Helen and I have been working together for a little over three years. I have got to know her habits, excuses, efforts and what motivates her. We have worked together through promotions, an engagement, a wedding, pre natal and post. over the last 12 months she has gone through a remarkable transformation and below are a few honest questions and answers i put to her.
She has been kind enough to let me share her confessions, advice and quite rightly her phenomenal success post child birth. I am thrilled to have been a part of her journey and extremely proud of her accomplishments.
What did you find helped keep a psychological balance post baby?
Some time to myself – it’s a massive shift to go from being independent and spontaneous to being completely depended upon, tied to routine and exhausted. There are tons of things to keep on top of and tons of things to learn, this can be exciting, challenging but also a bit confusing.
About four/five months in, I had a bit of a word with myself about doing too many activities (baby groups can be a bit addictive) none of which helped me get a bit of mental space – so I switched it up. I had been really lucky to meet a social group doing pregnancy yoga and so prioritised doing stuff with them, doing one activity just me and Alexei (swimming) and the rest of the days doing a short burst in the gym. Alexei went to the creche, so gets the benefit of socialising with other babies and I get to do some exercise for 45mins, allowing me to clear my head and thrash out any anxiety. I get physically and mentally fit and strong to look after him and he gets to play with awesome toys, staff and other babies. For us, that really worked in keeping my head level.
What made it easy for you to go to the gym?
The creche made a massive difference – made childcare really easy and fairly affordable. We changed gyms when I was pregnant on the advice of another mum and it was such a good idea. They also have a pool that has ‘family swim time’ so often at the weekend we could make a nice morning out of it with some exercise, Alexei in the creche and then all go for a swim. It also helps when your personal trainer is a willing baby sitter thank you – OYM Mums. We have weekly sessions that have worked really well whilst Alexei has been little, we shall see how practical they are now he is walking. Credit to the Zinc team to who have all been really accommodating when sharing the studio floor rug rat!
What inspired you to keep making progress?
Seeing results, particularly in the last 3 months. Clothes fitting better. Hearing people’s compliments (people who, to be fair, last saw me when I was 39 weeks gone, but still!). Probably most of all though, feeling amazing -After 15 months of feeling lethargic, wobbly and downright knackered, I felt really strong and like I could cope with things better (for example going back to work into quite an intense job). You are just a bit more Zen when you are fitter I think and you need that when you are trying to juggle loads of stuff. It gives you more energy doesn’t it – I probably fed off that a bit!
What top three tips do you have as a first time mum making steps to getting back in shape?
1) Don’t eat all the pies – I love food, and when you have time off there are lots of opportunities to eat cake…..and I did..and I initiated the cake meetings…and I made excuses for doing it…..and this is fine, for a bit. However there is a point at which, if you want to drop some of the baby pounds you have to stop, take a look at your diet and rethink it.
I didn’t make drastic changes, and I didn’t try to do too much at once (personally, I am not one for juicing etc) but I did keep making small changes to my food habits each time I seemed to plateau. Stop the cake every day, stop eating seconds after meals, ask myself do really want a pudding after tea, do I really need to eat what Alexei leaves, am I snacking because I am bored?
Each of these changes resulted in about an extra 2kg of fat loss and once you get over the first week you don’t notice they have gone – never gave up a food group, never stopped cooking food (I have a family the diet needs to be practical) and never punish myself if sometimes I want a treat.
2) Listen to your body (and your trainer) – a post partum body is easily damaged. I did, I started running again too soon after for my body to cope and as a result had to see a fantastic women’s physio to help recover. I was very careful with exercise during the treatment period and once things were sorted had a good chat with the health professionals about what to do. I avoided body combat and started doing body pump for a more gentle approach until I was fully recovered and even now I am careful with any exercise that puts significant downwards pressure on my core.
3) Little and often is better than big and never -if you can make it fit in with your schedule it makes it so much easier. I do 30 min HiiT training classes as they fit in with the creche, I do 45 mins with my trainer (who baby sits) and I do body pump on a Sunday (when daddy day care is on!) and normally get a jacuzzi ‘treat’ for 15 mins afterwards. Personally I prefer classes and instruction because I don’t want to think in my downtime – but each to their own. The challenge for me is going to be keeping this up when I am back at work as it means even more competing priorities!
Everybody’s post partum journey is slightly different and the part i love about my job is helping influence a strategy that brings them back to post partum health with as little stress as possible. As you can see Helens dedication to achieving her goals was a personal and un-intimidating journey which allowed her the flexibility to find a method that suited her and her new family. exercise and nutritional adaptations made her mental and physiological transformation post partum a success and i look forward to helping her sustain this momentum whilst she goes back to work.