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The One Thing You Must do Prior to Starting a Postpartum Training Program

So often we are focused on what was and how great things were that we aren't able to see what is and the possibility lying before us. I find this especially true when talking to women about their pre-baby bodies. I for one know that I never appreciated my body as much as should have. And, for a while I obsessed over it, especially during my pregnancy when I was huge and someone would stop me to verify that indeed, I was not having twins.

And then, we give birth- an utterly amazing process, no matter how hard or well it goes and we expect to bounce back, slip on our skinny jeans and return to that same shell that we were before.

Unfortunately however, for the large majority of women, that's just not how it works. And really, why should it? It took us nine months to get there and it should take a while, with a good program to get back, or close to where you started.

I understand the desire to fit into your clothes and "feel like yourself" again but this is the thing: no matter how your old clothes fit, or what size you wear, you may never feel like the "old you" again. Because you are not. You're now a mama, a mother, a mom. Your priorities have shifted, your mindset has shifted and very likely your body has shifted. And guess what- it's OK. Actually, it's better than OK... it's amazing.

At about a month postpartum I thought getting back to my pre-baby body would make everything I was dealing with- the anxiety, hormones, frustration, guilt and exhaustion better. And guess what. It didn't. I worked out hard just to have my body push back harder. Instead of moving forward, I moved back because nothing felt the same. And my body, already recovering from trauma had to deal with even more. I should have waited, taken more precautions and been more progressive. But, I jumped- literally and figuratively back into a routine only to have to slow down.

You see, what I missed- the piece of the puzzle I didn’t yet have, was the mindset. I needed to get my head straight about the process, my expectations and the reality of the situation. I needed to free my mind of what used to be and start realizing what was right in front of me- a different body, with different needs, timing and caloric needs (because of breastfeeding).

Prior to setting out on my journey of becoming physically stronger I needed to do some goal setting, and realize that it was going to be a journey that was long and far from perfect. There would be days when I would be too tired to workout, days where I was lacking sleep from the night before and days where I just couldn’t put myself first and that it was all OK.

So, after a doctor clears you for exercise, you determine if you have diastasis recti and before you start a postpartum routine, ask yourself the following:

  1. How does it feel to sit, stand, walk, breathe (really pay attention to these things)? If you’re still achy or just don’t feel “right” it’s time to talk to a physical therapist or physician who focuses on postpartum recovery and perhaps the pelvic floor.

  2. What am I ready for? Really ask yourself. Get a journal and write down your thoughts about exercise and returning to exercise. Be introspective, you may surprise yourself.

  3. How much time do I have and where do I have to go for exercise? If you are nursing and only have 1.5 hours and your gym is 15 minutes away, you need to know what you have time for so you can set yourself up for success.

  4. What are my goals? Figure out what you want to achieve and set a game plan to get there. Remember though, it won’t happen overnight.

Allow yourself the opportunity for success by allowing yourself time to connect and evaluate. Get your mind right first and fitness will follow.

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