A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I was having trouble deciding on subjects for blog posts. Someone suggested I write about health and fitness, and this is a post I’ve been working on, off and on, since that point…
A couple of years ago, I was a real gym bunny. I would regularly get up before 6 each morning and spend an hour in the gym before work. I would often go back for a class at lunch time, and on a weekend I would often spend three or four hours there. I saw a personal trainer regularly, who would inspire me to exercise and eat healthily, and really pushed me with my fitness. I would often be found in the weights bay at the gym, doing squats with a ridiculously heavy bar, or doing some weird exercise involving balancing on one leg whilst holding heavy dumbbells.
Then I had a nervous breakdown, and I never quite got back to the gym before I found myself pregnant and skint. I tried to stay active throughout my pregnancy, and would walk (or waddle) the two miles to and from work each day.
When S was born, and then her father left, I was very aware that I was at a high risk for postnatal depression – so was the health visitor, and she kept mentioning it. I was adamant I didn’t want the health visitor, doctors or anyone else to be at all concerned about me or my ability to look after my daughter. And I didn’t want to end up slipping into another pit I couldn’t drag myself out of. I knew from past experience that the best way of avoiding that was to ensure I exercised, and got out of the house every day – even on the days when I really didn’t feel like it. Especially on those days.
And so I went on Ebay and bought a cheaper, lighter pushchair so that I could lift it up and down the stairs on my own. And every morning, when S got me up at shit-o-clock, I would bundle her into the pushchair and go for a walk. We started off by going for a short walk, a couple of miles or so, and built up. On days we didn’t go for a walk, I would put S in the sling and walk around town while she napped.
|Me walking with the pushchair
These days, I weight about a stone less than I did before I got pregnant. I started off going out for walks just for something to kill time, and to get us out of the house – but then I found I enjoyed feeling like I’d done some proper exercise, and would push myself to go further, faster than the previous day, incorporating hills, running between street lamps and taking the longer route wherever possible. There are several different routes I walk locally, and have even attempted to go “off road” and follow non-paths around a nature reserve a couple of times. There’s a notoriously punishing steep path called Stinky quite near to one of my usual routes, which I used to walk up every day last summer. I’m tempted to see if I can get the pushchair up there but I’ve not plucked up the courage yet. Now I try to go for a long walk at least twice a week. Sometimes I will meet up with a friend, and on Saturday mornings my sister A will come along with us and we’ll do some extra cardio and conditioning work in the park too.
When I’d been doing my longer walks for a couple of weeks, I saw my old personal trainer in a park on the other side of town, busy putting someone through their paces. She stopped long enough to coo over S, and to tell me she ran a Buggy Fun class in the park on a Thursday morning. We went along that week, and had a great time. A, the trainer, now runs a local fitness company called Girls Love Fit
with a friend, and is as crazy and motivating as ever. It was great to meet other mums and do something more energetic than the usual baby group stuff. We walked or ran up and down a hill in the park, did pilates-style conditioning moves, used park equipment to do push or pull-ups, talked about our weeks and felt good for working out while our babies played peekaboo with A or her 2-year-old daughter, who sometimes came along and made an excellent stand-in to play with the babies while we were laying on the floor doing crunches or leg lifts. Unfortunately the class I was going to merged recently with another one, and it is now run from somewhere different that I can’t go to, for reasons I won’t go into on here. It’s a crying shame, as I really enjoyed Buggy Fun and it gave me the confidence to push myself a lot more in my exercise. I would walk the long way out to the park for the class, and often on the way home I would push myself to run or to take a longer route. I’m hoping I can eventually go back to the class if my situation changes, and would definitely recommend it to anyone
I still have an umbilical hernia caused by my abs separating during pregnancy, which means I try to do a fair bit in the way of core work each week. If I fall behind on that, I really do notice it in a fairly painful way. That’s probably a good thing though, as it means I use my core muscles when I’m bumping the pushchair up and down the stairs, and am always pullign my belly in!
My diet is still less than fantastic, which is something I work on daily; especially since S started on solids. Most mornings I will have a fruit smoothie comprising of several of the following: raspberries and blueberries (frozen if fresh are not available); any other fruit I have hanging about the kitchen; fresh ginger; protein powder; spirulina powder; spinach (you can’t taste it); left over apple puree from S’s breakfast; yogurt; fruit juice. The drink tends to be purpley in colour, fills a pint glass, and usually keeps me happy until around lunch time. Lunch is usually a salad, either tuna, salmon or cottage cheese unless I’ve splashed out and bought something different or cooked some chicken. Evening meals are hit and miss: some days I’ll cook something “proper,” and other days I’ll have fish fingers and grill a red pepper at the same time to make it look a little healthier.
This all makes it sound like I have a super healthy diet and should be stick thin so let me just add that between meals, especially in the afternoons and evenings, I probably consume as many calories as contained in my regular meals in the form of cakes, biscuits, crisps and chocolate. This is the part I need to work on, along with all the Coke I drink. I did go through a (very yawny) couple of months where I went completely cold turkey on the Coke, what with the breastfeeding and all. Then Costa lured me back in again, and once I’d started on the caffeine it was easy to slip back into the Coke habit. I don’t drink anywhere near as much as I used to, but there are still a lot of empty calories (and chemicals, and caffeine) in there. I have switched to decaf Costa visits though, something that makes me cringe with each visit, as my order is now about 8 words long.
Today I am wearing jeans I stopped wearing months before I got pregnant, because they were a little too tight. These days they are too big, and I have to wear a belt. I have to admit I think I owe a lot of my post-pregnancy weight/inch loss to the fact I did a set of power plate sessions within a month of coming home from the hospital. I would go for a walk to ensure S was asleep in the pushchair, and then go and spend anything from 10 to 40 minutes doing various exercises on a power plate in the back of a local sunbed place. The advertisement posters they had up on the walls said that it helped to get rid of cellulite and “reset” your body, which I thought was a load of rubbish but to be honest, with very little effort I lost a fair bit of weight, and managed to tone up some quite saggy bits as well. Now I just have to make sure I don’t undo that with too many biscuits!
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