Fitness after/with baby?

Fitness after/with baby?

I knew it would be hard. I didn't for a second think it would be a cake walk. During my pregnancy I gained a gazillion pounds (despite being healthy and active the entire time.. grrrr...) and then I lost most of it very rapidly in the first few weeks post birth. When I look back at it, it's no wonder my knees, ankles, hips and back SCREAMED at me when I tried to whip myself back into shape. You would think that losing pregnancy weight fairly quickly would make getting back into shape easy but it really didn't. Not in my case.

For me, it was a lot of stopping and starting. For the first 4 months I walked. A lot. My child slept well during walks in the stroller and in her carrier so I walked at least twice a day if not more and for fairly long distances. I think that this is absolutely the healthiest thing anyone can do with a new baby for so many reasons. #1 - you will completely underestimate the power of fresh air for both you and your baby. I think fresh air does wonders for our minds and moods. And guess what? If it's cold, that's what layers were designed for. Also, I will say that I never felt like going. Ever. A lot of the time I dragged myself out or my husband dragged me out.  #2 - Walking is the best way to start to get your muscles and bones used to carrying your new body around. It's low impact and it's easy to do. #3 - It's not fancy and it's free. You can do it anywhere, anytime. Also, guess what? If your baby doesn't like it, if you keep going, they will get used to it. Mila went through phases where she didn't love the stroller so then I had her in the carrier and vice versa. Or I put her in the bucket seat for the walk instead of the bassinet... or vice versa. Don't let the tiny human dictate in those early days when it comes to getting outside. Honestly. YOU NEED IT and SO DO THEY.

I started running again somewhere around the 6 month marker and it was horrible. Everything hurt. I was winded in seconds. My lungs hated me. I felt like I was running for the first time and because of that, I went right back to my training from the very first time I started running 9 years ago - walk 2 mins, run 30 seconds. It felt RIDICULOUS. I've run a dozen races, most of which are over 20 km. This felt so stupid and I felt so defeated. At first. Because sometimes it takes your brain a little while to catch up to the reality of the situation. You think you should be capable of what you were capable pre-birth. YOU'RE NOT. Not yet!

So over the next 6 months I stopped and started my running training 3 or 4 times. I worked in yoga and strength training and just kept walking. Eventually, I was able to strengthen up enough to get myself back up into the longer distances but I was running a full 2 minutes per kilometer slower then I had in the past. I ignored it. Some days I didn't even watch my pace. I just ran. I ran for the fresh air, the quiet, the solitude (on the days I wasn't pushing the 40 lb stroller and hauling the dog lol) and to just feel the pavement under my feet. That's all I cared about.

Over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I ran my first half marathon post baby. On race day, I told myself to maintain a slow pace so I could finish strong and not feet dead for the weeks that followed. I didn't want to be injured and I wanted to enjoy the race. Within the first 5 km my body felt amazing. My pace was back to my regular race pace and everything felt good enough that I didn't just run the race to complete it - I raced it. It took me 3 days to fully recover to the point of no soreness and I am slowly back at my training.

Here's what I know now - be patient with yourself. Don't give up. Keep trying. Try different things. Listen to your body. Push yourself but don't break yourself. Do something you love. Do it for yourself.

Kasia Taekema

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