Fit Motherhood: The Journey Begins (Again)
I had a baby this week — my fourth. She and I are both perfectly healthy and happy to be at home with my husband and the other kiddos. That said, a journey of another sort begins in the next few days, the one to getting back into pre-pregnancy shape yet again.
I freakishly gain 50 to 70 pounds with each pregnancy, and this was no exception. While frustrating, I’ve come to accept that my body needs to do what it needs to do to grow healthy babies, which is my highest priority. Join me as I go from obese and miserable, back to fit and firm once more!
It Begins (The First Time)
As a bit of background, I’ve done this before. After my third child was born, I decided to get in the best shape of my life. I lost nearly 90 pounds in nine months, going from 221 pounds after childbirth to 133 as my maintenance weight. It took serious discipline in the form of diet and exercise, but I looked and felt fantastic.
I changed my family’s diet from what would generally be considered healthy in America to something that seems pretty radical. We started eating close to the ground, started focusing on more greens and less animal products, and did as much organic as possible.
During the summer of 2009, I decided to switch my focus from a cardio/weights blend to one of lifting four days per week and moderate cardio, along with Pilates and yoga for flexibility. I packed on almost twenty pounds of muscle in six months without a drastic change to my diet.
I felt great and looked the best I ever have. People at my gym noticed, and I was motivated to keep up my two 2-day splits. It was serious work, but I loved it. And then it happened: I found out I was pregnant again.
It sounds awful I know, but I was really conflicted about being pregnant again. Aside from having four children under the age of six, it also meant gaining all that weight again and having to watch myself get enormous once more. We’re not just talking about a few pounds here. I went from 152 pounds, well-defined, and a comfortable size 6, to a delivery weight of 224 pounds.
I kept up my cardio workouts three days per week and lifted two days per week until I was six months pregnant. I maintained my Pilates reformer classes until I was more than seven months pregnant, when my midwife and I decided to halt my other activities and focus on walking instead until I reached term.
If you’re doing the math, that means I gained 72 pounds in my pregnancy. My starting weight of 152, while being comfortable and looking good on me, was a bit higher than I’d like to be at the end of this weight loss journey. I’m not certain of my goal weight at this point, as I’m not looking to be as bulky as I was last time.
This time one of my goals is to run my first half marathon. To that end, my initial workouts will be cardio heavy, training to get myself back into running shape. I also plan to transition fully to barefoot running, so that will take some time and effort.
My initial goal weight is going to be 180 pounds, which is where I started my fitness journey last time. My second goal weight is 150 pounds, my high school weight. My third goal is 133, where I was very comfortable and looked amazing. A stretch goal is 124, since it would be a total loss of 100 pounds from baby’s birth.
Body fat goals are so misleading because it’s impossible to see how much visceral fat people have, and are especially so with women due to breast tissue. Alternatively, I like to focus on a clothing size that’s comfortable for me. I prefer to stay between sizes 4 and 6. Those sizes require me to be lean and muscular, with a good cardio/weights balance.
In time, I’ll develop a new series of goals, but it’s difficult to say what stream of fitness is going to interest me this time around. I often get bored, so I switch to a new focus to keep myself working hard.
Previous to now, my runs were about six miles, three days per week. I’ll need to run four days per week, limiting my cross training a bit.
Because I believe that flexibility training is vital, I’ll maintain my Pilates reformer classes one day per week, as well as a yoga class. Cross training will be cardio dance. For resistance training, the plan is to lift one two-day split and one day full body.
If you’re keeping track, that means I’ll need to do some two-a-days, and I’m totally OK with that. However, one other focus (not exactly a goal) is to stay as injury-free as possible this time.
Last time I worked hard — ridiculously hard. I did 14-16 hours per week in the gym, sometimes up to three hours per day. I got strong and slim quickly, but I also got injured. My hip flexors are still paying the price, and my right shoulder isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be.
To that end, I need to focus significantly on equal strength on both sides of the body, which Pilates and yoga will help with. I’ll also need to be extra vigilant when it comes to weights because I lift heavy.
224 pounds September 29 (day of delivery)
203 pounds October 1 (2 days after delivery)
0% to goal weight
Putting It All Together
The plan officially starts October 13. The baby will be two weeks old, meaning we’ll have had time to establish our nursing relationship, and it’s the day after my 31st birthday (I do not plan to ever, EVER, skip cake on my birthday). It’s also the day I’ll have clearance to begin a “moderate” exercise program.
As a breastfeeding mama, I need more calories than most women on a weight loss plan. My initial daily calorie intake will average 1,700, which should be enough to lose two pounds per week. When I get to around 165 pounds, I’ll probably need to drop to 1,600 calories to keep losing at that rate, and down to 1,500 to drop the last 10 pounds.
Green smoothies will comprise one meal on most days, with two meals and one to two snacks. I love calorie cycling for weight loss and utilize an easy plan to keep my body guessing.
I’ll keep you updated with how I’m doing, along with weight, measurements, and diet. I’m sure there will be difficulties like there were last time, but I’m up for the challenge!