Post Baby Fitness

The evolution of the bump.

The evolution of the bump.

So there comes a time, for me now my little one was ten months and I’m weeks away from my wedding, where you think you should probably get serious about your fitness. I’ve been swimming for quite a while once a week and we’re both members at the gym but actually finding the time (and motivation) to go has been another thing! The other week I thought it was probably the right moment to actually get my arse into gear and I finally went out on my first run on Sunday just gone.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with exercise. Mostly hate until 2012 when I started going to the gym and swimming regularly, somehow managing to drag myself through the Birmingham Half Marathon in October 2013. I dropped two stone from my heaviest weight and then it stayed fairly stable for a couple of years (aside from when I was super ill with my mental health and I dropped another half stone, ironically when I got the most compliments about how I looked despite the fact I was so unwell!) and then I gained about a stone and a half between starting to date Dylan in July 2014 and finding out we were pregnant in January 2015. I mostly have Ben and Jerry’s to blame for this! I’d started going back to the gym a few weeks before the positive pregnancy test but stopped doing most exercise then apart from walking.

I put on 2.5 stone when I was pregnant, which is about the average from what I’ve read (you have to bear in mind about a stone of this is baby, fluid, placenta etc) and then within ten weeks had lost four stone (so essentially my baby weight plus the extra stone and a half I’d put on before getting pregnant). Obviously I don’t recommend the route I took to lose all that weight so quickly! And because it was such a drastic thing it’s meant I’m still nowhere near the same shape I was before I had Alexandra.

When I was exercising I still had a flabby tummy but my legs were nicely toned and, especially at one point when I was swimming loads, my arms were getting nearer to where I wanted them to be. After Alex, because I’d also lost a huge percentage of my muscle mass alongside the fat, I was basically a blobby tummy on matchstick legs! I’ve worked really hard to build up the muscle on my legs again by basically walking, walking, walking, but there’s still a lot of excess fat on the top of my legs, belly and arms.

I’m not kidding myself that I’ll ever be a size six or look the way those cool people on Instagram look, but I did used to enjoy going to the gym and swimming – it’s a ‘me’ thing that I can do that isn’t completely focused on being a mommy. I think everyone gets to that stage really where they need to separate themselves from being ‘so and so’s mom’ – you know when they say babies don’t actually realise they’re a separate entity to you for a long time? I feel like it works the other way round too! (That’s a whole different post though). Plus I think it’s important to be a good role model and show your child that a balanced lifestyle is key, eating right but still enjoying treats, doing some exercise etc. Obviously a huge goal is to actually fit into my wedding dress in nine weeks’ time also!

So with all that in mind, I decided the Couch to 5k programme was the way to go, downloaded the app, got my half-marathon trainers on (as if that was somehow going to make it easier because I’d once managed to run 13.1 miles in them!) and headed off while Alexandra was out for the afternoon with my mom. For those who don’t know, it’s a nine-week programme that aims to get non-runners covering 5k by the end. You do three runs a week and the first week consists of a five minute brisk walk then alternating 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking before a cool down. I found that the first 20 seconds of running I was like ‘yeah this is great, I’m basically Paula Radcliffe, I can do anything’. The middle 20 was like ‘wow a minute is a really long time’. The last 20 was ‘oh my god I’m actually going to die’. But overall I managed to complete it and came home in one piece!

I may pop back with a post about fitness from time to time, although please don’t be expecting those lovely ‘here’s me doing press ups with my baby sat on my back’ pictures any time soon!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Body Talk

The last ever photo of me with a bump!

The last ever photo of me with a bump!

I, like pretty much most of the female population, have never been happy with my body. I spent 24 and a half years picking faults with it – but never do you think more about your body than when you’re pregnant. In a way it’s a miraculous thing – you’re growing an actual human being inside you! Sometimes I look at Alexandra and wonder how the hell I (with a little help from Dylan!) managed to create a little bundle of cells with eyes, a nose, mouth, a heart, lungs etc. It actually blows your mind when you think too hard about it.

But as astounding as the task your body undertakes when pregnant is, it also tries its best to wreck every part of you! That lovely thick shiny hair, now falling out in clumps every day. That stomach you didn’t like much anyway, now lined with stretch marks. Let’s not even talk about post-pregnancy boobs!

I’m very lucky in that my ‘ITU diet’ as I dubbed it got me down lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight and back down to pretty much what I normally weigh. Apparently there’s not a lot of chocolate and cake in that stuff they tube feed you with! I know not everyone’s in that situation (I was about to write ‘I know not everyone’s that lucky’ but then I realised how wrong that is – fat is definitely better than nearly dead!). But despite weighing the same my body looks hugely different. I didn’t like the shape it was in before but it weighed X stone by going to the gym and trying to be careful about what I ate. The same X stone reached by giving birth and then being critically ill does not come in the same shape package at all!

I would never want my pre-pregnancy body back, the body which hadn’t grown a child and then somehow managed to give birth to it, the body which had never had a tiny newborn placed upon it, the body which had never produced food for a baby even though she wasn’t very good at actually taking that food, the body which was actually functioning properly inside with all organs intact, the body which wasn’t a mother’s body. For I can work on this body and, although I’m pretty sure I will never be 100 per cent happy with it, I can teach my daughter that this is ‘normal’, this is ‘real life’ and that if one day she becomes a mother she too may come to love her lumps, bumps, marks and sags.

Harriet and Alexandra X