Postpartum Body Frustration

While the baby is asleep, I’m on the floor doing mountain climbers, and I’m sweating profusely. I haven’t even changed out of my clothing that I wore on the 10+ hour drive up to Long Island from North Carolina.

I switch from mountain climbers to burpees, my bra strap falling down off my shoulder as I jump up and head back down to the floor, and in that moment I’m overwhelmed with frustration.

I hate myself for not having the body that I want to have post-baby. I hate myself for the way I look…

…for the fact that I’m watching the Olympic Trials…watching these women, some of whom I competed against in college, achieving their dreams.

What are my dreams?

Currently…. to fit back into my jeans that I wore pre-baby. To look at myself in the mirror and not see the roll of fat around my waist where I once had 8-pack abs. It seems like not that long ago, I was in great shape, and now I feel slovenly.

d i s g u s t i n g .

I hate looking at myself in the mirror, but at the same time, I can’t look away. Not much has changed. My diet has pretty much been the same. I’m running a lot less. Maybe that’s the reason. Maybe my hormones still haven’t shifted back into place. Who knows what the cause is? All I know is that when I go for my 1X/week run with Diana, I’m gasping for air…doing almost an 8-minute mile…

frustrated that I’m slowing her down…

frustrated that I’m not running a full minute faster, like I used to…

frustrated that my body’s not doing what I want it to do…

frustrated at the aches and pains and the stress over my lack of sleep…

Role Model for Myself; My Daughters

I’m trying to raise healthy daughters, and I want to be a healthy role model for them. So, why can’t I get it together? Why is it so hard?

I do pilates 3X/week. I recently re-joined my women’s indoor soccer league. Yet still, the number on the scale doesn’t move. If anything, I feel fatter.

Greg says that I look great. That he loves my body. But I don’t love my body. I know what it looked like before. I know what it felt like before, and it doesn’t feel the same. For a brief moment, I ponder whether one of my worst fears has come true: “If you get pregnant and have a baby, you’re going to get fat.” You’re going to have a ‘mom’ body.

But I see my friends who’ve had children, most of whom got their bodies back almost immediately, by some small miracle, it seems. They waltzed into the hospital, had their baby, and waltzed right back out into their size 2 jeans.

Focusing on Body Image Too Much

It seems the more I obsess over looking the way I used to, the further away I get from it. I find myself in this slump where…how do I achieve that body without killing myself? Because a large part of me, honestly, doesn’t want to wake up super early in the morning and do a long, hard run and come back at the end of the evening and go for another run… or do some other form of exercise.

I feel like my days of doing two-a-day’s are long gone. And for what reason would I have to do that anyway? And how would I fit the time in? I can barely squeeze the time in now to go to my pilates classes.

I try to balance everything out with Ava because I do revolve around her schedule; we all do. I also try to be, first and foremost, fair to Greg because let’s be honest – I’m working but not really. Two hours a week hardly qualifies – but then again, two hours a week is all I can manage at the moment.

Having a baby and being a stay-at-home mom who’s also trying to work is definitely challenging. And whatever you think it might be like before you have a baby, you’re usually WAY off. It’s something you sometimes hear, but you have to experience it yourself to really GET it – to really understand it.

I can’t wake up early every morning and leave Greg to care for the baby because it wouldn’t be fair. I’ve got to figure it out.

All of it.

But first, let’s start by fitting into my jeans.

Baby steps, as they say.

Working on Working Out

Butter me up because I’ve been on a roll for the past week and a half now! I may be somewhat of a wimp lately because of my refusal to run outside due to the cold weather, but what I lack in “outside toughness”, I have certainly been making up for inside of the gym.

I have been following a workout regimen in which I complete four concentrated exercises which focus on a specific body part. With each machine or exercise that I do, I complete three sets of 15 repetitions at a weight which provides enough resistance for it to be a challenge. After I’ve completed all of this, then I usually go on to complete at least 30 minutes of cardio (unless I’ve already done it earlier in the day). So, that being said, a typical day will look something like:

Workout ‘A’

[Chest & Triceps]

  • Chest Exercise 1- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • Chest Exercise 2- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • Chest Exercise 3- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • Chest Exercise 4- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • Triceps Exercise 1- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • Triceps Exercise 2- 3 sets, 15 reps each
  • 30 minutes of Cardio (Bike, Step machine, or Treadmill]

“Form is Everything”

Trust me, this is a GOOD workout if done correctly. Among other things that I have learned from speaking to a personal trainer, form is everything. When it was up to me to do my own workout with the weights, I realized that I had no ideawhat the heck I was doing. I actually had a couple of guys approach me in the gym and instruct me on how to correct my form. Since my boyfriend is a personal trainer, we have since begun going to the gym together and working out, and it has really helped A LOT. It turns out that when you correct your form on various machines, it actually makes things much more difficult! I was surprised to find myself breaking a sweat after lifting some weight.

