Fitness After Baby: Q&A with Fit Bottomed Girl, Jenn
For many new moms, life after baby can feel like a juggling act. But what about fitness after baby? For Jenn Walters, CEO and co-founder of popular blog Fit Bottomed Girls, welcoming her daughter Gwen into the world meant balancing motherhood, a booming fitness blog and her personal fitness routine. Her advice? "Be patient with yourself."
Here's what Jenn had to say about staying active during her pregnancy, maintaining healthy eating habits and managing life as a new mother:
Leading up to your daughter Gwen's birth, what did you do to stay active?
"I'm super grateful that I had a pretty easy pregnancy and felt good enough to keep up with a lot of what I was doing before I got pregnant! Throughout most of my pregnancy, I was able to do CrossFit-style workouts with modifications (step-ups for box jumps, body rows instead of pull-ups, less weight when lifting, etc.). I took a prenatal yoga class and did some prenatal yoga DVDs as well. I also walked my dog daily and was still running a bit (albeit a LOT slower - and I wasn't a fast runner to begin with!).
I went 42 weeks with my pregnancy and was pretty miserable by the end of it, but still did lots of walking - and then lunges and stairs to try to induce labor naturally. Unfortunately, that didn't work for me! You can read all about my pregnancy workouts and my birth story. When it came to workouts during pregnancy, I always listened to my body. If something was too taxing or draining, I'd stop. All the workouts I did actually gave me energy, and I feel like they helped me prepare physically and even mentally for childbirth."
What was your timeline for getting back into exercise after Gwen was born?
"After a few weeks, I began to be able to walk a little and gradually built up distance. Around four weeks, I began doing some strength training and jogging just a little, plus some yoga. Around five weeks, I started doing lunges and squats and jogging farther, plus some upper-body strength work with dumbbells at home. And now, at six weeks, I'm cleared to do anything that feels good for my body!"
How has the busier schedule affected your healthy eating habits?
"I definitely don't cook as much, and I get take-out more! But, even with that, I've made sure to choose really nutritious foods. Having a baby, recovering from childbirth and then taking care of a new tiny little human is stressful (not to mention the lack of sleep!). So I know my stress levels are up and that it's extra important for me to eat right. Plus, I'm breastfeeding, so that's another reason to take extra precautions to eat well. Before my daughter was born I made a number of healthy frozen meals, and we've had loved ones bring us healthy foods, too. It's been a life-saver!"
What surprised you about having your first baby and trying to live an active lifestyle?
"Recovering from childbirth was more intense physically than I fully expected (I put so much focus on the birth, when the recovery is just about as taxing in some ways!), especially in those first few weeks. But I'm SO happy that we invested in a good jogging stroller and a car seat adapter for it. It's allowed me to get out daily for walks and now jogs with the baby. I'm really lucky so far that the weather has been great so that we can get outside almost daily. That's made being active much easier - and the fresh air and getting out of the house is great mentally, too."
What is the biggest challenge of staying active in motherhood?
"The biggest challenge for me has just been making sure that I'm being patient with myself. I wrote a whole post about the pressures to get back to your pre-baby body. That pressure is real, but I'm particularly focused now on being active in ways that make me feel good. Oh, and a side note, baby-wearing and carrying a car seat around is a serious work out!"
What advice do you have for soon-to-be mothers and fitness after baby?
"Be patient with yourself and expect that it'll take weeks to ease back into it. Your baby is only this little for a short time, and you're going to be pretty tired, so focus on rest, eating well and savoring these new mom moments. Get in some family walks and listen to your body - the gym will always be there. Only be active in ways that make you feel good!"