As soon as I saw those 2 little red lines on the pregnancy test, my gym membership was cancelled. Not literally, but in my eyes, the gym was not for pregnant women and plus I was only focused on eating for two.
10 months passed and our new boy was here and 12 months passed and everyone was hitting the gym in a new year, new me frenzy working on their summer bodies. Immediately, I just felt awful. I was constantly comparing myself to all the fitness models on Instagram and making myself feel bad for being at my biggest weight after JUST having a baby. This is one of the biggest downfalls of social media but that’s a blog for another day.
When I was ready and signed off by midwives and doctors, I returned to the gym. I’ve never felt more intimidated. I felt as though I had NEW MUM written across my forehead and found myself aimlessly wandering around in the hope that the weight would just fall off.
I’m no stranger to the gym, over the years, I’ve had a sustainable on and off relationship with the gym and even when I’ve taken a month or two off, I find myself going back with my tail between my legs. However, having 11 months off the gym was a big knock to confidence and it made me feel as though I was a beginner all over again and in a way I was.
People always say when you’re pregnant “Your life will never be the same again” but what they should say is “Your life and body will never be the same again” ...in the greatest way! Abs feel good but you’ve given birth to new life and you should be just as proud of that.
So here I am wandering around the gym and I decided that I’d take comfort in the back of classes, surely no one can see me there and that’s where I stayed for the next 4 months. Legs, bums and tums, spin, body tone, you name it - even twice a day, if I had a baby sitter I was there. Slowly but surely, I started to feel like Chelsea. I was doing something for me and getting a huge endorphin kick to go with it, what more could you want? Also, Bobby’s grandparents were fully on board to help out and babysit whilst I sweated away in the gym because who doesn’t like newborn cuddles?
Months later and with the mum tum reducing, I decided I wanted to venture to the ‘Big boys’ part of the gym! You know the part that’s always crowded with lots of scary-looking machines and free weights, but I thought I can’t do this alone.
I recruited a PT to come onboard and show me the fundamentals and more importantly for someone as clumsy as me, how not to hurt myself. I started to love the gym and as every session went by I was feeler stronger. Becoming a mum shifted my focus when it came to health and fitness. I wanted to feed myself correctly (The odd McDonalds is not going to kill me!) and also to be strong. I found myself whilst out for a run thinking about when Bobby is older, how I want to be able to keep up with him and kick a football with him - these thoughts really became my motivation!
Months down the line and I’m now training with a new PT named Ellis and I feel like I’ve got my gym bug back. It is so important to find a PT who fits you. Ellis understands that I get bored easily so ensures that he mixes up exercises so I’m not in the danger zone of getting bored. For me diet is also a big part, one day can turn into a bad week and so forth. I also do not have the dedication to be meal prepping for the week on a Sunday night, so I find myself leading a balanced diet and intuitively knowing what’s good for me and what’s bad for me too. Something I particularly like about Ellis is that he doesn’t force me to tell him what I’m eating every day or patronise me about how much protein I should be eating, we’re all adults here! During my initial consultation, we had a chat about diet, I said I was comfortable with my diet as I eat pretty clean 90% of the time and that was that!
Now Bobby is one, and over the last year I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I’m smaller than I was pre-pregnancy, I have a better relationship with food and exercising is part of my weekly routine. So, if I can give any new and experienced mums on exercising after having a baby, it would be these;
1. Do it for you!
Whether you’ve just had a baby or your youngest is 5, it doesn’t matter, being a mum means that these little people come first and more often than not, we leave our needs in the wings but you’ve got to make time for you! With 168 hours in the week, find 2 or 3 for you and go work out, the endorphin kick is worth it, I promise.
2. Don’t struggle by yourself
Ask for help, whether it be friends or a PT. For me, I found a PT the perfect solution, diet advice, machine advice, lifestyle change advice all in one big brain. They teach you the correct form and leave you feeling confident that you can walk in the gym and walk out alone. In my opinion, I felt I only needed a PT for a number of weeks before I started to feel as though I could work out alone. If you are going to invest in a PT, make sure you do your research and find a PT that fits for you!
3. Slow, steady and consistent wins the race.
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be covering the front page of Women’s Health after one PT session, you’ve got to be consistent and keep at it. These things take time. It’s easy to get sucked into 6- week plan, 12-week plans that are sold on Instagram but the plan isn’t going to give you the body of a Greek god, you’ve got to work for it!
4. There’s no pressure.
Make sure you’ve got the green light from health professionals before you go throwing yourself on the leg press. Enjoy time with your baby and don’t feel like you to look like others or that you have to ‘bounceback’ - set your own pace! You’re doing this for you.