5 Exercises to Heal Diastisis Recti and/or Umbilical Hernias

One thing I’m passionate about is women’s health. I could get on my soapbox of hours and go on about how I think if men had to deal with half the “female” stuff we do, the care we currently receive would be so much different. Instead, I’m going to write a very long, and very informative blog post ūüôā

Currently, moms don’t get a lot of extra love and attention after birth in the United States, and as a pre- and post-natal trainer this infuriates me.

I have worked with women 8 weeks after birth and 30+ years after birth who are “just dealing with” the aftermath pregnancy and birth. Most of the questions I ask are brand new to them. I mention things they’ve never learned about and that seriously concerns me, while also exciting me.

Sure, we all have a 6 week check up after birth, but the depth of care we often receive is lacking. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand this is a huge blanket statement. Some doctors are awesome, however the majority of women are not receiving the full care they deserve.

While most women could benefit from a session with a pelvic floor specialist, we instead think it’s “normal” to deal with peeing our pants a little when we jump, laugh, or sneeze for the rest of our lives. A lot of women don’t realize they have hernias after pregnancy or birth and instead of trying to heal them, they just become worse and may eventually need surgery. And doctors rarely check for diastisis recti, or an abnormally large separation of the abdominal wall so this too can become much worse and can lead to things like hernias, a belly pooch, back pain, and more.

However, instead of just riding the negative train into the ground, I’ve decided to do something about this current trend: I’m going to help change it!¬†The great news is there is information out there and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to help other women feel empowered as they learn how to help themselves too.

Identifying Diastisis Recti

Separation of the abs is a completely normal part of pregnancy and can also occur when someone is overweight or has undergone a major abdominal surgery. In the case of pregnancy, the abdominal wall loosens and separates to make room for a growing baby. There’s a lot you can do to minimize this separation while pregnant, or even heal diastisis recti during pregnancy, but wherever you are in the journey–maintaining this separation after childbirth can be downright uncomfortable and dangerous. So, how do you identify if you have a gap that is considered “too wide” (ie. diastisis recti)? And if you have diastisis recti, how do you fix it?

Diastisis recti is identified by observing a gap in your rectus abdominal muscles, or the “6 pack” layer of your core. This is the top most layer of your abs. To measure your abdominal separation you will do two quick tests (and don’t worry–you don’t have to be able to “see” a 6 pack to do this test!).

First, observe the separation of your abs above your belly button.

Lie on your back and bend your knees. Gently place a hand behind your head for support and lift up off the ground. As you settle into this slight “crunch” position, use your fingers to palpate and measure the distance between your upper abs. Measure finger widths. Anything more than 2 fingers width of separation between your ab wall (more than your pointer finger + middle finger) is considered diastisis recti.

Next, observe the separation of your abs below your bellybutton. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your head down on the ground this time and instead gently lift your feet off the floor. Palpate below the belly button and measure the distance between your lower abs. Anything more than 2 fingers width of separation between your ab wall (more than your pointer finger + middle finger) is considered diastisis recti.

A third test can be done around your bellybutton to observe for an umbilical hernia, another common issue to follow pregnancy. Hernias can be accompanied by other symptoms like bulging or pain, but you can still check for a hernia like you check for DR. Go back to the first test, but this time palpate around your bellybutton. More than 2 fingers width can indicate a hernia. Or you may notice you have a larger, hollow “hole” that your belly button fall into as you pick your head up.

Healing Diastisis Recti and/or an Umbilical Hernia

Now, if you have DR or a hernia, there is loads you can do to help yourself before things get worse. And even if things have already gotten worse, you can still make major improvements!

True story: I had DR after I had my first daughter. Despite having my pre- and post-natal corrective exercise certification, after lots of miscarriages I exercised more cautiously during my full term pregnancy and was afraid to try some of my training. I also thought i was doing some things correctly, and I wasn’t. Once my core was separated I really understood how I needed to improve a few things and add to my routine. Postpartum, I had 3 fingers of separation, but within a few weeks of doing a few exercises, I closed my gap to just 1 finger. After having my second daughter I had 1 finger gap when I checked 3 weeks postpartum (though I did experience an umbilical hernia so worked hard to close it as much as possible again using a few key exercises. My doctor was impressed at my 6 month check up!).

