To all of my dear friends, family members and fellow moms who have been wondering this over the last few weeks, this one is for you.
Every mother knows that nothing changes your body as quickly or drastically as having a baby. In the space of just nine months, we host the growth of a human being, accumulating fat and changing bone structure to make room to deliver. It doesn’t bother us so much that the nine months (and then recovery after) brings so many changes, but what happens after that. After those nine months, for most of us, our bodies will carry the marks of this ordeal forever. These could be things like wider hips or ribs, bigger breasts, (droopy breasts after breastfeeding), stretch marks and other long term effects from being pregnant, like hemorrhoids or certain pains and aches.
Aside from the lucky few who escape mostly unscathed, many of us will carry these battle scars and victory marks for the rest of our lives.
The good news : that extra baby-weight isn’t one of those things. It can actually be lost. I am proof of that, as well as so many other mothers out there, if you only care to look.
So, without further ado, here is a breakdown of what I did to get myself back into shape and loving my body even more.
Know that it can be done.
It is my sincerest belief that the first step to doing anything is to first believe that you can do it and that it can be done. This applies to everything in life.
When I first told some of the closer members of my family and friends that I wanted to get back in shape and get back to performing, I was told by some that I would never fully recover. They thought I wouldn’t be able to lose all of the weight. Some people get “that” gene, the one where they can have a baby and literally bounce back to a teenager body, but our family didn’t have it. “Just look at all the women in our family.” That was the justification for the argument that I wouldn’t be able to get back to what I used to be, or anything better.
But I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t let myself believe that. I have always been a believer that we make things happen when we want them to. So I believed that it could be done, despite what I was told.
Without that belief that it was possible for me to lose the weight, I wouldn’t have tried to do it. I think the women who don’t try, probably don’t because they do not believe that it is possible. That’s the difference between people who accomplish certain things and people who don’t.
I know there are people who will say that they are genuinely too busy to try and get back into shape. To them, I say, you can find a way. There always is one, but it’s about how you choose to see yourself and your life that will determine whether you find it.
I think that in believing we can do something, we perform better because we bring more of our energy into what we’re doing. We allow ourselves to bring our heart, minds and souls into what we’re doing. I attribute much of my success to the belief that I could succeed at losing the baby weight.
Know what you want, and be honest about it.
When I first got pregnant, I was only 109 lbs. I was tiny, wearing tops that exposed my tummy and all kinds of tight dresses. By the time I went into delivery, I was 160lbs and walked away from the hospital at about 145lbs, give or take a few. I couldn’t fit into any of my old clothes and I felt like my body had no strength.
I wasn’t able to try and get into shape for a while after I delivered my son. I had to get stitches from tearing during the 30 hour delivery I had endured and during pregnancy, I had developed diastasis recti. As a result, I had to avoid doing things that would engage my abdomen for a while after my son was born.
I was afraid my muscles wouldn’t heal back normally and that I would be as weak as I was forever.
That’s probably why one of the main things I wanted, when I started exercising again, was to be stronger than I was before I had my baby.
But I was also unhappy with the way I looked. When I was honest with myself, I knew that I didn’t feel sexy at all. Before I had my son, I felt like I was a sexy woman and I didn’t need to be that way for anyone else. I just enjoyed feeling that way; it’s that feeling of loving being in your own skin. I didn’t feel that way anymore after having my son. I wanted to get that feeling back, and maybe that isn’t the most virtuous, motherly thing to want, but it’s my honesty.
After all, yes, I am a mother now. But I’m still a woman. I deserve to feel beautiful in my own skin.
Before I made any decisions or plans as to how I would get back in shape, I first found the reasons why I wanted to do it and what were the results I was looking for.
Again, those reasons were a)to become strong enough to be fit, able and healthy to do what I need to do to take care of my kid and live, and b)to feel comfortable and sexy in my own skin.
Learn what you need to do to achieve your goals.
After I knew what I wanted, I had to figure out how I was going to go about achieving it. I have only ever had one baby and I had never gained so much weight in my life. I was more than 30lbs over my normal weight. I knew I didn’t want to keep it on, but I didn’t think there was much to getting back in shape.
At first, I thought I would be able to do a few jumping jacks in front of my T.V. every few days and I would melt it off. But it didn’t work. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was breastfeeding right up until my son was 1 year a half, I probably would have stayed at 145lbs for a much longer time. Fortunately, I actually lost almost 10lbs from breastfeeding alone.
After months of squatting, jumping and running on the spot, I realized I was getting nowhere by myself. The truth was, I didn’t have any stamina to work out for even 30 minutes alone. Whenever I started to feel a bit winded, like after 15 jumping jacks, I would stop and “take a break.” Sometimes that break would last two days or more. In fact, even when I said I was working out, I was realistically averaging 15 minutes of exercise every 3 days. That wasn’t going to get me the results I wanted and I was beginning to realize it.
So I sought help.
Normally, I wouldn’t get a personal trainer for myself, partly because I had a fitness fanatic for a mother and by now, I should know a thing or two about working out. But another huge part of why I had never hired a personal trainer before was because it meant I would have to work hard in front of someone else, exposing my weakness and vulnerabilities. That was hard for me and finding the “right fit” for me was extremely important.
But I knew that I had to do it, because when I worked out alone, I wasn’t motivated to push past that 15 minute mark and I knew my body needed it. I also didn’t know what to do or why to do it; I was more lost than I wanted to be. I think I even started to hope that “the magic workout” would somehow come along.
Then I found Zina Docto.
