I’ve had a lot of trouble writing this because talking about your post baby body can turn into something really… personal. This is mainly a fashion blog so writing about personal things isn’t my strength but I am going through a fitness […]
I’ve had a lot of trouble writing this because talking about your post baby body can turn into something really… personal. This is mainly a fashion blog so writing about personal things isn’t my strength but I am going through a fitness challenge and I wanted to share how it’s going. I always love reading other people’s stories but I find it weird to write about my own. I hope this is helpful to those thinking about fitness after baby or in general. I’m not an expert and you should always consult a doctor before starting a fitness regimen but this is my experience.
It all started when my baby weight wasn’t coming off as easily as it had been. I have two daughters and both have been amazing eaters from the beginning (like breastfeeding well with a great latch minutes after birth). I lose weight with breastfeeding and then it all melted off after I started jogging with my first daughter, Lux.
Poppy, our second baby, is now a 1 year old! After she was born I was impatient for the weight to come off but I knew that I had to use this time to focus on her and just surviving with two under two. The weight came off easily again but I somehow gained 5 pounds (in what seemed like a day) in February. This was while I was going to the gym 3x a week. I became super discouraged and decided, “well I’m too tired to do anything about it so this is my body this summer. Please pass the sleeping bag of M&M’s”. After many fun summer vacations spent with family and friends, I stepped on the scale at the end of July and realized that I gained another 3 pounds in the summer. This made me 8 lbs over my pre-Poppy weight and 10 lbs over my pre-babies weight. I decided to face it all and design a challenge.
I have made challenges for myself before: to get in shape for my wedding, for a trip, etc. with my main goal being weight loss. This time I wanted to lose the baby weight but also establish long-lasting and even lifetime habits. I knew I wanted to get started with jogging because I enjoyed it, it was fast and easy to do because I can run out my door. I know lifting weights is effective for fat burn, but I was discouraged from my weight gain while doing so. I know it was hormones and my eating habits that were the weight-gain culprits, but I wanted to do something different that I enjoyed. I brainstormed with my husband, Wes, and he suggested a 3 month challenge where I run everyday. At the end we decided that I could splurge on a new camel-coloured coat, the perfect reward for a fashion blogger. Honestly, I felt guilty having a fashion-related treat especially after my husband suggested, “good overall health” as my end goal but I have tried other goals. I tried picturing that scale number in my head which never worked (apparently weight-loss only goals aren’t successful) and I feel generally great (no injuries or health problems) so I wasn’t doing this to “fix” myself. I knew all the health benefits I would experience throughout the challenge so I figured having something materialistic as my end goal is fine.
End Reward: a new coat
Goals: Month #1
I read in Time Magazine’s, The Science of Exercise, that people are more successful when they change one habit at a time, ie. start with eating habits and then incorporate exercise. So I decided to focus on just running everyday then approach my eating habits.
Eating too much has always been a challenge for me. I like a big steak and about 3 butter tarts when they’re available. Because of miracles and working out I’m not overweight but to achieve a more toned body like I had pre-baby I really needed to focus on my eating habits. I decided to try this after I felt I achieved goal 1: exercise daily.
Support & Logistics
I think I’m fairly typical in that I have started challenges and ended them because of setbacks and I’ve also had crazy expectations and too many goals. As crazy as running everyday for 3 months sounds I decided to set myself up for success.
When: Early morning, preferably before the girls wake up. As hard as it sounds to jog in the morning I love checking this off my list and having the rest of the day to enjoy. My skin is also a concern with running as I’ve broken out before so I run without makeup on.
How: My husband is the cook in the family and makes breakfast and dinner. So while he prepares and feeds the girls breakfast I would go on my jog.
Where: We are very lucky to live near our waterfront and a beautiful park so I have running eye-candy which is just outside my door.