Both DR and umbilical hernias are the result of a weakening of the connective tissues in your core. So, while you can identify DR in your upper most layer of your abs, you want to heal the condition by strengthening the deepest layers of your abs like your transverse abdominis, obliques, and your pelvic floor.

Truthfully, every single person–man or woman (and women who have had kids and haven’t) can benefit from training their core in the way I’m going to show. It literally strengthens the deepest layers of your core and therefore provides tons of strength, stability, and stamina.

One last VERY¬†important note before I show you some great exercises: train¬†your pelvic floor as part of your core!¬†This is perhaps the most important part of your healing process. Kegels alone aren’t going to strengthen or heal your issues, despite this being the only remedy many doctors recommend. Instead, you want to learn to use your pelvic floor, engaging it as part of your deep core unit.

Too often, people are holding their bellies and pelvic floor “tight” all the time. But a tight belly or pelvic floor doesn’t mean it’s strong. It’s just tight! So, when doing the exercises below, be sure to activate your pelvic floor. To find your pelvic floor, do try to stop the flow of urine when peeing, but then when your bladder is empty just try to relax that muscle. Then try to lift or “flex” the muscle and then return it to a resting position. I’ll admit, this takes serious practice but it is life changing! Your pelvic floor helps you pee and move your bowels, because both types of waste exit through a passage in the pelvic floor, but your PF is also responsible for supporting (or holding up) your bladder, uterus, and bowels so learning how to use this muscle properly is critical and can help you avoid serious issues like prolapse in the future.

5 Exercises to Heal Diastisis Recti and/or an Umbilical Hernia

1. Belly wrapping, belly pumping, or transverse abdominal breathing

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  • This exercise can be called so many things, but regardless of what it’s called, in this exercise you are literally trying to wrap your abs together and close the gap.¬† By learning to do this you are strengthening the weakest connective tissue and healing your problem for good! And perhaps the best news: this is an exercise you can do before, during, and after pregnancy! It is helpful all the time and can be nearly anywhere, even when you’re driving in the car!
  • You can and should try and eventually succeed at this movement lying down, sitting, and standing because you want to be able to apply it to all types of movement. The ultimate goal is being able to belly pump when doing all exercises.
  • If difficult, you can assist this movement by using your hands, a towel or a band to help pull your muscles closed.
  • To do this exercise: Breathe into your belly. This alone can be challenging since many people are accustomed to breathing into their chest. Fill your belly with air, relaxing your stomach muscles and letting your belly expand out. when you exhale lift your pelvic floor (the most important step!) and then wrap your abs together. If you’re looking in the mirror you should see your belly button lift a little and then tuck in. The lift is coming from the activation and engagement of your PF. Repeat.

2. Foot slides

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale with your leg extension, wrapping your abs as your extend your leg straight. Inhale as you bring your foot back in, pumping your belly out.
  • Eventually you can try this exercise with both legs or use gliders.

3. Hand/Quad Pressure Pushes

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  • No, this is not a technical name, but this is an excellent exercise to strengthen the deepest stabilizers in your abs.
  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale as you gently lift your head and one leg off the floor, supporting your head with one hand. At the top, push your other hand into your leg (on the same side) and your leg into your hand, creating “pressure” on both your hand and leg. Exhale all the way through and wrap your abs here as much as possible. Inhale as you return your head and leg back down.