I honestly believe that when you make up your mind to do something, the universe starts to help you. How I met Zina had nothing to do with finding a personal trainer. In fact, when I first came into contact with her, it was to find a babysitter for my son so I could begin attending Thai Language classes. But she had come into my life to bring me so much more than that.
Over time, we got to know each other and I learned that she was a fitness professional and health minister. She talked with me and when I was comfortable, she would prod at what was “beneath the layers.” I found her company to be extremely reassuring and her knowledge, in the area of what I wanted to do, extensive.
That’s something, I think, is also very important to find in a trainer/mentor/personal coach. You should be comfortable enough to be honest with them about your shortcomings and they should know about how to get you to your goals. I found that in Zina.
So when January 2015 began, I made a commitment to myself to do a program with her to get to my goals. Little did I know this would be the first time I would understand fitness and personal care the way that I do now.
Pick a routine and stick to it.
When I had started exercising, alone at first, I found that it was hard to keep the momentum going. Some mornings I would feel like exercising and other mornings, I wouldn’t feel like moving a finger at all. But I never pre-planned what days I would exercise. I never made a schedule or even a routine that I could stick to, look forward to or come to expect, nor did I think that it was important.
Boy, was I wrong.
One of the first things that changed, when I began training with Zina, was how I understood the importance of having a routine. Being held accountable by a trainer and the dollars I was paying for her services was my way of sticking to the routine, which really did wonders for me. First of all, it made my workout consistent. I started right away at four days a week, for one hour, first thing in the morning after dropping my son to school.
I didn’t like it so much at first, but I had paid for a full month of training and I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t follow through, if for nothing but to see if the results would be worth it.
My habit of ending my exercises early and skipping them every week and again fought me at every turn for the first month of training. I longed to sleep in, stay home and curl up whenever I got winded. But by two weeks in I had begun to see some real changes in my body. I was melting down fast: my face, arms, hips and tummy were shrinking more than I thought it could in that amount of time. Not only that, but I had so much more strength as each day passed and I felt better and better about myself every day.
In the past, I worked out a lot too, but there was never consistency. I would do something like workout for 3 days in a row and go a whole week without any exercise, then start up again with nothing but strength training and no cardio, etc. I was younger and thin already, I could get away with that stuff. I didn’t understand that routine and consistency was what I needed to develop the health, body and strength I knew I was capable of. I didn’t understand the concept of regularly working different muscle groups and my cardiorespiratory system. So I didn’t apply them regularly enough to make it effective and as a result, I often became discouraged with exercising, feeling like my body could never change.
Having a routine and schedule made it possible for me to see the results I was looking for.
Change Your Diet
After a month of training, everyone was telling me how different I looked, but I wasn’t there yet. I still had a “ring” of tummy fat around the bottom of my belly that seemed to refuse the exercise therapy. It was at this time that my trainer, Zina, began to really get in my head about the importance of eating differently, and in this case, eating raw.
The all-too-common saying, “You are what you eat,” is actually true.
At the beginning of my second month of training, I started doing a fiber cleanse along with a raw diet that included daily lemon cleanses, salads, raw meals, fruit shakes and nuts, fruits and veggies as snacks. I did this diet 5 days a week, from Monday-Friday, breaking on the weekends to indulge in things like meat, which I didn’t eat during the week. The results from the diet was what convinced me that eating raw, live foods, really was the way to go.
The less doughy, carbs and sugars I ate during the week, the more the doughy-ness of my body was giving way to firmer muscle definition from beneath it.
I started to feel more energy, more alert. My tummy shrank right before my eyes and I didn’t wake up pudgy and bloated as I often would, in the past. I began to be able to see the definition of my abdomen, something I hadn’t seen in years! I also started having bowel movements more regularly and my body felt cleaner, from the inside out. My skin started clearing up and healing better, my hair and nails started to show signs of improvement too.
Putting raw, fresh, living vegetables and fruits into my body on a daily basis was the thing that took me over the edge to getting back into shape.
Today, I am still in shape and I hold dearly to my new body through my own personal care routine. Even though I do not train regularly with Zina anymore, she has become like my own family and I still see her frequently. We still workout together, currently doing Zumba on Mondays.
My own personal care routine involves waking up early and doing some yoga meditation. Then I lead into my own aerobic and body sculpting exercises, including the training I’ve learned with Zina and other exercise styles I’ve learned over the years, like Thai-Bo and my own Zumba dances. I also get a good run in a few times a week.
I wouldn’t say that I am still on a diet but my eating habits have changed. I eat more raw foods, minimize how many cooked foods and carbs I consume on a weekly basis and I still do a fiber cleanse at the end of every weekend. I still eat ice cream on Sundays and the week before my period comes, I am still the chocolate monster. But now I see what I’m putting into my body in a whole new way and I am careful to be aware of it with each bite.
The other, very important, thing that I do to stay in shape is I spend time with other people who are also health conscious and care about leading a healthy lifestyle. The friends we keep will influence us, so I make an effort to choose those influences wisely. We do things like go running together, exchanging health-related info and tips and encouraging each other towards our goals.
I believe that health is a total-being concept. What I mean by that is that health is wellness in every area of our existence: physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, etc.
Being healthy in each area affects every other area of your health. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul.
That’s what I try to do.
In case you’re wondering, I weigh just under 124lbs now and I’m happy. I don’t care about the number on the scale as much as I care about the way that I feel about the person I see in the mirror and how she feels on the inside. That being said, I am extremely pleased with the results of my own hard work. Now, I can say with confidence, then any mother can “bounce back”. It just takes work, consistency and a bit of motivation. But it can happen.
You can learn more about Zina’s program, i AM WOMAN, by clicking the links to her websites below.