Staying Fit with Baby

If you caught my last update on fitness you know that I was about 16 weeks postpartum and was not feeling great. I knew I needed to step back, let my body rest, catch up on sleep, and re-evaluate how I was fueling my days. My rest week proved to be very much-needed and beneficial. In the week following I only squeezed in a couple of short 3 mile runs and a couple of circuit workouts. The following week we were on vacation and aside from a few morning walks I did not workout or worry about what I ate at all. It’s vacation! I weighed myself the day we returned home. I had gained 5lbs. and I felt pretty awful but I was really motivated to get back at it! After a week of workouts and healthy eating I’m back to where I was prior to vacation and I’m definitely seeing the scale go down little by little!

As a reminder my goal is to continue to lose weight and tone up after having a baby. I’m trying to do so mindfully- no fad diets or crazy workouts. Life needs to be about balance these days and that means eating healthy and exercising within the limited time I have each week while still getting sleep and spending time with my family.

Workouts

Sunday: Easy Run or circuit workout. I’m trying to use the weekend to add in an extra workout. If I run I try to keep a challenging but easy pace (right now that’s a 9:30 min/mile) and tackle about 3-4 miles. For circuits I aim to go for 45 minutes with warm up and cool downs. I have the extra time so I why not?

circuit 2

Monday: This depends on what Sunday is but either a run or circuit. Same style as above. I like to get up at 4:45am to tackle this and have it done first thing. It’s great to start the week of on the right foot and it allows me to enjoy my time after work with Enzo. I find that I miss him most on Mondays so I enjoy the extra snuggles guilt-free after work. If I do a circuit during the week though I aim to keep it to 30-35 minutes. I usually set the timer on my phone and when it buzzes that’s it so I adjust the number of rounds accordingly so I can get through the whole thing in the allotted time. Pinterest, dumbbells, and a kettlebell are great for this!

Tuesday: Circuit or run. Again this depends on Sunday and Monday. I’m trying to avoid back to back circuits and back to back runs (especially back to back with the stroller) but I also need to have flexibility in my week too so it’s all a balance. Same distance (3-4 miles) or a 30-minute circuit.

Run

Wednesday: Run! I’ve deemed Wednesday to be a speed day and am pretty excited about it. The mileage is a little less on these days which is nice. As I increase the mileage for sprints I’ll likely decrease the mileage of one of my easy runs depending on how my body feels. Last week I did a mile warm-up and 10x 1min sprints with 1 min recovery and a mile cool-down. It was manageable but challenging. I think this week I’ll mix it up and go for 5x 2 min at 80-85%. I don’t go to the track because it’s not close to our house so I just keep it timed and run my usual loops.

Thusday: Rest Day! I like resting on Thursday. I’m usually pretty tired from the week and feeling burnt out so I appreciate taking this off my plate. I also like that it can be a “make up day” should I miss a workout on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday: Long Run. I work from home on Friday’s and my mother-in-law watches Enzo so I end up with a bit more time in the morning. I still run super early but I get plenty of time to get my miles in at a slower pace (right now 10min/mile), stretch, do abs, and do a quick arm workout before getting Enzo ready for his day with Gram, getting everyone breakfast, and grabbing a quick shower before logging in to work at 8am. Last week I ran 5 miles and I’m hoping to work my way up to 8-10 this fall. This week I have my eye on 6.

Long Run

Saturday: Rest Day! We do fun family things on Saturday so I like to just enjoy that and get some “extra” sleep.

So in all the goal is to get 2 circuit workouts in, 3 runs (1 easy, 1 speed, 1 long), and 2 rest days. For mileage I’m hoping to get to about 15 miles per week or more. That seems doable for now and as I get stronger I’ll likely add in one more run and do one strength day.

Nutrition

Smoothies:  I’ve started drinking a smoothie and a cup of coffee with skim milk for breakfast. I find that the smoothies keep me really full throughout the day and also help me to keep my sugar cravings down. I also went cold turkey on sugar in my coffee. It just didn’t make sense to start my day with a sugary beverage when I’m trying to consume less sugar. So far I feel like it’s helping me a ton!

Smoothie

Portion Control: This is a big one for me as we eat really healthy. I just eat TOO much of the good stuff. I’m starting to weigh out my foods in an effort to get my portions under control. I’m roughly following the guidelines of the PiYo diet but definitely not 100% mostly because I don’t have time in my day to figure out all the meals, servings, and serving sizes. I’m focusing on serving size of proteins, healthy fats, and fruits as those are the areas I tend to go overboard with.

Challenges

So far things seem to be going well with this new plan but there are a few challenges I’m working against.