4. Overhead band reaches

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Exhale as you pull your band straight up over your head. Inhale as you bring your arms back toward your belly button (though be sure to maintain some resistance in the band when you return to “center”)
  • Eventually you can try this exercise with your head lifted off the ground

5. Side planks with oblique “twist”

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  • While doing this exercise, try to keep doing your belly pumping.
  • Inhale as you extend your arm straight up, looking up at your hand as you extend your arm.¬† Exhale as you wrap your arm under your body, literally wrapping your abs together though try not to drop either of your hips down toward the ground. Make your core wrap together and do the work instead of putting the work into your hips and lower body

Happy healing and exercising! Leave questions or concerns in the comments section below. No one should ever have to struggle with these kinds of issues postpartum, or ever and I’d love to help!

5 Lower Body Low Impact Exercises (That Won’t Hurt Your Knees)

Hello, my most dedicated readers! Oh, how I’ve missed you all. Last time I checked in, both our girls were sick. And last week I was sick! NOT COOL. Everyone knows, moms don’t have time to be sick. Yet, I was. So sick that I didn’t even workout. I did try a couple times, but I was super drained. Like for real. Ugh.

I’ll probably sound like a weeny when I say I just had a case of laryngitis, but I didn’t realize how crummy you can feel from an illness that generally just gets a lot of attention for taking someone’s voice away. While my throat still hurts a lot this week and I still have a dry, hacky cough, my voice is finally coming back (and I’m starting to exercise again), so hallelujah! I must be on the mend. Now back to real life and the important stuff.

A few weeks back, a friend and reader asked me to share some low impact lower body exercises and today, I’m excited to bring them to you. This friend has found her knees to be particularly temperamental after having her first baby a few months back. This is totally normal since the hormone relaxin can loosen our ligaments and joints leading up to labor and can take up to a year after stopping breastfeeding to return to “normal.” Who knew? Now you do ūüôā

While I love jumping around like a total maniac and I don’t have a problem doing so, that isn’t the case for everyone and the good news is there are TONS of exercises you can still do to strengthen your lower body AND be kind to your knees.

Today I’m sharing my top 5 lower body exercises that are low impact and can help you strengthen your lower body, without hurting your knees because yes, it’s possible!

Most of these exercises will use the glutes as a primary mover, and all the other muscles in the legs will be secondary or tertiary movers/helpers.

The largest and what should be–strongest–muscle group in the body is the glutes (aka your butt muscles). I often tell my clients that your butt isn’t just about vanity or something sexy. Though it can be both of those things, your butt is also totally functional too. Meaning, your glutes–when engaged, strengthened, and used properly–can help support your hips and take work away from your smaller knee joints all while simultaneously strengthening all the muscles surrounding your knees too.

Every single person should be able to do a squat. It’s arguably the most functional movement you can ever do. Many think squats are just for your quads, that big muscle group on the top, front of the leg. However, squats are actually a glute exercise that your quads can help with.

We all sit down and get up from chairs and the toilet–that’s a squat.¬† We all pick things up from the ground–that should be a squat. So yes, one of the exercises I share will be a squat, but I’ll show you how to modify it to take some work away from your knees if a traditional body weight squat hurts for now.

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When doing these exercises, aim for anywhere between 8-15 reps, (per side where applicable) and 3-5 sets.

  1. Squats – Keep your weight in full foot and push up out of your heels. By keeping the work in the heels vs. the forefoot, you help your glutes do the work, not your knees. Modify on a wall or using a ball on the wall if needed.MNYE9697XZZS2597
  2. Hip Bridge РStrengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Lying on your back, place your heels on a chair, bench, stool, or any elevated and level surface. Push up from the floor by driving into your heels. Squeeze your glutes at the top and then slowly return to the ground.  NMAP9020
  3. Deadlifts – Single leg or double, it doesn’t matter–deadlifts are great for you (and your glutes and hamstrings)! Slightly bend your knees then while keeping your back flat, hinge from the hips towards the ground. Return to the top, squeezing your glutes when you get there.¬†CGBK3879
  4. Side Lunges РStrengthen your glutes, adductors and abductors (those muscles on the insides and outsides of the legs). Start with both feet pointing straight ahead. Sinking into the heel on one foot, lift up the other foot and reach it to your side while sinking into the opposite heel. Return the foot to the center and keep your toes pointed straight ahead for the entire movementDILI3446
  5. Step Ups – These are awesome for the whole leg! Place one foot on a step, chair, or stool. Keeping your weight in the heel on the bench, “pull” your other leg up and onto the step. Slowly return your foot to the ground, putting as little weight into the bottom foot and repeat.

