This is not an article about “how I got my body back” – which, by the way, has become one of my most hated phrases in the parenting world. This is an article about confidence, taking control, and the final result of learning how to make my needs a priority.
I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy, and I was not one of those women who shed any weight from breastfeeding. By the time I had weaned, I was still 32 pounds heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. I wasn’t happy. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2017, I decided that my goal for the coming year would be to start making myself a priority. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Was I going to find a new hobby? Start painting? Improve my beauty regimen? After a few weeks of exploring different ideas, I reflected on what new activities were making me feel strong, empowered, and in control of my life. The exercise changes that I had started to make were really hitting all of these markers, so I ran with it. Literally.
My husband took over extra parenting responsibilities so that I could concentrate on my fitness. I tried out different studios around the city, no matter how scary – from aerial yoga to Barry’s Bootcamp. Initially, I performed horribly. I left my first Barry’s class nearly in tears because I couldn’t even jog at the lowest suggested speed for longer than one minute. I couldn’t hold a plank, I couldn’t do a pushup, and even 30 seconds in downward dog was exhausting.
But something about the support I received in these group classes made me keep going. Welcoming front desk people, inspiring studio owners, and motivating instructors became my family away from my family. And while the community is what kept me going in the beginning, as the year progressed my motivations changed. I started improving. I was seeing results, feeling stronger, and building confidence. I felt like I was finally giving myself permission to be important again, to pursue something that made me feel good and to explore how far I could take it.
By the end of the year, I had lost 40 pounds and 14 inches. I just ran my first race, a 15k, and placed surprisingly well after I pushed myself to run the entire course non-stop. I’ve been inspired to keep fitness as an important part of my life and to keep improving my physical and emotional wellbeing. I will never “get my body back.” Childbirth and nursing changed my body in ways that are irreversible, but I’m so in love with my new body – a body that grew and birthed a human, can run across town with a jogging stroller to make it to toddler gymnastics class on time, can do a handstand, and knock pushups out of the park. I don’t think I would want to get my old body back, anyway.
My Favorite Workout Gear:
I’ve been in love with Levelwear Sports Ladies “Verve” line. It’s pretty much all I wear anymore. In my photos I’m wearing my favorite athleisure pants – the Margot. I have worn these to a morning class, done mom-duty in them all day, and then collapsed in an exhausted heap and slept in them. Literal 24-hour wear.
Where I Sweat in SF:
This new family friendly studio is owned and operated by a prenatal/postnatal trainer and fellow mama. Offering flexible personal training programs (including ones with childcare and baby/toddler inclusive classes) and a variety of children’s classes, this Mission Bay studio can grow with your family.
Not specifically for post-natal exercise, but the trainers at Avant-Barre are incredibly mindful of postpartum needs and offer flexible modifications. The small core movements and planks are a perfect way to start rebuilding your abdominal muscles – after you’ve received the okay from your doctor, of course!
MNT offers reformer Pilates classes for pregnant and post-partum women, a variety of Pilates, barre, and bootcamp style classes, and childcare options! Their studio is beautiful and feels like a small oasis for tired mamas.
This is one of the most challenging studios I visit, but the classes kick my butt! With locations all over the city, head here for some serious toning. Bonus: the Lower Pac Heights studio offers childcare
Aerial yoga seemed very scary, but the supportive and relaxing vibe of this studio was a perfect combo of fitness and zen. And the inversions did crazy wonderful things for my milk supply!