My journey back to the gym post pregnancy has not gone quite like I planned. Before baby came along I had visions of jumping right back into my gym routine, picking up where I left off, and I never considered finding the time to go an issue. I just assumed I’d leave her at home with her Dad while I beat-bopped my happy tush to the gym and pounded the weights like the good old days. That would be great bonding time for them, I thought to myself. It’ll be a great mental and physical break for me, I thought. I also imagined that since I stayed active and continued weightlifting throughout my pregnancy that bouncing back would be so easy. Insert reality check here.
To give myself a little credit, I don’t think I was completely delusional, only a little. I knew big changes were coming with our little bundle of joy, time would not be at my disposal anymore. I have nieces and a nephew, I’m a pediatric nurse, I know how demanding these little people can be. I was still blindsided. People can tell you all day long how much your life is going to change but until it’s your reality you don’t have a full understanding of just how much it will change. Anyways, I digress, back to my point. Time. My days are not measured in time anymore, they are measured in feedings. Finding time between feedings that also coordinates with a time someone is willing and able to keep my girl…near impossible. Leaving her home with Daddy in the evenings coordinates great with the usual MissFits workouts, however, my fussy girl doesn’t much like evening time and really prefers Mom and breast as opposed to Dad and bottle. Sometimes the stars align and I find the time and I make it to the gym only to cut my workout short to rush home to a hysterical baby who refuses the bottle or just won’t be consoled by anyone but me. So much for that mental break. All this difficulty in finding time and I haven’t even gone back to work yet!
Lacking the time is frustrating in and of itself but what is even more frustrating to me is that when I do make it to the gym I feel like a 90 year old with stiff joints as opposed to the strong beast I once was. Like I mentioned, I assumed staying active throughout pregnancy would make my “recovery” quick and easy. Another reality check. I do firmly believe that continuing my workouts during pregnancy helped me to feel good, helped control my weight gain and most importantly contributed to my super easy labor, however, I was not prepared for just how much my entire body has been affected by not only pregnancy but also breastfeeding. Yes, breastfeeding. I spend a majority of my day nursing my wee little one. Our preferred spot during the day is on the couch with my legs curled under me. This means I spend a lot of time sitting, with my legs curled up and poor posture in my back. When I get up off my couch my joints literally creak. Usually my first few steps are limped as I stretch out my ankles, hips, and lower back. When I do make it to the gym I try to focus a lot of my warm-up time to foam rolling and stretching. I do a lot of ankle mobility, band pull-over breathing, rock back breathing, bretzel, and moving spider man. Kim already touched on how pregnancy has affected her core strength, all I need to say is ditto. Jim so eloquently compares pregnancy to a car bomb exploding in your core. A little violent maybe, but effective analogy. I cannot over-emphasize the power of the core. I feel my squat is most affected by this loss of strength but I can feel it in the slightest of tasks. Even just taking a walk leaves me feeling sore and stiff in my lower back, hips, knees and ankles. This is all just a domino effect from the core down.
Although this road back to being a strong beast is not quite as straight and smooth as I anticipated I will stay committed and focused. Getting my core strength back is top priority and will be accomplished with a lot of the accessory work that Kim mentioned: single leg raises, reverse crunches, dead bug, and band pull over breathing. Combined with our core lifts (pun intended) my core will be on it’s way to recovery.