Set backs and Personal Triggers Concerns
I also listed a bunch of barriers:
Q. What if I was too tired?
A. Too bad, you can run/walk for at least 20 mins. and better energy as a benefit is a few weeks away.
Q. What if Poppy woke up at 2am? (She has a couple times).
A. Either get some sleep asap & try running later, or take her with you in the jogging stroller.
Q. What happens on vacation? I’ve never worked out on vacation… it’s kind of the point of a break.
A. Bring your workout gear and remember it’s only a short time in the morning.
I felt confident and prepared that I could do this challenge with planning and the support of my husband.
I was soooooooo sore. I’ve started running challenges before so I knew what to expect and it was hard to run through but I listened to my body and just slowed my pace and took my time. You’re so motivated the first week of any challenge so to have a set-back like sore muscles is tough but that’s why I had a great end goal.
My older sister came to visit and this usually means late night chats and a Blue Jays game which obviously means stadium food and beer. This week was tough when it came to watching what I ate.
My family and I rented a cottage for a week in Hope Bay, Ontario. It was a beautiful place (all pictures in the post are taken there) but again with vacation comes indulging. We also decided to let our 2.5 year old order her first ice cream cone so how can I not get one too? I ran everyday but they were short runs about 20 minutes. I was proud of myself for running on vacation and even though I indulged a few times I was watching my portion sizes.
We returned home happy to get into our routine again. After running for three weeks straight I felt like running everyday was normal. Running felt easier so I tried stair sprints in the middle of my run and felt absolutely amazing. Daily exercise is now a habit! Next I decided to take a look at my calorie intake.
There are calculators online that can tell you what calorie deficit you need to have in order to lose weight. For me at 5’3″ I would have to eat 2000 calories a day to maintain my weight and 1500 to lose a pound a week (losing a pound is equal to 3500 and the maximum weight you are recommended to try and lose in healthy way. In the past I had cut calories drastically, having only smoothies for breakfast, etc. but this always always failed. I learned that I needed a few things to fuel me: good fats, and a great breakfast. I was concerned about my energy levels (as a mom of two I need energy). I decided that I wanted to keep my normal breakfast of two eggs with a piece of toast, and some sort of sweet snack in the evening- either a couple of dark chocolate almonds or slices of apple with peanut butter and mini chocolate chips. I mapped out what I typically ate in a day and made cuts to 1500 calories. This mostly meant planning healthy snacks and cutting out my “treats” which were donuts or butter tarts (I have a serious weakness). My husband and I have date nights once a week so I decided to save my indulging for then. I found doing a calorie count this way was soooo helpful because I wasn’t into the idea of counting my calories- who has time for that? In general I made sure my lunch and dinners consisted of meat (any meat) with some vegetables.
Music: I listen to upbeat songs which helps with my pace. I love spotify for introducing me to new songs. If you’re not into listening to music when you work out I have friends and family who listen to podcasts when they run!
Running App: I use the Runkeeper app which records my activities while I run. It tells me my pace, distance, and compares my runs to each other. I love getting a notification that I just had my fastest run! It also has the option to update you on your progress while you run which you can set to 5, 10, 15 minute intervals. This is told to you by the voice of your choice. Mine is “mademoiselle” who tells me I can now eat a croissant in a french accent.
My route: I have short runs and long runs but each time I try to beat my 10 minute spot. Like I mentioned above you can be notified that you’re 10 mins into you run which is useful for gauging your progress.
It’s a habit! If I don’t run in the morning now it feels weird. I can say I have officially turned jogging into a habit. The first three weeks were hard mentally and physically. I really had to push myself and thinking of my end goal really helped to keep me moving. I had some really slow and short runs but I still did it.
Energy! Like I said I had been running before and I was looking forward to having more energy and that finally came after 3 weeks. I incorporated doing stair sprints at the same time so I’m not sure whether to credit my body getting used to running or interval training.
Weight loss! After running for 5 weeks, 2 of which I’ve been watching my food portions and eating more nutritious calories, I have lost 2 pounds! Some days are easier than others when it comes to portion control and cravings and we have attended special events with amazing food but I am on track!
Read part 2 of my running challenge here: Becoming a Runner