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What are your favorite lower body exercises? Share in the comments below! 

Motivating Your Transformation: “All great achievements require time.”

Here I am, checking in with a quote on Tuesday. And didn’t I say these quotes were for Mondays? Yeahhhh, about that.

Guilty. I may have mom-brain, but I do know it’s not Monday anymore. The truth is, I was just super busy being a mama yesterday and took a rest day (minus a few sets of jumping lunges and squats). And this morning after I woke up after a not so restful night, I needed that motivation to get back on track, so here’s your opportunity to feel motivated and mix things up too, on a Tuesday! I’d feel badly about this, but motivation doesn’t just have to happen on a Monday anyways.

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In reality, I think this quote is super fitting for my post today anyways. Today, on “#transformationtuesday” (thanks Instagram), I’ve been thinking about my post last week about weighing myself.¬† When I penned that post I took my monthly progress photo and when comparing that photo with some from the last few months, I was stunned by the changes I’ve made since Josie was first born. It hit me how drastic the little changes we make in our day to day can be when looking at the overall “achievements” we’re trying to make.¬†And the hard truth is that those greater achievements take time. Period.

Thankfully I’ve been so busy as a mom so I haven’t really had time to focus on how fast or slow things have been happening to my body. And honestly, if I hadn’t taken those photos, I think I would forget where I was at month one. Yet, while some days I still feel like that mom who just had a baby a month ago (maybe mostly because I’m still sleep deprived haha), I can’t deny the changes I’ve been conjuring as I make a commitment to my health and fitness day in and day out. It’s not easy, but it has certainly been worth it.

So, as you make your own commitments to your own goals, remember it takes time to make the progress you’re striving for. Settle in for the long haul. Consider how you’ll measure your progress in the short and long term and keep chipping away, doing the best you can. In the end, we can all be surprised–and proud–of our achievements.

To Weigh, or Not to Weigh

Today I’m reporting on a little experiment brought to you by a serious case of mom brain. I haven’t weighed myself in two months. During my weekly trips to Target, I have repeatedly forgotten to pick up a new 9-volt battery for our scale. So, while not weighing myself hasn’t been intentional, this is the longest time I have gone without weighing myself in years and today I’m sharing my personal and professional reflections (and results) about life sans scale.

I won’t lie, I have normally been the person weighing every few days, or at least once a week. And for awhile in between pregnancies, I had the unhealthy and obsessive habit of weighing myself every day. I remember three days after having my first daughter, I came home and while I should have lost at least 10 pounds (she weighed over 8 herself, plus I was no longer carrying around a placenta and I lost all of the amniotic fluid), I was only down 5 pounds. In my fragile postpartum state, I felt like a failure and cried. Then I remember weighing myself day in and day out after that until I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight…four months later.

In the last 20 months, since welcoming both of our baby girls–the youngest just five months ago–I’m happy/relieved/proud to say my relationship with the scale has gotten a lot healthier. Those feelings I had 20 months ago forced me to reflect on who I had become on the inside and think about why I would care about a number so much. My body had just done the most amazing thing possible–it created life and here I was obsessing over a number on a scale. As my oldest daughter moved out of the newborn days, I knew I didn’t want her to EVER obsess in the same way I was so I worked hard to change my mindset. This is an evolution that continued throughout the entirety of my second pregnancy last year and I’ve been continuing to grow over the last few months. A number on a scale will not and does not define me.

Even so, not weighing myself is very unlike me. While I don’t use weight as the only marker of my progress when working toward my health and fitness goals, I do think a scale can be a powerful tool.

