Getting Back in Shape After Baby #3
I am a Mom.
A Mom who’s had three incredible girls in four amazing years.
I’m a Mom who takes my role very seriously and who believes it is the most important job I will ever take on. It is by far the most challenging job, but I’m convinced it is also the most rewarding.
I’m here to say that just because I’m a Mom and I spend 99% of my time taking care of everyone else, it does not mean I have to give up on taking care of myself. Because let’s be honest, if Mommy isn’t happy, no one is happy. And the fastest way to make this Mommy happy is to let her workout. I don’t prioritize shopping, or getting my nails done, or going to the movies (so essentially, I have questionable style, boring nails, and no clue what movies are even out these days), but that’s okay. Those things aren’t important to me. Sometimes I wish they were (like when Travis and I are about to go on a date and I’m wearing the same outfit…again), but with three little kids and a husband who works long hours, I have to select my activities wisely when I have time to myself.
Some may think it’s crazy that exercising is my activity of choice during my “alone time,” but one of my top priorities in life is to be a healthy Mom. A fit Mom. Gosh, a sane Mom. And I’ve learned that the quickest way to feel all those things simultaneously is to get in shape and stay in shape after having a baby.
I have countless reasons why I want to be healthy.
For example ::
- I want to coach my kid’s soccer and basketball teams (or whatever it is they choose to play/do…I just can’t promise I’ll be their dance instructor because that wouldn’t be good for anyone)
- I want to feel healthy
- I want to set a good example for my kids
- I want to be able to keep up with my kids
- I want to eat whatever the heck I want for as long as I possibly can, because food is just way too delicious to skimp on
- I want to feel excited about getting dressed up and going on dates
- I want to be strong
- I want to be the best possible version of myself
- I want to feel confident in my own skin
- I want to push and challenge myself
- And really, I just want to be around for a long, long time…long enough to drive my kids crazy when I no longer remember what we talked about the day before (though I suppose that’s already happening now, so let’s just say long enough to see some great-grand-kids, because how cool would that be?)
My reasons for wanting to be a fit and healthy Mom could go on and on. Because of that, I always try to remind myself that I have reasons. They keep me motivated. And with a hectic schedule, a busy husband, and three little kids, staying motivated can be challenging. That’s exactly why it’s a huge priority for me. If it wasn’t a priority, too many other things would get in the way of my goals…of my reasons for being fit in the first place.
I think it goes without saying that my kids and my family are my #1 priority, but working out is definitely #2 or #3 (cooking/eating would fill the other spot, so it’s probably a good thing I workout so much!).
Anyway, I wanted to start with that because in order to get back in shape after having a baby, working out has to be a priority. At least it has to be a priority for me. If it wasn’t, I would look and feel very different than I do today.
As I said before, I’ve had 3 kids in less than 4 years.
To say I’ve had to work hard to maintain my figure after being stretched out three separate times is an understatement. And while I thought I worked hard to get back in shape after my first two babies, I can say that the third time around has been a much greater challenge.
With my first pregnancy, I gained 27 pounds. I worked out twice a day most days (because, well, what else did I have to do with my free time? I didn’t have anyone else to take care of!). I was also having back pain in initial months, and a pregnancy pillow did help me to alleviate my pain. After I gave birth, I was back in shape in no time. My workouts were frequent, but simple. All I really did was go on long walks with Abby 3-4 days a week and then on Saturdays I’d go to the gym and workout on the elliptical. I was literally back in my pre-pregnancy clothes two weeks after I had her.
I’m not going to lie.
I’m envious of that younger version of myself.
With my second pregnancy, I gained close to 40 pounds. I was still very active throughout my pregnancy, but I certainly wasn’t working out twice a day (something about having a toddler to take care of made my workout routines a little less important). I’d take Abby to the YMCA 3-4 times a week and that was the extent of it. I was still a very “fit pregnant person,” but I felt heavier. I carried differently. And I was absolutely exhausted from taking care of Abby and growing Mackenzie in my belly. After I gave birth to Mac, getting back in shape was harder. It took longer. But with persistence, my hard work paid off.
