Postpartum Fitness

Why I am proud to be a ‘Fit Mama’ – The Benefits of Fitness Postpartum

fit mom with baby

Childbirth is a beautiful thing. Everyday I am in amazement that my body was able to make a human being, a HUMAN BEING, do you know how crazy that is?! My body was stretched out and pushed to its limits during the 9 months of pregnancy and now it provides all the food and nutrients my baby needs to survive.

My body has taken a beating. My bellybutton will never be the same, my butt will never be as firm and my boobs never as perky (there is a lot to say for good angles and flattering lighting). Sure, I don’t have stretch marks but I have dealt with terrible hip pain, knee pain, back pain, stress incontinence and separated abs all due to carrying around my beautiful 9lb12oz baby! If any of you knew me before you know I have always been slender, so it’s not really a surprise that I bounced back after the baby. Before pregnancy I was a 32A and a size 4, and now at 6 months postpartum I finally fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again. I won’t say that I didn’t have to try, of course I did, but I have always lived a healthy active lifestyle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My motivation for getting fit postpartum is simple, I want to be healthy so that I can feel my best and be able to do the things that I want to do with my daughter and husband. Losing weight just happens to be one of the many benefits of exercise. I work in the health and fitness industry…I always have, and I always will. It is my job to motivate others to succeed and reach their goals. As an Occupational Therapist we encourage people to set goals that are important to them. I feel this is important not just from a health and fitness perspective but also to provide some organization to life. How do you work towards something if you don’t know what you are working towards?

danielle honea family photography

So what are my goals? I want to be the best mother I can be, I want to be physically and mentally strong so that I may provide for my daughter in any way that I can. I also want to be happy and healthy, which for me go hand in hand. My definition of health does not include weight or measurements but rather how I feel. I FEEL best at my normal size. In all honestly, I felt AWFUL while I was pregnant. I vividly remember walking up the stairs at the beach one day (and I was only about 20 weeks pregnant at the time) thinking that I was glad this was just temporary because I never wanted to feel like this again. I didn’t see pregnancy as a reason to ‘throw in the towel and kiss my former body goodbye’ but rather a reason to strive to be fitter, healthier and stronger postpartum than ever before. To me health is not defined by the number that you see on the scale but rather by functional measures. These include how well you are able to do your day-to-day activities, how you are able to engage in leisure time, and how you keep up with your family and manage responsibilities at work.

Baby swim lessons

Lately there is a new social media trend, particularly in the postpartum community. Women are encouraged to love their postpartum body and show appreciation for who they are and what they have accomplished (like making a baby!). I truly think this is fantastic. It is wonderful and empowering to see other women who are proud of being a mom, stretch marks and all. Check out the hashtags #takebackpostpartum and #takebackfitspo for a beautiful array of women showing love for themselves and their babies. Unfortunately this has spurred another movement that I don’t agree with. Women now feel it is okay to put others down for their lifestyle choices, particularly those who choose to workout and ‘get their bodies back’ postpartum. With social media it is easy to judge others, but it’s important to remember that there is a real person behind those pictures, and you can never judge a book by its cover.

#takebackpostpartum

Obviously I am an advocate for working out after pregnancy. Rebuilding your core and gaining back your strength is key for preventing injury and health conditions later in life. By exercising effectively now you decrease your chance of developing pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, back pain and incontinence later in life. Have I been doing all this for a flat stomach? No. Sure It’s nice, but rebuilding my core strength after pregnancy has improved my low back pain and healed my diastasis recti so I can avoid complications in the future. Most people become deconditioned during pregnancy, which can also cause injuries and pain that interfere with your ability to care for your child(ren). Did you know that people gain on average a pound a year after the age of 20? Add 5-10 pounds retained after each pregnancy and that would put an average woman at 30-40 pounds overweight at age 50 after 2 kids. This additional weight puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, injuries, chronic pain, mental health issues, and shorter life expectancy. Having a baby is tough, it is exhausting caring for another little human all day! But by finding 30 minutes a day to engage in physical activity now you can help prevent so many health conditions later.

The words thin and healthy are not always one in the same. People can be very unhealthy but still be thin (take a look at some drug addicts or heavy smokers), and people can also have a large build and still be healthy! It is important to see people as individuals rather than quantifying others based on their weight or appearance. It is extremely frustrating to see derogatory comments to others online implying that if someone looks good on the ‘outside’ they must be rotten ‘inside’ or vice versa.

skinny is not sexy, health is

I workout 5 days a week, I eat healthy, I work hard, and I take care of my family. In return I feel happy, I have increased energy, I have more patience, I suffer from less injuries and pain, I have decreased stress and anxiety, I have no major health issues, and hey, I fit into my skinny jeans again. For me, the link between physical health and mental health is strong, and one cannot exist without the other.

Does this make me obsessive? Possibly… exercise is addictive. When I do something, I strive for 100%, that is my personality and that will never change. I crave exercise, I crave the fresh air, I crave the sweat on my face, I crave the adrenaline rush and I crave the feeling of accomplishment when I get through a tough run or crazy Crossfit workout. I crave the feeling of being alive.