Sleep Regression: Enzo is in a sleep regression so he’s up multiple times a night these days. Michael and I are good about taking turns getting up with him but I still find myself pretty tired. By Tuesday and Wednesday I find myself skipping the morning workout in favor of more sleep. I’m learning that I ALWAYS regret this. Most of the time I naturally wake up around 4:45 or 5am anyway and that “extra” sleep is just light sleep that doesn’t prove to be very restful. I’m better off getting up, exercising, and planning to go to bed super early since I know by best sleep is from bedtime until about 1:30am.

Changing Schedules: Along those same lines is Enzo’s ever-changing schedule. He doesn’t always nap in the stroller in anymore since the world is far more exciting than his eyelids so post-work runs often depend on where he is in terms of sleep for the day. Sometimes he goes to bed at 6 or 6:30 so it’s just not possible to run after work with him, especially when I’m getting home around 4:45. We’ve sort of shifted everything an hour too early in terms of his sleep so we’re working on getting him back to a better timed sleep schedule but as everyone knows it never works perfectly with a baby and it’s always changing! This just makes it hard to fit in a workout when I’ve missed the AM window. Usually what ends up happening is I trade a run for a 20-minute circuit, call it good and force myself back into my 4:45am workout. I’m just not a fan of running or working out later in the evening.

Timing and Variety: I’d also love to get to a barre class or a yoga class occasionally. This is hard because during the week I’d basically need to go to the 7:30 or 8pm class and I don’t like working out that late (see sleep regression above). It’s impossible to go in the morning because they don’t offer 5am class which is basically what I’d need to attend. So that leaves the weekend. Maybe once the fall comes and we are home a bit more on the weekend  I’ll have time for this but for right now it’s just not going to happen.

It’s all an evolving process in terms of schedule so I try to do my best each day and keep moving forward. Food is definitely the easiest to be consistent with as fitting in workouts can be hit or miss. Exercise is often the first to come off my plate during the week and that’s just a reality. I can usually guarantee myself 3 workouts a week and consider anything more than that a major win!

How did you fit in health and fitness postpartum?

 

Postpartum Fitness: Weeks 1 to 16

Leaving the hospital after giving birth I had two goals:

  1. Keep the tiny human alive and healthy. And somehow be a good parent.
  2. Lose ALL the baby weight ASAP. Bring on the non-maternity clothing!

I’m 17 weeks postpartum and so far I would say goal #1 is going far better than goal #2. I would say that’s a good thing and exactly how it should be. As it stands today I still have 12 pounds to lose to get to my pre-pregnancy weight and 18 to my goal weight. I’m mostly back in my non-maternity clothes but there’s still some things that are a no-go. I’m eager to lose the weight but more eager to get back into my pre-pregnancy shape. I really miss being able to run effortlessly. I also miss feeling firm and strong, although I’m definitely getting there. I’m proud of where I am at. Here’s a look at my first 16 weeks back and how I got to where I am.

run

Week 1-6: Walk, walk, walk. We left the hospital on a Monday and that Thursday we were out for a walk. We walked for maybe 20 minutes and I was exhausted. From there I continued to walk. I increased the frequency per week and the time per week slowly. At 3 weeks in I was walking 2.5 miles. From there I increased the speed and the distance. My goal was to increase my heart rate and break a sweat if I could. I often did. At the 6 week mark Enzo and I were walking everywhere. Errands? We’d walk. Need to go to the post office? Walk. We would walk for about an hour per day.

Week 7: I was cleared for exercise at the end of week 6 and I was EAGER to get out there. I woke up that Saturday and left Enzo with Dad. I laced up my sneakers and tackled my 2.5 mile walk loop. My goal was to run a mile without stopping and that’s what I did. It was HARD on my body. My lungs felt ok, thanks to all that walking. In total I ran almost 2 miles that day. I walked 0.5 miles. This week was also filled with a couple stroller run/walks with more walking than running. And a mom and baby barre class. I learned quickly that I had lost much of my strength and it would take some time to get it back.

circuit 2

Weeks 8-11: I continued my Saturday morning solo runs and my weekday stroller run/walks. By week 12 I could run about 3 miles SLOWLY with the stroller. I really tried to listen to my body and go slow. If I felt tired, I walked. If I felt great, I kept running. I also added in circuit workouts at least 2x a week to build up a lot of the strength I had lost. I focused on full body workouts and hit arms, legs, and abs.  I continued to go to mom and baby barre once a week too.