Knowing your body weight can help you maintain a healthy weight and encourage healthy eating. I like to keep myself within a “target” weight zone (usually within about 3 pounds, plus or minus of my “goal” weight). This wiggle room leaves room for bloating caused by eating saltier foods (or my period) or dehydration.

Knowing how much we weigh can also help encourage healthy habits. I use a scale to keep my eating in check. Ie. weighing myself helps me avoid scarfing down a dozen donuts and multiple ice cream sundaes in a week. And on the flip side, it helps remind me to eat enough calories to build and maintain muscle if the number dips too low (which doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes could when I was marathon training).

Not weighing myself has really mixed up how I measure my progress and the markers I’ve been relying on have actually been motivating in different ways in the last couple months.

Living life without a scale means I’ve had to stick to what I’ve been saying since before I gave birth last October: the number on the scale isn’t important to me right now. Instead I’m more interested in how my clothes are fitting and my progress photos. And I’m proud to say that in the last several weeks, I’m down another pants/dress size and I’m seeing more muscle definition. These markers may not come with the fast gratification of the scale where you can watch your weight rise and fall a few pounds in a day or two, but these markers indicate changes that are certainly more permanent and that’s something I LOVE.

Further, my daily decisions haven’t been influenced by the scale and I think that’s actually helped me achieve more accountability and I’ve made even more positive choices than I would have in the past. Whereas I may have allowed myself a junk food treat when I was within my “weight zone,” I’ve been making more and more healthier choices as I look forward to fitting into new clothes and seeing progress in my monthly photos.

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Not identifying my progress with a number has been empowering and enlightening. While I think that when done in a healthy way, weighing yourself can be a positive part of anyone’s journey to health, it’s not the only way. In fact, the number on a scale is a tiny part of a way to define progress and sometimes someone can live a healthier life without it. The last couple months has shown me firsthand that measuring weight doesn’t have to be a part of everyone’s path.

If you haven’t lived life without a scale recently, I challenge you to do so. Consider analyzing your health in different ways for the next 30 days. Measure your life using different numbers. Track the number of steps your taking, count the number of workouts (and reps and sets) you’re completing in a week, look forward to fitting into a new size dress or pair of pants, and tally the number of veggies you’re consuming in a day. Take a photo at the beginning and end of your journey and you might be surprised by the changes. I’ll tell you this: after living without a scale for awhile, I still haven’t added “9V battery” to my Target shopping list.

How do you track your progress? Share in the comments below. 

 

 

My Postpartum Journey (You‚Äôre Not Alone)

Let’s real talk for awhile. I’m going to super overshare about my postpartum journey. So if you don’t want to read about “girl problems,” just close this window now. But if you are a mom, or you have a mom, or if you know a mom I urge you to continue reading. Because I’ll bet out of all the moms you know, someone is feeling or has felt like this before. Maybe right after having a baby. Maybe a few months after. Maybe years later. But if and when they ever feel like this, I bet they would love it if you could even try to understand their experiences. Because labor and delivery isn’t where our journey to motherhood ends. Not even close. And no mom wants to feel alone (except maybe when we’re hiding in a closet to eat our favorite snack and don’t want to share).

Truth: I think the postpartum period, aka the “fourth trimester” is even tougher than being pregnant.

I am one of those lucky women who feels awesome when she’s pregnant. I exercise throughout my pregnancy. I feel strong. I gain a healthy amount of weight. I feel confident. I keep up with my regular activities (minus drinking some wine). I generally feel happy. I am grateful for this. This is probably why I was open to getting pregnant so soon after having my first daughter (hello, two babies in 15 months!).

But postpartum is a whole other story. The fourth trimester only technically lasts three months, and since my second daughter will be five months in just a couple weeks, I guess I don’t fit in this “box” anymore, but I have been in such a funk lately and I’m going to blame some of this experience at least partly on my own personal postpartum journey.

