Monthly Archives: February 2010

Girl Interrupted: Life in the midst of a pregnant pause

Years ago, a wise woman told me, “When you have a child, you will have to pause”.  As much as I understood her advice, I wouldn’t truly appreciate it until I lived it myself. With a baby we bring joy, laughter and love into our lives. But also an interruption to plans. They call it a pregnant pause.

It’s 7:30 on Sunday morning as I write this post. Outside, the street is still. The city is quiet and the air crisp. It’s an inviting time for a long slow run. At this time last year, I’d have been lacing up my runners ready for the double-digit distance ahead. That was many moons and many diapers ago.

This pause leaves me in an unfamiliar state of limbo. I still identify with the old me – running, training and coaching. Yet, I feel noticeably removed from the world I knew. The fitness pages on Facebook and in magazines motivate me one day then stir feelings of despondence another. I am eager to pursue new goals but don’t feel I can put my best foot forward right now. By foot I mean glutes and abs, LOL.

I was watching Olympic skating earlier this week. It was the start of the long program. The television cameras  followed the women as they prepared. I was surprisingly taken with the event and competitors. I remarked on their presentation: make-up, hair and costume. I sensed the anticipation coursing calmly through their bodies. I shared the final moments of mental preparation deep set in their eyes. Watching from my living room, I was transported to another place. Backstage at my own competition, I am ready to shine. A loose shake of the hands, a deep breath, my name is called and I step onstage bigger and better than ever.

The new me is mentally ready but not physically able to pick up where I left off . The toll of pregnancy and breastfeeding on my body are more than I expected. The demands and constraints on my time are greater than I imagined. The logistics of childcare and training will take more planning than I thought. I see now that the short break I anticipated is in fact a long pause. That may not be the case for everyone but it’s certainly my reality.

We were gathered in the Running Room store for our Wednesday night run. I raised the topic of pregnancy and running with a fellow coach. That’s when she chimed in. The woman who gave me hope beyond hope. She talked assuredly about running until eight months pregnant. She spoke almost boastfully about training soon after childbirth and improving her previous race time. This from an average looking i.e. not uber athletic, 30-something woman. Perhaps it was quite easy for her. Or perhaps she neglected to mention circumventing the pause with a super duper sports bra, a pill box full of speed, and a baby nurse!

The most significant interruption relates to my career. I’m on the cusp of an exciting  change, with big ideas swirling around my head. How can you put genius on hold?! Amazingly, so much has happened, even in pause mode. For every action crossed off my immediate agenda, something wonderfully unexpected has popped up. I never imagined so much could develop while I stayed at home tired, out-of-shape, and out of the fitness limelight. God is good all the time. Wait ’till you see what happens when I’m back in the game!

Did time off ultimately help, hinder, or have no effect on your career plan?

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Book Smart: Reading up on postnatal fitness

There we stand at the entrance of Chapters. Bright lights, brewed coffee, and books galore. Hubby and I are like kids in a candy store. In different parts of the candy store, that is. Off to the music, poetry and ‘boring history stuff’ sections he goes. And I? A beeline to health, of course.

Ah, the perfect opportunity for some good fitness reading. Yes, even on a date I’ve got strength and tone on the brain. I could literally spend hours browsing the sixteen shelves of fitness and diet books. But those are hours I don’t have. That last bottle of  milk will buy me another hour, if I’m lucky. Time to zone in. Focus on postnatal fitness.

Postnatal. Postnatal. Hmm. I see men’s fitness, women’s fitness, fitness over 50. I see books on strength training, books on core training, a whole book on arm workouts. Seriously. Yoga, yoga yoga. Diets, diets, diets. Yoga, diets, yoga, diets. Where are the books on postnatal fitness? Oops, I’ve gone to far. Now I’m in the  pregnancy section. Eating right, what to expect, what to name the youngin’. Nope, back to fitness.

One book by the editors of Fit Pregnancy magazine. That’s it. Alrighty then, what do they suggest to “Get Your Body Back After Baby”? I flip hopefully through the pages. An explanation of diastasis. That’s good. Flip, flip some more. The suggestion of a tummy tuck for a more attractive midsection. Slightly disappointing.

The whole venture is slightly disappointing. I can’t help but draw to a few equally sad conclusions: Postpartum women have been marginalized right out of the weight room. Baby belly workout books don’t bring in the big bucks for bookstore giants. Few people know enough to speak knowledgeably on the subject beyond stroller-fit instruction. No offense, stoller-fit lovers. It’s just not my cup of grande decaf americano.

