We all have the best intentions when it comes to setting our fitness goals and achieving them. Especially around New Years or after having a child, we manage to work ourselves into a motivated frenzy, subconsciously convinced that somehow the “achieving” part is as easy as the just saying “I’m going to do this!”. We’ve all heard of (and invariably been part of at some point in time) the clichéd queue at the gym on January 1st. Raring to go, we blow the last scrap of cash we have after Christmas, on a years membership that we use once, maybe a couple of times before it hits us like a ton of bricks…UGGGHHH THIS IS HARD WORK!!!
I would describe myself as quite determined but also a perfectionist which greatly inhibits my ability to be patient with slow progress. I was definitely able to self-motivate better (but still not perfectly) when I was younger and had less responsibilities and / or “valid” excuses but I am finally learning (after spending my twenties starting and stopping and telling myself I’ll do it “next year” every year!) that it is possible to push myself and achieve great results regardless of my duties and commitments as a partner and a mother. In fact, a daily work out can quickly become the most necessary and wonderful “me time” any mum could ask for.
Despite feeling all the strong will in the world up until day one when it arrived, I felt tired and not the slightest bit enthused about going to the gym! The little man had kept me awake for most of the night and all I wanted to do was lay about with him, feeding, resting and cuddling for the day. This is where my partner comes in. I realise not every new mum is lucky enough to have a fitness fanatic for a partner and I am absolutely blessed to have his constant encouragement but please let me be your motivator! If you’re having a tough day, if it feels overwhelming which it absolutely will at times, feel free to contact me for a chat or a pep talk or both! I guarantee everything you’re feeling, I will have felt and thought it too.
My partner asked what time we were going to the gym and I cringed at the thought but wanting desperately to stick to my plan, I begrudgingly left the couch and fished out something that resembled gym gear. I know a lot of people run out and buy a whole new kit when starting in the gym but that shopping trip in itself can feel like pressure both emotionally and financially when you have a new little one on your hands so don’t rush. I grabbed a pair of black sports leggings I had worn when pregnant, as baggy a top as I could find to cover me up and prevent me from feeling completely hideous and enter…
Problem (reason to use to give up before I start) Number One: Breastfeeding boobs! – I fished out two old sports bras that used to suffice, the few inconsistent periods I had gone to the gym before I was pregnant. I put on the first one, jogged on the spot a little and lets just say I’m lucky I escaped the scenario without a black eye! I tried the second, slightly more supportive bra and it was tight enough to hold me a little more but there was still plenty of painful bobbing up and down when I tried the jog-on-the-spot test for a second time. Feeling like diving back into my pyjamas, I pottered into my mum and asked her if she had a decent sports bra that I could borrow. Mum handed me one that was slightly loose and still didn’t hold things sufficiently still. In a final attempt to just get out the door, I pumped to relieve some of the milk weight and then put on all three bras starting with the least supportive, followed by the tightest, followed by mum’s one that was no longer loose when on top of the other two and it did the trick! Finally feeling adequately strapped in, I proceeded to dig out a pair of fairly new gym trainers that I hadn’t worn in over a year and with negative thoughts already plaguing me, I tried to focus on what I needed in my gym bag. Again I didn’t go mad and fancy I just threw together a simple bag of the things I needed which were as follows;
- Black Rucksack
- Padlock and key for locker
- 2 litre bottle of water
- Hand towel
- Music (on phone)
- Hair tie (and clips for the wispy bits)
I left Mars with my mum as she was off work for New Years and drove to the gym with my partner feeling ready for action, having already achieved the impossible and gotten as far as the car! Unfortunately the battle of will was yet to come.
My partner had very kindly put together a program for me as I like structure and a definitive plan to follow.The problem is, the perfectionist in me gets upset if I can’t complete something that I have set out to do, it’s not a good trait to have during recovery! (Programs are generally tailored to suit the individual but I will go through mine in my next post in case you’d like to try it :).)
Problem Number Two: Scar Pain – I jumped on the treadmill for my warm up / cardio, a 10 minute run. I used to be able to run for 30 mins so I expected it to be possible but it was awful! After a minute and a half I could feel my stomach tugging at my scar with the movement and that dreaded throbbing pain on the right side started up again. I stopped the treadmill at 2 mins and went to look for my partner deflated. He said not to worry, we would move on to another exercise. I wanted to focus on my lower abs to get rid of the bump but that was exactly where the damn scar was so it was going to be tricky. I tried two ab exercises, leg raises and V- raises, not a chance, I couldn’t even raise my legs, my abs were so weak. I tried to stay calm despite feeling increasingly out of place and ready to leave as we moved over to the TRX station. I attempted an exercise called the landmine twist (I’ll put up all of these exercises for you in the next post) finally no pain but I felt awkward and unsure. My partner said I was doing it right but it didn’t feel right, I felt clumsy and out of form :(. We came up with two other ab exercises using a kettle bell that worked my sides and the parts of my stomach that didn’t hurt. I fumbled through them, a mixture of happiness having found some exercises I could actually do albeit awkwardly and mental exhaustion from fighting off the overwhelming negative thoughts screaming at me “You cant do this!” “go home!” , this was just the warm up!
I followed my partner to the squat rack. At one point in my past I could squat 60kg and bench 40kg and I’d loved it. (Don’t feel that because I’ve done it before I’m an exception and you won’t be able to do the same. I was absolutely starting from scratch again like a novice it had been so long and I was beyond weak!) I tried to squat just my body weight and felt the now familiar pain in my scar again, Ugh!! I started to crumble…
Problem Number Three: The Emotional Barrier – Tears welled up in my eyes, this was TRULY difficult. I thought of all those times in the past when I had ended countless spouts of exercise for stupid reasons like tiredness after work and here I was now with real reasons to quit just wanting my old non-existent issues back! Negativity flooded my mind “How will I ever get my body back to some sort of normality?” “This is going to take forever and be so painful and awful and difficult!” “I’m never going to do it, I’m never going to be happy with myself for the rest of my life!” “My body is ruined forever!” (Yes it was that dramatic inside my head!) I legged it to the locker room, checked my scar and composed myself. “Deep breaths, if I want to get fit I have to do the work, whatever work that is that I can manage, keep trying!”
I walked back out to my partner with purpose and we switched to the only exercises left that I could really do, shoulders and arms. I did a few different things targeting those areas and left the gym feeling unnerved but not defeated. I had held on, I hadn’t ran back out to the car, I had done something and as would become my motto for the next few months,
“Something is ALWAYS better than nothing.“