After I lost the baby weight the first time, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I was really proud of myself for accomplishing that goal and getting back into my old clothes. But a year later I had two fun little boys, a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old and was back to a few lbs over my normal weight, but still didn’t feel good, or at least not great. I didn’t feel like me, I wasn’t energetic. Something was missing. When I told my husband how I was feeling, he suggested that I check out the gym and consider joining. It was December, which always seems like a good time to join the gym. This would have never occurred to me (I don’t know why, I just felt like going to the gym was something other people did), but I went to check out the one down the street, loved it, found room in the budget ($70 a month let me leave my two little boys in the play area any time I came to exercise), and signed up on December 27, 2013.
At the Gym
After a month of running on the treadmill and elliptical by myself I joined a new program my gym was starting that made personal training more affordable. It was a group training program where you had small classes and still got the benefit of personalized attention and accountability. At an extra $100 a month I was nervous but excited to try something new. This was the best monetary investment I ever made in my physical health. I began to learn all about nutrition, diet, and exercise in a practical, hands-on kind of way. Pieces of information I had gathered reading about food all fell into place in a way that made more sense, and I learned a ton about muscles and different types of exercise, how to work with your body, and develop it with reduced risk of injury. I was so excited.
And you’re reading this story right here in this post because the next month I found out I was pregnant. And my trainers were amazing. Once I got to about 13 weeks they started modifying my exercises and made sure I had a version of every routine that I could do. I was able to stay with the class until I was about 7 months pregnant. Then I picked back up with them again about 12 weeks after the baby was born in Nov. I had a c-section again (for the third time – a third big boy!) and I could tell that my time at the gym helped me to recover faster. It also helped me lose the baby weight faster, because I was able to start exercising sooner without being afraid of hurting myself.
I was able to simply reverse the process I had taken while pregnant in modifying my exercises, and as my muscles recovered I was able to incorporate exercises back into my routine and do modified versions as needed throughout the process. This was such a different experience from losing weight the first time. Whereas then I was lonely and focused on what I was eating, this time I was surrounded by community and ate similarly but also incorporated a whole new element of exercise into my life, learning how to use various equipment to work toward different goals and to keep it interesting. When my trainers moved on and the gym revamped the course that May, I decided to cancel my membership, save the money, and try everything I had applied to my own routine at home. During my time in the class I had been slowly collecting my favorite of the various equipment we used in our routines so that by the time I quit going to the gym, I had my own home gym ready to keep going with what I had learned.
Through my experience at the gym, I learned my own strength. I learned to love the days that we were able to go outside and do sprints. It’s a great feeling to push yourself to the limit. I saw myself progress in how much weight I could lift. I got definition in the muscles of my upper arms. And before I canceled my membership I got back on the elliptical a few times and could clearly see how much stronger my legs had gotten.
I’m sharing my story to let you know that you can do this too. You can look for a program to join if you have the money in the budget for it. Or you can learn everything you need online, and just find the right accountability partners that will help you have the camaraderie and support that you need.
Watch for an upcoming post about what equipment I have in my home gym and how you can get started for less than $40.
Part of our class’s routine involved counting calories regularly and turning in our sheets every week. I chose the option of using MyFitnessPal and loved it. In this app you can scan the bar codes on what you eat, or search in their database of ingredients. You add what you eat each day, and then it shows you totals for each macronutrient. For carbs, protein fat, fiber, and sugar you can see your daily totals. Our trainers gave us ratios to aim for, and we each figured out what our own totals should be based on our height, weight, and fitness goals. During my time in the class I hit 100 days in a row of logging my meals, definitely enough to make it a habit.
I don’t do it consistently anymore, only when I need a boost with weight loss or a reminder of what is in the food I eat. But now I eat healthier just from having that season where I saw what was in everything I ate and I saw how some choices led to too much sugar or not enough protein.
Once a month our trainers measured and recorded our weight, as well as our measurements for our shoulders, biceps, stomach, hips, and hamstring. I recommend getting a cloth measuring tape and doing this at home. (If you get one that is meant for sewing, they are just a few dollars.) I don’t do my arms and legs now, but I will if I start doing more weight lifting regularly. When I’m losing the baby weight, sometimes the scale seems inconsistent, and in addition to that, when you lift weights the gain in muscle can even make the scale lag behind, but taking measurements can let you know when you’ve really made progress.
And for most of us it’s not really the number on the scale that actually matters, it’s looking and feeling good and fitting into our beloved pre-pregnancy clothes. Donating/storing/selling my maternity clothes is a favorite task for me in my regular cycle of pregnant and ‘not’ and I’m so excited to be doing it for the final time. I have a stack of pregnancy clothes I just added to my garage sale pile. (Until this year I had given up on garage sales as a waste of time, but it has become an important strategy in my current effort to conquer the clutter in my home.)
Here in 2017
Now I’m struggling once again to slowly lose the baby weight – for the third and final time. I’m revisiting what worked before and trying to find the umph to do it one more time. I’m hoping I can find some wisdom and guidance not just for myself, but also for other moms that want to lose the baby weight and feel like themselves again. I know how hard that is. Now that I have four boys (7, 5, 3 and 1) I’m finding the challenge of finding time to take care of myself is greater than ever. But we all find time for what really matters, so I’ve determined all I need is a plan.
I’ve been making steady but slow progress. With 20 pounds left I think I’m going to find a way to combine the way I ate the first time I lost the baby weight with everything I learned about exercise and fitness from the second time.
Reading regularly about nutrition, health and exercise was instrumental for me in being both educated and knowledgeable. I’ll sharing soon my top 5 books that most helped me, that I recommend for any home gym/healthy kitchen.
What You Should Know
Here are the biggest things I learned:
- Paying for personal training is worth it if you maximize the experience, give it your best effort, and learn everything you can with an eye toward being independent and able to do it on your own after a year or so.
- You don’t need machines. All of the best equipment is affordable and easy to buy, and use and store at home.
- Nutrition is key. You need to eat differently depending on how much you exercise. You can exercise and eat the right amount, without eating extra calories that ‘cancel out’ your efforts.
- You can eat well without counting calories, for example here is one way to eat 1800 calories a day on a whole foods, plant-based diet.
- My body is powerful. I am strong. (and so are you!) Exercise clears my head. Lifting weights, and doing free weight and related exercises build muscle, and are really fun and easy to do at home.
- Learning about nutrition and fitness helps you stay informed and motivated. It also keeps it interesting and helps you learn how to deal with weight loss plateaus. I’ll be sharing soon the core books in my home gym.
- An effective home gym is easier than you might think. Read about what it is in mine and how you can set up your own home gym on a budget.
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