Eye of the Tiger: Exercising patience postpartum

Breathless. Hot. Sweaty. No you didn’t misread the title of this article and accidentally click on a cheesy romance story, so don’t click away…or be disappointed to find out that this is not a mistitled romance story. Breathless, hot and sweaty are words to describe my first postpartum workout…and that was only the warm up.

Let’s backup approximately twelve months to my life B.B. (Before Baby). Each day started with my alarm sounding at 4:30am and me excitedly springing out of bed ready to go kick my own ass in the gym. Picture a female version of any Rocky movie training montage and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how my days started…

Okay, so maybe my fitness regimen wasn’t nearly as inspirational as the Italian Stallion’s. I didn’t run through the streets of Philly flanked by a group of cheering children. There were no veins bulging from my exceptionally inflated pectorals that could be mistaken for roadmap of the Midwest. I did not chug a dozen raw eggs for breakfast. We’ll just say I was dedicated. Most days of the week you could find me taking total advantage of my monthly gym membership, high-fiving my friends after surviving another killer kettlebells class or becoming my most Zen-like self at a weekend yoga session. A very dedicated size 4. And then I got pregnant…

Like a lot of women, I took it easy during my pregnancy. In addition to experiencing some of the unpleasant side effects of early pregnancy, I was also in the midst of relocating from Indiana to South Carolina for my husband’s job, facing a stint of unemployment due to said relocation AND planning my wedding (yeah, yeah, I was pregnant at my wedding, but that’s a story for another day). Needless to say, my energy took a nosedive as did my trips to the gym…However, despite my growing belly and many other growing body parts, I managed to perform moderate exercise here and there, but eventually my determination to keep active gave way during the last 485 days-also called the ninth month-of my pregnancy.

Fast forward to present day and you can imagine my excitement when, after being given the green light to resume physical activity by the Doc, I dusted off my gear and picked up the weights only to realize that I was nowhere near where I was before I had my baby. The first time I picked up a pair of dumbbells post-baby was reminiscent of the old cartoons where some character would be handed an anvil and it would take a second before they toppled face first into the dust from the weight. I wasn’t completely unprepared for this; after all I had just spent the better part of a year growing a person only to have her exit a very, uh, sensitive part of my body. I knew I wouldn’t jump back in full steam ahead. However, I really didn’t anticipate starting to rebuild my physique from the very beginning. Sigh. Cue the “Eye of the Tiger” and bust out the sweat suit.

I would describe my postpartum physique to as being akin to a burned candle: a little soft, saggy and droopy. My arms are like overcooked spaghetti. My abdominal is skin is geriatric. My back sounds like a Rice Kripies commercial. My stamina is like Trump’s approval rating. In short, I have a montage of my own to star in.

While the thought of starting a years-long fitness journey all over again makes me want to quit before I begin, the Stallone inside me (I swear that’s not a working title for a pending romance story please keep reading) reminds me that, “…it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

A woman’s body takes a pretty big hit during pregnancy and recovery and there’s so much pressure to bounce back after baby. Pressure from society. Pressure from myself. Pressure from peers. It’s hard to remember in this world of instant gratification that it takes nine months to create life and it will probably take just as long, if not longer, to get back to feeling like myself physically and mentally. A postpartum fitness journey is just as much about exercising patience as it is about physical activity.

So for now, I guess I’ll turn on a Rocky-esque playlist and kick ass gently. Carl Weathers better watch out.

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