Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My "Real" Postpartum Journey (As REAL as Yours)

I had the most perfect baby I could never have dreamed up, 8 months ago. I had him via C-section, which made me consider myself a complete failure for several months. I think I probably still do, in the back of my head. However, I know I'm a great mom who couldn't love my child more, and that makes me feel better. He's smart, strong, and just blows me away with how far he has come. We had our struggles that most moms and babies have... recovery, breastfeeding, sleepless nights.... the norm. There is one thing (other than my supportive husband) that helped me to maintain my sanity regardless of sleeping 2 hours at a time, if that. I continued my exercise regime I had before and during pregnancy.

Prior to becoming pregnant, so many parents told me I would never be able to uphold my clean eating or exercise regime after having a baby. People still tell to me wait until he's older, but they're the same people who told me having a baby will keep me from maintaining my healthy lifestyle. I work out 1-2 hours per day using heavy weights and doing cardio, which consists of running or using the stepper or stairmill. That's the one hour my son gets to play with other little kids in the nursery at the gym, or have daddy time. Yes, I work, but I always make sure to get in my time at the gym or on the stepper at home. For the other hour, I take my son with me on a run or again have him with his daddy. I wake up early, even if that means 4 AM or earlier or get it in after my husband gets off work. You make time for what is important, and keeping myself healthy and reaching my goals is important to me.

I have a bucket list. It's not the normal bucket list that most people have. Mine is completely dependent upon and based around pregnancies. After meeting my husband, I went from wanting to be a CI and not wanting any children to being excited to work everyday as a personal trainer and wanting lots of babies. So, I built my list around babies. After my first, I wanted to do a fitness competition. I followed through, with the help of a well-known trainer, Nick Navas at Rockstar Gym. I know a lot about losing weight and being fit. However, I didn't know the first thing about the competition level. I looked the best I've ever looked, was the leanest and most toned I have ever been, and it was all 8 months after having my baby boy. That took some hard work. I dieted more strictly than I ever have for 8 weeks. I'm not saying everyone should strive to look that lean, because I know I don't like the the way that that level of lean feels. However, one should strive to be healthy and eat clean. I want my children to know that their parents believe health is important and that health can be fun. My husband and I enjoy taking our son on bike rides and runs. We cook clean, healthy foods that taste great and make you feel good. We enjoy eating out or even enjoy our nachos and fries every now and then. The point is, 90% of the time, we eat healthy so that 10% of the time what we eat doesn't really matter. What I did learn from the competition is: A. health doesn't come in any particular size or shape and B. if you stop making excuses and complaining for long enough, you can do anything. You can be a size 8 and be perfectly healthy so long as you eat healthy, lift weights, do some form of cardio and enjoy life. You can be a size 0 and look good but not be healthy if you're fatigued all of the time and feel like you're wading through life because you're so tired from over-exertion. When it comes to making excuses, I did a 5K the day after my competition. I heard a guy in line talking about how he doesn't run well in the afternoon and he ate something heavy earlier so he doesn't know if he'll run well. I realized after all of my workouts how funny and ridiculous that sounded. I used to do the same exact thing. Now, however, I just do it. If I can exercise 2-3 hours per day and chase around a baby after it all and work, all on 1000-1400 calories, I can do anything. I will never again make excuses about why I can't do a cardio workout that day or how I don't have time to get my lifting in or not do something because I'm too tired.

What do people like me eat? Well, when not dieting for the competition, I eat lots of lean protein such as broiled fish, grilled chicken, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains such as quinoa and amaranth. When I eat pasta, it's quinoa pasta. When I eat breaded chicken, it's breaded with oats and baked in the oven. When I eat oatmeal, it's not full of sugar but made with cinnamon and stevia as well as fruit. When I eat fries, they're oven baked. There are lots of ways to make a comfort food healthy. My biggest pet peeve is when people who are thin or fit lie about what they eat or say they eat ridiculous foods like turkey all the time or nothing but egg whites and chicken. That's not sustainable, and if you are on a journey to be healthy, don't believe these people. You do not have to eat like a bird to look good. As long as you eat clean and exercise daily, you will be a healthy individual.

I lied, I have a bigger pet peeve. I can not stand when people talk about "real women" having curves or being a size 12 or whatever. What's worse, is when people say what a "real mom" looks like. A "real mom" apparently has to have stretch marks and flab on her belly or be overweight because "real moms" don't have time to eat healthy, exercise, AND love their baby. According to the ridiculous people who think this, I don't love my baby. Well, I'm a size 0/2, have a tight stomach, don't have boobs worth mentioning, and I love my baby more than anything or anyone, and he is second only to God. I will do anything for him and have a love so fierce for him that I become a different person when anyone even mentions his name.

I'm a real mom. I love my baby. All moms are real, regardless of what they look like, how they birthed their child, or (and especially if) they didn't birth their child at all, but in an incredible act of love and selflessness, adopted their child. A mom is real if she loves her child. A mom is healthy if she is happy and takes care of herself. If you're a mom, take care of yourself and make yourself a priority. Keep reaching for your goals, because they are still important. It's important for your child or children to see that you are still important to you. And please, for the love of humanity, stop calling out what is real and what isn't when it comes to people. We are all real.

And if you want to know what else is on my bucket list, here it is....
1. fitness competition- check!
2. full ironman
3. crossfit games

And by the way, I was big.

Me at 40 weeks.

Me 1 week postpartum.

Me 8 months postpartum.

I want to thank some awesome moms who have inspired and continue to inspire me with their healthy lifestyle, strength and endurance, their ability to work 40+ hours a week, running around with their busy children, and who just kick butt at life. You guys do it all and prove it's all possible. You know who you are.... Missy H, Kim S, Kim P, Caroline E, Tiffany W, Jean P, Marti C, Amy M, Jennifer P, Holly S, Joanne H, Chi Chi M, Leticia, Christy R... There are so many of you and I'm sorry if I left you out but you women are awesome. I'm so thankful I have people like you to look up to!