Hard work ... this is what comes to mind when people tell me I look great after having two children. It is hard work to get back into shape after gaining 35 lbs twice. But somehow people's comments make it sound like it was easy for me; like somehow, biology spared me, unlike many. Yes, there is something to be said about biology and genes. I agree that heredity plays a big part in how easy or hard it is to lose weight; nevertheless, it took time, dedication, and hard work to get back in shape.
An exercise was not the only item I considered while making a plan to lose weight. I believed that a state of mind was an important issue that needed to be addressed before I headed back to a gym.
After I had my first child, I was filled with emotions that ranged from joy to irritation to being scared. At any given moment, I could experience all of them or none at all. Sometimes I felt so disconnected and tired that wanted nothing more but to go to sleep and wake up somewhere else. I do not think I had a severe case of postpartum depression, but I had mild episodes here and there.
During the first few months after the delivery, I did not want to get out of the house, mostly because I was afraid to bother my baby. So I preferred to lounge at home, not realizing that what my brain needed was the absolute opposite. I needed a distraction. Thankfully, I had many girlfriends who by then had had babies. They tireless checked up on me via WhatApps and asked for permissions to stop by. Again, I had no idea how important it was. They kept me sane by providing guidance, tips, food, stories, and most importantly their support. I will be forever grateful!
So here it is — the essential first step towards new you - mental health. I cannot stress this enough - rely on your family and friends. They will keep you anchored and present. They will provide you with a mental break/support that you desperately need. Your experienced friends, mother, and grandmother will guide you through the rough few months. And yes, it is tough at the beginning, but it does get easier.
With my second child, I took full advantage of my support system. I called my friends and invited them over, I texted girlfriends for advice, and I kept in touch with a few co-workers who fed me stories. I never felt alone or helpless. For all the new mothers, I suggest you reach out to friends, and you ask them to visit, you ask them to go on a hike or stroll. Reach out first - there is no shame in being seen tired or overwhelmed.
Also, do not forget about the family. Whether it is your husband's or your own, use the help! Don't abuse it. You will need their support for years to come. Trust me. But do not be scared to reach out and ask for help. I bet they are staying back because they do not want to disturb the newly minted family. Let them know they are welcomed and needed. Let them hold a baby and play with it. It will give you a chance to take a shower or drink coffee in peace. Enjoy!
After (or during) you get your mental state in check, you can start thinking about foods you consume. Take a few weeks to recover and eat whatever you want whenever you want. After about three or four weeks, begin actively thinking about what you are eating. First, because all that you consume gets passed on to the baby and second, all the unhealthy foods will affect your weight.
I remember I was hungry all the time while I was breastfeeding. And not just small nagging hunger. No! I was starving after each feeding. Very quickly, I made it my husbands problem, in a practical way. I asked him to make me large plates of cut fruit (every day; sometimes few times a day) and leave it by my bedside. Anything will do even veggies! Make your hubby do grocery shopping or better yet use apps that deliver. And do not forget about water. Water is vital for you and the baby/milk production. Do the same, ask for a few glasses of water and place them on your nightstand. You can also buy sizeable refillable water bottles and put them everywhere.
I know that you cannot always eat healthily, and sometimes we crave sweets, baked goods or processed foods. That is fine. If you are eating them occasionally, no worries, do not make it a habit.
Now. After we got the brain and stomach situated, we can start thinking about exercise. Whether you are starting fresh or again, start slowly. There is no rush. I mean, of course, you want to get rid of extra weight fast, but it will take time. At first, enjoy strolls in a park or a short hike. Once your Doc clears you for exercising, hit the gym. For me, finding time to get out of the house to exercise was not even an option. I had to find another way. What I discovered was YouTube.
One of my girlfriends recommended starting with Jillian Michaels routines. I found a variety of workouts that I immediately started. Some of them were challenging, and others were more relaxed. I created a good rotation where I was not constantly sore or tired. Also, I've started to run. Slowly. Very slowly. I am not a runner, never was. The only reason I decided to try running was that of my husband. Right about the time I got pregnant, he started to train for a marathon. And he was not a runner — quite the opposite. Most of the time he lifted weights, smoked a lot during his younger years and enjoyed a drink or three. For some unknown to me reason, one day, he proclaimed that he was starting to train for a marathon. The transformation was amazing. To make this short - in about ten months, he ran a marathon and was skinny as never before.
Because of my hubby, I decided to give running a try. At first, I was able to run half a mile while almost collapsing. The running trail next to my house was about two and a half miles. It seemed so long and impossible to conquer. But, to my surprise, training did pay off, and in about a few months I was able to run our trail from start to finish.
Even though I liked Jillian Michaels' workouts, I craved something different. I browsed other videos and finally found Jessica Smith TV channel. To this day, three years later, I still do her workouts. I am not at my pre-pregnancy weight, but it does not matter. What matters is that I look good and feel great. Jessica's videos are easy to follow, they will make you sweat and sore the next day. I do have a favorite workout - Superset Sculpt - Full 40 Minute Strength Training Fat Burning Home Workout (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1D5Lzkz_yU) - but do not stick to just one. Alternate and try new ones.
I hope my story inspired you to take some action. It does not have to be all at once. Starting slowly and staying consistent - the only way to succeed.