Hello my name’s Emma and I’m a yo-yo dieter and yo-yo gym goer/fitness doer!
I write my blogs comparing a topic from a pre/post small human perspective but nothing has changed here other than having small humans has afforded me more excuses in my arsenal to not up my fitness e.g. too tired the baby isn’t sleeping, can’t get to the gym/class due to childcare issues.
I would be able to make an elaborate parquet floor had I kept my various gym membership cards over the past couple decades. Last year I ran (I use the word ‘ran’ loosely, it was more of a quick shuffle) my first 10k 6 weeks pregnant. This year I’m not even Couch to 5k, more couch to car.
I have such good intentions on the fitness front, as I do with attempts at healthy eating, but I’m impatient. I want to see quick results, get disillusioned, and it all goes a bit flip flop pretty quickly. Whenever I’ve achieved my best weight loss/fitness it’s because I’ve taken it slowly, taken it one day at a time and made small sustainable changes which became habit. I know what to do so why is it so hard?
I’ve tried all sorts of things over the years but I find it really helps if I’ve got someone championing me on. I’ve recently just finished an 8 week strength program with Helen at Frontier Performance. This was a group session with 4 other women, twice a week, with access to a private FB page for exercises, tips, advice, etc. The sessions take place in a studio, not a gym, and you’re the only people there. There was no flogging yourself on a treadmill for half hour, just lifting using free weights and our own body weight. I’d leave there completely knackered but also having had a laugh with the other girls. Measurements were taken at the start/end but the proof was in the fit test repeated at the end where my fitness levels had greatly increased.
As I’m on my second innings I know the physical impact having a small human can have on your body/fitness and the need to take exercise slowly. I asked my good fitty friend Caroline (www.fittobe.co.uk) if she’d collaborate with me on this post. She wears many hats, two being a personal trainer and first time mum. What follows is her advice on fitness, how to get it back but also her surprise at the impact having her small human had on her own fitness. Quite frankly if it had such an impact on her there was no hope for me and that makes me feel much better! Here she is:-
I know this will strike a chord with most of you, but when I became a mum, I got a little lost. Being a parent is so rewarding but we can all agree that it can get a little messy. Suddenly we have a small human(s) depending on us and we put ourselves and our own needs last. In a nutshell, we forget about our own oxygen masks and suddenly find ourselves staring in the mirror at someone who we no longer know.
As a Personal Trainer, I felt that I should be ‘bouncing back to fitness’ immediately after giving birth. I remember picking up a pair of dumbbells in my high-tech gym (my garage) 3 weeks after giving birth and was mortified that I could barely manage a 5 min workout. I quickly learnt that I needed to have a word with myself and, in the words of my bewildered but ever supportive partner, chill the F out.
I remember feeling ‘weak’ – where had my ab strength gone? My back hurt, and don’t get me started on ‘that’ pain near your coccyx!
I think it’s rare to hear a mum NOT talk about her post baby body or stress about fitting into her “pre-baby” jeans. Just a scroll through social media and you’ll see a mum flaunting her abs and post baby body after 6 weeks. Some might say #fitmuminspiration but others (the majority) may say otherwise.
So, as my baby girl ripped up my metaphoric fitness and nutrition rule book, I am now all about simplifying the process, making it do-able for people to take action and get results so they can live life rather than being on the side-lines. I don’t preach a one size fits all approach or promote any quick fix programmes, because quite frankly there aren’t any. Having lived, breathed and been dictated to by the fitness industry for 15 years+, I can tell you that no method of exercising, or way or eating is revolutionary.
One of my ‘missions’ is to help people to become their best by making them see that we do not need to be fixed because we are not broken. The plans, the diets, the rules, the programmes all promising false hopes that when we get “there” something magical happens, is what is broken. We just need to learn sustainable habits that can be implemented into our daily chaotic lives so we have the mental energy to focus on everything else.
I am also proof that you can, in fact, be the fittest YOU can be, have a fulfilling family life and career and eat food you enjoy without guilt!
Emma asked me to give some tips on improving fitness post baby and what I would say is, all exercise is good, but some can be better than others….
Running is good…..cardio strength training is better
Exercise machines are good……free weights can be better
Core work is good…..integrated strength work is better
Doing something is good….. doing something with a focus is better
It all depends on YOUR goals but if just want to feel better and look a little bit better just move more. I tend to do very short HIIT weight sessions which are no more than 20 mins, usually with dumbbells or kettlebells. But the main point is, it’s just about getting yourself to work really hard for short intervals – it could be stair climbing, boxing, football, dancing or conventional gym workouts. As long as you can get that cardiovascular response that shows you’re working hard, it doesn’t matter so much about the mode of exercise.
Time spent working hard doesn’t feel so bad if it’s spent doing something you love.
Running up the stairs, doing shoulder presses with a 14 month old, doing kitchen squats are just some of my favourite ‘go to’ exercises. Flick the kettle on – 10 squats, wash babies bottles – 10 squats, stick Spotify on – 10 squats, sit baby in highchair and entertain her by doing squat jumps back and forward across the kitchen – happy squealing baby AND a firmer butt. What’s not to love?
So there we have it. Tomorrow I shall be squat jumping my way across my kitchen irrespective of the massive glass patio doors and close vicinity of the neighbours.
As usual I’ll be having my weekly chat on this topic in my private Facebook group (Light It Up: Let’s Talk) this Wednesday 1st August 8-9pm. Everyone is welcome and you can find the group via my FB page https://www.facebook.com/lightboxblogger/ Caroline will be joining in the chat with me this week so it’s a fantastic opportunity to put your questions to a qualified personal trainer who also understands the demands of motherhood.