Weeks 12-14: Michael was traveling and we had a lot of weekend plans during these weeks so I really wasn’t able to keep up my normal routine of Saturday solo runs. Usually once a week I’d get up early and go run before Michael left for work so I could get at least one stroller run in but I’d say that most of my runs were with the stroller. I was really determined to build back up to 5 miles before I went back to work on July 5th. I kept increasing my distance with the stroller by first walking the extra mileage. So let’s say I wanted to get to 4 miles. I’d run up to 3 miles and then I’d walk the last mile. I felt like this was an easier way to get used to going that extra mile. I’d do that a couple of times and then I’d run the extra mile instead of walking it. Often I would have to do this over a couple of days as I could run an extra 0.5 miles but would be too tired to run the full mile. I was really trying to increase slowly and gradually. I was successfully running 5 miles with the stroller before I went back to work on July 5th. I was also doing circuit workouts on my non-run days and pairing that with a walk. So I’d usually do a 30 minute circuit with a 30-45 minute brisk walk. By then my mom and baby barre class had been cancelled for the summer…such a bummer! I was really working out a lot during these two weeks but I felt really good, and was motivated to lose as much weight as I could before I went back to work. I really felt that because I had the time I should take advantage. And that I did.

circuit
Weeks 15-16: Heading back to work was an adjustment to say the least (and still is). In terms of workouts I tried to mix it up to see what would work best. I tried getting up at 4:30am to run solo miles before heading home for a quick ab workout and stretch. Then I’d get myself ready for the day, then get Enzo ready, and would leave for work by 7am. This was great the first few times because I got to enjoy Enzo after work without worrying about a workout. The problem with this was that if Enzo got up for a 3am feeding. I’d often get back to bed at 4am and at that point I wasn’t running at 4:30am. I also found I never really went to bed early enough so after a day or so I was just plain exhausted. I also tried circuit workouts in the living room after Enzo went to bed around 8pm. This actually worked well. I’d talk to Michael while I worked out so I didn’t feel like I was losing time with him. I did sort of feel that I was always tired so it probably wasn’t the best workout. The best solution for me has really been working out after work. Michael gets home just late enough that I have time to squeeze in a sweat before starting dinner. Enzo loves the stroller and staring at me while I run so I felt like I was a win for everyone. Circuits are also ok to fit in. Enzo is pretty stinking happy to sit in his bouncer and laugh at me when I’m out of breath. With both of these scenarios I really tried to keep my workouts to 30 minutes max so we could also snuggle, do tummy time, and relax a little before making dinner and then getting Enzo to bed. These weeks were tough because workouts felt really scattered.

Capture 3

I also felt that during these two weeks I started to decline. My legs were really heavy and tired ALL the time. My runs felt harder than normal and I felt like I was stopping a bit more. I also felt like I was just emotionally exhausted all the time. I gave myself an extra rest day and it really didn’t do the trick. Needless to say, these two weeks were really frustrating. These weeks were also interesting in terms of weight loss. I felt like prior to this I was losing about a pound a week pretty easily. My weight really fluctuated these two weeks and it wasn’t as easy to lose weight. In fact I gained a pound back. To me that’s another sign that my body isn’t really happy!

So what’s the plan going forward?

I’m definitely going to workout AFTER work. I learned during my first two weeks back that afternoon workouts are the best. The downside to this is that some days it just won’t happen, Enzo may not cooperate, we may get home too late, or any number of things and I just need to be OK with that. And you know what? It is OK. Being a mom is #1 on my priority list.  I do work from home on Fridays so I always get a 5am solo run in then. I’m also hoping to use weekends to my advantage more come the fall. We’re so busy now that it’s summer but when we are home more in the fall I’m hoping to get at least one weekend run in or a class like barre or yoga. I’ve found that setting a goal of X number of workouts per  week works well for me. My current goal is 4 workouts a week. It makes me feel good when I hit my goal and it keeps me accountable to fit it in later in the week if I miss it earlier in the week. Right now I feel like the goal is to stay active and make workouts part of our family routine.

Capture 2

The one big thing I’ve realized is that because most of my runs are stroller runs I need to plan out the week’s workouts more. Right now it’s too much to run back to back days of 3-5 mile runs with the stroller and everything else going on in life. I don’t get that much rest and I don’t recover as fast. I find it’s really easy to just lace up and go for a run- that’s what I want to do! But I need to get into a mindset of running every other day so I can recover more. I also need to change-up my runs. I can’t just run 3-4 miles at the same pace, for every run. I need to include an easy day, a distance day, and probably a middle distance day with some speed (especially since I want to drop my pace). I also want to build in circuit workouts for strength and yoga for strength and stretching. I’m working on a little schedule for myself to follow and I’ll share that when it’s complete.

Week 17 has been a rest week for me and it’s been much-needed. Just walking up the stairs to my office has been exhausting! Seeing that it’s been about 10 weeks since I started exercise again it feels like a good time to step back, rest, and recover. Next week I’ll hit the ground running again with a better schedule and renewed enthusiasm.

What has been your experience returning to fitness postpartum?