Does this make me vain? Maybe…but people who look better often feel better, so if this is counteracting depression then I’ll take it.

Does this make me a bad mother? Absolutely not. I spend quality time with my daughter and husband everyday. I workout with her or I workout at home or sneak to the gym while she’s having a nap. My husband and I share delicious home-cooked meals every night and he appreciates all that I do in order to take care of my family and myself. Everyone has their own priorities and it’s important to respect that. By doing the things that make you feel alive, whether it be working, playing with your kids, cooking, eating, or spending time with family and friends, you are living your life to its full potential and fulfilling your own personal goals and aspirations.

So call me vain, call me selfish, call me obsessive, what’s important is that this little girl can call me Mom.

happy baby

In fitness and good health,

Natasha

Please like & share:

Effect of Exercise on Breast milk

So with all this running I’ve been doing it got me wondering if I am negatively affecting my milk supply and if my baby was still receiving adequate nourishment (I think I was just looking for reasons NOT to train for this half marathon). This led me to do some research! Yes, I know… of course I’m a nerd like that but I didn’t become an evidence-based practitioner for nothing…this is how we roll! So let me share with you bits and pieces of what I learned.

women after long run

In summary, breastfeeding is not negatively affected by exercise whether it be prolonged cardiovascular exercise or moderate to high intensity training. There is some evidence that lactic acid levels increase if you feed your baby immediately after a high intensity workout (Carey & Quinn, 2001), which could cause a change in the taste of the milk but has no negative effects on the baby and most of the time they don’t notice. Even then, you would have to REALLY exert yourself to see this kind of change in milk composition.

In terms of milk supply, as long as adequate fluid and calorie intake is achieved exercise has no negative effect on milk supply (Dewy et al., 1994). This is what I was most worried about because after my long run last week I tried to pump afterwards and got very little! Which was stressful obviously! Of course I panicked, and then my husband reminded me that I just fed her before I left so it had only been a little over an hour and a half. Duh, that makes sense. Also, my own personal hypothesis is this… your body probably puts milk production on hold while exercising because it is using the energy for your muscles, BUT most likely makes up for it later in the day.

When the composition of breast milk was studied it was also found that there was no change in immune factors (such as SigA, lactoferrin, and lysozyme), major minerals (calcium, phosphorus, etc) and major nutrients (fat, protein, lactose) (Fly, Uhlin, Wallace, 1998).

I also found this to be super interesting ….

“ recreational athletes who performed an average of 88 minutes per day of aerobic exercise during the 6 months of breastfeeding had less body fat and produced a slightly greater quality and quantity of milk than postpartum non-exercising women” (Lovelady et al., 1990)

So pretty much because I am exercising I am producing higher quality and quantity of milk as well as reaping all the other benefits of postpartum exercise such as; decreased incidence of depression, decreased stress, improved mood and behaviour and increased weight loss. Guess this half- marathon training is paying off for everyone, including my baby & husband!

Now I have to add, after my quick literature review I did find there is definitely  room for further research on the subject, a lot of the studies were from the 90’s and came from the same few researchers, but it’s just not a very highly studied topic so have to take what I could get!

So there is it, you can put your mind at rest…. breastfeeding and exercise are actually a good combo! Few things to remember…be sure to keep your fluid intake up, especially if it is a hot day out! It’s crucial to replace everything that you sweat out to avoid dehydration. I aim for 16 cups of water a day, and I usually have a coconut water or electrolyte beverage if it’s a day where I particularly sweat a lot. Also, losing 0.5-1lb a week while breastfeeding is perfectly healthy but you don’t want to lose too much weight too fast so be sure to replace some of the calories burned by exercise by having an extra snack afterwards.

In fitness & good health,

Natasha

Sources

Carey GB, Quinn TJ 2001, Exercise and lactation: are they compatible? Can J Appl Phys 26(1): 55–74.

Dewy K, Lovelady C, Nommsen–Rivers L, McCrory M, Lonnerdal B 1994, A randomised study of the effects of aerobic exercise by lactating women on breast-milk volume and composition. New Engl J Med 330: 449–453.

Fly AD, Uhlin KL, Wallace JP 1998, Major mineral concentrations in human milk do not change after maximal exercise testing. Am J Clin Nutr 68(2):345–9.

Lovelady C, Lonnerdal B, Dewey K. Lactation performance of exercising women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1990;52:103–9.

Please like & share:

Santa Barbara Hikes

So there are only a few days left in March! Crazy how the time flies. In terms of how I am doing with my March Madness personal challenge, I am pretty happy where I stand right now! I have been continuing to eat fairly clean, been working out 4-5x/week and getting walks in on my off days.