No time to mourn this aborted mission.  I head to the cooking session. Mentally penning my future postnatal strength training book as I go. There’s certainly no shortage of healthy eating titles. I leave with Anne Lindsay’s “Lighthearted Everyday Cooking”. Spinach and artichoke dip, you had me at hello.

I’m curious to see if more fitness books for postnatal women are available online or through other sources – the public library perhaps. In the meantime, I’m left believing there’s a gap in the market for we, the invisible segment of the fitness population.

If necessity is the  mother of invention, perhaps I’m to be the mother of a postnatal fitness bestseller? Time (and the Chapters search tool) will tell!

As a new mom, what subjects or genres of books most interest you?

What unique fitness books would you like to find on shelf?

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Picture Perfect: A digital weight loss diary

Alright mamas, how many memory cards have you filled with pics of your wee ones? What about you aunties? How many pics of the little monkey have you Facebooked? No doubt we’re all snapping shots of the kids. But leave a place for yourself  in the album too. When trying to lose weight or reshape, photos are a great way to monitor progress and reach your goals.

I am far from camera shy. Hello, aspiring fitness cover model here. I see the flash of a bulb and respond instinctively with a full smile and  three-quarter pose. You know, that red carpet pose that does all women justice. My Facebook page is filled with fun party pics and vacation photos. But I also have several personal folders documenting my physical changes through competition training, pregnancy and now, post-pregnancy.

Early in my pregnancy I decided to take monthly photos of my growing bump. The first shot was taken at eight weeks. The last shot was taken at eight weeks. LOL. I didn’t really follow through on that plan. Luckily, I managed to get other shots over the course of the year. Now I can look back at my 1-,4-,5-,6-,7- and 9-month belly. Very cool.

While training for my figure competition (prior to pregnancy), I was much more disciplined about the process. I photographed my front, back, and side poses each week. The photos were reviewed regularly by me and by my coach. This process was extremely helpful in evaluating the changes in my musculature and shape. What I didn’t see day-to-day, I definitely saw week-to-week and month-to-month. The progress pics were a great motivator when I didn’t think my body was changing. They revealed that my midsection was progressively becoming leaner, my upper body more built, and my legs better defined.

4 months postpartum

7 1/2 months

7 1/2 months

I’ve adopted that process again. As I work toward new fitness goals, I am documenting the changes with monthly pics. (See my 3-month and 4-month postpartum updates). It’s already working.  I’ve been looking back at my maternity photos. Wow, there was a 6 lb baby in there! I’m not so hard on myself when I see how big my belly actually was. It’s surprisingly easy to forget. And I’m already seeing slight changes in my post-pregnancy photos too. Step up, and see the incredibly shrinking stomach!

I wish I could lay claim to this ingenious tactic. I would patent it and pay for a tummy tuck. Just kidding. The photo thing is actually suggested by many fitness pros. Funny enough, I received an email this week from Tosca Reno with this very suggestion. Her “Focus on Fitness” detailed seven fitness tips. Number three on the list was tracking progress with before and after photos.

I found a similar suggestion in a blog by fitness model, Jennifer Nicole Lee. Taking a ‘before photo’ was step one in her four-week plan. Local trainer Lyzabeth Lopez includes before and after photos in her “Hourglass Workout” 3 month challenge. Plus we’ve all seen those “holy sh*t” before and after pics on The Biggest Loser, right? How awesome are those?!

So as I’m documenting the growth of my little girl, I’ll be documenting the changes in my body too. I look forward to sharing the results with you as I go.

If you’re inspired by this post, I encourage you to give the digital diary a try.  Get your camera, get in front of the mirror and start snapping. Keep the pictures, even if you hate them. Nobody else has to see them. Unless you decide to blog about it, LOL. It will be SO satisfying to look back and see how far you’ve come!

What images inspire you to work harder toward your goals?

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Magic Moment: “I look like me!”

Excuse me while I digress somewhat from my usual posts. What a weekend! Great friends, great food and a wonderfully unexpected moment. Hubby and I were en route to an afternoon engagement party and I was feeling fine. I turned to him and said, “This is the first time I’ve been out and felt good about what I’m wearing.”

I didn’t realize it until I said it out loud but it was true. I was dressed like me. Not pregnant me. Not just-had-a-baby me. Just me. I felt comfy, cute and camouflaged where needed in my old clothes (i.e. no maternity wear). So of course I had to take a pic 🙂

Four months later and feeling fine

On a side note, I think my outfit would be “So Damn Stylish”-approved. This ensemble of thrift, bargain, and hand-made pieces from my closet totals $60 minus the boots. Not bad, huh Onika?

