I have been consumed with thoughts, ideas and reflections of motherhood recently- being 8 months pregnant will do that to you. But the name of this blog is The Tomboy Mommy. That means I go out and get strawberries on my butt from sliding into second during a slow-pitch softball game where absolutely nothing is on the line except my status as a tomboy. It means I train at a dojo, covered head to toe in bruises and the sweat of other people’s spouses. It means I ride a mountain bike and flip over the handlebars and land in cactus. I just never outgrew playing. I am going to share with you 4 tips I used to lose the baby weight after struggling to get back to my pre-baby, Tomboy fitness. First though I’ll share the difficulty of the road back in hopes it resonates with other mommies, Tomboys or otherwise.
Pre-baby body. This is in a rugby match so this was “heavy” for me so I didn’t sustain so many injuries.
I’ve never been much of an organized exerciser, like to just exercise for weight loss. I was active so it just naturally kept me fit. Then I had a kid, via C-section no less, which meant a long recovery. I wasn’t going to get to be in red carpet shape in 6 weeks like the celebs. I seriously thought I would be. What I didn’t realize then was that celebrities have personal chefs, nannies, personal trainers, personal assistants and yeah, the motivation to be on the red carpet in front of the paparazzi in 6 weeks. Hell, anyone can get in shape with that kind of support team. I was arrogant and knew I was too active to hang on to baby weight like most women. Hahahahahaha!
Throw in the C-section, relocating and leaving behind my support system of playmates and familiar places to play. Add a horrible post partum diet and, dadgum if I didn’t end up significantly out of shape. When I say I out of shape, I don’t mean, not fit. I mean, my shape, the actual shape of my body, was bizarro. I couldn’t tell if I was pear shaped or apple shaped. I was more hot pocket and pepperoni shaped, as those were two staples of my post-partum diet.
1 year post partum. That’s me in the background looking like a Jenny Craig before pic. The fabulous woman in the foreground is my sister, Brooke, mother of 3.
Finally deciding I had to break into the “playground” in my local area, I began attending an MMA dojo near my house. Having trained martial arts on and off before, I loved it! It was odd making my athletic mind reconcile to my unathletic body. I tried to be quick and agile, because my mind has always said, do this, and my body did it. Apparently hot pockets don’t move that agilely on a 33 year old post-partum body. I loved training at the dojo with amazing people, but outside of the fitness issue, which would not keep me from training- that would be counterproductive, was the breast feeding. Wrestling around on the ground with a bunch of guys smashing you into the mats is uncomfortable. Do it with tender breasts that my husband didn’t even get to look at, let alone touch, and it felt like breast milk was seeping from my tear ducts as they made a simple pass (a jiu jitsu move, not an inappropriate attempt at amorous attention). I quit going with the promise to myself that I would go back as soon as my son was weened (I did, by the way, which is how I got back into shape, but more on that later). I was lost and physically destitute and depressed. I had no one to play with, no friends. I felt sorry for myself, ate another package of pepperonis in one sitting and continued the cycle.
Continuing the cycle. Notice how the muffin top serves well as a baby seat.
I didn’t want to exercise for the sake of exercise. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to play, not run in place on a treadmill or elliptical. At least I would have been active, but no, I’m an all or nothing type so my shape continued to devolve into mush.
I ended up figuring it all out, though it took more than a year post-partum to get back into a shape. So I’m going to share with you the 4 things I did to regain control of my body and mind.
1. Find your support system
You have to find this. You must! I don’t care what your circumstance, you have to have this. This can come in the form of your spouse or other family members, but let’s be honest, family dynamics are not always conducive to building each other up. Single mom? Spouse doesn’t care? Find an online accountability group or engage with others at your gym that are trying to accomplish the same things you are. Do this even if you have a supportive family. Look, not everyone is going to support you. They’re going to make cracks about your new routine and eating habits. Commiserate with your support group, they’ll be experiencing the same things. You think Heidi Klum had people making fun of her for eating baby carrots instead of bread sticks? Hell no, they wouldn’t dare. You don’t have that luxury. People will try to pull you down because they can’t do what you’re doing. Do it anyway and connect with whatever support group you have. Surround yourself with the people you want to be like and the people who are like you.
