Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Postpartum Fitness: The Journey Back

Allow me to state the obvious: pregnancy and delivering a baby do a number on your body. I had a fairly easy pregnancy and was able to be active right up until the end. I taught Zumba until I was 31 weeks pregnant. I ran until I was 35 weeks pregnant. I went to my last prenatal yoga class at 38 weeks pregnant. And I walked as much as I could, right up until the night before I went into labor. Yes, I did mostly cardio, but I did attempt to throw in strength training from time to time. Overall, I think I did pretty good being an active pregnant lady.

I had a fairly uneventful delivery, and though I did not emerge completely unscathed, I felt "normal" within about two weeks and, by three weeks postpartum, I was itching to get active again. I tried running. I definitely started off slow with a 30 second run interval here and there while on walks working up to a whopping 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking after a couple of weeks. But if I'm being honest, running didn't feel quite right. I tried to ignore it, but it was the truth. Things felt a bit loosey goosey still from the delivery; my hips and other muscles were tight; my knees hurt; I felt weak. I knew pushing myself too hard would be a mistake, so after about five or so run/walk attempts, I admitted that walking just felt better. So I stopped running. 

It bums me out, especially now that the weather is perfect for running, to see all the folks getting ready for the marathon (including my husband), and it's a little disappointing to know that my target first race postpartum (a 5K in late October) isn't going to happen. But, I'm just not there yet. And I don't want to risk injury because of pride.

So what am I doing? Yoga. And walking. Lots of walking.

Yoga seems like a great way to work on some of the tightness in my hips, quads, gluts, etc. I decided to go back to Core Power, which is primarily hot-style yoga. Yes, it can be a little intense, but I love it. I've now tried their Yoga Sculpt class, which I have enjoyed so far. A little extra strength training can't hurt.

As for walking, a year ago, I would have never considered walking exercise. For me, it wasn't "enough." For someone who is working to get their fitness level back up, walking is awesome. It's low-intensity, which means nothing is bouncing around more than feels comfortable, and I'm still getting cardio in. I easily log three miles a day on just my morning walk with Emme (Yes, I've started tracking this. I use the Map My Run app on my iPhone).

So that's where I'm at. Having a baby is a humbling experience when it comes to accepting your body--the way it looks and/or what it can do. I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's going to take awhile before I really am ready (and really want) to run again.

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