Well, here I am, now 6 months postpartum and I am starting to feel my efforts are finally paying off! There are still parts of my body I'm learning to love, but on the whole I am proud of how far I have come. It hasn't been easy thought.... Even being a Personal Trainer, I find myself having down days when I can't be bothered or am loosing track! I think it's safe to say, trying to find the motivation to workout (or do anything for that matter) when you're super tired, rocking the mum-bun and just trying to get through the endless amount of baby washing, is HARD. No matter what stage your at in motherhood, every day can be a challenge. I've had days when I've seriously struggled (especially with Maddison's teething and reluctance to sleep right now), to even find the motivation to get out of bed and open the curtains haha!
As good as it is to have a day when you do just chill in your pjs.. too many of these days, and you feel like your in a downward spiral of sloth-ness.. know what I'm talking about mamas? That feeling of, "how will I ever get myself back together, if I don't give myself a kick up the ass ASAP?!"
Nutrition and fitness do get knocked back a couple of places on the priority list when you become a parent. So here are my 5 tips that I go by, to keep me motivated on my postpartum journey and on the right track. I'm hoping that sharing these will help you too, if you're finding you need a little help keeping the motivation going!
1. MEAL PREP
Seriously, if we didn't prepare our meals in our house, I would be eating all the worst convenience foods going. When babas crying or you're trying to do 101 things at one, cooking a proper balanced healthy meal isn't something you want to face. Every Sunday, Josh and I have started prepping our meals for the week, cooking a ton of fish, meats and veggies! Then splitting them up into Tupperware's for lunches and dinners throughout the week. So when I'm dying to eat but CBA to cook (or Maddie's being hard work and I can't spare two hands!), I can pop my healthy meal into the microwave and it's done! It really has stopped me wanting to reach for anything naughty or convenient knowing I have healthy, clean cooked meals waiting for me!
This one is So simple, yet SO affective! (And one of my favourite things to do!) If you haven't got the time or energy for the gym, get outside and go for a long walk! It is the easiest way to get your body moving without feeling like you're doing a workout. Not only is it great for you physically but walking is so refreshing mentally too. I find getting out of the house clears my mind and you just can't beat some fresh air! I always find myself in a positive mood after a lovely long walk.
3. ME TIME
As much as I love my daughter, you can't beat some quality "me time". If thats going for a coffee alone, getting my nails done, or whatever and for however long. I find just having some time alone helps me mentally recharge and stay focused on what I need and want to do! I feel lucky that we have family nearby who help out and make this easier for me, or if Josh isn't working he will be on daddy duties. If you can't get someone to look after baby, try and designate one of babies nap times and your "me time". Sod the housework for a moment, and just give yourself a bit of time to sit with a book or watch a programme you love. Just something to recharge, so you're refocused and can crack on!
4. SET SHORT TERM GOALS/DAILY TO-DO LISTS
There is nothing more satisfying than ticking something off a to-do list. The satisfaction of completing a goal or task! This was also one of my New Years Resolutions! (CLICK HERE to watch my goal setting video.) Rather than focusing on the long term goal, break it up into short term goals. These feel much more achievable and will keep you on track! The more tasks I tick off of my to-do list, the more focused and motivated I am to keep going, till you find yourself where you want to be!!
I feel like this tip is most important. At the end of the day, we are all only human. And being 100% strict with yourself is only sustainable for so long, before you crash and end up binging or loosing your momentum. I have always lived by the rule 80/20. 80% being good and healthy, 20% of indulgence. I spread this out over the week. So once a week, Josh and I will treat ourselves 1 "cheat meal" out and maybe 1 "cheat snack", or maybe have a few cheeky glasses of Gin as our 20% indulgence - hehe! There is no point kidding yourself into a treat everyday because (from my experience), it won't get you to where you want to be. But there is also no point in torturing yourself without the odd treat at all. By having balance, it's almost like giving yourself mini awards when you achieve a certain short term goal, which will then motivate you to keep going onto the next short term goal! It's a positive cycle!!! Most importantly, it's about finding a balance that works for you and your lifestyle, that in the long run will get you to your desired goal!
I hope you all find these tips useful to help keep you on track on your postpartum journey, or use adapt and use these tips for any goal you are trying to achieve!