2. Fix your diet
There’s a reason why this is number 2. Outside of a support system, if the only thing you did was change your eating habits, your weight would change significantly (the word, weight, is used intentionally here, we change our shape by doing activities that improve our strength and conditioning). It’s also the hardest thing to do. Before we continue it must be emphasized: do not go on a diet! Diets are temporary, which means the weight loss associated with them are temporary. If you want to lose 10 pounds to fit into a bridesmaids dress or into a slinky number for a party, a diet (within reason) isn’t horrible. As long as you are aware it is a temporary fix. For long term change of body composition, you must make a lifestyle change.
Look, changing your diet is hard enough without making it a committed relationship, but think of it that way. Sheesh, let’s make it a little more intimidating, right? Like any good relationship though, it gets easier and more comfortable with fewer awkward moments- like when you drool over a slice of pizza walking by when your grilled chicken Caesar salad lunch date is sitting right there in front of you. You’re going to cheat, in fact, in this kind of relationship, I encourage it at least once a week. You don’t have to go slumming completely, but a smooch on the lips with a donut or the occasional torrid affair with a Big Mac is not going to ruin this kind of relationship. If you completely loose your mind and run off on a week long affair, don’t beat yourself up- acknowledge the infidelity and start again. This is like the greatest relationship ever! Play the field, date around. Find out which healthy foods you like and how you like to prepare them. Don’t eat quinoa because that’s the fad. If you can’t prepare it in a way that is satisfying then ditch it- you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The fact is, the hardest part is the beginning. If you can gut your way through a month of new eating habits, you gain this momentum that you just can’t stop. Even if you want that sultry, steaming cheeseburger, you realize you don’t want to break the good thing you’ve worked so hard on. It has become a committed relationship. Good for you! But I still encourage cheating.
3. Find your MFEO workout/activity
Have you ever seen Sleepless in Seattle? If you haven’t, why the hell not? Stop reading and go watch it, this can wait. Ok, do it after you read this, but do it. It has nothing to do with fitness but it’s a classic. Anyway, MFEO means Meant For Each Other, and explains why Annie and Sam, complete strangers, should meet and fall in love. This is you and your workout.
My MFEO workout- Mixed Martial Arts.
You have to be MFEO, otherwise, why bother? You sacrifice and pine for your workout if you’re made for each other. You look forward to seeing it, to the exhaustion and elation after. You must find each other. “You have to find her, you have to go to her…It’s YOH, your only hope.” Sorry for the direct quote, I could do that for the entire movie. Your workout may be an exercise video, running, obstacle races, crossfit, martial arts. It just needs to be something that you look forward to and enjoy doing- or maybe enjoy once you’re done. That’s an important concept people who don’t regularly workout don’t understand. It’s not necessarily the workout itself, but the feeling when you’re done. If you don’t find the workout or activity you’re meant to be with it’s, “H and G. Hi and Good-bye.”
4. Get Workout Videos
Find a workout video that you really like so you can work out from home when you can’t get out. I suggest you go to www.beachbody.com, the makers of P90x, Insanity and TurboFire. They have lots of great programs, online support and even coaches to help you find the right program for you and to offer support during your fitness process. I used to be a Beachbody coach, so I know the company pretty well. I have no affiliation anymore and get no compensation for referring them, at all. If all you can afford is a $10 exercise video from Wal-Mart, get it. One of my all time favorites is Sweatin’ to the Oldies. I still do it several times a month! I also really like the RushFit DVD series from Georges St Pierre, recently retired welter weight UFC champ. You’re going to be stuck inside, find a way to workout at home.
2 years post-partum after using the 4 tips to get back in shape.
These 4 tips should get you started. I get to start all over in 6 weeks, so I’ll be utilizing this advice again shortly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared that I could spiral back down into that self-loathing and depression after I have my baby, or even just plain ol’ complacency. I don’t care if you’re 6 weeks post-partum, 1 year post-partum or 10 years post-partum. You can get back in shape. We can do it- we deserve it.
I’d be happy to help. Shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment. I’ll be the first person in your support group and your number one fan!