As I have already mentioned in one of my last posts: most postnatal Moms in the 4th trimester and beyond aim to "get back" to their "normal" bodies again. The truth is that we actually can never go back again. It's impossible to go back! The good news is that we can move forward, with the plan to feel better, stronger and smarter than we were before. After I had my daughter, I just didn't feel like myself. My body was different in so many unpleasant ways. I felt stuck and confused and quite frankly very unsexy. It takes time to re-learn the norms of your bod again, especially if you've had a handful of confusing postpartum issues. Women don't talk about it enough, or at all. We also probably just wish everything unpleasant would fade away. So now I make it a priority to exercise at least 3 days a week. My time at the gym is the time when I am alone; I am getting in touch with how my body actually feels, and I am usually working a few things out in my head. It's a win, win, win.
Preparing to prioritize my workouts!
The winter before I got pregnant (winter 2014) was rough for me physically. I hurt my back very badly before christmas, and just when I was almost fully recovered I fell on some ice and got a concussion! Both of these setbacks = ten extra pounds of christmas cookies and concussion depression weight. Fast forward a bit to April, positive pregnancy test, happy blessed me, but still feeling really out of sorts with my body. I knew I needed some structure and a plan for this journey, and I knew I wanted it to be gentle and simple to follow since I felt I was still recovering from the turbulent winter. Over the next couple of months I gathered a collection of fantastic exercises for pregnant women and was dedicated to prioritizing consistent gym going! And now, at seven months pregnant my body feels accessible, like I'm in the driver's seat of this journey. Don't get me wrong, there are days when my body feels tired, heavy and 100% weird; that's normal as a pregnancy rolls along. On those days I usually take it easy, but if it's a gym day I usually notice that the exercise alleviates the fatigue a bit. Here are some of the moves that I find help to prepare a pregnant woman's body for birth AND the needs of the postpartum world. I also want to encourage you to seek your Doctor's ok before starting a new routine and do what is right for you and your body.
SQUATS (and other leg exercises)!
Some of the benefits of squats: increased pelvic floor muscle strength, help to prevent pelvic and back pain, help to prepare you for birth, and a strong tushie!
HOW TO? Start standing tall with your weight in the middle of your feet and heels. Imagine you are literally going to sit in a chair and squat down. (Make sure your knees are inline with your toes as best you can.) Lengthen your arms out in front of you to aid in balance as you squat down. To come up, press deeply into your heels and come up to stand tall again and don't forget to use your tush! At the top I lift my chest and bring my arms slightly behind me to keep my chest open. I imagine my arms are moving through sand- this gives your arms more intention. This is a great functional exercise for pre and postpartum women! Remember to keep your belly drawn in and to breathe. I do three sets of ten three times a week.
Dead lifts with a stretchie band!
I feel this exercise has helped me so much. Mom's need all the help they can get to help keep theirs spines tall and supple as we do so much forward slouching after baby comes. This works the tush and leg muscles and back all at the same time. So often as parents we are picking things up off the floor... this helps to keep you strong in this repetitive movement.
HOW TO? Start tall with your chest lifted but your ribs drawn in. Keep your feet just a few inches apart and your weight distributed in the center of your foot, not your toes. Keeping your spine long and lifted (not round or arched), bend forward about halfway. Come up again to stand tall and think about working through your heels like we did with the squat. I do 3 sets of ten 3 times a week.
Side lying series!
HOW TO? I do three different exercises in this position. (I have a video for this series that I will add in... as soon as I can figure that out! Stay tuned.)
1. Keeping your top leg in line with your bottom leg, lift it up about 6 or 7 inches above the bottom leg, then bring it right back down. Repeat ten times.
2. Top leg starts lifted (about 6 or 7 inches above) but in line with bottom leg. Tap knee to knee, then heel to heel and repeat for ten sets.
3. Top let starts lifted (about 6 or 7 inches above) but in line with bottom leg. Ten little pulses while staying lifted.
So at the end of this little series have have done three sets of ten, and your thigh/tush area may be burning a bit! This is good:) Take a breathe and switch to the other side.
Tip of the week!
How to keep your mid day snack healthy? Make it crunchy and delicious. I keep washed romaine leaves, carrots, cucumber slices on hand in my fridge. The fact that they are already cut up and ready to go keeps me from grabbing something potentially high in carbs low in nutrients. I also bought a healthy new dressing/dip (check the label- dressings and dips are usually loaded with weird crappy ingredients. Make sure there are minimal ingredients that you can pronounce.) This week I chose a carrot ginger dressing which was perfectly salty and sweet and totally delish.
Hope you are all feeling good this week, and stay tuned for the rest of the exercises that I post next week!
Loads of love and strength to you in whatever stage you and your bod are in.