As always, feel free to comment below or share any tips and tricks that you do to stay motivated! Hopefully we can all inspire and support one another in our journeys! Lots of love, Bethany x
Woah, how fast these last few weeks have gone! Feels like I was literally writing Part 1 of this blog only yesterday! But here it is, as promised, the next part of my postpartum journey, filling you all in on my split abdominal recovery now that I have started physiotherapy and how my body is recovering generally! This blog post will be covering weeks 5-8 and there has been a lot going on for my little body! (You will already have some idea of what I'm talking about if you have read my last couple of blog posts!) Weeks 5 and 6, I was so happy with the progress I was making and slowly starting to feel my muscles working again. Weeks 7 and 8 though, I feel like my progress had come to a halt in terms of exercise...
So, I left you all at 4 weeks postpartum. I'd discovered I had a 4cm abdominal split and was just about to start physio to help that. All I had been doing so far was relaxing, enjoying the time as a new mummy with Maddison, breastfeeding and clean eating. So the progress I'd achieved so far had more or less all been my body naturally returning back on its own...
I have now had 3 physio sessions over the past 4 weeks. The first 2 sessions I had privately (as mentioned in Part 1) because I didn't want to just sit there waiting and not knowing when the NHS physio appointment was going to come through.. if there was something I could be doing to help my body recover sooner, I wanted to know!! In session 1, I was given the all clear to start doing some deep core Pilates exercises to start helping my abdominal muscles come back together, and also a few other exercises to reactivate my glutes, hamstrings and arm muscles. If I wanted to do some cardiovascular work, I was told best sticking to nice long walks with the pram for now but I could try some steady spinning (which I am still yet to try because I'm a little anxious of how comfortable a bike seat will actually be after giving birth.. if you know what I mean ladies?!?!!) Although it's not much, it was nice knowing I could start doing a few bits and bobs again after such a long time not training or doing exercise!! I was a happy lady!! I was also advised to try and massage down the centre of my tummy where the split was, this was to help breakdown any scar tissue that might be under there! (I normally do this in the evening lying in bed before going to sleep using a bit of Bio Oil.)
The main core exercises that I have been told to focus on postnatal are my deep core/transverse muscles. No way do I want to be doing millions of crunches!!! So the best exercises for me to be doing seem really simple (as there is not much movement) but its a really deep connection, and a lot of women do struggle to get it right initially just because it's a different sensation! As I said in Part 1, looking back I am very thankful for all my years of ballet training, so I am very familiar with all these exercises and understand what they should feel like to do them properly! So I guess that's given me a little bit of a head start you could say!! So my current core Pilates programme consists of...
Now onto weeks 7 and 8.. totally different story! So if you read my 6 week update blog (CLICK HERE TO READ) you would've known my doctor discovered that I had some retained placenta post birth as I was still bleeding, which is kind of the main reason why my exercise routine went on hold temporarily!! So I had to go in and have that surgically removed, would bleed a little more, then finally start feeling back to normal and my uterus could fully contract back down to normal size. Now, I wasn't officially told I couldn't do my Pilates routine post surgery, I was only told not to do any heavy lifting for a couple of weeks (which I was avoiding anyway due to my split abdominals!) But I did take the opportunity to rest and let my uterus naturally finish returning back down to size. WOW did I notice the difference!! Literally I could see and feel the change in my tummy within 24 hours?! The doctor has said I had about a 3cm clump left behind, which is like being 12 weeks pregnant - crazy!! So of course I felt the difference!
Anyway, I took the chance to rest till I felt up to facing my exercises again. In all honesty I kind of took the piss a little bit and really felt like I'd lost my mojo. I just couldn't motivate myself to do my exercises!! I knew they were good for me and I needed to do them to help my abs recover, but I just couldn't focus! Whenever Maddison was sleeping I'd rather sleep myself or keep on top of the housework! It is never like me to struggle with motivation, I'm normally such a go-and-get-it type of girl! And it was only 20 minutes out of 1440 minutes in a day - Get it together Bethany!!!
By this point (8 weeks postpartum) my NHS physio referral had come through, and although I already had the right recovery programme I went along anyway - it's always good to have a second opinion!! The physio's at the hospital were so lovely and kind and really impressed with what I had been doing to date! I was totally honest with them while explaining my journey so far and that I had already started some physio exercises, which they completely understood given my dancing/fitness background! So I hopped onto the physio bed so they could give my tummy a prod to feel my split.. and wait for it.. my 4cm split has now gone down to 1cm!!!!!!! YESSSS!!! I was over the moon! My exercises so far had really paid off! (I mean it might have been helped now my uterus is back to normal also..) but still - I was so shocked and amazed when they told me! The physio's at hospital were so pleased for me and said to keep doing what I'm doing, then once I'm passed the 12 week mark I can slowly start going to the gym properly again!! WAHOO!! Now that's the kick up the butt and motivational boost I needed to get back on with it! So today I got back on with my exercises this morning, despite fighting a cold - grr! and really feel like I've got my mojo back!!