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to explore different areas of Santa Barbara, this week we went for walks at Shoreline Park down to east beach, met some clients at La Mesa Park, and did a hike in Montecito! Really hoping to finish this month strong and make these last few days count.

image

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s on the agenda tomorrow? 6 mile run. This should be interesting. My swolemate convinced me that I should sign up for a half marathon with her on Mothers Day. I am not much of a runner, but I must admit I feel different now, running has become slightly easier. Mind you, running after having a baby still feels strange ‘down below’ but I think that’s due to my core still needing some work. I used to HATE running because my hips would hurt, my lungs would hurt, and it was just an awful experience, there was no runners high for me! So this is definitely a new challenge.  If tomorrow’s run goes well I will be on track to finish 13 miles at the beginning of May!

family hiking in montecito

santa barbara beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy the pictures! 3 MORE DAYS of March, I will check in with my final measurements and set new goals for April!

Please like & share:

Mid Month Check-in

women with baby in bathing suit 5 months postpartum
Feeling more comfortable in a bathing suit!

Well, it’s hard to believe but we are already through the first half of the month! I must admit I was a little ambitious taking on a personal challenge this month…I  forgot that not only was I was returning to work but my parents are also in town visiting.

Also, my swolemate (for a definition on what a swolemate is click here) was away on vacation! On a side note, be sure to check out her blog, she’s one of the greatest women I know!

All of these combined have definitely affected my motivation to stick to my workout and eating plan.

Although it was tough, I am proud to say that I have not missed a workout all month! I have been able to get in at least a 30 minute walk on my rest days and have been packing my lunch everyday for work to ensure that I am eating enough and eating healthy. Here is a breakdown of what a typical day looks like in terms of nutrition. My goals are 40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein. Image courtesy of myfitnesspal app, which I am using to track my nutrition, along with my fitbit as a step counter.

 

myfitnesspal calorie breakdown

Things I am proud of

– Weightlifting 4x/week and feeling stronger every workout
– Setting 3 Personal Records at Crossfit! (90 lb clean and jerk, 50 consecutive double unders, and 50 consecutive wall balls)
– Walking on all my rest days
– Taking advantage of beautiful Santa Barbara weather (beach days, pool days, and walks downtown)
– Spending quality time with my family and being active together!
– Being 2 pounds away from my target weight.
– Working. I haven’t worked with elderly patients in well over 6 months and it has brought me great pleasure working at the nursing home this past week. They make me feel so appreciated, it’s wonderful. Reminds me of why I went into the profession where I can help others.

Hiking in Santa Barbara
Our hike in Santa Barbara last weekend!
Man with tula babywearing
My husband with the baby on our hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals for the rest of the month

– Increase my protein intake , I noticed after reviewing my food logs that I could definitely use some more protein in my diet.
– Prepare my lunches ahead of time, even when I am home. Since those seem to be the days I forget to eat.
– Start running
– Do pilates 1x/week and work on rehabilitating my shoulder by doing home exercises (something that I consistently neglect until it gets so painful I can’t do anything)

That’s it! Will check in again at the end of the month!

In fitness and good health,
Natasha

Please like & share:

March Madness Challenge

Fitness dog tongue out
Who is in?!

So I’ve decided that I am taking on my own challenge for the month of March. Although I have been working out religiously since I was 4 weeks postpartum it’s now time to step it up a notch. Here are my reasons why I feel I am ready for a more serious workout regime…

– I have been doing my core and pelvic floor exercises daily and feel that I am strong enough to stabilize while doing more complex movements and lifting heavier weights.

– I am no longer out of breath doing simple exercises! I’m not sure about everyone else but that first month back I was seriously winded everytime I did any sort of cardio.

– I am within 5 pounds of my target weight, this means that I can now focus on building muscle rather than losing weight. I think I have mentioned before that I like to track my progress by how I look rather than what I weigh since it’s not a very indicator of health, but I still like to be in the 135-145 range, which is good for my height (5’9″)

– My baby is 4 months old now! That means that she sleeps better at night, and we can go out more during the day. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but we are getting on a better schedule is key to developing a good workout routine.

– I have less and less relaxin in my system, meaning that my ligaments and joints are more stable which puts me at a lower risk of injury. Read my post here for more information on relaxin!

– This is pretty vain but we only have a few months until summer and I want to be back feeling great in my bathing suit!

So what does this mean? My goal is to lose inches, particularly in my hips and waist. I would like to gain muscle and decrease fat, WITHOUT harsh dieting, but rather healthy eating.  I have to be very careful because dieting severely affects my milk supply. I want to continue working out but try to incorporate some sort of physical activity every single day, including rest days. This doesn’t mean go hard at the gym everyday, as everyone’s body needs sufficient rest, but just overall be more active in terms of walking places or doing things around the home. I also am going to introduce some variety into my workouts, Crossfit is awesome BUT because of the intense  strain on your muscles it’s always best to balance this out with yoga, pilates, barre class, yoga, and at home body weight exercises and stretching.

I will be  tracking my progress with pictures and measurements. If you are postpartum or simply want to improve your fitness please think about joining me on this month long challenge! Just contact me now! I will help you by providing workout routines, meal plans, and tips and check-ins to help you stick with it! If you can do this for the month of March, thats 31 days towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Please like & share:
Santa Barbara Personal Training, Group Training, Consultation Services