No matter whether you have been into looking after your body or not before having children, I think we all end up thinking “What will my body after a baby be like?”. I mean, it’s only natural isn’t it: Our body has gone through 9 months of change, a lot of which is outside of our control, so how different will they end up once our little babe enters the world?
“Will I always have a Mum tum?”
“Will my boobs end up being non-existent?”
“Will I be able to jump around on a trampoline ever again?”
Tell me that you haven’t thought of at least one of these at some point?
These thoughts and questions (and many more) certainly entered my head at some point during my pregnancies. Having been somebody that has been into fitness pretty much all her life, and (stuff it, I am going to blow my own trumpet here) had got in to great shape pre-children, I really did wonder how things would be after.
Well, I have been through SO many emotions since having the children (and having 2 just 18 months apart most definitely took a toll on my body, most of which I did not even realise at the time). So I really wanted to share not only my experience and my challenges, but also my tips, and an insight into my approach too.
The Struggle Is Real
Right up until I gave birth to my eldest, I was attending pregnancy yoga classes, and was still lugging weights around the gym whilst carrying out Personal Training sessions with clients. So I was definitely “fit and active”, and still taking great care of my body. I am not ashamed to admit that I cared about how I looked, but I think it would be weird to be in the fitness industry and not care if I’m honest.
I’d seen lots whilst pregnant about “bouncing back”, and how we need to take the pressure off of Mums to feel the need to. Quite honestly, I didn’t really get this, because I knew how great it felt to be training and looking after yourself, and also had always been of the mindset that there is always a way and it’s just about not letting excuses get in the way. (Oh slap the pre-children, young, naive me). So never in a million years did I think I would struggle once having a baby. But, quite honestly, once my baby was here I found that I simply couldn’t be bothered. Yes I was on maternity leave, but my goodness, that’s hardly a 9 month holiday is it? I loved spending time with my little boy, attending baby classes etc, but it was exhausting. Throw in the sleep deprivation, the lack of opportunity to put any thought into me, and the fact that by the time we got him settled down for the night, the very last thing I wanted to do was think about finding some extra energy for training.
Then when he was just 10 months old, we found out that we were expecting our second. And wow, being pregnant and having a baby/just turned toddler was relentless (I shared my experience here). There’s no time to experience pregnancy symptoms with your second, no time to feel tired and just curl up on the sofa to relax. Throw in there a National Lockdown almost as soon as we found out we were pregnant, and there absolutely was no chance on earth I was finding a balance.
But what this also meant is I would then look at these Mums on social media who were in a position to “bounce back”, and I questioned what was wrong with me, why could they do it and I couldn’t? (Especially given my background). Was I being lazy? Should I be doing more? Looking back, and even writing that now makes me so frustrated with myself. Of course there was nothing wrong with me, and I totally wasn’t being lazy. Everybody’s circumstances are different right, and getting back into their pre-pregnancy clothes, or finding their training regime again was right for them at that time, but, it wasn’t right for me. And that’s OK.
A Fresh Perspective
So let us fast forward 9 months, we are still in a pandemic and the country is in lockdown again, but this time I have a newborn baby and an 18month old toddler to look after. So do you think I was anywhere near ready to do something for me again? (well, I was out of frustration, but other than that, no, I definitely was not.) I continued to have the same struggles seeing others do more than me, and them looking like they were getting their bodies back. Now, don’t get me wrong, I tried numerous times to find my “mojo” and bring exercise back into my life. But each time, after finding a bit of willpower to get going, I simply couldn’t find the staying power. By this point, my little girl was nearly 1, we had been out of lockdown for 3 months or so, and I was feeling really rubbish about myself. I did not recognise the body staring back at me when I looked in the mirror, I was not confident even being naked around Adam (he’d just seen me giving birth to his children twice for goodness sake), and I certainly was not feeling sexy.
Quite honestly, what I was doing was clinging onto the “old me”. The me that could train every day if I wanted to, that would teach a class or two a day, only really had to worry about prepping my food at the end of each day, and tiredness was not getting my FULL 8 hours sleep, and maybe just getting 6 1/2 to 7 instead.. Woah! If I could have a chat now to that Emma.
But I was getting desperate. They say that you need 3 things in order to make a change:
1. Enough dissatisfaction of where you are currently at.
2. A clear idea of where you want to go.
3. An idea of how to get there.
In some respects I must have had all 3 because I decided I had to make a change. But if I’m honest, it was the dissatisfaction of where I was right now that was my driving force (Which I think tends to be the case for most of us).
But I also knew that I couldn’t go this alone. I need support, accountability, and to be part of a community, as that was when I thrived.
Much More Than Just A Body
Call it The Law Of Attraction, being in the right place at the right time, or just simply having had enough, but I came across something on my Facebook and I instantly knew that I had to be a part of it.
I had worked with James in a small 5 day challenge in the Summer, and whilst I wasn’t ready to do anything then, I loved his approach and found it instantly worked for me, so when he popped his 21 Day Fit Into ‘That’ Dress Challenge up on his feed I immediately got in touch. Now admittedly, I didn’t even have a dress I was trying to get into, but it was coming to the end of the year, and having had what I now would say was the most difficult year of my life, I was determined to finish it on a more positive note and go into the new year feeling more upbeat about things. For me, 21 days was just long enough to get stuck into something, but not too long that it felt like a huge commitment or so far away that I couldn’t see. I was excited, and I was ready.
But, what I actually wasn’t ready for was how much it would have an impact on me, and how much it would be the turning point for many other things in my life.
Yes I knew what to do, I had the professional knowledge, the tools and the experience but something was missing. Coaches need a coach at times. And James really was the perfect coach for me;
- Prior to working with him I was trying to make big changes and see my fitness goal as a big overhaul. The issue was actually that I was so far into analysis paralysis, and so set on things needing to be how they were before that I couldn’t get my head around it all. He helped me change my view on this, and worked it around my commitments and the children.
- His approach also really connected with me: It was about making small changes that didn’t feel too much of an effort and were realistic around my commitments. He took me right back to basics.
- But the biggest thing was that he encouraged me to be kind to myself.
And what did all of this mean? Well I lost 5lbs in the space of the 21 days, I got into clothes I didn’t think I’d get into for a long time, and I ended up creating a weekly exercise routine really easily and naturally (Something I been battling with for the last 2 1/2 years.) But that wasn’t it, it actually did so much more for me:
- It made me fall back in love with my body again. Not for the shape of it, but for the amazing entity that it is.
- It reconnected me with my fitness, and I seen how exercising (be it steps or training) was now all about creating time for me, giving me balance in my life, and giving me my zest for life back.
- It made looking after myself when it came to exercise and nutrition an act of self care, instead of it being something I “had to” or “should” do.
Get Out Of Your Own Way
Because, quite honestly, it’s life changing. Who would have thought that I would get in my own way when it came to my own nutrition and exercise, and face the challenges I did after spending a decade supporting others in that way. But I did, and it stopped me for way longer than I would have wanted it to. But, that’s the part where we learn our lessons right?
So no matter what season you find yourself in right now, I hope this has acted as either some form of encouragement for your kickstart again, or some kind of reassurance that you are not alone, and it won’t always be this way. Or maybe it has just made for some (hopefully) good reading for you.
Whatever it is, I thank you for reading along, letting me get my thoughts out into writing (I have said before that this blog often feels like therapy for me), and if this resonates at all, please don’t keep this to yourself. Share this with your Mummy friends, because I know it is a struggle that so many experience.
Any if you’re wondering who James is, you can head over and check out his work here (He really is amazing 😉 )
Sending you love, as always xx