Its seems like nearly every conversation I’ve had of late, with the multitude of ladies I encounter on a daily basis (at work, in the hood, online, etc) has been about making babies, hatching babies, birthing babies and caring for babies all the while dealing with #mombod issues.
Definition of a #mombod: an excuse-free hard working one. Period! A body and mind doing her very best juggling pregnancy, babies/children, career, health and fitness into this crazy packed life while negotiating unrealistic expectations, from within and out, on the female form. Phew.
I get a ton of fitness inquiries when women find out I’m a 40 year old mom of 8 year old identical twin boys. I actually love sharing my story because its an interesting one not without extreme challenges, stress, heartbreak, unique circumstances, essential support and sacrifice.
I was finally 110% inspired to write this piece after taking class with a fellow Flywheel instructor, mom and friend, Wendy Wolfson. She is a force! We live similar lives, teaching Flywheel classes as our dream job, living with our families in Brooklyn and mitigating an urban mom/work/workout balance. However, as with every woman, coming into our #mombod situation was super different. So I asked her a few questions and answered them myself. Before you read all about it……..
Keep in mind a few things. This is a long post and even so, I’m just scratching the surface. Every woman’s journey with her body and motherhood is unique. I’m sharing my experience, and that of Wendy’s because I wanted to include more than just my words. There are so many ways to approach this complicated relationship we have with ourselves that is often amplified in the mother’ing years, it helps to know that its not as easy as it looks!! I interviewed myself and Wendy below, to help structure everything we had to share ☺:
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE KIDS REGARDING FITNESS?
Wendy and my answers are nearly identical. We were both uber active physically and have a dance background. It starts in childhood (note to moms of daughters, being active starting at a young age can do wonders to a healthy body image and self esteem). As an adult, weaving fitness into life before the whole mom things even rears its head is CRUCIAL. We both committed the time to schedule fitness classes and weight training into our lives before kids. Both of us had full time careers before kids happened. My life changed when I started working out in the morning. I made it a #nofuckingexcuse situation. I would workout out no matter what when that alarm clock went off at 6AM. I really can’t start my day without moving in some sweaty way.
AS A FIT PERSON, HOW DID YOU APPROACH PREGNANCY?
Wendy was a rockstar pregnant lady. No surprises here, in her words “I took on pregnancy as if I was training for the biggest workout of my life – labor. I continued doing the same workouts with modifications along with watching my heart rate. I stayed active until the day before I had both my children.” Well, hot damn girl. My situations couldn’t have been more different.
I thought I could crush every single workout no problem, and did despite a high risk twin pregnancy, until the day I went into labor – AT 25 WEEKS. Gulp. I still have guilt issues around this. Anyway, I was fairly aggressive with my workouts up until that day that I started to feel some back pain which turned out to be labor. The lesson here: body awareness is always important, but more than ever in pregnancy. My OB had no problem with me working out, so it wasn’t as if I was ignoring doctors advice / orders. You know yourself and your body better than anyone. Listen to it.
AS A NEW MOM, HOW DID YOU APPROACH JUGGLING BABIES AND FITNESS?
While we both had very different challenges and circumstances, one thing was the very same: not only did we figure out a way to fit exercise into our sleep deprived existence no matter what, but it was the biggest sanity saver you can even imagine in those early baby months. Not only can it be done, fitness can be your respite, your therapist and your happy pill all rolled up into one sweaty hour. I struggled with posttraumatic stress from preterm labor, 6 weeks of bed rest and delivering preemies. Wendy ended up in an emergency C-Section with her first. Excuse free, as soon as she got clearance, Wendy used workout DVDs to get it done at home. For me, my twins were micro preemies and only around 4 ½ pounds when they came home from the NICU, I was breastfeeding which was an around the clock, breast milk on tap, type of deal, so I would go on long walks at first wearing both of them on my body in wraps. After a few weeks I hired a baby nurse to take over for an hour in between feedings so I could go to the gym. Once they were safe to be in a stroller, I also ran with them while they napped in a double jogger stroller (can we say MAJOR workout?). BOTH Wendy and I used the babysitting services at our neighborhood gyms once the kids were old enough, which was a social outlet and support system in and of itself.
HOW HAS BEING A MOM CHANGED YOUR APPROACH TO FITNESS?
Time management, organization and priorities come to forefront for both of us. Wendy says it all, “Being a mom changed almost everything. Learning what was most effective in the least amount of time, I needed smart effective workouts that didn’t take me away from my family for hours at a time – insert Flywheel here ;)”
I made a career change from being a producer over into fitness after becoming a mom. Priorities often come into crystal clear focus after baby and for me that meant, if I’m going to let work take me away from my boys, its got to be something I seriously love doing. Needless to say, I’m pretty passionate about music, fitness, writing and helping other people feel amazing about themselves through hard work. CP truthism here: working out for a living is a convenient way to feed my addiction to exercise – take that how you will but leave judgments to the curb.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY BACK TO YOUR MOMBOD AFTER HAVING BABIES?
We both took the slow, steady and hard working route.