Six weeks after Josie was born I was cleared by my doctor and told I could resume my normal life. My new normal life. I was super overwhelmed by the two children I was rearing at home, but I passed the psychological questionnaire they give you (ie. I didn’t have postpartum depression), I had finally finished bleeding and my incision was healing nicely so yeah, I was told to carry on.

Having just had my first baby fifteen months before I was prepared for the gauntlet of my least favorite symptoms, or so I thought.

I was expecting my bad B.O. I smell so bad after I have kids. I sweat like crazy. On my chest and my armpits. And no, this is not because of my all natural deodorant. I literally think my body has me sweat like a maniac so my kid can smell me from a mile away. Along with every other poor soul within that mile radius. I change our sheets twice per week. It’s so gross, but I was ready for this. I have accepted this.

I also wasn’t shocked to get my period two days after my postpartum checkup. Yes, despite the fact that I’m exclusively breastfeeding, I am one of those lucky women who doesn’t get a break from Aunt Flo for six months or more. And to add insult to injury, I bleed super heavily and irregularly. So heavily that my doctors thought I was still experiencing postpartum bleeding after I had Isla. And so irregularly that I have had my period 6 times in the last 20 weeks since I welcomed our littlest beauty into this world. I was kind of ready for this too, though I forgot it sometimes interrupts my workout routine because I feel like garbage. And I am trying to accept this (okay, I’m actually just praying this bleeding gets lighter and more predictable).

Additionally, I was prepared for the loose ligaments and tender joints as the hormone relaxin works its magic in my body and keeps my body parts more relaxed as I breastfeed my baby. I was ready for the fatigue from night feedings and sleep training. I was ready to lose my hair by the handful. I was ready for the extra skin and cellulite. These symptoms are shit, but I was ready for them.

Yet, there is one major symptom I’ve been feeling lately that I was NOT expecting. This postpartum period I feel sad. And in this one major way, my postpartum journey has been so different than last year’s and the depth of this new unknown territory can sometimes be hard to navigate.

While I find motherhood so fulfilling and beautiful, while I laugh with joy with my daughters, while I don’t have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or doing work during the day, and while I’m not sad every day or every moment, I’m still sad!

Reflecting on this emotion, I don’t think it’s all due to my having a baby or two in the last couple years because let’s face it–this has felt like the longest winter in years–but do I do think it has something to do with my hormones and the crazy ride my body has churned through like a champ? Hell yes! And for that reason, I think it’s worth acknowledging. Because I know from talking to my mom tribe, I’m not alone. Many of us are experiencing all of this, and more, and if you feel like this YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Like with many other things in mamahood, we maybe can’t be ready to feel all of these feels, but I’m learning there are other ways we can be ready to cope. Because¬†this emotion can be totally normal too, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, or that you’re doing something wrong, or that you love your kids any less than the bubbly, happy mom at playgroups. Or that you can’t be that bubbly mom, and still be sad sometimes too (that’s totally me).

First and foremost, if you’re worried and think your feelings are debilitating or you’re considering harming yourself or your children, you should talk to your doctor. But if you find that you’re feeling more of this “funk,” that I’m referring to, there are some natural ways you can cope and help yourself too and slowly, I’m finding these things are helping me feel better and so I have to share.

One huge way you can help yourself is with self care. Yes, I know motherhood is overwhelming. I know you have babies and a significant other, and maybe pets and other family and friends you’re taking care of. But if you’re forgetting the most important person you should be taking care of–YOU–take a look in the mirror and reflect on how you might help yourself too.

My brother once told me I’m the biggest advocate for self care he knows and this is a compliment I cherish. It’s something I remember when I am feeling sad and need some self care myself. It’s the reason I’m trying so hard to keep digging deep for the happiness that normally comes so naturally to me. Sometimes taking care of ourselves is what we need to feel a little better. And after I took some time this morning for a solo run (something that makes me feel better), I knew I had to share these intimate details about my postpartum feels.

