Exercise: Friend or Foe?

This surely seems like an obvious question, friend right? But as a person who likes control, routine and structure, it can and did become my foe. I was managing to deal and live with this quite happily, I thought, but when I was told that my exercise regime was hindering our chances of getting pregnant, things had to change!

What it was like before having a baby…Exercise

It is fair to say that before I became a mummy I was borderline becoming obsessed with my weight, the gym and basically myself! I was trapped in a cycle of eating ‘healthily’, although also restrictively, and earning my food by over exercising without enough fuel to sustain my gruelling workouts! I would be at the gym 6 or 7 days a week and I would make that my priority in life!

Making the change…

Being told that my over exercising was potentially hindering our chances of conceiving was a real blow and I was devastated, I also felt a lot of guilt. This was the turning point in my journey as this was literally the day that I had to change my life as it was.

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In fact I actually felt a rush of release and relief knowing that I couldn’t exercise as much as I was, it had become a full time job! So my daily hourly sessions decreased to 3 days a week and I started to do more yoga and walking and it was ok! It wasn’t that simple to begin with but I started to get used to it and I realised that I actually had a lot more time on my hands, I saw friends, I spent time with my husband and I regained some perspective on life!

We finally received the amazing news that we had wanted for so long, I was pregnant! It sounds very selfish, but although I wanted a baby more than anything, I couldn’t shake the worry of not being able to workout properly while I was pregnant and the worry of what my body would be like after! I don’t know what I thought was going to happen to me but it didn’t! I continued to exercise while I was pregnant, with the go ahead from professionals, and I actually believe now that this helped me have a mostly healthy pregnancy and birth.YogaI continued walking, I swam and did pregnancy yoga. I used to love going to the gym and walking on the treadmill with people behind me, I’d then turn around and watch their faces as they clocked the bump! Why shouldn’t pregnant women go to the gym? I remember sharing a knowing nod and a smile with the very few other pregnant women at who were also there.

What it’s like now…

Basically what I want to tell women who have and are in this crazy cycle is that your body is amazing and it needs respect. I have disrespected and undervalued my body in the past and that had potentially stopped it from doing the most important job in the world…reproducing! Exercise is a form of control for me and I now can see that it wasn’t about being thin or allowing myself to eat, it was about controlling things around me. As a mum now, my priorities need to change and this has been hard to accept when I’ve not been to the gym for three days. But what I need now is the satisfaction of a workout by knowing that it’s helping my body and rewarding it for its hard work, not punishing it for something I may have eaten.

Me and My Baby

The happy endorphin’s I feel after even a 20 minute nap time workout are incredible and I know that 20 minutes of activity is enough. I won’t lie, I do sometimes still get the pangs of guilt having not done a long cardio session but I then think about whom I am doing this for, me? the baby? my husband? And the truth is I sometimes don’t know. I then think about all the amazing things I have done that day with my baby and how little he cares that I haven’t done a 20 minute run today! I know it’s a huge cliché but there is more to life…

My controlling personality has not just disappeared however and I wouldn’t say I was ‘cured’ but I now have channelled it into other ways, like my 20 minute AMRAP (As Many Reps as Possible) sessions while my baby is napping and by going for walks with the baby which actually benefits both of us. I know I have this time everyday (mostly) and I know how good I feel after.

AMRAP
Example AMRAP: See @mummy_fuel for more

I get to the gym 2 or 3 times a week including weekends, but this depend on when my husband can get home and if it fits in with bath and bed time which is doesn’t always. On the days it doesn’t work and I have planned a gym session, instead of freaking out (which has been known on many occasions), I make sure I tell myself ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’  ‘Will I spontaneously combust?’ ‘Will I wake up 2 stone heavier?’  No!!! I also attend a ‘onefitmama’ class once a week which we both love, good for me and the baby. I now focus on being active and sometimes just dance around the kitchen with the baby or go for a walk, just something to get me moving. Revelation time… I have also discovered that sometimes going to the gym is actually a great time to just have some me time and the exercise is almost a bonus!

Aside from my own body’s needs, as a breastfeeding mum I need to be very aware of how exercise is affecting my supply and that I also need the extra calories to sustain a life. If that isn’t the ‘bigger picture’ then I don’t know what else is!!

So to all you mummies, pregnant mummies and future mummies who are also caught in this world, you can do this, it has changed and is still changing my way of life but for the most incredible gift possible.  I would love to hear from anyone who has had similar problems or who is worried about getting pregnant and exercise. Please comment below or message me on Instagram: @mummy_fuel

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