It’s about time I wrote a post on the topic of Body After Baby!
If you search “body after baby” you’ll find thousands of articles and images. So, it’s not exactly a ground breaking topic, but if something I share helps another mommy, then my job is done!
How I Got My Body Back
1. Prenatal Fitness
For those of you that followed my pregnancy, you remember that I led an active pregnancy throughout my +40 weeks. Even though I stopped running at 27-28 weeks (it just didn’t feel good), I kept lifting weights and did HIIT workouts while teaching.
I think it’s vitally important to listen to your body regarding pregnancy and exercise, in addition to your health care provider. If it doesn’t feel right when you are pregnant, it probably isn’t. Because I was very active and fit prior to pregnancy, I continued to work hard throughout my pregnancy, adjusting weekly when necessary.
Be careful when comparing yourself to other pregnant women. This is not a competition on who is the fittest pregnant mommy; it’s about bringing a healthy child into the world.
2. Know Thyself
When I discussed my postpartum fitness plan, I mentioned allowing ample time to resume working out. Being a new mom is exhausting, between very little sleep and nursing a hungry baby, your body is taxed. If I had tried one of my HIIT workouts just 2 or 3 weeks after giving birth to Jada, I would have been so frustrated.
How could I expect to perform at the same level I had previously just weeks after having a baby?!
I knew I would be disappointed in my lack of strength and fitness, so I decided to give myself a break and focus solely on being a mom.
I stuck mostly to walking, which was a stress reliever and a great way to spend time with Cooper. Once I had more energy and actually craved an intense workout (at around 6 weeks postpartum), I gradually added HIIT workouts back into my routine.
3. Lift Weights
I read an article from T-Nation with a fantastic quote, “Cardio doesn’t burn fat. Muscle burns fat.” -John Meadows.
Steady state cardio every, single day will not improve your physique like lifting [heavy] weights. Sure it may help you reach a “goal weight,” but I think we can all agree that a number on the scale isn’t a measure of fitness.
It wasn’t until I stopped half marathon training in May, that I really leaned out (11 months postpartum). I was so focused on setting a postpartum PR, that I didn’t make time for the HIIT & CrossFit workouts I needed to truly change my body composition. Most of my workouts were running oriented which serve many people well, but I know my body responds best to constantly varied, high intensity workouts (a la CrossFit) involving weights.
4. Nutrition & Supplements
Like I have mentioned before, supplements aren’t for everyone, but I like to use them in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program.
Because I was still nursing Jada several times a day, I was cautious about what I put in my body. I was desperately missing my beloved Pro-Sculpt, so when GNC introduced it’s Puredge Line, I was thrilled with the Daily Energy!
Full disclosure, I was sent the products for free but no other compensation was included. I honestly love the products and use them daily. Lately, I have been mixing half a scoop of Daily Energy with half a scoop of the Pro-Sculpt to kick it up a notch!
When I lost body fat before, I used the Pro-Sculpt & Meta-Ignite to help fuel my workouts. I can only speak for myself regarding supplements, but they make a difference for me, personally. Each person is different.
Diet will play a more prominent role in body composition than supplements, and even exercise. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Initially, I used My Fitness Pal to track what I was eating, but have since shifted my focus to eating more whole foods, increasing my fat and protein content at snacks and meals.
I believe my diet and supplement regime in combination with HIIT/CrossFit workouts helped my reach a lean physique. I used the In-Body assessment machine we have at the YMCA to measure my body composition for the following results.
Body Composition February 1st to June 1st:
- Body Weight: 154.7 lbs to 143.7 lbs
- Body Fat Weight: 25.8 lbs to 18.5 lbs
- Body Fat %: 16.6% to 12.8%
I still was a bit “puffy” from the holidays in February which makes my results look a bit more drastic. There also can be +/- of 2% with body composition results, but I tried to be consistent with my testing procedures.
5. Be Patient
While the pounds may fall off immediately or take months, your body will to return to it’s pre-baby form in due time. Each person is different.
While I was lucky and lost most of the pregnancy weight in the first month or so, my body certainly wasn’t back. I was squishy and not as fit. But, that was okay at the time.
It wasn’t until 11-12 months postpartum that I really felt like I was back to my pre-baby body and fitness level. Could I have arrived there faster? I’m not sure. I didn’t want to sacrifice too much while I was nursing Jada (just down to one feeding now–getting closer!). It also takes time to regain your fitness level. So, new mommies, please be kind to yourself.
One additional factor that may also have helped me get lean is never being able to sit down! I’m constantly chasing an active toddler!
While this post doesn’t have a magic plan, I do hope it helps moms out there understand, you can return to your pre-baby fitness level (and maybe even better), but it does take time & dedication.
What advice can you offer new moms seeking a return to fitness?
*Disclaimer: Although I am a NSCA-CSCS, you should consult a physician before starting any exercise program or diet plan. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured on this website, you do so at your own risk.