As mentioned in part 1 at around two weeks post partum I began doing some of my own upper body workouts, using fairly light hand weights. I also used YouTube to source some great post baby safe exercise routines. One channel I love is ‘Bodyfit by Amy’. She has both post partum specific and normal workouts on there and having had a baby of her own and being a qualified trainer I felt confident doing these. Some of her workouts focus on repairing and ‘diastasis recti’ (ab separation, see my earlier post) that mums may experience. It’s pretty essential to repair this before doing regular ab work because conventional exercises like crunches can make the condition worse.
The above picture is 5 weeks postpartum. By this point I weighed around 131lbs (I’m 5ft 8) so about 6lbs off of my pre pregnancy weight. This doesn’t seem like a lot but in reality I had lost a lot of muscle tone from lifting light during pregnancy and now doing much lower body work, so a lot more of this was an increase in body fat. My waist measures 28inches here, so 3.5inches more than pre-pregnancy. I was pretty proud of my body by this point but I was being really consistent with both my workouts and my healthy eating. I had started incorporating (almost…weather depending) daily walks into my exercise routine to get some LISS in and I was now completing regular Kettlebell workouts. Despite having used Kettlebells pre-pregnancy and being pretty familiar with the moves I decided to purchase the ‘Kettlercise’ DVD by Guy Noble (available on Amazon). It’s pretty ideal for beginners as there is an instructional DVD and then one with two workouts. A full 50 minute(ish) one and a 20 minute express one. I found these ideal and depending on the amount of time I had and how I was feeling I would do one around 3-4 times a week using a combination of an 8kg and a 10kg Kettlebell. I wouldn’t say kettlebell workouts are necessarily the best post partum exercise for everyone. They are quite intense on the core, but if you have been cleared by a doctor for exercise and you are listening to your body and feel ready to start working out then, in my opinion, they are a great and time efficient form of exercise. They are also more low impact as they don’t generally include lots of jumping and high impact exercises which I wasn’t ready for at this stage. This DVD is a great purchase for beginners aswell because of the instructional section that allows you to get your form right. I would definitely start with a lighter bell whilst you build confidence in regards to technique, and using lighter weights at the start of any post baby exercise routine is probably best anyway to build up any strength lost during pregnancy and gently ease your body back in to more vigorous physical activity.
At this point in my post partum fitness journey I was eating very well. I was very motivated and ironically less tired because my baby actually slept longer then than he does now! I consistently meal prepped my lunches which I personally feel is key when it comes to sticking to healthy eating, especially when you don’t always have much time to prepare meals from scratch everyday. I was dairy free at that point, I haven’t stuck to this (the temptation of pizza may have got the better of me!) but I am considering giving up dairy again as it definitely improved my digestion, skin and energy levels. I was supplementing my diet with vegan protein and breastfeeding. I feel breastfeeding definitely kickstarted my baby weight loss but I always make sure I am eating enough calories, usually around 2500 per day. I personally haven’t experienced any problems with exercising and breastfeeding (see earlier post).
The above is around 11 weeks post baby. Stop doing Kettlebell workouts but also doing some weights and resistance band work aswell to target post partum ‘problem areas’ and try and build more muscle. Working out around six days per week by now but a workout could be anything from 25-45 minutes so very manageable. Diet pretty clean here with the odd takeaway and occasional tub of dairy free ice cream! My waist still measured an inch bigger than pre pregnancy but I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight here.
This progress picture shows my body at 5 weeks on the left compared to 5 months on the right. Still working out around 6 days a week and a combination of Kettlebells and heavier weights. Added HIIT training in (from the BodyCoach on YouTube) as I felt ready for more high impact exercise by this point (jumping, running etc). The regular HIIT definitely made me feel ‘leaner’ and muscle definition seems more visible. Still eating fairly healthily and calorie intake still high (breastfeeding appetite HUGE!) At this point my waist measurements were the same as pre-pregnancy. And I weighed a couple of lbs less than I did pre-pregnancy aswell.
The above photo was taken at almost 8 months post partum at the end of July. In May I started doing Kayla Itsines bbg programme and this was my progress at the end of week six of bbg 1.0. I wanted a new challenge and after seeing the amazing transformations of other women who had completed her programme I wanted to see what I could achieve. My diet was a bit worse here, too many treats but doing bbg makes me very hungry! But I was still walking daily and adding in some of my own weight based workouts in the week in an effort to build my glutes.
And lastly this is today (well I few days ago really!) I am currently on week 10 of my second round of bbg 1.0, planning of starting bbg 2.0 next. I haven’t been doing as much LISS and my diet has been quite on and off. I feel like my fitness levels and strength have definitely improved, the areas I can see the most progress are my arms, abs and bum (FINALLY!) I currently weigh 2 lbs more that I did pre-pregnancy but I know that is due to muscle increase as my measurements are either the same or smaller. My goals going forward are to clean up my diet…planning on doing a little cut before Christmas. Nothing extreme as I am still breastfeeding I just want to clean up my diet rather than reduce calories. I find that I look leaner when I eat clean as I have less water retention that happens when I eat a lot of refined sugar and salt. I also want to increase my LISS again and start getting my steps in more consistently.
If I’m honest I would say I am happier with my body now than I was pre pregnancy. I am definitely more toned than I was, and I am proud of what it has achieved. I definitely have slightly wider hips now and some stretchmarks on my bum but neither concern me. Anybody worried about how pregnancy is going to ‘ruin’ their body should not be concerned, there are a lot of changes that happen when you are pregnant that can be quite scary but there’s no reason why things can’t go back to normal or even be better.
Now if anyone has any tips on sticking to healthy eating and avoiding the temptation of biscuits that would be so appreciated?!