saw me struggling, he would stop his set, come over and help me refocus and get back on track.

I’m realizing more and more that this journey to “get my body back” requires a lot of love and support of those around me. I find that there seems to be a faux timeline that I’m getting sucked into of when I should “fit into my regular pants”. It’s crap. I will fit into those pants when my body is ready to. I’m 7 weeks post baby and I have GOT to stop putting pressure on myself to be back so fast, because it will quite honestly hinder any progress that I’m working hard to achieve.

Ugh, that damn voice. It really needs to SHUT. UP.
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Take Your Journey One Small Victory at a Time

Mrskooy Fitness is a mom!

My little one is just over 6 weeks old, and I’m absolutely loving this next venture in my life! She is such a little gem, and every moment with her I’m reminded how amazing and yes, challenging this job as “mom” can be.

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As I get back into my routines and find more time to get in my workouts, I find myself wondering…
How has my fitness changed? What is different about my body? What about the strength that I had? Now what?

That’s when I have to remind myself

Start where you are, not where you were. Trust the process and don’t forget to appreciate small victories

I’ve been working out again, and slowly incorporating new body movements and muscle groups as the weeks progress. Yes, I’m only 6 weeks postpartum but I’m a very determined, and focused individual so I have been active in small ways since about one week after my daughter’s arrival. Now, that being said, I think I should remind readers, I am a certified personal trainer, certified in pre and postnatal fitness… and have done a lot of reading on it prior to my pregnancy, through my pregnancy and after delivery.

I came into my workouts knowing that there would be significant changes in my body and in my strength after delivery. But let me tell you… reading about it and living it are two totally different experiences!

First of all, let me just break down what I have been feeling physically.. and how I decided to manage workouts since the birth:
*No core strength… coughing, sneezing, laughing SUCKED for the first week. And since my core was so fatigued.. my back was compensating, which was really exhausting!
*Fatigue in general! Small walks winded me, I would often have to sit back down!
*4 weeks postpartum I began walking on the treadmill and light weights
*I was lifting about half of what I was used to: 35 lbs down to 15lbs. and sweating just as much if not MORE than I did before
*Pushups were out of the question since I was going to wait the 6 weeks until I even attempted ANY core strengthening.
*NO ab exercises for the same reason as the pushups (also… you do not want to put more strain on your abdominal especially if you unknowingly suffer from Diastasis Recti – see link for more information–>http://www.befitmom.com/diastasis_recti.html )
*No pull ups– First of all. Hanging on the pull up bar was too much for me at first because I was not comfortable with the feeling it gave my abs. Which brings me to an important point if you are a new mom trying to get back into your fitness:

If you are uncomfortable with ANY movement as you get back into your routines.. Don’t Do It

There is no further explanation needed. You are in control of your body, and your progression and if you push past that point before your body is ready to you can set yourself back.

Baby Steps. Heh, how suiting eh? Be comfortable with the progress you make from delivery to now, and beyond. What you accomplished before baby no longer matters (in the world of recovering baby bodies that is–) What you accomplished prior to baby is obviously amazing and will always serve to remind you how kick ass you are, and the strength that you have to endure anything (as if delivery itself hasn’t already proved that to you). But what I mean is.. you will have new victories now, victories that may have been “less” than what you accomplished before.. but again I’ll remind you when you have a baby… any progress is a well deserved achievement

Since I started back working out,(which is approximately 3 weeks) I have had the following “small” victories:
1. I can jump squat, do jumping jacks, high knee sprints & burpees without peeing … don’t laugh until you’ve been there.
2. I am slowly able to do 7-8 consecutive pushups on my knees with proper form, core tight, neck in neutral position, and full range of motion
3. I can hang on the pull up bar and do 2-4 knee raises before I’m uncomfortable.
4. I can hold a plank for 30 seconds.
5. My lowest free weight for arms is 15lbs (10 if its lateral shoulders/ back flies)
6. I am using a trap bar to strengthen my squats (about 55 to 60 lbs) and keep proper form

Six things. These are six things that I need to remind myself when I want to cry doing push ups on my knees because BEFORE I had the baby I could….
Right. It doesn’t matter.

Be present. Be in the moment of this progression. Don’t live in the past of your previous victories because you can’t grow living in ANY moment but now.

Remember this my readers, I know it’s hard. I struggle with this honesty every day. But I’m also reminded of why I’m going through this. Every moment I look at my daughter I’m reminded of how important it is to me to be her role model. To live and breathe positivity and determination. I want her to know that while things may be difficult and yes, you will cry… you can finish it. You can find the focus and strength to commit to what it is that you want! A big life lesson, coming from my decision not to look back at before, but continue with right now.

