Ever since I stopped formally working out during pregnancy, I wondered what my relationship with fitness would look like postpartum. Would my passion for fitness disappear? Would I have a healthier relationship with the gym than ever before? Would I freak out about the way my body changed and revert into my restrictive, self deprecating ways? Beyond wondering about all of these things and more, I was truly worried about them. I didn’t know if my drive to exercise was rooted more in my pre-pregnancy “hormoneless” depression/anxiety or if I truly enjoyed the way it made me feel.
Well, starting this week, I ventured into my unknowns. 6 weeks sounds like a long wait until you have a newborn. Despite my rough delivery, my follow up postpartum appointment went swimmingly. The doctor said my incision/tear was healing well and that there was nothing for her to be concerned about. She told me to listen to my body for cues on what I can start doing. The human body truly is amazing, because I went from not being able to sit in a chair to being cleared to live life normally and exercise within 6 weeks. #stronglikeamother is no joke.
Throughout my pregnancy, I went on a lot of walks (especially in the third trimester due to the weather), and I did a good amount of prenatal workouts that I found on YouTube. After birth, I didn’t lift anything heavier than Ember, move my body doing chores, or take short, slow walks around the neighborhood until my 6 week follow up appointment. While the light cardio kept me active, I am 100% aware that I lost a fair amount of muscle mass. My body looks quite a bit different than before having a baby, and at 6 weeks out, I am just 6-7 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not used to what I see in the mirror, and I have yet to understand what my body feels like. I need to relearn what clothes and styles suit the new me, wider hips and all. That said, I have a husband that says each day that I look more beautiful than ever, and I have the most perfect baby boy. I sound like I’m being negative, but I’m really not; I am just adjusting to my new and improved womanly body. If my body didn’t change some after that bowling ball of a pregnant belly that I had, then I would be shocked.
Over the course of the 6 weeks, my husband had been going to my parents’ home gym. Each time, I imagined the loud music and the feeling of a barbell on my back. I realized that I really wanted to be in there with him, not to “fix my body”, but to feel the joy of strength. I wanted to get my heart rate up and experience positive endorphins rushing through my veins. Stepping away from the gym made me realize that I really do love it after all. Movement is in my nature. My fears of abandoning fitness or going all wacky with calorie counting were unfounded; I am stronger than I gave myself credit for. Anxiety and depression have no home in the gym anymore. You can’t even imagine how freeing that is to me. I feel like I have a clean slate. I can go back to the gym and start a fitness journey with health and joy as its core motivators. Getting my muscle mass back will be great, but being in the moment and experiencing something that makes me feel like me is the real gift. Last night, I stepped my foot in the door of the gym, and I had the best time. It wasn’t intense, but the movements and very light weights were a treat. Sure I had to stop and take care of Ember in the middle of it (don’t worry he was safe with his grandma- parents’ home gym remember), but that’s just part of my new life and fitness journey. Given I am a new mom, I don’t have the time to have a perfect routine, and that’s okay.
Honestly, I’m just overall stoked. I can’t wait to experience what my body and mind can accomplish with restored hormones, a proper mindset, and the drive to be a healthy example for my son. Someday I will explain to Ember how he healed his mama, how he made her love herself at the same time that she fell in love with him.