So, I wanted to get a few preconceptions out of the way right at the very beginning……
Say ‘fitness instructor’ and most people formulate an image in their mind, especially if you add ‘female’. Compound that with the fact that I have been blonde most of my life, and I bet you conjure up a certain stereotypical persona in your mind.
Yes…..I know….one of those bubbly, overly enthusiastic, endlessly effervescent, uber-fit, ludicrously toned, tanned and lycra-clad ladies that bounces around at the front of an aerobics class, whilst keeping all make-up and hair perfectly intact, and ‘WHOOPING’.
In reality, I am not that person that your mind has created.
I am a fitness instructor/personal trainer with years of experience and loads of qualifications…..(this is not a boast by the way….bear with me), I have been very fit at some points in my life, and very unfit at others and I have been many different shapes and body fat percentages. I now have an eight month old baby (I believe that is right, as you sort of lose track after the weeks become months!), and I am not, I repeat NOT one of those people who has naturally speedily ‘snapped’ (grrrrr, that word) back into shape.
I have never felt so fat and unfit as during the first few weeks after giving birth. My ankles were swollen, my boobs were huge (and then got even bigger) and I just looked and felt like a slightly deflated waterbed. As the months have gone on I still don’t feel anywhere near regaining my former (even fat) shape!
My body has never shed body fat readily, it has always taken time, dedication, hard work and a very precise way of eating when I have. So why did I expect my hormone-flooded, healing, exhausted, sleep-deprived body to be any different to all those other times? It has taken me until now to actually give myself a break from beating myself up about the current shape I am in (see yesterdays blog post about changing your mindset here).
Being a fitness instructor this is incredibly frustrating.
Sadly, I know all about all the scientific reasons why fat is hard to shift (more detail about this in an information sheet to come), especially for women who have been pregnant, as I have studied it in detail for many years. It is more than just expending more calories than you consume. I also know what works for me.
I need restorative sleep and daily meditation to regulate my stress hormones, I need an unprocessed diet with oodles of vegetables (preferably raw), some fruit and high quality protein sources, lots of weight training and some high intensity interval training, not to mention copious quantities of water……..and time to achieve all of these.
After staying at a really healthy weight all through my pregnancy, I actually put on weight in the first few months after giving birth, as my lifestyle had changed so dramatically. I was no longer rushing around from 6am to 10pm, instead I was ‘stuck’ breastfeeding for what seemed like hours at a time (probably because it was hours at a time!).
It is only in the past week that we have significantly reduced daytime breastfeeding, and it is great to start to be able to plan doing more for ‘me’ (including wearing tops that don’t have easy-access-to-boobs-designs!) in the daytime.
The old adage of “9 months on….. 9 months off” with respect to the weight you gain and lose in pregnancy is very true for many women, despite how tedious that may be. As with everything in life, there will be those who lose weight rapidly, those who will end up smaller than they were pre-pregnancy and those who take a bit longer to regain their former set point.
I was severely disappointed that the weight I had gained didn’t just ‘drop off’ as soon as I started breastfeeding. But how could it when I craved carbohydrate constantly, and was always eating on the go, or in the middle of the night, barely having time to sleep let alone direct my attention to cooking healthy, nutritious meals as I have historically.
I am not feeling guilty about this now, and neither should other mums in the same position be. I personally am incredibly proud of the now rather solid baby that I have created, and marvel at how wonderful nature is to provide me with the means of feeding this chap. I was determined not to scrimp on food in order to lose weight at this one time in my life when it is all about providing the best possible nourishment for this little person. I was worried that my usual weight loss regime may do this. There will be plenty of time in the next few months to get lean and fit again, without compromising the milk that I am producing.
This is a very important consideration when writing exercise programmes for new mums. The desire to change their body shape and the reality of what needs to be accomplished in any one day need to be married up to prevent disappointment, frustration and negative feelings during this time of upheavals.
I love exercising, I love weight training, I love pushing my body to see what I can achieve, and love the feeling of being worked hard. So do many other new mums.
Sometimes, though, it is important for a gentler approach to be taken at first, as many people do not understand how long the effects of pregnancy hormones can affect the body. You can sometimes do a lot of damage in a short space of time by overdoing it with the wrong exercises (no matter how well meant).
I feel very strongly that there is so much attention placed on provision of classes ‘for the baby’, and not enough time for mothers-to-be and new mothers. If that is you, you know what I mean. A healthy, happy mum can devote much more time to developing a happy child, I am convinced. Providing a safe, effective workout for a mum-to-be or new mum provides some highly valued ‘me-time’ to enable you to do something that will reap rewards for both you and your child/children.
I realise that not everyone can get to a class or get correct ante and postnatal advice from qualified instructors, so I am in the process of producing a host of short workouts and resources to help other mothers in a similar position and information sheets about some of the main things you should be avoiding in your pregnancy workouts, in the first few months following birth and beyond. Sign up for the Bump & Baby Newsletter to be updated when these are released later this year.
Me? Well, I am Kate, I am a female fitness instructor, and I come with all the credentials to get you where you want to be with your fitness. But I am also able to judge when you need to ease up on your training or take some time to relax, because if it is the most beneficial thing for you to do that day, I will tell you so and give you alternatives. I also will not be stood at the front of the class in lycra, with a tan and all my makeup and hair coiffed to perfection!
Have a good day/night!