I had my first workout in the gym today since my little girl was born.  Most doctors or midwives tell you to wait 5-6 weeks before working out again.  Because I had stitches after Phoenix Rae was born I needed to wait the full six weeks post partum to start any kind of workout.  But, I finally got clearance from my midwife to start working out again this week (Phoenix will be six weeks old on Wednesday), I have to say, my first day back in the gym kicked my butt!  Let me first say that I really like working out.  Well….I don’t always like dragging my butt out of bed, getting dressed when I knew I could be cuddling my sweet baby, and driving to the gym when it’s still dark outside.  But, once I am there I usually am really happy I did it.  I like setting goals for myself and achieving them, I like lifting heavy weights and seeing my arms start to tone up, and I like how proud I feel of myself after a good workout.  But, after I have a baby it is always a really big internal struggle to get back in the gym.  I start to play head games with myself, and it seems so easy to get discouraged.  Let me explain.

Some of the feelings of discouragement start before I even get to the gym!  Right now, I still l have about 25 lbs to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I have big babies (Phoenix was just shy of 10 lbs!) and I think to compensate for that my body puts on extra weight during pregnancy to get ready for a big baby.  That’s my theory at least!  🙂  Here are some pictures of my BIG belly at the end of my pregnancy:

40 Weeks Pregnant

41 Weeks Pregnant (Day I went into labor)

So, because I have extra weight on me, a lot of my clothes don’t fit.  I’m exclusively breastfeeding so my boobs are bigger and it makes my shirts tighter.  My belly is soft and a lot bigger than normal and I get nervous about my belly squishing over my pants, and my legs and butt have extra weight on them too which makes my pants tighter.  So, this morning when I got up I almost talked myself out of even leaving the house because I felt uncomfortable in pretty much everything I put on.  Finally, I told myself just to suck it up. I put on my favorite pair of crop sweats, a Boise State tshirt, and threw my hair in a ponytail.  I still didn’t feel totally comfortable though because I felt like if I lifted my arms too high my belly might show, and I promise nobody in the gym wants to see my not-so-cute postpartum belly right now! 🙂 I grabbed one of the belly bands I had from my pregnancy (stretchy piece of material that goes over your stomach and looks like a layered tank under your shirt) and that helped me feel more comfortable.

I walked into the gym and although I was excited to start working out again, I started feeling nervous! I was on the treadmill doing a 5-minute walking warmup and I found myself having negative self-talk.  I kept thinking things like:
“You are so out of shape right now, you aren’t going to be able to do what you used to do in here. “

“Look at the other girls in the gym, they look so good!” (as I uncomfortably pulled my shirt down over my hips).

“Maybe I should just stay on the cardio machine, I don’t really feel comfortable walking through the weight area right now”.

(As I caught a glimpse of my butt in the mirror), “Oh gross, look you can totally tell I have cellulite in these pants….why didn’t I wear other pants?”

It was the beginning of my workout and I already wanted to quit!  I kept wishing that I could just wear a shirt with big bold letters on it saying, “I just had my second baby baby five weeks ago!!  This is baby weight and I normally am in good shape I promise!” I didn’t want people to look at me and think I was out of shape (even though I am).  I was about ready to leave the gym before my workout even started!

But then…..I slowly started to talked myself out of leaving.  I tried to remind myself that I had felt this way before (I remember feeling this exact same way after my last baby was born).  And, I told myself that nothing is going to change until I put in the work.  I can feel uncomfortable and self-conscious now, or I can feel uncomfortable and self-conscious three months from now, but you always have to have a starting point and the sooner I start the sooner I will stop feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.  I tried to remember how last time I was out of shape also, and the one thing that helped me lose the weight was being consistent with my workouts and nutrition.  Being consistent doesn’t mean leaving when you feel uncomfortable, it means sticking to your plan even if you don’t want to.  Being consistent gives results, and I knew that, and wanted to be consistent.  So, I stayed at the gym and did my workout.

It definitely is hard getting back in the gym after having a baby.  You have a lot of factors working against you:
-You are sleep deprived from getting up every 2-3 hours with the baby.
-You haven’t been working out for a while (depending on how long your postpartum recovery was and how much you worked out in your pregnancy).
-You have extra weight on you, which makes working out harder in general because you are heavier.
-You most likely have lost strength from where you used to be, because you have taken time off from the gym.  This was the case for me!  I kept feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t lift the same weights I used to lift.
-You may feel guilty for leaving your baby at home while you are working out (I tried to remind myself that I nursed the baby right before I left, and my husband could take care of everything else while I was gone for an hour.)
-Etc, Etc, Etc

But, what I finally decided and tried to convince myself of, is that I DO feel better about myself when I am working out.  It builds my confidence, makes me happier, and helps me feel better about myself.  I reminded myself that no one is judging me in the gym.  I almost always do a better job of eating right when I am working out too.  These feelings of insecurity are unfortunately usually a part of the process for me, and that by just ignoring those feelings for a while, and just getting myself back into a routine, it will help to make those insecurities go away.

I wanted to share this experience from my first day back with you guys to let you know that we all struggle with a lot of insecurities at times.  I consider myself a pretty confident person, and I am generally happy with where I am at in the postpartum weight loss process, but that the negative self-talk still gets to me at times too.  For me, the thing that helps the most is to just remind myself that I have felt this way before and that it does get better if I just ignore the impulse to quit and push on.
Have any of you ever felt this way before?  I’d love to hear your thought and see what types of things you do to get past negative self talk.

Your Friend,
Natalie