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Some of the best ways to care for you might be meditation. Or exercise. An appointment with your favorite manicurist or at the spa. Or maybe it’s a nap or a cup of coffee out somewhere by yourself while your spouse or a babysitter takes care of the kids. Maybe it’s a date night. A girl’s night. Maybe it’s all of these things!

But whatever it is, DO IT. Because if making room to take care of me is making me feel a little better, it can make you feel better too. And I’m hoping sharing way too much of this intimate info might help someone else feel a little better too. Though who else is hoping the arrival of permanent springtime will help too? ūüôā

My 2018 = New Beginnings and Continued Progress

Happy 2018 everyone! I am shockingly pumped and motivated for the new year. Thinking about a word that will define my year, I can’t stop thinking, “excited!” I am definitely feeling more focused and excited about what this year will bring, both personally and professionally.

I am excited to keep growing Fitness Bites. My blog readership continues to grow (THANK YOU!). While on “maternity leave,” I registered my own business. I am officially flying solo as an entrepreneur. I am no longer working at a gym and I’m actually my own boss. HOLY CRAP! I am so thrilled to be able to say this and while I was feeling more fearful about this undertaking, I know I’m going to be successful. I’m excited to keep helping others in the fitness industry, but in my own way. I look forward to offering my own special brand of online training.

I am excited to focus on my personal fitness, to work on my strength and keep leaning my body out post baby. I certainly overindulged this holiday season, and while I don’t regret it, I am excited to kick the Christmas cookies to the curb and refocus my efforts. I can’t wait to see my progress at the end of the year.

To track my progress, I’m checking in with a “progress” post, complete with photos. I’m finally getting my eating and exercise habits back under control. These posts help hold me accountable. If I have to bare it all to you (literally!), I’m more apt to make healthy choices.

Being transparent like this also keeps me humble. I, like everyone else, am a work in progress. I’ve been petite my whole life. Couple that with my workout routine throughout pregnancy and people assume I just drop every bit of extra fat and nourishment my body took on to grow a baby. Not true. I still have fat in my stomach and this time I also have extra skin and some stretch marks that I’m not sure will be going away. Instead of getting down on myself about these changes, I’m looking at them as my permanent mama tattoos from my girls! Along with my c-section scar, they’re outward signs that my body grew life. Small etches of the changes my body has endured on the inside forever. Oh, the beautiful perspective I’ve gained since becoming a girl mom.

Reflecting on the last three months and comparing to my postpartum journey last year (just a short 6 months!), I remember struggling after Isla was born. I didn’t shed all of my pregnancy weight quickly. Most people assumed I had lost all of the weight after just a few weeks and the truth is, it took me almost 4 months to do so. This time is so different. I’m less concerned about what others are thinking about my body. And I’m even less concerned about a number on the scale. Despite gaining less weight with this pregnancy (25 pounds vs. 35 pounds last year), I’m still about 5 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight.

I mentioned in an earlier post that getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight isn’t my priority. I actually don’t mind if I stay 5 pounds up–I just want to keep leaning out and getting stronger. I want to know I’m doing the best I can to be the best I can. While I’m still weighing myself, I’m measuring my progress more with how my clothes fit and with photos. Seeing and feeling a difference on a more long term and permanent basis is a lot more gratifying than a number on a scale, which can change 4 of 5 pounds in just a day depending on what I eat. The reality is, I’m 100% more concerned with how I feel in this postpartum period. I want to feel good. I want to keep putting a positive message about body image into the world. I want to help other women feel positive and beautiful, because you are!

So here it is. This is my postpartum journey so far.

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[40+ weeks to 1 week postpartum]
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[1 week postpartum to 1 month postpartum]
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[1 month postpartum to 3 months postpartum]
As you reach out with your personal notes and messages, I love knowing that in some small way, by sharing my own fitness and life journey (my reality), I’m helping others–even if it’s just one person.¬†I hope I can keep up this momentum, this positivity, and stay excited. I have so much to be grateful for and I look forward to continuing to reflect and grow in the year ahead.