Have a glorious Sunday xo

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Moving Though the Days With My Personalized 30 Pound Medicine Ball

Coming in on 31 weeks, and holy do I ever feel it! Squats, lunges and any other body weight exercise makes me laugh when I break a sweat and have to pause because my legs are on fire!

On the weekend I finally caved and bought some new workout pants, and 2 larger tops that I can put on.. without the help of my husband. I rocked them to a boot camp class in Bradford last night and it felt amazing! Boot camp classes are typically interval/ circuit style and are meant to kick your butt the whole time. I love them. I know my modifications partly because I’ve been working out through my whole pregnancy, but also in large part because I’ve done my certification for pre & postnatal for this very reason! I’m officially using no more than 25 pounds on kettlebells, when using two dumb bells I’m no heavier than 15 pounds, and… well you can pretty much call it a day with ab exercises.

Last night when I was working out I took particular notice to the extra weight at the front of my body. We were doing stairs– every other step.. with kettle bells. I decided that I could use a 15 pound weight because if you add that to what’s out in front, I should be more than set. HAH! I did it, I finished it, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like dying. People were lapping me on the stairs as I took one step at a time, and set my mind to breathing and keeping proper form.

In the beginning of this journey I remember feeling frustrated with myself because I wanted to continue pushing hard in the gym, and lifting my regular weights, with the same speed and intensity.

Now, it’s not to say that I can’t push it, but I’ve had to play it smart with my intensity and the amount I’m lifting. The fact is, I could really hurt myself which could throw the rest of my pregnancy, and even opportunities to train the girls at the boot camp I still work at!

As the months have progressed I find myself laughing at the different positions I have to lay in, how much slower my movements are, and how freaking much my legs BURN when I do squats and lunges with my not so little lime. In one of the classes I did recently, we were doing leg raises on steps. You have to lay on the ground, place a weighted bar over your hips, and then dig your heals into the step and raise your hips up to the sky. For obvious reasons, I opted out of the bar across my hips… and decided on body weight. In my mind I told myself I can easily do one leg in the air for more intensity because– well– let’s be honest, this will be a breeze otherwise.

Annnnd once again there I was, NOT modifying to lift my leg in the air but actually working my butt off trying not to take a break in between each rep! It wasn’t until I was finished that circuit that I really pieced together that I do, in fact, have my own personal medicine ball that weighs everything down for me.

I love that little ball. She’s just doing her thing, flipping around, poking mama’s organs to make sure they’re still functioning, challenging my breathing… really– making me stronger. With each inch she takes up in my body, I become more aware of the focus and strength I need to keep my body healthy so that her body stays healthy too.

I joke when we go kickboxing about how she kicks me, so it’s fair that I kick the bag but really what it comes down to is that

I’m fostering a lifestyle that I want my baby to embrace when she’s able to make her own choices about health and fitness.

I have a couple more goals I’d like to achieve with her as we near the home stretch of our time connected to one another. I just love being able to take her along on these little adventures, because once she arrives it’s game on and I’m sure she will be taking me along for hers.

So you keep growing little ball, keep making mommy work harder, and get stronger because I promise that with all my strength, mommy will always be there to support you too.

cant stop me

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A Shift in Perspective, and Body Position…and Weight….and…

When I started my serious fitness journey 3 years ago, I created a scrapbook. Part of it is the teacher in me who wanted the plan, got excited and ran out to buy all the materials to make the plan look pretty… and part of it was because my husband told me (with brutal honesty) that he didn’t think I would follow through. As much as that hurt to hear, I know that based on previous attempts to “get back on track” often faded off after a few weeks, and old routines came back.

So I created a scrapbook which consisted of 4 pages per month:
-Calendar to track daily physical activity
-Calendar to track what I was eating
-Monthly page dedicated to pictures to track my progress (unflattering angles and all)
-A comment page–> This page was the most important. You don’t always have positive workouts. In fact some days you can feel so discouraged that you want to quit. I thought if I was going to be successful, I knew I needed to write about¬†the bad¬†days as well. It would be a lie to only include those amazing days where I felt like I could take on anything. It’s looking back on the days where I felt tired, weak, and saw no results where I can take pride in saying that I pushed through and achieved my goals.

This scrapbook took me from September 2011 until September 2012, and I filled every page. On the comments page, I can remember adding in¬†other accomplishments like “I went up from 10lbs to 15 lbs with my weights today!” Or “Today I bought a pair of shorts that were size Small! or Size 4!” and I would tape in the tag for my own validation. It had never felt so much pride in shopping for clothes, in sizes I had truly convinced myself I could never wear because I am a tall woman.

You can imagine the irony I felt when I went shopping a few weeks ago for a new one-piece bathing suit for lane swims at the community centre.

