Well, ladies, I’m officially 6 weeks postpartum. I truly can’t believe how fast this is all going. Seriously, 6 weeks already?! I am excited to dig back into nutrition and exercise after having Nellie. But, before we jump into how I’ve approached the first several weeks and what I plan to do moving forward in postpartum, it’s worth taking a little detour…
I know a lot of women talk about the pressure to “bounce back” after having a baby. Unfortunately, I do think that still exists. But, I also think we are fortunate to live in a time of body positivity where individuals like you and me, influencers, and brands are embracing real beauty in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Is it perfect? No, it probably never will be, but it’s headed in the right direction and I think the grander body positivity conversation has also encouraged moms to say, forget that, I don’t need to “bounce back”. (All in favor say aye, AYE!).
The truth is, our bodies are forever changed and it’s impossible to bounce back. I’ve birthed two children — I know I have extra skin on my belly, stretch marks, and eventually these boobs will be saggy once again post-breastfeeding (IYKYK). I’m proud of my body.
BUT, you better believe I’m going to be exercising in postpartum. And overtime I’ll lose the weight I gained while growing a human. And, if I work hard enough, I’ll even gain some muscle. And in a few months, I’ll be happy when I share that I am fitting back into my pre-baby jeans. While I don’t need to lose the weight and reengage with fitness, I want to. My happiness doesn’t depend on it, but I will be happy when I do.
I’m sharing my intentional postpartum nutrition and exercise journey because I don’t want our quest to get rid of “bouncing back” to turn into a quest that shames anyone who wants to work towards fitness goals postpartum, for themselves. For their mental and physical well being. I want women to know whatever they decide to do is ok. Can we all agree there shouldn’t be pressure or shame in either direction? You do you!
Here’s what it comes down to for me — I love how I feel when I am eating nourishing food and I love how I feel when I workout. I am more energized throughout the day, I’m more confident, and I’m happier. Eating well and exercising makes me a better me for myself and a better me for my husband, my girls, and my job. That’s the goal! That is why I’m excited to get back into my nutrition and exercise.
When in doubt, let’s remember the wise words of Elle Woods…right?
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…”Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
The first several weeks of postpartum
I didn’t think about nutrition and exercise in the first few weeks of postpartum. Literally, I gave it no thought. I ate what sounded good — ice cream, blueberries, oatmeal, beer, and lots of trail mix were on repeat — and I camped out in my room, napped, and did a heck of a lot of binging of Grey’s Anatomy. (For the record, that is still happening.) I left all judgement and instead let myself decompress, heal, and adjust to the new normal anyway I needed to. It felt great!
About a month postpartum I decided to be a little more intentional with my movement and my nutrition. Somedays I went on a two-ish mile walk with Nellie, other days I just walked up and down our cul-de-sac a few times, some days I did nothing at all. I also started to be more conscious of what I put into my body. I didn’t restrict, but I upped my awareness of the choices I was making and opted for some more nourishing foods when possible. This gradually return back to “my normal” over the weeks after delivering Nellie has felt right for me.
Ready, set, let’s do this
I’m not sure where the 6-week checkup (for vaginal delivery, 8-week for c-section) came from for postpartum, but this is it, the week that I’m getting “cleared” by my midwife to resume normal activities like exercise, sex, etc. Since the appointment with my midwife has been on my calendar I thought I’d use it as a personal checkpoint to see how I felt — ready to jump into exercise? Or in need of more time? Honestly, I was prepared to embrace either situation because it’s impossible to know how you’ll feel mentally and physically until you’re in it.
But it’s 6-weeks and I’m ready! Actually, I’m kind of to the point where my inner type-a is knocking on the door requesting a bit of routine and structure. I know it’s a luxury that I’m not back at work yet, and dang it, I’m going to make the most of it. Here’s what I’m planning!
My exercise postpartum
I am aiming for 4-6 days of intentional exercise each week. 2-3 days a week I will be on the Peloton bike (you guys know how much I love this bike, I can’t wait! I’m starting with Cody’s Britney Spears workout!!) and 2-3 days a week I will be doing a postpartum barre class.
To be honest, I was resistant to doing the postpartum barre class vs. something with a little more intensity, but I know myself and I know that I’m likely trying to do too much, especially when it comes to my core. Your core is rocked when you hold a baby for 9 months and it needs time to restrengthen. So this postpartum barre class is the perfect way to build up my core muscles in the right way before diving into something more intense.
I am going to follow this weekly plan (2-3 days of Peloton and 2-3 days barre) for 2 weeks, check in with myself, then continue for another two weeks, or start a different (more intense) program to replace the postpartum barre workouts depending on how I feel.
My nutrition postpartum
I have a history of disordered eating, so I am extremely careful with what I do when it comes to nutrition. I have come to realize a hybrid of intuitive eating (which is teaching yourself to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full) and the 80/20 rule (80% of the time I eat nourishing foods, 20% of the time I have the Nutella blondies and IPA beer) works best for me. It’s taken me years to break my old habits and find a calm around food and I am very proud of that. Now, I think a lot less about food, I eat healthy-ish when I’m hungry, and I stop eating when I’m full.
While I won’t be following any specific “diet” in postpartum, I will be using my Nutrition Tracker* to make sure I am getting enough food to support breastfeeding and to create an awareness and emphasis around my intake of vegetables, fruits, protein, whole grains, and healthy fats (the 80% of my 80/20 rule). If I miss a day of tracking — no big deal. If I have a beer — great! If I am honoring my hunger cues and getting healthy foods into my body, I’m happy with that.
*Sidenote: I would only recommend food tracking to someone who is in a place to track foods while still honoring hunger cues and not become restrictive. If Nutrition tracking starts to feel cagey and restrictive to me, I will stop. I’ve done a lot of work to get to this point and be able to track without letting it control me. It’s not for everyone. It’s important to be aware of how tracking might impact you mentally.
Quick note about expectations
For me, a huge component of having success in my postpartum nutrition and exercise journey is setting the right expectations for myself. If I have the right expectations I’m going to take any win, big or small, as a win. If I have the wrong expectations, I’m going to end up frustrated when things don’t go according to plan — and with a newborn, things are not always going to go according to plan!
I might be 5 minutes into my workout and Nellie decides she doesn’t want to nap right now so my workout is cut short. Or I might have a screaming Nellie right when I planned on prepping a hearty salad and I opt for a handful of trail mix instead. We are in postpartum! We are still in survival mode. The key is to not let a setback keep you from trying again the next day (or later that day)! Keep going, mama, you’ve got this!!
Follow my journey
I took pictures at 3 weeks postpartum and I wasn’t sure if I was going to do anything with them, but if I’m inviting you on this journey with me, I’m going all in and sharing the progress with you.
3 weeks postpartum
6 weeks postpartum
When should I do the next check-in? I’m excited to share progress with you guys!