This post is a continuation from the first blog post: https://www.themmamama.com/post/how-i-began-my-post-baby-weight-loss-journey
I was still continuing on healing my Diastasis, which in itself takes a while, and requires patience and smart planning around which exercises are appropriate and when so as not to apply unnecessary abdominal pressure which could lead to hernias.
I also had to remember that it was going to take some time to re-install muscular adaptations that were softened ,so-to-speak, during some of the movements and workouts I had to modify in accommodation to my pregnancy because they had to be rewired into their previous states. I had to reawaken the muscles and remind them of acquired levels of strength that they had obtained before I got #pregnant.
This was especially centred around my abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles, as well as my back. My legs, arms and shoulders never much experience anything outside the normal, with exception to some exercise movements, but the majority of the alterations that had to be made were circulating around my midsection and thoracic region.
As I progressively healed my ab separation, I decided that I'd use certain things to my advantage because I wasn't always able to access or go to the #gym, but didn't want to use it as an excuse not to move my body and allocate time to strengthen it.
USING BABY WEIGHT TO LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT
You'd be surprised -if you've never done this already- how effective in the early stages of #postpartum weight loss using your baby's bodyweight can serve for certain simple exercise movements. Squatting is one of the biggest ones, for example. And considering it's a top compound movement, you're certainly utilizing a powerhouse tool right out of the gate.
One of the reasons for this is because our bodies strictly rely on us balancing it out while holding the uneven, shifting weight of our baby in our arms and we are reliant on ourselves to stabilize our bodyweight while executing the movement. This fires and engages all sorts of muscles recruitments to accomplish the task, simultaneously strengthening and challenging our bodies.
Plus, our #babies don't really start off too heavy but as they get bigger, it serves as somewhat of a "progressive" overload method, just with your own baby! Now, keep in mind this is just a really good starting point. When I used both my kids for simple things like squats, lunges, baby-bench presses, it was both fun, interactive and didn't stress out my body too much at the start line.
Mommas can really get hung up on strict standards or approaches of how they have to get back into activity post-baby but this isn't always the case. Have your baby participate with you; you get a workout in, and baby gets to hangout with momma and stay close to you.
The other method I really loved, and one that is super common and functional, for a reason, is stroller workouts!
New #moms and experienced moms love this because not only do you get to enjoy being outdoors, but baby lounges in the stroller sleeping, watching, or drinking milk while you get your body in gear. There's a variety of movements you can also perform when doing a stroller workout, too!
Power walking for a length of time, stopping, doing some squats, lunges, leg swings, etc., and then you continue to move and power walk and repeat for a certain amount of intervals -just as a quick example!
I'm a simple girl; I like simple, uncomplicated things. Using a stroller is such a simple, yet effective way to get your gears rolling with working out and staying active as a busy mom. It's super inexpensive (depending how much you're investing in your stroller) and it doesn't demand fancy equipment in order to get the job done. You don't require a jogging stroller, either!
To be honest, most of my workouts that have gotten me back into shape and maintained me that way have been super basic, efficient, and inexpensive tools that don't require dropping a hefty dollar amount.
That's the beauty of fitness, especially if you start getting really good at adapting, and peppering your routine with ample variety to keep you stimulated, motivated, and challenged. Having an assortment of exercises and workouts to mix up and change up is one of the best things I've done to keep myself consistent in my regimen.
GETTING YOUR NUTRITION ON POINT
It's no joke when they say that it took 9 months to grow your little one; your body isn't just going to bounce back in a handful of weeks. However, it isn't just about this, but also because growth and repair needs to happen. We are literally made up of what we eat -so eat wholesome and nutritious food that benefits the body!
If you're breastfeeding and also working out, you're going to really need to sustain yourself with acceptable amounts of #nutrition and dietary fuel so you'll want to strategically map out what that looks like.
Healthy fats, good proteins, and carbs -but it's up to you whether you want to opt for low carb or no carb. Remember, the dietary realm is whatever you know suits your body and helps it to respond and function optimally. Some people thrive off vegan diets, while others thrive off more of a predominantly paleo or carnivore diet. Some go 90% carnivore while leaving room for indulgence and healthy carbs, while others completely wriggle it out of their diet altogether. This is one area I am not qualified to give proper advice on though, so I just give you what I've experienced and my opinion on it, only. However, I may share a post in the near future on what has personally worked for me as a testimony -and not with the purpose of giving medical or nutritional prescriptions.
Also, if you can afford one, I'd highly recommend a nutritionist/dietician so that you're making sure you're meeting all your needs because genetically and physiologically we're all built and designed differently! Certain foods will help us thrive, while others will actually not be serving our body the way we think they do. There's tests available to check for dietary allergies, and sensitivities, etc. The best way for now is to closely listen and check in with how your body feels after every meal and document it in a food journal.
We don't need you fatiguing prematurely or passing out because you're eating in a deficit, either. Your baby is being sustained by the milk you are producing through the calories you're eating, but it also means you need to eat enough to feed the baby and yourself.
