Unless you are Kate Middleton who can pop a baby and walk out hours later looking like a million bucks, most of us including the famous Aishwarya Rai, have to contend with post pregnancy bodies that long overstay their welcome. And if sleep deprivation and the stresses of managing a new baby were not enough, any thought of ‘me-time’ will leave you with feelings of guilt, similar to eating your sibling’s share of chocolate on the sly.
So, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just buy healthy, fit bodies straight off the shelves, like the latest IPhones with all the bugs fixed? But that day is not yet here (don’t lose hope though) and till then we must find ways to either camouflage our floppy middles and child bearing hips or work them into a shape of our desire.
So, here’s my recap of the Top 8 mantras that were my answer on how to get back into shape post pregnancy!
1) Just do it
One of the hardest things to do is to get started… whether it is returning to work after a holiday, doing a week long pile of laundry or hitting the gym. It is so much easier to stay home and get lost in all the regular life-sucking housework and dig into that tub of ice-cream or munch on that pack of extra salted wafers with a cheesy dip while watching your favorite series during any down-time that you get from the baby. Definitely more fun but not very helpful!
How then can one traverse the distance between the couch and the treadmill? By getting up, turning off the tv and heading to the gym. And most importantly not thinking about it.
Yes, it is as simple as that. Once I’ve scheduled a session I do not allow a conversation to take place in my head lest I talk myself out of it. My workouts are non-negotiable. I never cancel them, not even on the days I want to lie in. Especially not on those days. If I can survive the tough moments I can survive anything.
2) Unleash the diva in you
I am part diva and part slouch, mostly the latter. When at the gym, in the company of strong bodies, I have to constantly remind myself to stand tall, which at five foot almost nothing is a challenge. So I pretend to be a super athlete competing at the Olympics, surrounded by an adoring audience and a paparazzi that cannot get enough of me. Head up, chin parallel to the ground, shoulders back, stomach in and viola I am a goddess! Ok, that’s a stretch but I definitely feel good right away. It’s interesting how our body language changes when we think we are being watched.
3) Be kind…to yourself
No matter how much I train, the first few minutes on the treadmill are always tough. When the body is reluctant and the mind sides with it, the heart comes to my rescue. It empathizes with me and says ‘I know this is really hard but it only gets better.
Hang in there, you are doing well’. And the deal is I don’t stop. Like with everything in life, a few kind words get the job done.
4) Break it down
My trainer thinks I complain too much while I believe I have great attitude. Go figure 🙂
While I do grumble, I will admit, but I go on to complete whatever routine comes my way. Any tough task needs to be broken down till it doesn’t seem all that tough any more. When a set of fourteen shoulder press feels difficult I count down from one to ten and then from one to four again. Psychologically, the thirteenth and fourteenth reps seem much harder than the third and the fourth, even if they amount to the same. And if this doesn’t work, I put on my warrior face, bare my teeth and get on with it.
5) Make the gym your battleground
If I am angry I work out. If I am sad I work out. If I am feeling euphoric I work out. No matter what my mood, working out always makes me feel better. This is the time I settle scores in my head, prove a point to those who have sidelined me and ungrudgingly accept where I have been wrong. The biggest battles are won within.
6) Know that if you seek, you shall find
When I am low on motivation I seek out my heroes. Rafa has had a huge influence on me. At the peak of his career I drew inspiration from his invincibility. Now that he is going through a rough patch I put in extra effort into my sessions in the hope it will inspire him back to form. I know he can’t see me but that doesn’t stop me from trying.So find your role model, pin up a pic or make it your phone screensaver and look at it whenever you need inspiration!
7) Learn to enjoy the pain
I celebrate the aches that follow a tough run or a challenging workout. I allow myself to feel them in all their glory. They are not easy to come by. I have to earn them, every single one. They tell a story of perseverance and strength and of overcoming yet another barrier.
8) Sort the Rocks first, fill in the sand later
There will always be a dozen seemingly important things competing for your attention at the same time. Will they matter a week, month or year from now?
You might be familiar with the analogy of ‘rocks in a jar’. If you put in the rocks first you can still fit in the gravel and sand. But if you start to fill it with sand you will never manage to get the rocks in. Choose your rocks wisely. I have chosen to make my health a priority and while it is hard work the payback is so worth it.
Never mind looking like Kate Middleton or Kate Moss or even Aishwarya Rai (hah… as if!), a visit to the gym always makes me feel like a million bucks.
All it takes is putting on those sport shoes, channeling the diva within and I am ready to get fabulous.