I remember the day I cleaned 105kg for the first time.
I knew that I was heavier than normal, but didn’t think anything of it. Little did I know that I was about a month pregnant and I was literally making gains not just in lifting, but in the journey to becoming a parent for the first time.
The transition from being a solo gym goer to a gym person with a baby hasn’t been easy, but it’s possible.
Hopefully, this blog could provide some insight.
Working out while pregnant was a wonderful learning experience. My workouts became longer as I needed more breaks in between sets and my whole program changed. I drifted away from olympic lifting and did more adapted strength training.
After getting adjusted with working out while being pregnant, 41 weeks (she was cozy) went by pretty fast. By 40 weeks, I was ready for Henley to be out and I was trying all these old wives tales to induce labor. Even squatting 100k didn’t help.
My body was not prepared at all for birth. I was kidding myself thinking I’d be back in the gym soon. Even with a positive birthing experience, adjusting to my new body was difficult, but I listened to it tried to stay sane by getting outside as much as possible.
It’s a crazy feeling to be so happy about bringing a new life into the world, but also feel an incredible amount of sadness. One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I had Henley was, “it’s okay to cry in the shower”.
I wasn’t sure what that meant when I was given the advice, but I experienced it quickly and I embraced it.
When you’re used to an active lifestyle and you’re seemingly sequestered in your house the majority of the time after having a child, it’s overwhelming and confusing.
So much of my post-pregnancy life was different than I imagined. I thought my stomach should “deflate” faster, I had to be sure I was eating more than I was used to in order to keep up with breastfeeding, I was reading all about newborn schedules, worried about getting enough sleep, and I think most importantly trying to keep the healthy relationship that I have with my boyfriend, DJ.
While waiting to get cleared from the doctor, I wanted to stay active and ensure I was mentally stable for Henley. I thought being active with Henley would help her as well. Going for walks were part of our daily routine. If we couldn’t go out because of the weather we’d switch it up. Babywearing during house chores, shopping at Target, and hanging out with friends and family. Free activities are our favorite. Some days we stay in the house and that’s okay too.
When I was cleared to work out from the doctor, I was so excited and nervous. We would work out as a family so we could conquer entertaining Henley together. I bought a program from Dane and attacked it as I did in the past, but holy cow, was I in for a new realization.
Weights were ridiculously heavy and breaks were needed because of my body and feeding Henley on the side. In those moments, I knew that this would take time. Maternity leave was almost over and I knew that exercising was going to take a turn. To this day, that program still sits in my bag...unfinished.
I was determined to find a schedule before I went back to work. I wanted to sleep and I wanted Henley to sleep. A fed and well-rested baby is a happy baby.
When I took a pause on working out while trying to get adjusted with going back to work full time, it was hard. On top of feeling “gross” some days and also seeing how these semi-famous moms make working out look so easy on social media, I was avoiding the gym because of how the schedule was going.
After some time, I took the plunge and went in. I went in solo and I had to be strong knowing that DJ was the trainer and not able to be the parent at these times.
How I Manage
One of the things that helped with going back to the gym was a plan. I write down the meals for the week over the weekend and I also write down how DJ is going to participate in the week without being with us. I write what needs to be done around the house, what meals need to be bought for dinner, what crockpot dishes we can make, etc. We’re a family and we understand that in order for everything to flow, we need a plan and open communication.
Working out with a baby is difficult, but it’s possible. Go in with a plan and understand that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. Last week I went in, did 4 sets of 3 of back squats and then Henley decided she wanted to explore outside.
I walked out a little frustrated, but I stopped and checked myself and realized I got to squat and Henley hopefully learned that crawling over to an edge with a 5-foot drop is not the best idea (I got her before it happened).
I do my best to plan my workouts with Henley in mind. I reserve certain special toys just for the gym so they’re especially fun. Gym time is also snack time - those crackers have been a life saver! If Henley needs my attention, I try to overwhelm her with attention by including her in my workout. Push-ups with kisses are always fun, goblet squats, pistol squats, assault bike with the air blowing on them is fun, etc. And never turn down someone asking if they could take your baby while you work out.
I do have my moments where I complain about my body and change into five different outfits, but realize after I’m done having my moment that things change and I am lucky to have what I have.
My style has changed, I don’t care about showing my stomach when I have to breastfeed, and I feel extra confident when I get to dress up at least once a month (if that). I’m still 10 pounds away from where I used to average and it’s okay. I’ll get there and if I don’t, that’s okay too.
I kept my baby fed for 10 months and hopefully can continue until she’s one. That in itself is pretty freaking amazing.
I know it's hard -- I’ve lived it. Hopefully, I’ve shown moms that anything is possible, but it will take time and patience. It’s not always pretty, but breathe and soak in those moments where you get to be by yourself and think of all you have accomplished throughout the day.
I literally have a post-it note to remind myself to take protein and vitamins on my fridge. I have walked in my house and looked at the menu and said cereal for dinner looks just fine.
I also have skipped the gym because it’s been a long day at work and had no motivation at home to be active.
Give yourself credit and always remember that self-care is always okay!