My Postpartum Fitness Challenge

>> Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's crazy, but in a few days, we'll be a full year from when the whole pregnancy and parenting adventure began. And as much as I enjoy riding out the whole "I-just-had-a-baby" thing, I have to admit it's getting rather, well, old.

Ada is going to be 4 months in a couple weeks. Life with a newborn baby is getting a bit more predictable. Our breastfeeding relationship and my supply are both well established after months of hard work. Best of all, I feel nearly back to my normal self physically.

I've been running since 3 weeks postpartum. And I am now in a place where I feel ready to train again. Not just run, but train to get my paces back and to increase strength. When I was pregnant, running was all about staying fit and healthy during pregnancy.

I immediately gave up on running hard when I saw the plus sign on my pregnancy test. All those months of taking it easier felt great and even helped to heal my IT-band injury that plagued me during the 2010 marathon season.

I'm so thankful to have continued chugging along until my 37th week. And I developed a new stronger relationship with running that was almost purely focused on enjoyment versus competition.

And then I had Ada and my attention moved toward getting out of the house for my sanity between feedings. It worked for for a while. But as the months have rolled on, I've felt a nagging dissatisfaction with my workouts. Trouble with motivation. A weird-for-me focus on my weight and extreme disappointment when breastfeeding didn't magically and immediately give me my old body.

As much as I'd like to continually remind myself that my body has done something miraculous in having a baby, which it most definitely has, I -- like most people -- don't have a perfect body image and -- yes -- have struggled with my transition over the past year. I'm not ashamed to admit this to you all. I think it's a common mental-thing that comes with so much change (like gaining 29 pounds) in a short period of time.

This is all a very long introduction to my new personal fitness challenge. I realized that it's not exactly the number on the scale that's weighing me down. No, my weight normally fluctuates during the year and throughout different training cycles -- and I don't necessarily give it much thought.

Instead, I have underestimated exercising hard and its positive impact on my life before Ada. It was my true stress release and gave me a feeling of accomplishment when I'd reach new PRs or other goals. And to combat new insecurities I'm feeling -- as well as to get back into better shape -- I'd like to get back to it!

I don't have specific goals at the moment. But I have a few general ideas for where I'd like to be by the summer.
  • I'd like to run a 7 minute mile. (My fastest ever was run a couple months before pregnancy and was in the high 6:40s.)
  • I'd like to get my upper-body strength back. (Before pregnancy, I was able to do 5 chin-ups and up to 60 pushups at a time. I had to give up a lot of upper-body focus as my stomach grew . . . for obvious reasons!)
  • I'd like to incorporate ab-work into my regular routine. It's something I've never done. But I've certainly lost a lot of core strength that I used to take for granted.
  • And I would like to fit into a few pairs of my old jeans (which means losing a dress size). This item is the least important to me right now. Though I'm about 8 pounds above my usual pre-pregnancy weight-range, I'd like to try to lose just 5 pounds by the summer.
Why blog about it? Accountability. With caring for Ada, I've found myself letting a lot of workouts slide. I'm fine with skipping from time to time, but I'm letting it happen more and more. Also, as we open our new site in the next couple of weeks, (never home)maker is going to be more fitness-centric. Anyway, I got my general structure from Brittany over at A Healthy Slice of Life. Her postpartum updates have been encouraging and her approach is moderate and healthy. We chatted a bit on Twitter today and agreed that it's best to compare yourself to, well, yourself. (Thanks, Brittany!)


Sharing my weight and measurements is something I debated. (BTW, I'm 5'7" -- which is something I forgot to mention in the original post.) But with accountability comes full disclosure. In other news: Wow. That mile was difficult. But it's important I keep speed-training if I want to get near my old race paces. Also, I imagine it looks ridiculous to count half a chin-up. I felt quite accomplished nearing the bar, so I decided to add it regardless!


Alright. I guess that's what we're starting with. Check back in April for an update on my progress. Short-term, I'm hoping to shave at least a few seconds off my mile time. I'd also like to add about 10 pushups and 5 situps to those that fit into my comfort zone.

What are your current fitness goals? And how do you stay accountable and on-track to meeting them? I'm already dreading next month's timed mile! But I know it's the only way I'm going to push myself. So, in a way, it's also exciting.


Stay tuned for the awesome chocolate-banana (and beer!) cake I made for the occasion. I write this with absolutely zero exaggeration: It is the best. cake. ever.

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