Today I thought I would tell you a bit about my current exercise routine and food choices post-baby.
Disclaimer: Please speak with a dietician, doctor, and/or fitness trainer to help you with your own routine.
Having a baby (pregnancy, labour, birth, breastfeeding) is a huge thing for our bodies to go through. My recovery was made a little trickier as I had to undergo a c-section due to baby being breech. The hardest thing I went through by far was the recovery and the post-operative pain. The first ten days were the most difficult and then things began to slowly improve. By the time I went to my six-week check-up I had started to do some very gentle stretching at home as I was itching to get back to my routine of attending yoga classes. I knew that yoga was the best thing for my body and for my mind. I got the all-clear from my obstetrician to go back to the yoga classes and even to do more vigorous exercise such as running and aerobics. Going back to my first yoga class after having the baby (and walking there and home) really was such an uplifting time for me. I had never been so happy to return to classes. And I seriously surprised myself that pushing baby in the stroller was so much faster compared with when I’d been slowly walking to and from the classes during my third trimester.
I did yoga classes throughout my pregnancy (excluding the times we were travelling) and as I was lucky enough to experience little-to-no nausea, I managed to attend up to four one-hour classes per week. I really believe this helped so much with my body’s preparation for the birth and the recovery. I even made the huge effort to walk to and from class each time, right up until the day before our baby was born. This included carrying an umbrella to shield me from the sun and lathering on the SPF100!
At six months postpartum I felt like I was almost back to my old self, and by eight months I really got my energy back. It is now ten months down the track and I feel back to my old self for the most part. I have so much energy these days and I’m sure this is partly to do with the balance of food groups I am eating as well as the exercise routine I follow each week. I often get the feeling that I just really need to go for a run or a big power walk, so I try to do this as much as possible, both with and without baby in the stroller. If I’m at home I will use the exercise bike, and I hope to start bike-riding outdoors again soon. I find incidental exercise really helps too. What I mean by this is, I will choose to walk to the store and carry the shopping bags home, instead of taking the car. Most days = stroller + shopping. It is such a great feeling to have what sometimes feels like endless energy.
I’m sure another part of why it is that I am feeling so energetic is I am keeping mentally and emotionally healthy as well. Of course we all have days where we feel a bit down and exhausted, and I am no exception. The good news is these days are increasingly rare for me. I am careful to frequently “check in” with my emotional well-being and to think about what improvements need to be made mentally. As I mentioned in a previous post, time out is important, and this means having a day off from exercise every now and then. I will take roughly one day out of each week where I stay home and don’t exercise. On the other six days, I add in little extra things to increase my daily movement, such as using the exercise bike or lifting light weights while we are watching TV, instead of sitting on the couch. There is always a bit of time to exercise each day/week – it really is all about prioritizing.
It can also be helpful to write down what you have been eating for a day or two in order to look back and notice any patterns and behaviours that could be improved, or foods that you want to continue to eat. I would suggest not continuing to write things down long-term, partly because you will find that once the new routine and habits are set, you will remember what to do anyway, and partly because there are many more fun and important ways to be spending your time than keeping track of every mouthful. The choice is yours whether you keep track of things short-term or long-term of course; stick with whatever works for you. I do keep a diary of my exercise routine though – this works for me! Below I have written out both my exercise diary and a healthy eating plan as some examples. I’ve written out a choice of two options for each meal, but it is of course fairly flexible. This is typically what the weekdays look like as far as my diet goes. At our house we figure if we eat well during the week then on the weekends we can enjoy extra treats. And as you know, Hot Tea, Travel, and Thyme is all about delicious weekend slow cooking, such as lasagne and pumpkin pie – all the good things!
Healthy Eating Diary –
Lots of water (and water with lemon or lime wedges) – especially when exercising
Greek yogurt and cereal with pear and peach slices
Oats and honey with low fat (1%) milk or non-dairy milk
A black tea with 1% milk
Green jasmine tea
(where do you think my name Hot Tea came from, after all?)
(especially on days where I’m exercising a lot)
Two hard boiled eggs with salt/pepper (protein is truly the best as it keeps you full and satisfied)
Greek yogurt and honey
Grape tomatoes and avocado sandwich (ingredients – grape tomatoes and half an avocado on brown or grain bread)
Hard boiled egg sandwich (ingredients – two hard boiled eggs, two pieces of oat bread, salt/pepper)
A few squares of dark chocolate (my favourite is dark with sea salt) plus –
Black tea with 1% milk (or green tea)
Some cubes of watermelon and pineapple (cold from the fridge!) – deliciously refreshing in Summer
Cous cous, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta with vegetables (ingredients for dinner – alternate the cous cous, quinoa, and pasta each night, and mix it up with the vegetables as well, i.e. black beans*, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, grape tomatoes, corn kernels, chick peas, garlic, chilli, etc, with avocado on the side
*Black beans are great as they keep you from feeling hungry and they are really good for you too!
About once a week we will add smoked salmon or smoked trout to our lunch or dinner ingredients. We are not vegetarian and we will eat meat dishes out at restaurants from time to time, but we do eat mainly vegetarian at home for health reasons.
Greek yogurt (or occasionally ice cream for a treat)
A few squares of dark chocolate
(There are always exceptions to this meal plan of course, such as when we have visitors to stay or any other special occasions, but I would say it’s generally what I would follow on an average weekday)…
Exercise Diary –
This is what a typical week looks like for me:
Monday – a big long walk or run around the university and the university golf course, light weights (arms), yoga stretches, and exercise bike at home (Monday is always an energetic day for me)
Tuesday – one hour yoga class, walk to and from class (about forty minutes each way) and a one hour aqua aerobics class – in the Summer, that is (and during the other three seasons we do a different “body weight” fitness class – this involves lunges, squats, kicks, punches, fitness roller, burpees, etc)
Wednesday – a big walk or run (I try to do at least three power walks/runs per week but it varies), light weights, 30 lunges per leg, 30 squats (I try to do a variety of exercises to keep things interesting)
Thursday – one hour yoga class, walk to and from class
Friday – I often keep Friday as a rest day (and if not Friday then Wednesday – it’s always flexible)
Saturday – another big walk or run (preferably first thing in the morning, but any time will do)
Sunday – exercise bike, yoga stretches, and light weights at home, 30 lunges per leg, 30 squats, etc
In a nutshell it works out roughly as:
2x yoga classes per week (plus walking there and back)
1x aqua aerobics or fitness (low impact body weight) class per week
3x runs and/or power walks per week
3x weights (resistance training) per week
1x rest day per week (rest is just as important as exercise, seriously)
Fitness Tip –
Lay your exercise clothes out the night before. That way you are all ready to go first thing in the morning without having to spend time looking for items. Chances are, if you have the motivation to set the items out the night before, you are also going to have the motivation to stick to your goal when morning comes. (And the next item on my wish-list for added motivation: a jogging stroller!)
So, in conclusion, a variety of simple healthy foods in moderation is what worked for me getting back to my pre-pregnacy weight, and (equally significant) my pre-pregnancy energy levels. Having treats to look forward to is very important as well, because good food is one of the most enjoyable parts of leading a great life.
Join me for some more fantastic food adventures and tales of travel (including travelling with baby on board) in the next installments of HTT&T… and if you want to feel great and energetic all day, head out for that morning walk. I wish you a wonderful day. Bye for now!