My Postpartum Nutrition and Fitness Plan
As a nutritionist and former trainer, you're probably wondering what my lose-the-baby-weight plan is. Ok, maybe you're not. But someone is-- I've been asked it half a dozen times since our sweet Wren was born just ten weeks ago. I'm not offended- you'd ask the car guy you know what he'd do if his car is making a funny sound, why wouldn't you ask the health coach you know what to do when she just spent nine months gaining 25+ pounds?
Here's the honest truth: I don't have one.
When Sage was born, I wasn't in the best place with my health and fitness. I had worked myself to the ground building my business as a natural foods personal chef (and whatever part time job I had at the time) all the while going back to school to expand my holistic nutrition knowledge, teaching cooking classes and Toronto-length commutes. I had spent the summer I was pregnant staying with my parents, working long hours at a yacht club and besides walking my entire pregnancy, I wasn't exactly fit- and with the complications I experienced, I realized my nutrition wasn't where it should be, either. The first few months after she was born were a blur. We had feeding troubles, sleeping troubles and just adjusting to new motherhood was hard- I didn't even think about my 'pre-pregnancy jeans' until 5 months postpartum. I saw a friend was hosting an online workout challenge, so I joined and didn't look back. I got into the best shape of my life, got my sports nutrition certification, became a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, competed in a fitness competition, and the rest is history. Sort-of. You see, despite having a history of an eating disorder, I hadn't realized how easy 'getting back into shape' after my pregnancy could spiral right back into disordered habits. I went from wanting to eat better to avoid diabetes in the future and getting fit to keep up with my kid to an hours-a-day gym goer, obsessive nutrition tracker and fitness competitor in a matter of a year and a half. I went from creating delicious, real food recipes and sharing my love of whole foods for better health to counting macros and coaching clients on weight loss. I woke up the day after my fitness competition, not feeling good about placing second, but feeling like a fraud. Who had I become, weighing 3-oz portions of cod with salt-free seasoning and enjoying it with a hefty portion of... asparagus? What would my friends in culinary school think? My friends at nutrition school? More importantly, what did I think? I thought I had gone way, way too far. I stopped treating my body as the temple God created for me and was instead using it as a means to prove something. But to who? Definitely not my husband and kid, who not-so-jokingly refer to my fitness competition prep as my 'mean mommy' stage. To my followers, maybe- who watched me go from new mom on a fitness journey to prancing around on a stage in a bikini... not exactly the image of balance I set out to portray. Not to my family, who were incredibly and unnecessarily supportive as I declined family events because I couldn't eat anything on the menu-- and certainly, certainly not to God. The only person I was trying to prove something to was myself.
Funny enough, as we often are, I was my own worst critic- and nothing I ever did seemed like it was good enough. I was constantly searching for the 'next best', refusing to settle for simply... being healthy and happy. The problem was, at this point I didn't have any concept of what simply being healthy and happy looked like. I had lost all semblance of balance and like an addict, I had gotten swept up in the thrill of extremes, once again. Despite having that sinking feeling post-competition, it wasn't until a month later when my health started breaking down that I really took a step back and decided enough was enough. I was sick of talking about balance and not being an example of it. I was done tracking and measuring and weighing and obsessing over everything I ate and chasing the next PR. I just wanted to live... with energy (my adrenal glands were shot and my cortisol had dipped dangerously low)... I just wanted to live... without struggling to maintain my weight (a hormonal imbalance meant as long as they were out of whack, my size changed like a shapeshifter at the drop of a hat). I just wanted to live... healthy, happy and balanced. So I did it. I quit tracking, measuring and weighing- myself and my food. I got back to my roots of real, whole food. I quit the gym and decided to stick to running and the workouts I loved, at home, in my back yard, not the workouts I thought I should be doing to 'make gains'. I sought out multiple experts and worked hard at getting my hormones in balance. And slowly, I started to find my balance, once and for all. At the beginning of 2017, I overhauled my business. I made the commitment to only work with clients who were truly willing to seek health and balance. I updated and re-launched Clean Lean Mama because I felt like it was missing something... an emphasis on mindfulness and balance that every mama could benefit from. I created the programs that I knew could help moms truly find balance in healthy living- meal prepping for healthy food, all week long, and a pregnancy guide that wasn't all about the food but focused on body, mind AND soul.
And when I became pregnant in the springtime, I took everything I had learned in the past year of truly finding my balance and applied it, and I had the energized, healthy pregnancy I never imagined I could have-- with a sweet, healthy baby as the ultimate blessing.
So no, I don't have a plan for my nutrition and fitness post-baby. I have no idea what I weigh, today- and I honestly couldn't give a care in the world. I feel good, my baby is healthy and thriving off of the most nutritious food in the world that I am providing for her with the body I worked so hard to get into balance. I haven't even tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans and I probably won't for a while, because it took nine months to put this extra weight on and I'm not setting myself up for unrealistic expectations. My belly is soft and it sticks out a little more than it did before, and I would be lying if I told you I didn't wish it were a little flatter, but it's only been ten weeks! It will fall back into balance, I know that. I also know it's going to take time and I'm not going to kill myself to get there. It might not ever be the same as it was before, either, and that's ok.
The only plan I have is to keep nourishing myself and my family with real, whole foods. I am, as I always do, following the principles of good nutrition I outline in Clean Lean Mama- eating real food, meal prepping so healthy food is always on hand, enjoying a balance of foods that works for ME- no counting or measuring cups required, and listening to my body. I am enjoying food as both fuel and pleasure and focusing on quality, not quantity. I'm (working on) drinking lots of water and moving in a way that feels good. Right now, that's at-home strength workouts, yoga and some T25 a few times a week. It's just what feels good for me, right now. And I will continue to do just that- listen to my body, trusting in it's innate wisdom; eat mindfully and nourish myself with good food, plenty of rest and fitness that feels good. Because ultimately, that's how I want to live- happy, healthy and balanced. And that's exactly what I want to pass onto my girls.
photo credit: Alison Rugg Photography