My Postpartum Fitness Journey with the SWEAT App
My Postpartum Fitness Journey with the SWEAT App
Two-and-a-half years ago I was a recently postpartum mom to a 3-year old and a newborn. Honestly, so much from that time is a sleep-deprived, tear-fogged blur of nursing around the clock, working through the big sibling transition, and trying to survive. My days…& nights…well, my whole life revolved around the feeding, butt wiping, and nap schedules of 2 very unreasonable, tiny people who operated with alarmingly little patience and even less understanding.
I was tired – oh, the tired. Motherhood is an exhaustion unlike any other. The demands are unrelenting and never-ending, and just when you think you can not possibly go on, you do. The woman’s body really is amazing – it conceives life, facilitates its growth, expands to support it, delivers it to the world, nourishes it, and adapts to the physical demands it inflicts. And physically heals.
Emotionally, however, the adjustment to parenthood can be a far greater struggle. Nearly six years after becoming a mother, I’m still working on coping mentally. We are thrown into this abyss we can’t navigate, full of fear and anxiety, and with very little support. Unsolicited, contradicting advice and unwarranted judgement, however, we get plenty of that!
My days got dark. The next darker than the last, actually. I felt regret about having children, then shame for being regretful. Drowning in responsibility yet accomplishing nothing, I was sinking deeper into a hole I couldn’t climb out of. I felt trapped, like I had lost all control over my life. It was always about the kids. What they needed, when they needed it, no matter what. My needs had to wait. And I’m talking basic needs. Gotta pee? Nope, sorry – you can pee when you’re dead. Hungry? Nope, sorry – baby needs you now. Tired? HAHAHAHA.
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How I Found SWEAT and BBG
Finally, after 3 months of pure survival-mode, I decided I needed to take my life back. Or at least a teeny tiny piece of it. Somehow, someway, I needed something that was for mine and for me. I wanted to feel a sense of control. To feel like more than “just a mom”, if only slightly. My schedule and activities were constantly dictated by my children’s incessant needs, but I realized I did have say in how I moved my body, if little else.
I started searching the internet for workout programs that would fit my situation. I had three main criteria: training sessions needed to be 1) short, 2) completely outlined for me, and 3) doable at home. Enter, Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG). The program consists of just three 28-minute workouts per week. Plus 2-3 suggested LISS (low-intensity steady state) cardio sessions per week. Walking counts. Each workout is pre-written with exactly what to do and when to do it. The workouts require very little to no equipment.
**Sidenote: I started BBG with just a yoga/exercise mat, jump rope, and some old dumbbells. Eventually I bought this weight bench, but made due without it for months using sturdy step stools instead – I got this one from IKEA. Check out “Workout from Home” for a variety of home workout equipment.**
When I discovered the program, I started following various BBG hashtags on Instagram. I was amazed by the progress pictures and transformations. As a postpartum mother in a body I didn’t recognize, I wanted that. I saw the community of women from all corners of the world and all walks, stages, and seasons of life coming together to encourage and support one another. As an isolated, lonely, trapped-at-home mom, I really wanted that. Discovering this program and community sparked the beginning of my postpartum fitness journey with the SWEAT app!
How it Went in the Beginning
Armed with the BBG PDF guide, a bit of hodge-podged equipment, and the timer on my phone, I started. I was surprised by the level of intensity (I thought I might die! Or puke! Or both!), but I was more blown away by the clarity and satisfaction I felt when I was done. The workout was hard, sweaty, and amazing. I was hooked.
My body didn’t suddenly, dramatically transform, like I had hoped and expected. My first set of before-and-after pictures seemed identical. As discouraging as this was, the progress I was making that couldn’t be seen in the mirror or read on the scale is what kept me going. I felt accomplished, purposeful, and driven for the first time in over a year. It was like a fog had lifted and I had my senses back.
Six weeks into the program, I started my own fitness account on Instagram for accountability and community. It was around that same time I actually, finally, noticed visible physical change. It wasn’t much, it wasn’t mind-blowing, it was barely even there – but it was SOMETHING, and I was proud.
My first-ever Instagram post, about 6 weeks into my postpartum fitness journey with the SWEAT app, following BBG at the time:
Even so, it’s not like finding the time and energy to get in shape came easy for me. I had to fight for it. So, I fought: for my workouts, for myself, and as it turns out, for my relationships. I became a better, more present wife and mother by honoring my needs.
In order to prioritize my fitness, I had to learn flexibility when it came to getting my workouts done. I exercised in the playroom, the nursery, the kitchen, the front yard, the hallway, and the back deck. Often, I worked out during naptime, after bedtime, while I played with the kids, and while they snacked or watched TV. Most of the time I trained barefoot, wearing pajamas and nursing tank tops. A BBG training session is made up of four 7-minute circuits. Oftentimes, I squeezed in a circuit when the opportunity arose, whether or not I could complete the full 4-circuit, 28-minute workout. Because if I waited for 28 consecutive, uninterrupted minutes, I’d still be waiting.
I found out that once I started, eventually I would finish. It wasn’t always pretty and sometimes it took all day, but it got done and it was always worth it. That mentality carried over and impacted other aspects of my life, as well, and I’m more productive these days because of it. I used to not bother doing anything because I figured I’d be interrupted a ridiculous number of times, so what’s the point? Now, if all I get emptied from the dishwasher is the silverware tray, I know it’s better than nothing, it’s that much less I have to do later, and it will get done at some point. I learned to be flexible when it came to anything I wanted or needed to get done for myself, from chores to exercise to enjoying a cup of coffee.
How It’s Going Now
I followed the BBG Program for 14 months, eventually subscribing to the SWEAT app after about 8 months of using the PDF printouts. Having access to the full complement of SWEAT trainers and programs, I decided to try Kelsey Wells’ PWR Program to change things up. I have been following Kelsey’s program ever since, for over a year now.
The training style of PWR is different, the workouts are longer, and more equipment is required. This program doesn’t fit the criteria I was looking for 2 years ago when I started my postpartum fitness journey with the SWEAT app, but it’s just right for me now. My children are older now (5.5 and 2.5), and their schedules and needs are different from when I started. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but maybe this whole having-kids thing actually does get easier?
Also, I become more and more committed and disciplined as time goes on. The journey feels easier because it’s more habitual and routine. My willpower and resolve are stronger than ever, as are my body and mind.
My advice? Take the first step. Make the first change. Put yourself first. Start. Just start. Please start. I often wonder who and where I would be today had I not started my journey to fitness and self-love. Knowing the trajectory of my mental and physical well-being at the time, I shudder to think how low I would feel and how cloudy my mind would be. I’m forever grateful to have found the SWEAT programs, trainers, and community to guide me along this path to a happier, healthier, stronger me.
Thanks for reading about my postpartum fitness journey with the SWEAT app!
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