Transformation Tuesday: 6 Months Postpartum
It has been three months since I’ve updated you on my post-baby transformation (how is that even possible!?!). I promise I’ve intended to share openly with you many times before now, and yet, each Tuesday would pass without a word. At first, I was simply struggling to find the time. I made tremendous progress in April and May and then had a few self-sabotaging weeks. I’ll wait until the next Tuesday, I thought, when I’m back on track and only have positive things to share. Bad week. Good week. Bad week. Next Tuesday then.
And here we are.
The truth is, finding your old self, your old body, your old strength is like anything else: you have to work at it and it doesn’t always come easy. I’ve been far from perfect and I’m not “there” yet, but I’m really proud of where I am today.
Where I’ve Been
In case you haven’t been following along at home, here are the Cliffs Notes to catch you up to speed:
- I had a baby on January 9. I gained 29 pounds during pregnancy and stopped running at 28 weeks pregnant. I continued to walk, do the elliptical and go to barre classes up until the day before my delivery date.
- I waited six full weeks before attempting any exercise. I ran three times, was sidelined from joint pain caused by post-pregnancy hormones and took another two weeks off. I spent most of those weeks as a ravenous monster, eating everything in sight and making more poor choices than I care to detail.
- I finally got my act together around three months postpartum. I started eating clean and proportionally and was able to run again. I started back with four weeks of walk-run intervals that gradually increased until I was no longer walking. I also maintained 2-3 days per week of strength training.
- Within the first three weeks postpartum, I lost 17 of the 29 pounds I had gained naturally. By the end of May with cleaner eating and exercising, I lost 10 additional pounds, putting me just shy of about 4 pounds from my normal pre-pregnancy weight. This is where I’ve stayed ever since, yo-yoing a bit back and forth between good weeks and bad weeks. (I am still breastfeeding.)
- My running has stayed at 15 miles per week despite original desires to be back in the 20s by now. I ran my first postpartum 5K at the beginning of June.
Where I Am Today
Where am I at six months postpartum? Emotionally and mentally strong, physically stagnating but at peace.
I feel happy, fulfilled and balanced. The things that are truly important are my top priorities. That means some things that used to be important to me have dropped a notch or two, but I don’t feel like that is a sacrifice. My baby has changed my life in ways I could never have fully appreciated. I understand things I only thought I understood before.
Although my body and running still feel weak at times, I oddly feel stronger than ever. While I’m training a team of runners for fall marathons and half marathons, I haven’t done the first thing to put my own plan together. Yes, I’ve been exercising at least five days per week most weeks, but I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. My longest postpartum run has been 6.2 miles, and the fastest pace I’ve maintained outside of my 5K is in the 8:50/mile range. I’ve been holding on to the last 4-5 pounds of baby weight, mainly because of yo-yo choices I’ve made, alternating between strong, healthy weeks and willpower-less ones.
Where I’m Headed
So where do I go from here?
I’m going to continue to stay focused and disciplined on making good food choices, knowing that life is meant to be lived and key lime pie and Twizzlers simply can’t be avoided. Those last four pounds will come.
I’m going to up the ante on my running. Today, I declare that I will put together a formal plan for my fall half marathon (because if you say it on the Internet you have to do it, right?). Now that I have a solid base, I will start incorporating speed work this month. I hope to get up to 20 miles per week this month and seven miles for my long run.
What I’ve Learned
I am the same person today that I’ve always been, and yet I am a totally different person. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. Here’s what stands out to me from the past six months:
- The love you feel for your child is beyond anything you could ever imagine or anticipate. In my head I knew I would love my daughter, but nothing prepared me for just how much I love her. It’s hard to believe I spent nearly 35 years without her. She makes our life full and is the greatest blessing ever.
- Family, and friends who are like family, are everything. There is no greater gift and nothing comes ahead of that.
- Running makes me feel strong, even when I feel weak while running.
- Our bodies need more time than we think they do to return to running after pregnancy. 12 weeks is probably the real amount of time most of us who have vaginal births need to feel normal again while running and doing cardio-based workouts. I’ve enjoyed starting slow and gradually building. Many months ago, I thought I’d be in a different place by now … faster, running more. I believe too many women are in a rush to compare their new self to their old one and to chase after paces and distances that probably aren’t safe or even necessary. Everyone is different and I deeply respect that. But I also know that while 12 weeks or six months sound like a long time, it comes quick … before you know it, you are back. Rushing to train for races or meet arbitrary running goals clouds the ability to appreciate the miracle of what our bodies can do and the joy in rediscovering the journey back to running.
- If I never hear the words “don’t be so hard on yourself” again, that’s just fine by me. Many people have said those words to me when I fessed up to making maniac eating choices or excuses not to exercise when I was fully able to do so. I sincerely appreciate the kindness behind that sentiment, but being a little hard on myself (ourselves) is what pushes me (us) to do the right thing and be the better selves we want to be. I am in total control of my decisions. Some days, I have strong will power and make great choices. Other days, I cave into my temptations or lack of motivation and make poor ones. Some weeks feel perfect while others feel like a roller coaster. We’re human. The truth is not that we’re too hard on ourselves when we feel frustrated by our choices; the truth is we know we can do better and we have the power to try again tomorrow. The only way we get better is by challenging ourselves. If it was easy, we’d all be doing it right the first time.
- Oftentimes, we don’t prioritize the things in our lives the way we actually feel about them. We need to challenge ourselves to make sure the most important things come first. The other things can wait.
- Disconnecting is so important. Put down the phone. Step away from the screen. Really look around you and at everything in front of you. Soak it up and take it in. Be present in your own life.
Ok, I’m stepping off my soap box, and the scale, for a while. Thank you for all your encouragement and support as I’ve continued along this journey and new chapter in my life and with my running.
Tell me something you’ve learned about yourself or your running during the past six months.