I’m not a stupid woman… of COURSE my body is going to change, and I’m going to gain weight. I am having a baby. And don’t think I haven’t heard all the comforting words from friends and family:
“Your baby needs to eat, so feed yourself!”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re having a baby!”
“You’re not getting fat, you’re PREGNANT!”

I still can’t help but laugh at the irony that only a few years ago I was taping new sizes into a scrapbook, and now I’m mortified when I pick up sizes to try them on. AND more overwhelmed, when the “guess” I make, thinking that’s a big enough gap, is either a snug fit or too small.

Oh well, I’ve slowly come to accept this change, and embrace it! I’m growing a human being inside of me. Aside from the SCI-FI component, this is quite possibly the most glorious experience I’ve ever had!

I’m in my third trimester now, and it is blowing me away the changes still occurring in this belly. My little lime is getting much bigger, and quickly!

I have my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, and last week I tried my dress on and it fit. Yesterday, however.. was a different story. Imagine my shock when I tried to put on the dress, and it would no longer zip all the way up. So I took it to the sweetest Nona, who smiled and said it would be an easy fix. Thank goodness for that! Not sure if my cousin would be happy with me walking down the aisle with a jacket on haha.

As these final months creep along, I keep reminding myself that part of the process is change in my body. The shift in my weight transfer, my body alignment, and yes… my sizes. I feel lucky to still be doing what I love. I can still workout, I’m feeling great… I just move slower. And for right now, all that is required of me is to provide a safe and healthy place for my baby to grow.

If that means I have to look a little further down on the rack… then bring it on.

Listening to Your Body.. Not the Critics

As I journey through this pregnancy, and have fully immersed myself into my second trimester– I’ve been feeling fantastic!

My energy levels have returned, and other than the little belly and added weight at the front of my abdomen, I have pretty much returned to my regular fitness routines. Of course, there are always modifications now, and the intensity is much different than I would normally bring to the table, but regardless I’m up to about 3-4 times a week for some sort of physical activity!¬†

Last Sunday I had a pretty exciting accomplishment. I ran in the Sportinglife 10K in downtown Toronto. I had mixed opinions from others about me participating in the run, but ultimately

it was up to me to listen to my body and make the decision about whether this was the best decision for me to do!

 

It was absolutely the most rewarding decision to run in this race. I was running with a friend of mine and naturally our paces were not well matched. Within the first 2K I could already tell that I needed to slow my pace down to maintain a safe heart rate, and could feel her pace getting ready to build with the adrenaline of other racers that surrounded us. I told her to continue without me, which she reluctantly agreed to, and with that– it was just me and my baby lime (who has graduated to a small cantaloupe) running together!

At the 5K mark I checked my time. Now, I’ve had to adjust to the fact that my time is much slower than usual, but I was very happy to see that I was at 35 minutes. With most physical activity, I find that it’s more of a mental game than physical. So

I told myself that I was doing amazing, gave little lime a loving rub and got ready to count down the last 5K.

At around 7K, I could feel myself starting to fatigue. There was a water station up ahead and I told myself that really– I had nothing to prove so it would be in my best interest to take a quick walk and enjoy the water break before continuing on. I’m an all-in kind of girl, so slowing down my pace and even walking for part of the run is a hard pill to swallow. But– let me tell you– it takes a stronger person to know when to listen to your body, rather than pushing through and ignoring possible problems. I sent my hubby a quick text and let him know that I was coming into my last couple kilometers. He sent me the motivation text that I needed, which helped me push through for the final stretch.

When I hit the 9K mark, I could feel myself finish that last kilometer with a huge grin on my face.

I had done it. I had listened to my body and successfully ran a 10K race with a tiny baby growing in my belly.

Crossing that finish line felt fabulous. Any negative comments I had been told, or recommendations to “just quit” if it was too hard were so far removed from me at that moment. I had¬†started instilling healthy values that I feel will continue into the parenting of this young child, and hope will carry through into their own healthy choices for an active lifestyle further in the future.

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With any decision in life there are always those that will support you through lifes choices, and those that will try and deter you from what you want. I’m slowly discovering that as a mother-to-be there are many supporters of my choices to be physically active during pregnancy, and many that are unsure of my choices and seem to take my choices¬†personally– as if it reflects poorly on their own pregnancies.¬†

I want to be clear. I don’t make these choices, write about my accomplishments and lack of “excuses” to continue this lifestyle for any other reason than to be proud of me. I don’t judge those who choose not to participate in these activities while pregnant. I can’t possibly judge a woman or pregnancy I know nothing about. I only know me. I only know what I am capable of doing, and what I know my body will let me achieve. If along the way it inspires someone who was unsure whether to take that route on her own pregnancy journey, then as a fitness professional I have done my job.¬†

Be safe, listen to your body above all the opinions of others. You will know what is right for you and your growing baby, but please remember– don’t be afraid to try!¬†