If you have read my most recent blog about breastfeeding (CLICK HERE TO READ) you would know I have had to change my diet up a little to help with my milk supply. So of course I will share my current diet with you because healthy eating is SO essential regardless of wanting to loose some of the baby weight. Here is an updated (higher carb intake) guide of what I might typically eat in a day.. Although because of this cold I've currently got, I have lost my appetite a little, so will probably notice a decrease in my milk supply over the next few days.. (dammit!) NOTE: I would've stuck to the same diet I shared in Part 1 with you all if I wasn't struggling with my milk, as that's what I would normally eat day-to-day pre-pregnancy. However, for me I have found higher carbs really helps! And I have now been able to go back to exclusively breastfeeding!! So that's what I've gone with!!
So next time I check in with you all for Part 3, I will be 12 weeks postpartum!! My diet will probably still be the same as it is now because I intend on breastfeeding till Maddison is least 6 months old! But I will be starting some sessions in the gym and I plan on sharing all my workouts with you, so watch this space...!!
To all my other mummys with Diastasis Recti, I'd love to know how you're getting on post birth? How long did it take you to recover? Hope the list of exercises helps anyone who is unsure!! Feel free to comment below or message me via the social page! Love x
So it has now been 4 weeks since I gave birth to Maddison.. and I know I say it a lot BUT bloody hell does time fly?! Yet in that short space of time, I have already experienced such a change in my body! If you follow me on Instagram you would've seen me talk briefly about my postpartum journey so far and promise to keep you all updated. So now I'm going to delve into a little more detail about my experience and will keep you posted as I continue to get back into my training routine!
After you give birth, your midwife will come round and prod your belly. 1, to check your uterus is slowly going back down and 2, to feel if you have an abdominal split. I think given the size of my baby bump, I was a little naive and should've expected I would have some sort of an abdominal split, but this is all new to me! I didn't know if I was supposed to be able to feel the split or what?! I remember lying in my hospital bed (roughly 10 hours after giving birth), and feeling all these lumps in my wobbly, half deflated belly.. what on earth is that?! I was shocked to be informed that those 'lumps' I could feel were in actual fact my organs, such as my uterus and bowels, wobbling around because my abdominals had split 4cm!! Meaning there was actually no layer of muscle protecting them just a thin band of connective tissue in front to hold them in place, hence why I could so vividly feel them!!! YUK!! I'm not going to lie, this idea totally FREAKED me out and I felt kind of sick.. who wants to be able to feel their organs rolling around after everything my bodies just been through giving birth?!?!
The technical name for split abdominals from pregnancy is Diastasis Recti, "Diastasis" meaning separation and "Recti" referring to your abdominal muscles called the "rectus abdominis" (which are basically the big ones down the middle that give you that 6 pack look!) While many women's abdominals do split, but they are apparently only considered as proper Diastasis Recti if the gap between the muscles is over 3cm! So yes, I got it! Not unfix-able though!! It just means that my recovery time and journey back to training/exercise will take longer than if someone had only split 1 cm! The first day at home after giving birth the midwife came round to see how we were all getting on, it was then when I was told about my 4 cm ab gap! The only information I was given was to wear some supportive but not restrictive spanx (sexy...) and to avoid using my core AT ALL!! So no heavy lifting, use my hands to get up and down, roll onto my side when getting in and out of bed.. etc. This to me just seemed impossible?! To 100% not use your core at all?! We naturally use our core in everyday movements without even thinking, so how on earth I was supposed to do that, I just couldn't get my head around it! I felt so disheartened and I guess disabled in a weird way..? As if I was going to remember every time I get up and down NOT to use my core, when all I want to do is rush over to comfort my crying baby?!
Because of all this abdominal pa-larva, these first 4 weeks with Maddison I have kind of let my body slowly do it's own thing "deflating" back down to normal. I have just taken motherhood into my stride and been totally chilled, enjoying being at home in my pjs cuddling and caring for my newborn!! I truly have let myself be absorbed into the "Newborn Bubble"!!! 10 days after giving birth, I was discharged from midwifery care as my uterus have fully gone down, meaning I've been able to go on a few walks with Maddison in the pram but I've not really gone for any longer than an hour at a time. This is literally as much as I had been told I am allowed to do and that I was being referred for Physiotherapy to help with the recovery of my abdominal split.