Lifting Weights Doesn’t Necessarily Make You “Big”

Among other things, I have also come to realize that simply lifting weights doesn’t make you big. It depends on a number of factors such as how your body is genetically built, how often you lift weights as well as how much weight you lift each time. For instance, if you do shorter repetitions of heavier weight, it will have a different effect on your body than if you do increased repetitions at a lower weight. Additionally, it is typically recommended that if you’re going to do any work with weights, you should do it prior to doing any cardio. Because your body is already fatigued and in a catabolic state, when you go to do cardio, you’re ready to burn fat much easier. If you do cardio prior to working with weights, you’re just making your body more tired; therefore, you won’t be able to get the maximum out of your workout. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn!

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it. -Plato

The ‘not so hip’ problem

Ever since I started up my soccer season and completed a grand total of 2 games, my left hip flexor has been bothering me. I’ve started to notice a slightly alarming, yet recurring pattern with this problem, and I’ve managed to conclude that the pain in my left hip flexor is possibly due to the fact that I have a career in which 90 percent of my work day is spent sitting in front of computer. Combine that with the quick, sudden movements involved in kicking a ball and sprinting on a soccer field and voila!

Hip flexor issues.

I’ve been doing a little research on how to *hopefully rectify my hip flexor issues, and I figured I’d share some of my findings below.

What are your hip flexors?

Your hip flexors consist of a group of skeletal muscles that allow your hip to bend and flex. This group of muscles are often referred to as the following:

Iliopsoas (Inner hip muscles):

  • Psoas major
  • Psoas minor
  • Iliacus muscle

Anteriror (outer thigh):

  • Rectus femoris
  • Sartorius
  • Tensor fasciae latae (gluteal muscle)

Medial (middle thigh):

  • Pectineus
  • Adductor longus
  • Adductor brevis
  • Gracilis

Causes of injury

Contrary to popular belief, most problems that occur with your hip flexors aren’t due to a lack of strength but are due, instead, to a lack of flexibility (which is definitely a problem for me). For example, if you have a desk job in which you are sitting for hours on end, day after day, your hip flexors will begin to shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend your hip. The result is an increase in pressure on the joints of your lower spine, which can lead to all sorts of other problems in the long term. Other everyday examples of things that might cause you to injure or strain your hip flexors include (but are not limited to):

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Desk job and/or too much prolonged sitting
  • Explosive movement (i.e. sprinting, kicking a ball, etc.)

Symptoms

The most common symptoms associated with hip flexor strains is a sort of shooting pain that starts in the front of your hip and may travel down the front of your thigh. It will hurt or feel incredibly uncomfortable to try to lift your knee to your chest, run, jump or possibly walk. In some cases, you may experience a small amount of swelling, depending on the severity of your strain.

Treatment

Depending on how awful you feel, it may be a wise decision to make an appointment with your doctor just to make sure that you haven’t caused  further injury to the area. However, most care that you do yourself will involve REST, ICE, and FLEXIBILITY.

Hip flexor strains are often a problem for athletes, especially soccer players (unfortunately for me) because there are a lot of forceful contractions during the course of just one game. Between powerful kicks associated with crossing passes, corner kicks and shots on goal, these kinds of explosive movements can cause “micro traumas”, which are tiny tears in your muscle that accumulate over time and can eventually result in strain and pain- especially if you’ve returned to a sport or activity too soon and/or have failed to address flexibility problems. By the way, did I mention that I returned to my first game of the soccer season after having (literally) just gotten back from a 12 hour drive from New York the day before; and also after I had just taken like 2 weeks off from working out?

Yeah….

Exercises

The best solution to hip flexor strain is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This is done through improved flexibility.

Take the time to warm up your muscles before you engage in any physical activity, and if you haven’t done so already, try to have a routine of stretches that you perform before any exercise as this will help reduce your risk for injury. If you work long hours at a desk, schedule “breaks” in which you get up, walk around and maybe perform a couple of stretches. You may also want to look into a more ergonomic chair or accessories to help your posture while working.

In the meantime, below is a demonstration of three different types of hip flexor stretches that, if performed consistently, will aid you in improving flexibility in your hips, thus preventing injury.