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SALT LAKE CITY — A couple of months ago, while at a meeting, I was sitting at a table with three other women. One was newly married with no children, another was expecting her first child, the other was a mother of three, and I was a mother of five — and just weeks away from having a sixth child.
During some down time, we talked about pregnancy and childbearing, and the mother of three said, “Just so you know, you are never going to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes again.”
Not wanting to make this woman feel bad about what she said — or more importantly, about herself — I decided not to say anything. However, seeing the looks on the other two women's faces, I knew I had to say something. So I waited until the mother of three left, and I told the two women that yes, if you work at it, it is possible to fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothing. Smiles and sighs of relief ensued.
Growing up, I remember hearing these same things from mothers. These women spoke as if having babies was the end-all to having a fit body. I didn't believe what those moms said then, and you will never find this mom saying anything like that to anyone else.
So, to you I will say the same thing: If you work at it, it is possible to get back into shape after having children. Here are my tips on how to get back into shape post-pregnancy:
- The first and best way to ensure you have an easy transition post-baby is to maintain an exercise regimen during pregnancy. If your body is used to exercising, it will be less of a battle to get back into it.
- Ease into it. Many doctors and medical professionals say to wait six weeks before beginning an exercise regimen. For some, this may be needed; but for many, beginning a light exercise regimen earlier is fine.
- Pay attention to your body. When you first begin exercising, even if you did so during pregnancy, things will feel a little off. Things inside your body are still moving back into place, and you are still a little wobbly. If you notice any unusual pains or begin to bleed more than usual, that is a sign to ease up. This is not a time to push yourself, so don't.
- Be patient with yourself. Like I mentioned above, due to many changes in your body, things will feel a little off. This is very normal. I remember reading an article about Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe who said that after having her daughter, she had to re-train her body to run again. For the first little while, you will feel this way. But over time it will get easier.
- Set a goal for yourself, whether it is competing in a 5K, a specific number on a scale, or fitting into a favorite pair of jeans. Having something to work for gives you the motivation you need to get back in shape. As silly as it may sound, I still have a pair of jeans from high school that I have held on to. These are jeans that I will never wear outside of my house (they are of a certain brand and style that are no longer acceptable for a 31-year-old to wear … JNCO), but these jeans are what I use as my “I made it” jeans. As soon as I fit back into them, back in the corner of the closet they go.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by Arianne, "like" her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @arimom5, or visit her blog, timetofititin.com.