Being the eager bugger that I am.. I didn't have the patience to wait for an NHS physio referral. If there was something I could be doing now to help my abdominals, I wanted to know! And if I had to wait longer, that's fine to but again I wanted to know where I stand! So I decided to make an appointment at The Bosworth Clinic here in Oxfordshire. Yes, I'd have to pay, but personally I believe that you can't put a price on your health and well-being! We only get ONE body and ONE life to live.. so you better look after it properly!! I already knew Bosworth had an amazing reputation and great physios and I have even sent some of my clients there who have been injured in the past! If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen on my stories that I had that first initial appointment yesterday and I have a good selection of Pilates exercises I can now start doing to help my tummy!! Coming from a ballet background, I feel very lucky that I already have a good understanding and knowledge of Pilates, so I know what I'm doing and what to look out for when working! I will share all these exercises and more details about this next part of my postpartum journey in Part 2.. (So stay tuned!!)
Anyway, back to these past 4 weeks... I think the biggest things that have helped my body recover so far is breastfeeding and clean eating! As mentioned in my breastfeeding blog post (CLICK HERE TO READ), I am currently only breastfeeding Maddison and doing the odd pump so we have an emergency bottle handy that Josh can feed her with! And breastfeeding really does help loose a lot of the "baby weight" as it burns a lot of calories! For my diet I have obviously not gone "cold turkey" and deprived myself of treats or anything indulgent! I have relaxed and enjoyed myself, and made the most of the little things that I couldn't have while pregnant - hellooooo sushi!!! But I have mainly gone back to my normal/clean diet I have when training and before I got pregnant and became ridiculously fussy with awkward hormonal taste-buds! I know use the term "clean eating" it can sometimes seem a bit vague if you want more specific details! So as some of you have asked what I eat, here is a rough example of a typical day...
Going to sound like a typical Personal Trainer now (sorry!)... But DIET really does make a massive difference to weight-loss! Yes exercise is great, but if your diet is rubbish then you're "flogging a dead horse"! So knowing that I couldn't exercise, healthy eating has been vital to my journey so far. Clean eating for me is not about restricting yourself calorie wise, I personally NEVER count calories and have NEVER tracked my Macros in my life! (Macro-nutrients: Carbs, Fat, Protein). For me it is just simply avoiding processed foods and not having too much sugar! And that includes fruit sugars - that always catches people out! I would never do a smoothie/juice diet! I am someone who would always rather chew my food and have a satisfied full belly haha!!
So that has been my journey so far for the past 4 weeks! Breastfeeding, clean food, a few walks and letting my body naturally "deflate"! Not a lot, I know.. but I am really looking forward to the next 4 weeks now I have been given the all clear to start some exercises for my Diastasis Recti recovery!! Right now, I am more concerned about helping my abdominals come back together than necessarily loosing fat and being able to lift heavy weights again! I know that will come with time, pregnancy is SUCH a big thing for the female body to go through and it takes 9 months to grow a human.. so we shouldn't put so much pressure on ourselves to "snap back" into shape after a matter of a few weeks! Every women's body carries a baby differently, so we shouldn't compare our bodies and expect them all to recover at the same rate!! Stay strong and LOVE your mummy-body, we should be PROUD of what it has achieved - we've grown a beautiful little life!! I am so unbelievably proud of how I have come to accept my new stretch marks and shape, especially after looking back on my ballet days and how image was such an important (and a bit controlling) part of my life! It is now about just being healthy and happy!!
I love hearing all your stories and if anyone is on a similar journey to me! Anyone else have Diastasis Recti? How long did it take you to recover? I'm really looking forward to sharing the next part of this journey with you and if my story can help anyone else out in a similar boat then that's a bonus!! PART 2 WILL BE UP IN THE NEXT 4 WEEKS....
Feel free to comment below or contact me via the Social Page! Love x
I've never been one of those people who finds it hard to motivate myself to workout. I've just been active my whole life! From training 6 days a week at ballet school, to then performing around 8 shows a week while touring, to working out 6 days a week in the gym – sometimes even twice a day if I had the time/energy!
Before I got pregnant, my training hadn't been normal for a while, as I had actually been suffering with Glandular Fever. I was told by the doctors just over a year ago that I had it, and I needed to slow down and rest! Rest? What is that? I don't think I'd ever rested in my life?! It was a really testing time for me, the battle of listening to my body, rather than letting my passion to workout and be on-the-go overrule me! A Personal Trainer, that can't train.. infuriating! Anyway... back to when I got pregnant, my training hadn't been as good as it had been for around the past 6 months. Funnily enough, this actually made the transition into adapting my workouts for pregnancy quite easy!
