I recently posted a video on my Facebook page that had nearly 2,500 views with a reach over over 5k. Not huge numbers by FB standards but big enough for me to realize that I had touched on a raw nerve for my followers.
In the video I talk about the emotional release I have experienced when I exercise since having had my babies. And it appears lots of you have experienced that too. That feeling of freedom, liberation, exuberance and endorphins.
I was a Personal Trainer before I was a Mother. But returning to exercise after having had my babies became this deeply emotional event that I had never anticipated. With all my previous knowledge I knew ‘what to do’ but ‘how to do it’ was a completely different ball game.
Exercise reached far beyond fat-loss or any type of aesthetic goal. It became an opportunity to reconnect with myself where, in the process of moving, I began to feel more like myself again. You see, when you birth a child you may experience a seismic shift and I have coined this event as ‘The Motherhood Transition’ (TMT is like PMT on steroids!). This is a big arse thing that happens to lot’s of Women on many of different levels and it can happen over many weeks, months or even years. There is a common saying that ‘when a child is born the Mother is also born’ and this is so true.
(Image by Renata Lopes)
Women can get lost in Motherhood, it’s all encompassing, all engaging, all consuming. I was in a body I no longer recognized in a life that was so new and utterly raw with sleep deprivation and uncertainty….and I know I am not alone in that. And for me, it was through exercising that I found myself again.
This is not a new concept. Many, many Women have found this powerful re-connection with their physical, mental and spiritual selves through postnatal exercise and movement. However, the initial jubilation of this rediscovery can be short-lived if you don’t actually listen to what your body is telling you. It might be just a whisper - a little leak when you sneeze or laugh, not all the time. But that’s ok, you’ve just had a baby right?
Even those of us who should know better, struggle with that inner voice when it pipes up! I gained 30kilos during each pregnancy and I ended up wearing my pregnancy clothes for nearly 12months after having each baby. I joined a Mums ‘n’ Bubs boot camp and then a general boot camp (FYI - there was no difference in the exercises offered between these two except one I could take my kids but more on that another time). I put on my pre-baby, Personal Trainer head and decided to train hard, I thought I needed to work harder, surely if I really wanted results then I needed to step up? And all I got was injury and sickness - my training was consequently sporadic and inconsistent. I felt depleted. And nothing changed. What was going on?
I dialled it right back and started listening to that inner voice. I sought out advice through a Women’s Health Physio (turns out I had a Diastasis Recti – abdominal separation) and researched everything I could from all the best in the Industry around Postnatal exercise.
I did the rehab and it was boring. Let me just plant this seed, if you were an athlete and had any kind of injury that required rehab you would do it because moving well and pain free again was important and crucial for you to train again. It’s the same with every woman returning to fitness after babies – you need to do the work to repair and restore your system, “Postpartum does not discriminate” [Brianna Battles] and no woman is exempt (not even Personal Trainers!).
(Image by Jenna Ramondo)
I started to change the way I approached exercise mentally as well as physically. For me it was the little & often, small things done repeatedly that got me the results and over the next 12 months I had built a solid base and I felt awesome. Despite not having an instagram worthy six-pack and having plenty of body-fat I am stronger than I have ever been in my entire life.
You see, after carrying and birthing our babies we often have dysfunctional movement patterns - this means our bodies aren’t moving in a stable or strong manner and it leaves us wide open to injury. The key to my signature program, Strong Fit Mums, is to help Mums realise this before they embark on a fear fuelled fat-loss exercise and/or diet regime that are heavily marketed in social media. They target our pain points – they hit those insecurities and they compound the ‘I am not enough’ mentality.
I am on a campaign to let every Mother know that not only is there a safe and effective way to return to exercise that will result in an energetic and dynamic life for years to come but also that every Mum deserve to cry, not in pain, but in exaltation after exercise.
Strong Fit Mums
Mums Fitness Specialist