Fast forward 10 months to when I found out I was pregnant for the third time and I was ready to do it again. I was dedicated to staying fit during my pregnancy and I worked really hard to do so. I took both girls to the YMCA with me a few times a week, I chased around two tiny kids day in and day out, and on the weekends I’d workout by myself at the gym. I gained 40 pounds yet again and once Caroline arrived, I knew my road to fitness would be much longer than after babies #1 and #2. I could just tell.
It’s like there was something different this time around. It’s almost like my body was saying, “OK. We’ve done this 3 times. What’s the point of getting back in shape again? You’re probably just going to have another baby.” And while you never know, that could be the case, I was determined to get myself back in shape. It’s important to me. It’s a priority. I have reasons.
And it’s not so much my shape, it’s my strength.
When the girls ask me what I’m doing when I’m exercising, I always tell them “Mommy’s getting stronger.” After all, I NEED to be strong. I’m taking care of a 6 month old, a 2 year old, and an almost 4 year old. I have no other choice than to be strong if I want to do my job as well as I intend to. 90% of the time I’m carrying one baby, half the time I’m carrying one baby and one toddler, and on special occasions (aka – when everyone’s melting down and glued to the floor), I’m carrying ALL of them. Shockingly enough, that’s possible (thanks to my Bjorn).
Knowing from firsthand experience just how hard I’ve worked to get back in shape this time around (and trust me, I’m still working on it), I wanted to share how my routine has changed since my simple workouts aren’t cutting it anymore.
Getting Back in Shape After Baby #3
1. My workouts are MORE FREQUENT.
I hate to say it, but the 3-5 days a week weren’t cutting it anymore. I started working out 6 days a week (sometimes 7 on an extra awesome week). It was relatively tricky considering the fact that I’m a stay at home mom with three little kids and I was working around nap times, preschool, and everything else, but I made it work. I created a schedule that worked for me. For the first two months of my youngest daughter’s life, I would take her and Mackenzie for a walk every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when Abby was at school from 9am-12pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays when I had all of them, I’d put her in the Bjorn and the girls in the Double stroller and I’d take all of them 3 miles around the lake. Once my little one hit the 2 month mark, I was finally able to take all three girls to the YMCA with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I created a routine.
These days, my routine also includes gym time every Saturday morning and sometimes Sunday as well (though most of the time Sunday is my day off and I cook a huge brunch for the fam). And now that Mackenzie is two and attends pre-preschool (same days and times as Abby), that’s when Caroline and I take the opportunity to exercise . We load up the Single Joggin Stroller and go for a quick 3 mile run. It’s not terribly time intensive, but it’s consistent. She also loves the special alone time with Mommy.
I work out a LOT. Plain and simple. That may not be what anyone wants to hear, but it has made a big difference on my road to fitness after baby #3.
2. My workouts are MORE INTENSE.
I started running. My walking, ab routines, and occasional elliptical workouts weren’t cutting it anymore. After having Abigail and Mackenzie, I was able to get back in shape with simple routines. I don’t think I ever ran (other than when I played basketball) after having my first two. After having Caroline, however, walking wasn’t enough. Approximately two months ago (when Caroline was 4.5 months old), I started running. The intensity of my workouts have made a huge difference. Not only is it helping my body get back in shape faster, but it’s making me feel so strong. I love it. I feel like I can really do anything I put my mind to now. I never thought I would become a runner (and I still doubt I’ll ever become a long distance runner), but I’m definitely making progress.