During the first trimester, I found it hard to do much at all as my sickness was so bad (as described in my morning sickness blog post). If I wasn't delivering PT sessions to my clients, I was curled up in bed trying not to throw up. I started managing to train again around 15 weeks and would try to train 3-4 times a week. My workouts consisted of 30-45mins of steady cardio, keeping my heart rate around 140bmp. Then followed by 30mins of weights. I would use the cross-trainer, spin bike or walk on the treadmill on a high incline for the cardio part of my workout. For my weights, I would do a little lighter than normal (as I hadn't been at my normal standard for a while due to the glandular fever), but I'd do high repetitions in each set. Then I'd stretch out and used the foam roller. I kept up this routine till I was around 25 weeks. At 25 weeks I found myself really starting to struggle as I was getting out of breath quickly due to my bump growing very big very quickly. I also started to get tired more easily. So I decided to change up my routine again.
I'm now 31 weeks, and the only working out I do is a lot of walking! Either round town, in the park etc. I find it's very therapeutic and I can keep going for a good couple of hours (until my bladder interrupts me!) It's not much, I wish I was up to doing a lot more! But lots of walking is just the right amount for me to feel satisfied that I've not been sat on my bum all day. It's especially nice getting outside now that the weather is getting warmer and sunnier, you can't beat the fresh air and sunshine!
It is frustrating looking back on what I used to be able to accomplish in the gym compared to what I do now. As said at the beginning, it's just not me to be someone who doesn't workout! I don't do it for aesthetics, although I'm not going to lie, seeing abs and tone on my body does make me feel good! But it is more the fact I absolutely ENJOY working out, it's not a chore, it's my release, my escape, my happy place! I just have to keep reminding myself that I will get back there post baby. It's not that much longer till I will start training again properly and get super sweaty!
I think if I hadn't gotten ill with the glandular fever before becoming pregnant, I probably would've been able to keep up more of my training at a higher intensity (obviously within reason to protect myself and my baby), and I more than likely would've kept going for longer! Then again, I had no idea how my body would be being pregnant! I always used to imagine that when I got pregnant, I wanted to be one of those super women that could keep going till I pop, have the healthiest diet, and glow 24/7. Some of that is possible, but until you do get pregnant you just don't realise how much you need to take a step back, listen to your body and do what is best for the baby growing inside of you! While she is in my tummy, she is my priority.
Something I haven't done much of in the terms of exercise is swimming or pregnancy yoga. Both of which are recommended as they have low impact on the body. In all honesty, I like the idea of swimming more than actually doing it. I've never really been a pool kind of person! Even on holidays, I'd rather sunbathe around the pool then actually go in it! The yoga, this didn't work out for me as I physically couldn't find a class at the right time and location that catered around my PT work. However, I am pretty lucky from my ballet background (and from the few yoga classes I have done in my lifetime), I can do a variation on my own and include some stretching and Pilates too. With only 9 weeks or possibly less to go, I highly doubt I'm suddenly going to have an urge to start swimming and yoga this pregnancy. However it is definitely something I will be more willing to try in my next pregnancy!
Looking to the future...
I see post birth as my fresh start. From a year and a half of ups and downs, physical challenges and changes, I plan on wiping the slate clean and build up my training again steadily from scratch. Focusing on my technique in everything I do, gradually building my strength back up, and conditioning my body to maintain my flexibility and mobility. I've had a good amount of time to decide what areas I wish to focus on and what my specific fitness goals are. The realisation of juggling life, training and work, with a newborn baby... I do understand it may take awhile to get my body and fitness levels back to where I want them to be. But I feel determined. It's going to be a long steady process and hard work, nothing happens overnight! But I am so eager to get going again!
In this post I have been 100% honest. My old expectations that I used to have years ago of training while pregnant just didn't match up. I do feel the glandular fever played a big role in this, but the sickness and tiredness have also caught me by surprise! Ladies... I know it is advised to stay active during pregnancy, not only for yours and the babies health, but also because of factors like making labour easier! All I can say from my experience, (and this is coming from a Personal Trainer remember..) is just do your best, even if it does end up being lots of long walks, that's much better than sitting on your bum. As long as you are doing the best you can, that's all that matters, and DON'T compare yourself to others. Growing a human being is hard and different for every women!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. It's something I felt a little nervous about writing, as I wanted to be a better role model being in the fitness industry and preach about exercise in pregnancy... But I have been totally honest with you, which I think is far more important and hopefully lots of women can relate with my experience. Looking forward, (despite the challenges of being a first time mum,) I know because I am normally and naturally very active, I will get going again as soon as I can post birth and feel more like myself again!
Any comments leave below or contact me via the social page! Thanks!