One question I'm asked a lot is how I got back in shape after having Henry. Before I answer that question, I want to emphasize that everyone is different. We all have different paths and as hard as it is not to be discouraged by the journey of another, I encourage you not to compare your experience to mine or to anyone else's. All that being said, I think I'm fairly lucky. I believe that I've had an easier time than many getting my body back (I actually think it's very different, but I like it's appearance better), but below I'll share what I attribute my success to.
- Good genes. As much as I'd like to take all the credit, I don't think that's fair. I have been blessed with good genes and think that has contributed to my body shape. Don't get me wrong, my genes aren't perfect. Both my sister and I have cellulite like my mom and all my family members value health and fitness so some of what I may attribute to good genes could be at least partially attributed to a healthy lifestyle. This one you can't change. If you have them, be grateful, if you don't, you're not of luck.
- Having a heavy baby. All the time I think about how little I work out compared to before. Even though I often said I wasn't working out enough pre-pregnancy because I didn't count my hours of daily teaching as working out, I dedicated much more time to fitness. I had the time to dedicate to it. Now I am only able to "work out" if I can do it with Henry. Yet, I think I underestimate how much exercise carrying around a 27 pound baby is. Most people with whom I share Henry's weight tell me of a two year old they know who is the same weight or less, and two year olds can walk. Henry is now wanting to practice walking everywhere (which also gives me some exercise), but because he has yet to develop a consistently effective way of getting from point A to point B, I am lifting and carrying him all the time. Basically I have a 27 pound weight with me everywhere I go, which probably results in much more "working out" than I realize.
- Being fit before and during pregnancy. I think being active and in shape before and during my pregnancy made a huge difference. Even though I was out of commission for the last month of my pregnancy, I was active and healthy for most of it.
- Breastfeeding. Everyone says that breastfeeding helps you lose weight and can burn an extra 500 calories per day. If this is the case, then I'm nervous about what will happen when I stop. Henry breastfed more hours of the day than not during his newborn phase, and still loves to nurse (sometimes all the way through the night, much to my chagrin).
- Deep core engagement postpartum. As a yoga instructor, I thought I had a good awareness of my core pre-pregnancy, however, postpartum I have gained a much deeper awareness of my core. In order to prevent ab separation, I have become very mindful of my abdominal muscles, making sure to draw them in rather than let them push out. I know I often allowed them to push outward in poses like plank before, however now I am incredibly mindful of not letting my belly pooch (doesn't include skin) during core work.
- Walks. Henry and I walk a lot together. It's one of the best ways to get him to sleep or relax when he's upset and it's an easy way for me to exercise with him. At first all my walks were done babywearing, but now I also use the stroller (I usually try to start him in the stroller and then switch to the carrier when he wants to be closer to mommy).
- Babywearing. Like I mentioned earlier, Henry is a heavy baby. Babywearing has saved me from having to support all his weight in my arms. That being said, it's also been like wearing a weighted vest. Again, keeping him on me is added weight and therefore an added workout.
- Having a "needy" baby. Henry loves his mommy. As I've talked about before, it's a catch 22. It can be exhausting, but I also love it. As a result of Henry needing/wanting me all the time, I am always with him. Therefore, I'm always holding him, carrying him, babywearing him, breastfeeding him, etc. All the things I mentioned above happen more frequently because of Henry's temperament.
- Natural change in my body shape. As I said earlier, I think my body looks different than it did pre-pregnancy. I always disliked my stomach. I have a short torso and felt like my stomach often looked soft and puffy. Now I think my stomach looks flatter as a result of two changes I have noticed--my belly button looks different and my waist is less defined (the sides of my body go straight down rather than tapering in and then back out). While these changes may be unnoticeable to many, I notice them. For me the physical changes were positive. I emphasize "physical" because my body still doesn't feel or move in certain ways that I miss from before. I still have the linea nigra, but it doesn't bother me. I think our bodies probably all change as a result of pregnancy so the term "pre-baby body" is a misnomer. The important thing is finding ways to love our postpartum maybe because of or maybe in spite of the differences.