Anyone up for a summer health challenge?

As I lay on my yoga mat this morning, I remembered the way my body felt at the end of my pregnancy. Compared to my non-pregnant self, I was disabled. Each movement required effort, changing positions in bed was a conscious act, a walk around the block left my hips and lower back aching. I wanted so badly to run at full speed down the street when we walked the dogs. I swore I was going to make the most of being able to move when I was no longer pregnant.

Three months postpartum I have not made good on this promise. While I am slowly getting stronger, I have been generally too tired or too preoccupied with baby tasks to exercise beyond our evening dog walk, (which took about a month to do comfortably). The first time I tried downward dog a few weeks ago, I practically fell on my face, my arms weak, my wrists throbbing. At the two yoga classes I have attended, my hips, back, wrists, legs have all creaked and ached in ways I never expected.

Put simply, I did not realize postpartum recovery would be such a slow process. I assumed the six week doctor’s visit would coincide with my miraculous return to postpartum health. After all, I eat well, take care of myself, had a natural childbirth… Ha. Apparently sleep deprivation and the act of carrying and then pushing out a baby take different tolls on different people, naturally-oriented or otherwise.

In talking with friends, I have realized postpartum recovery differs for everyone and it really can take anywhere from a month to a year to feel normal. Three months in and I am ready to take matters into my own hands. I want to move better than before and be stronger than I have ever been. When you have known what it feels like to be unable to move, moving suddenly takes on a much greater value.

Which brings me to this post. A year ago, I had just finished a 30-day yoga challenge and felt the strongest and healthiest I had felt in a long time, (also when I got pregnant, hmm…). I want to come up with a new health challenge to get back to (or better than) that point. While I am in no way ready for our next kid, I know I am going to have to be strong and healthy to go through that all again, (I really think if I had been in better shape, my delivery would not have been as taxing and I may have had the energy to actually use a pushing position other than the classic inclined hospital bed).

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration... I don't expect (or even want) to ever look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

Using year-ago post-yoga-challenge me as my inspiration… I don’t expect (or even want) to look exactly the same as pre-baby, I just want to FEEL the same if not better. This picture is probably the healthiest I have ever felt.

So, I need a little inspiration. My time is limited and it is also 100+ degrees outside (yuck!). The more I can do with baby indoors the better. I need goals/ideas for:

1. Healthy eating: I’m already on a restricted diet to help with her colic, (no dairy/wheat/processed sugar), but other processed foods are still a major weakness, (hello Mojo Bars, Late July tortilla chips, turkey jerky, etc). I need easy but filling inspiration, (and when I say easy, I mean no more than 20 minutes to prepare, since baby girl will only sit and watch me for about half that time before she starts fussing). Oh yeah, and I need to drink more water, duh.

2. Exercise: This makes me giggle. I have never been a runner (despite my pregnant fantasy of running at full speed). It’s hot outside. My baby doesn’t wake up until 9AM. I hate exercise videos. I’m full of excuses. I pretty much only like yoga and walking, but I’m going to need some serious encouragement to do enough of either to make a difference. Really, I need a buddy to force me.

3. Mental health: Hanging out with other moms has helped and will definitely be an important ingredient going forward. Writing is also key, but comes at the expense of household chores, exercise, food preparation, etc. Obviously exercise helps, but it already has its own category. Limiting technology makes this list, I find myself sucked into internet on my phone while I nurse, which doesn’t seem good for anyone involved and takes me out of being present with my daughter, (must break addiction)… I digress.

Whether you’re recovering from baby or not, I figure pretty much everyone could benefit from some new health goals or focus. Excited to hear your thoughts/secrets/tips as I develop a new plan for myself. I also encourage you to come up with your own summer health challenge. Life is too short to waste time unhealthy.

{And, side note, I managed to bang out this post in one sitting without baby girl waking up. We’re making real nap progress! Going on two hours! Woohoo! Now to see if there is time to actually proofread, might be pushing my luck…)

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7 thoughts on “Anyone up for a summer health challenge?

  1. Cathy Mackey says:

    Well you know what I am doing to get back in fighting form. lol You are more than welcome to join at the gym. Daddy can stay with Ellie. Oh an you look just as you did before Ellie.Fantastic everything will go back into place within the inside. Patience sweetie.

    • olivia says:

      Thanks Cathy, just looking forward to feeling stronger again! When our little love starts getting up earlier I’m hoping for longer walks.

  2. melinda516 says:

    I would be willing to join! I have been far too accommodating with myself, pretty much eating whatever I want still (mostly healthy but prob too much). I lost the baby weight quickly (s was a big eater) but have put on some lbs since I ceased breastfeeding – ha, guess I shouldnt eat the same amount when I’m not feeding two! Plus the usual “no time” “would rather be playing with Seamus” etc excuses.

    But I’m at a different stage. I put a baby seat on my bike (he hated the trailer but fortunately digs the seat), started taking him swimming at the Y, and just generally send a lot of time in the playground. I’m trying to work daily yoga back in – some weeks I’m really good, others not so much. But what I could really use is some core strength back (although I didn’t have much to begin with; that’s one thing I would do-over if I could go back to pre-pregnancy).

    I’ll try to stay in the loop but please let me know if you have ideas!

    P.s. As for mental, I have found that either time truly alone (no baby!) getting pampered or doing yoga or taking a wall etc or baby less brunch with my best girl friends really recharges my mental batteries. Also, read a book. A good one.

    • olivia says:

      I’ll keep you posted on ideas, still digesting, but excited to hear what you guys are up to even if we’re a few steps behind! Are you a vegetarian again? I started eating meat while pregnant and can’t decide whether to stop again, used to feel better without it. Would also love some good book recommendations. Here’s to getting healthier!

  3. Tanya says:

    First of all, I can’t imagine you being in anything less than incredible shape! I pray my body is like yours during and after pregnancy (pretty please!). But I know how you *feel* is a totally different thing.

    Ugh I HATE workout videos, too. I always end up doing the first one or two exercises then quitting. Zero motivation with those. I’ve enjoyed Barre/Pilates classes in the past and have really felt a difference in my strength/tone when taking them consistently. For at-home workouts Don got me hooked on “tabatas.” I use this timer:, I set it to 3 tabatas and focus on a different muscle group for each tabata. Lunges, kicks, for legs…planks, leg lifts for core…hand weights for arms, etc. Whatever I feel like! It varies depending how I’m feeling that day but it always manages to exhaust me in a quick 12 mintues. I’ve felt stronger since doing them. Of course I don’t know anything about post-pregnancy, so I’m not too helpful in the suggestion department.

    This is inspiring me to re-evaluate my diet and do some sort of health challenge, as well! (Don is a bad influence in the junk food department sigh). Please teach me how to give up sugar/processed foods!! I’m…so…weak.

    • olivia says:

      Ohhh! I’m excited for your suggestions! Actually have some free classes at a barrre fit place but have been too scared and have never heard of tabatas. Feeling inspired. You’ve always been so committed to fitness, I’ve been envious. The food part just gets easier as you go, especially as you realize which foods make you feel crappy. Definitely easier when your partner is on board though lol.

      • Tanya says:

        I think you’ll like barre classes a lot! It’s like a toning version of yoga in some ways, lots of stretching and breathing and holding poses. Some classes I’ve taken are too intense for me (trembling legs, sore for a week agh!) and others are just right (depending on the location)—definitely tell your instructor you just had a baby!

        I’m usually not disciplined with at-home workouts but something about adding a timer keeps me focused and gets it over with. I think you might like it, too!

        Keep me posted :)…I’ll be trying to avoid the chocolate and chips that surround me ;).

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