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Progress Update: 4 months postpartum

Wow, I’m the mother of a  four month old girl. I honestly never conceived this. Actually, I guess I did, LOL. What I mean is that I never envisioned life with an infant. Funny as it may sound, I only ever pictured the newborn  and  school-age stages.  I had no idea what to expect in between.

Life with my daughter is a trip. My daughter! Still sounds crazy to say. It’s as much fun as it is work. I suspect I’m still living in a semi sleep-deprived fog. Friends ask  if I feel like myself again. I’m not sure how to answer. I’m not sure who myself is exactly. Physically, my body feels like my own again. Other than that, the best I can say is that I feel like a different version of myself.  

Baby

All babies develop at their own pace. Ya ya ya, save it Dr. PC, M.D. This mama wants her baby to hit each milestone on schedule. Problem: My little one has hated tummy time since day one. She’s barely down for a minute before the inevitable crying begins. So how on Earth is she ever gonna roll over? Just when I accepted that it may not happen this month, her athleticism debuted. For her four month birthday, she gave me three front-to-back rolls. Woohoo, thata girl! I couldn’t be happier.

Belly

Hope is alive  and well!  The feelings of despair have passed. I finally believe my tummy can be flat again. Like really believe it. Yes, even I had moments of doubt.

4 months postpartum (stomach contracted)

3 months postpartum (stomach contracted)

I stopped doing ab exercises a few weeks ago. I decided to wait for more professional direction, given all the conflicting information I’d received about diastasis (See Dec. post “I’ve Come Undone”). In the meantime, my separation is down to just one finger width. Yay!

My core is slowly but surely feeling stronger. I no longer feel a black hole exists between my sternum and pelvis. Once my Be-Fit Mom Core Conditioning video arrives, I’ll happily be resuming core exercises.

Sensible eating, cardio and strength training are working wonderfully to reduce my waistline.  I’m not sure it shows well in these photos, but there is definitely a change. I love showing my husband how I can suck it in almost flat. Better still, I can just button my size 29 jeans which I couldn’t do last month.

Barbells

It feels great to be back into a workout rhythm. And I feel good. My aches and pains (see Jan. post ” War Wounds”) are pretty much gone. I worked out two days each week in the past month. I was aiming for 3-4 but that’s life. I do what I can around parenting, ‘wifing’, appointments, and social engagements. That said, I’m eager to add a third day whenever I can in the month ahead.

My cardio sessions are longer (30 min. up from 20 min.) and I’m doing more interval training versus steady state. My strength training is slightly more challenging but still moderate overall.

My routine won’t change too much over the next month. I may switch up a few exercises but I’ll still stick to low-impact cardio, machines and free weights. There’s lots of time ahead to add body weight exercises, plyometrics, circuits, etc.

I see the outline of my quads, biceps and delts (legs, arms and shoulders) and I absolutely love it. Once all this milk-making fat is gone, the guns will be there ready to blaze!

I’ll be working out with a partner now. This is new for me. The opportunity fell into my lap so I’m trying it out. I’ll have to keep my competitive streak in check. Fellowship only goes so far 🙂

I’m hoping to finally see a change in weight next month. More importantly, I hope to continue shedding inches. Two more months and I think I can wear those 29 Twiggy’s without shame…and collect my reward. Fun! (see  Feb. post “Lose Yourself”).

Feeling pumped! Look out for my 5 month update in March.

Not all of us are gym rats. What’s your favourite way to keep active postpartum?

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Independence Day: My truths about breastfeeding

I love nourishing my baby with breast milk. It’s amazing really. I see my daughter grow knowing my body produces the milk that feeds her development.  I’ve actually stared at my bottles of liquid gold in awe. “Those five ounces came from me!” I kid you not. My plan has always been to nurse for one year.  Plan. Ha! Do you hear God laughing? I guess what I hadn’t planned on, are the feelings of sacrifice that come with nursing.

I always knew I would breastfeed. I never thought otherwise. Forget the advice of  ‘La Lechers’ or Jack Newman or anyone else. For me, it just seemed the natural thing God designed our bodies to do. Fortunately, it’s all gone pretty smoothly: problem-free, easy and cost-effective. So why now, am I giving my milk a new expiry date?

It’s a bit hard to admit. I find myself now, at four months postpartum, with self-serving reasons for wanting to stop short of a year. 10 months, I started to think. 10 months is good. Then I could shed those last milk-making pounds and get back to some serious body-building business.

But before long, even that August end-date started to feel like forever. I want to run. I need these heavy, food-filled boobies done with. I want my rock-hard body back. I need to load up on protein to rebuild muscle. I want to go out spontaneously. That means without prepensely pumping or navigating around public feedings. I want intimacy without off-limit areas…enough said. Then there’s the unpleasant prospect of sweaty nursing sessions in the height of the summer season. One word – Ew!