Wendy says “I was not one of those women who had a baby and was back looking fit 2 weeks later, I had to WORK!” Wendy starting paying way more attention to food and stopped using workouts as a license to eat whatever she wanted. It took her 6-8 months post-delivery to get #mombod back. She says “I remember walking into a store 6 weeks after having my daughter and someone asking me when I was due :/”
LOL, Wendy you’ll love this: I remember my Dad coming to visit me when my boys were still in the NICU and asking me why I still looked pregnant, but ah, he KNEW I already had my babies :/ :/ :/
When on bedrest and in the months I had preemies, I paid very little attention to body stuff. I didn’t look anything like I do now mainly because I was breastfeeding and had a massive appetite to make that milk. I had a lot more padding and big uncomfortable boobies!! It’s a myth that bf’ing is a weight loss tool. I didn’t get my regular body back until I stopped, but honestly I didn’t give a shit because feeding my boys was the priority and, I was happy enough just being able to get an hour every day to move.
Backing up to when I was in preterm labor and on bedrest, scared shitless that my boys would be born insanely early at any moment, I was actually desperate to GAIN weight. Because of the stress and sedentary bedrest, I had no appetite and did everything I could to eat as healthy high fat and protein as possible, to feed the guys inside me. I would get upset and disappointed every time I stepped on the scale and didn’t see those numbers going UP. Kind of ironic given my objectives at every other time of my life. This is what momhood is for so many of us, giving over your body to these little people, even for just a small period of time in our lives.
Now, of course, things are different. My healthy 8 year olds are perfectly healthy big boys. I find it annoying and distracting to be unhappy with the way I look physically. It takes time and attention away from the important things in life. I stay fit so that I can be happy and content and focus my mental energy on family. I workout, among other things, to stay focused and productive with my time and energy for them.
Post breastfeeding and after the stress had subsided, I was anxious to get super lean again and while it took me about a year, I got through the old fashioned way: exercise and diet.
WHAT DOES YOUR STANDARD WEEK OF WORKOUTS LOOK LIKE FOR YOU, BE HONEST!!
Wendy and I teach fitness classes for a living so you would think that we are certainly at an advantage when it comes to fitting exercise into our lives. Which we certainly are, however, a MomBod is not made on solely teaching Flywheel classes. We both have an incredibly rounded exercise routine. Wendy teaches 10 and takes 2-3 Flywheel classes per week, takes Brooklyn Body Burn (megaformer) and Fhitting Room classes (HIIT).
I teach 5-6 classes per week, take 1 Flywheel and 2 Flybarre classes per week. I usually manage to fit in 1 Brooklyn Body Burn, 1-2 hot power yoga (Modo) and either an HIIT Fit Camp or Barre class with my friend Kira Stokes. I usually manage to take 1 or 2 6-8 mile runs as well.
You are thinking, holy motherload of exercise. Yeah, well, it’s a priority for us and we fit it in despite juggling everything else.
WHY DO YOU THINK SOME MOMS BOUNCE BACK FORM HAVING KIDS AND LOOK BETTER THAN EVER? DID YOU?
I love Wendy’s answer: “I think a lot is genetics, but I also believe that your body changes in ways you would never expect. You’re a mom now and you would move mountains if you had to in order to help your children! Being pregnant and having children allows you to find a more focused and powerful sense of strength. If you channel that into change you can discover a whole new you both mentally and physically.”
Mine: There is something very empowering about being a mom. We have been thorough a pretty insane transformation with our bodies that I hope will make our relationship to our physical selves one of awe and appreciation. But reality is, hello(!) we don’t look like we did pre-pregnancy, so take a look and say, ok this is what I have to work with, I’m going to make shit happen since I’m so damn rockstar.” I 110% feel that I look better now than I did before having kids, but I’m also a fitness professional……see next question.
DO YOU THINK ITS UNREASONABLE / UNREALISTIC FOR OTHER MOMS WHO ARE NOT FIT PRO’S TO WANT TO LOOK LIKE YOU?
Wendy answer is spot on “ I don’t want anyone to look like me, I want them to look like the best versions of themselves. I honestly think if its something you’re passionate about, it can be achieved. It’s all a choice.”
I agree and will add that yes, its about time management and discipline but also surrounding yourself with a supportive team. Wendy and I work with fitness professionals! Additionally, I would likely not be as fit as I am if my husband didn’t support me, for example he takes the kids weekend mornings so I can teach / workout. He is fully invested into our healthy lifestyle so we cook together and keep each other from overindulging. Even if your life partner isn’t doing everything you are with respect to health, get a coach, trainer or workout partner to be that voice of reason, support and guidance.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO GET PREGNANT AND / OR ALREADY HAVE BABIES WITH RESPECT TO WORKING OUT?
Wendy says “ I honestly believe that staying active, eating healthy and doing what keeps you calm and centered is what you should do. Whether its yoga, walking, cyclings or weight training. As long as you having your doctor’s blessing, listen to your body and do what makes you happy. A calm happy mom makes for a calm happy family.”
Love that. I’m not calm and neither is my family, but we are happy and exercise a LOT! I want to add that health really does start with food and should have nothing to do with counting calories. Its about nutrients. I would hope that new moms eat well not because they are concerned about getting skinny, but because she needs to feed and nourish herself to then take care of baby / business. Using pregnancy and post-pregnancy phases to go BANANAS with the eating (and I don’t mean actual bananas which are wonderful, but rather with unhealthy sugar, fat, fried and processed foods) is doing a disservice to your baby more than even being harmful to your own body. Eating whole, clean and quality vegetables/fruits, protein and whole carbs is the first step toward moving to the mombod you are meant to have!
Thank you Wendy for being my guest and inspiration for this post!!