The best part about the fact that I’m running now is that Travis and I can workout together. We’re able to take all the girls on a run at the same time – it’s family bonding time, exercise time for Mommy and Daddy, and we always hit up a playground at the end for the girls. One of my reasons for being healthy is to set a good example for my kids. Travis and I are committed to this – we want to lead by example and practice what we preach. Exercising is fun. Being strong feels great. Establishing these values in our kids at a young age is important because they will be more likely to follow our lead and live healthy lifestyles as well.
Just think how great it will be when they’re running the Turkey Trot with us!
3. My workouts are MORE DIVERSE.
After having Abby and Mac, I walked. That was really all I did. Now I’m walking, running, using the elliptical, running stairs, hiking (on occasion), lifting weights, etc…I feel like the diversity in my workouts is really helping as well. When I was trying to do the same activities every day, I wasn’t seeing a change. Now, after incorporating all these other activities, I am.
Get creative with your workouts. Not only will it keep your body guessing what’s coming next, but it will be more enjoyable and interesting for you.
4. My workouts require MORE HELP.
I have three little kids and no family nearby to help me out with them. I don’t get an hour here and there to run out on errands unless I ask my husband for help or I get a babysitter. Thankfully, I have the best husband in the world AND I’m lucky enough to get help from a babysitter twice a week (which I know is a huge luxury). When my husband watches the girls on the weekends, I go to the gym and then I go to the grocery store – being alone for that time is SO amazing for me. I always come home feeling like a new person. And when I have a babysitter, I’m able to escape for a workout if I haven’t already gone for a run in the morning.
Bottom line, I’ve had to ask for more help this time. If you are lucky enough to have family close by, ask them to watch the kids for an hour so you can go to the gym/go for a hike/go for a run/etc. If you live near a YMCA or another gym that has child care (I don’t know how I’d survive without the YMCA!), utilize those services.
I’m absolutely convinced (and so is my husband) that places like this exist so that people like me don’t lose their minds.
Hey, and if you’re able to get a babysitter on occasion, get out and do something for yourself. For me, that something is working out.
Ask for help. If you’re anything like me, a good sweat makes EVERYTHING feel more manageable (even taking care of 3 kids under the age of 4 for 11-12 hours a day).
5. My workouts are MORE COMPETITIVE
(because there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition with yourself).
I’m a very competitive person. I played sports my whole life which encouraged my competitive spirit, I grew up with an older brother who I was constantly trying to be like (bigger, faster, stronger), and to this day I’m still incredibly competitive (primarily with myself…sometimes with my husband ). It’s just a part of who I am. When I came to the realization that I had to do MORE to get back in shape this time, I decided to make it into my very own competition. When I was walking for exercise, I pushed myself to walk faster each time (my power walking started to look like I was skipping, haha). And when I started running, I did the same. Thankfully, there are some really cool apps these days that help fuel the competition I have going on with myself…my app of choice is RunKeeper. It’s free, it’s accurate, and it’s even social (for example, I’m friends with my husband on the app so each time he finishes a run, I can see how he did and “like” his activity…or give him a hard time for not running as fast as me …and vice versa). I’ve found RunKeeper to be an excellent way for me to remain competitive with myself each time I go out for a run (or walk). I push myself harder and further and as a result, I’m getting stronger by the day.
Overall, I’m proud of myself. I feel like I could have easily given up three months in and just said, “hey – this is my new body…I’m just going to live with it and go back to my simple routine.” But I didn’t. Our bodies are amazing. Mine has grown and given birth to three AMAZING little girls. And if it takes a little more effort on my part to get back to where I’d like to be, I think it’s worth it.
I want to be strong for myself. I want to be strong for my girls. I want them to see how being strong is awesome and that dedication is extremely important.
As I said at the beginning, I want to be around for a VERY long time. And since that could be another 70 years (yikes!), I intend to take care of myself so that each of those years is lived in strength, health, and happiness.
Lastly, if you’re reading this post looking for inspiration, all I have to say is that you can do it. As long as you’re committed and have your reasons, you can do it. And as I said at the end of my last fitness post, let’s show the world just how strong us Mommies can be!