Baby books and magazines are filled with images of women joyfully holding babe to breast. Guaranteed by April I will paint a picture of a woman grown weary of it all. Ah, but the scale of reason tips one way then the other. What baby needs; what mama wants.

I hear the voice of my midwife in my head. She tells me about the mighty immune system of her son who drank breast milk for two years. I love that. Then I hear the voice of a fellow mother. She tells me about her feelings of freedom and boundless energy having recently weaned her boy. Heavenly. If I could, I would pump enough milk to last twelve more months. Problem solved. Alas, I would need a genie to grant that wish.

Okay June. That’s what I’m thinking. Start weaning in June and wrap up this boob fest by July. My babe spent nine months growing in utero so nine months nursing sounds good. That’s my reasoning.

There you have it. The Dairy Queen closes this summer. I’ll gladly be celebrating independence day on July 11th this year! Funny enough, I don’t think I’m alone in this. I detect a certain streak of independence in my daughter. It won’t be long before she’s done with nursing, onto solids, and booking her own table at Chiado!

What motivated you to start/stop nursing?

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Lose Yourself: Cashing in on the rewards

LOST!

10lbs of baby weight

Fleshy, soft, covered in stretch-marked, caramel brown skin

Last seen lying low in back, thigh and abdominal area of muscular young mother

Answers to the aroma of baked goods

If found, DO NOT return to owner

**$75.00 cash reward**

It’s not uncommon to see a reward offered for the safe return of a lost item or loved one. But what about a reward offered for safely losing a not-so-loved-one? A reward for getting rid of baby weight sounds good to me!

When it comes to getting  in shape, I hardly lack motivation. I’m fired up just knowing what my body is capable of.  Every day I’m driven by the recollection of my pre-pregnancy self.  Still, I like the idea of a fun treat to mark my achievement. A little extra incentive can’t hurt, right?

My ultimate goal is to weigh 140 lbs max and fit into my size 28 jeans. That will take time.  By “expert” calculations, I shouldn’t count on sporting my old Mavis until early-mid summer. A season spent strutting  in my “skinny jeans” will be a prize in itself. Until then, there are smaller goals I can aim for along the way.

Fitness professionals suggest breaking long-term goals  into smaller chunks. They also suggest celebrating weight loss achievements with a non-food gift to yourself. Darn, scratch dinner at Chiado off the list. I would also add that the gift should be meaningful and enticing enough to keep you in pursuit.

So I’ve made a deal with myself. Upon reaching the half-way point, I will treat myself to a $75 mini shopping spree. Now I just have to determine what the half-way point is. When I started writing this, I set my target at 150 lbs (the mid-point between 160 and 140 pounds). Then I stepped on the scale at GoodLife. 166lbs. Okay, change of plans.

See, the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s possible to make good progress without seeing a big change in weight. For instance, the fit of my clothes says I’ve definitely lost inches while the change room scale says I’ve gained pounds. Stupid scale. It’s muscle, I knoooww. The scale is still stupid!

Okay so here’s the new deal. It’s all about my  fitness assessment in April. I expect that assessment to reveal a few successes – lower heart rate, improved cardio, better body composition, smaller waist size, etc.  These are all important indicators of fitness level – just not the sexiest ones. Can’t say I’ve ever  faced the fitting room mirror and praised my awesome heart rate. In any case, if I hit any of the targets below, I collect on my shopping spree reward:

  • 150 lbs
  • 25% body fat (down from 35%)
  • 32 waist circumference (down from 40)
  • Comfortably and attractively fitting into my size 29 Twiggy jeans i.e. no muffin-topping and wearable waist-exposed in public

I haven’t decided how to spend my reward but there’s no shortage of options. Maternity leave has forced me to sacrifice a few fun luxuries along with my full-time salary. My esthetician or hair stylist might send a search party out to  find me any day now.

Maybe I’ll get a much needed mani & pedi. Or perhaps an update to my make-up case. A new mommy make-over would be great. I could also go for new workout wear. Oh, but lingerie might be better since I’ll probably be spending hubby’s money hee hee. Whatever I choose, it will definitely be something to look forward to.

So that’s that. More baby weight will be lost. And come April, I will find myself looking svelte, feeling accomplished, and relishing my special treat. Check out my 3-month assessment post to see how I do.

How do you reward yourself for a job well done…New shoes? Spa day? Day off?

Would a cash reward (courtesy of someone else) help you reach your goals?

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