Breastfeeding was one of the reasons why I also jumpstarted so well on the weight loss because of the energy demands it places on the system from having to manufacture everything you and the baby need. The weight seemed to just melt off when I added proper nutrition, and consistent working out!
We sometimes tend to put more emphasis on the working out portion of the journey and neglect the level of quality we invest into our nutrition, not realizing how vital it is as a key component to getting us closer to our weight loss and fitness goals! Even when we reach those goals, we should be determined to maintain it as a #lifestyle and not just reaching the destination and then calling it quits. This is a lifetime investment.
STRENGTH TRAINING AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Now that I've highlighted and expressed the importance of nutrition and getting it down the right way for you, the next thing is to discuss #strength #training and #mixed #martial #arts which was a huge contributor to my weight loss journey, postpartum.
While using your baby's weight can add benefit and a good starting point, and nutrition to boot, for weight loss progress, you should be aiming to up the standard. Especially if you're also looking to combine drastic muscular changes. If that's the case, strength training is your go-to. I also particularly like conjoining it with mixed martial arts, because it's a booster kick to the cardio system and conditions you in a way that power walking or jogging won't.
Strength training and mixed martial arts both initiate a response that's known as an "after burn effect." It means long after you stop working out, your body is still revving up its systems to burn calories, build muscle, and up your metabolism. I'd like to point out here also, that post-workout nutrition is vital in what you choose and its quality because that is what your body will be using to rebuild and recover the muscles and tissues you extracted physical demands from.
If you're new to weightlifting, start slow and work your way up as with anything else new that you're dabbling into.
You have several options to choose from, so don't stick to such a linear design for a program. You want to become as dynamic as possible in your fitness and exercise routines.
Some examples are using different weighted sand bags, kettlebell, free weights, resistance bands, landmine (with a barbell) and equipment that challenges your sense of balance and coordination and is more unconventional. You want to expand your body's capacity for physiological performance. Certainly still weave your usual squat rack movements, and machines if that's what you fancy, but really try to branch out as well to keep it interesting and increase your body's abilities to adapt to different ranges of movement.
Rarely in life do we consistently move in direct and inflexible directions, and the more you connect to every muscle fibre recruitment capacity, the better. You want to be strong as possible in every sense and make sure you're culturing your muscles and tissues in a way that is ready to not only handle the stresses and demands in your workouts, but outside the gym as well. The ultimate goal is optimal functionality in your everyday life. What you do in the gym, to a certain degree, should translate and transfer to your lifestyle in a way that you really feel the difference.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Before I jumped right into smashing pads or heavy bags, I eased my way with #shadowboxing. What I call the simulation game. It's a great way to jostle and reconnect with my muscle memory. It allows me to work back into the movements of past combinations and maneuvers I've learned to get a feel for how my body responds to it. That way if it protests in anyway, I can take note, scale back, and then re-approach it when my body cues me that it's prepared to handle those mechanics.
Another reason I really enjoy mixed martial arts is because it really keeps you on your toes and makes things a lot more interesting than your standard, dull cardio. It kicks things up a notch and works you on a different gear.
It's effective for weigh loss because of its intense bursts of energy output in the span of about 45-60 minutes per session -whether you're working on the heavy bag, pads, or shadowboxing on your own. It's a form of #HIIT which super charges your #cardio far more than steady-state #running or #jogging would do.
You obviously want to see first how your body responds to this level of cardio if you're new to it, but if you manage pretty well, it won't be long before you start experiencing the manifested benefits in your physiology.
One thing I'll mention also is that if you don't have access to a heavy bag or a coach to hold pads, it's why there's such a beauty in the fact that you can get such a great workout from two key things that I use 95% of the time: skipping and shadowboxing.
Typically I start off by #skipping for two minutes, shadowbox for 1-2 minutes also, and then alternate within that interchange for roughly half hour or so. Sometimes longer, depending how I feel. Or, I will skip for 2 minutes, shadowbox for 1 minute, skip for 2 minutes, then perform air squats for 1 minute and alternate those three; you can even include push ups into the blend or another preferable exercise.
Mix it up and experiment. Always listen and keep in tune with how your body is responding and giving you feedback, and go accordingly.
REALISTIC GOALS & DEVELOPING CONSISTENCY
This last one is what's going to tie everything else together nicely.
Without any type of #goal #setting, you won't know which direction to go. You can't aim for a target you haven't established. You also can't cultivate real, authentic physical and mental change if you haven't kept consistent and persistent with your own established, unique #routine.
Building the momentum in the beginning is what might create some resistance at first, because we all know the hardest part to sticking to your workout routines and appointments is when you're trying to convince yourself to get off the couch and actually go and do it.
Once you start moving, you feel good, the energy picks up, and your mind gets into a flow state of focus that has you narrowed in on your goals. Setting realistic goals also makes it easier to keep pace with your workouts because you're not overwhelming yourself. You're far more likely to talk yourself out of something you dread if it seems to big of a task to accomplish.
Opposite to that, of course, is if you assemble a goal, or a series of goals, that are far more attainable within a given time frame, you're not stressing about it as much and give yourself more room to enjoy the process and the journey.
Get it, like a boss!