Before I got pregnant, I had a consistent fitness routine. I actually enjoyed working out, and I even landed my first teaching job as a spinning instructor. Yes, I was one of those annoying people who woke up before sunrise to get a workout in early, I was obsessed with Soul Cycle and felt amazing after a sweaty workout. But once I saw those two pink lines on that pregnancy test, everything changed.
The first 16 weeks of my pregnancy were an uphill battle. The morning sickness, or all day sickness rather, threw me for a loop. During those first few months, it was all I could do to just make it through my workday—there was no way I could muster through nausea for a workout. Then, as my belly got bigger, besides a weekly prenatal yoga class to help my aching back, my interest and passion in working out fell to the wayside.
Once my son arrived, I felt like I was learning everything about being a new mom at high speed. Plus, the lack of sleep didn’t help either. So, as time went on and I navigated learning to be a mom—dealing with body and pelvic floor changes, exclusively breastfeeding, and managing postpartum depression—exercising was the last thing on my mind. That lasted for almost two years.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I caught myself being curious about exercising again. My son was sleeping through the night, which meant I was also getting long stretches of sleep again. I felt like exercise was something I could explore. I’d be lying though if I said I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t one of those moms who “lost the baby weight” soon after (or ever actually) after giving birth, and frankly, I was really out of shape.
How did I get here? What does fitness and working out even mean to me now?
While I was interested in starting some kind of fitness routine again, I was also embarrassed that I had let it all go for so long. I internally shook my head at myself when I realized that I was winded after going up a few flights of stairs or running around in the yard after my son. How did I get here? What does fitness and working out even mean to me now?
These were just a few of the questions that were swimming around in my head as I thought about starting to work out again. Now, I’m still not working out consistently, but I do have a lot more movement in my life than I have over the last few years. So, here’s how I got started again after a long time away from fitness.
1. I made it easy and convenient for me
Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t comfortable going to a gym or studio for my workouts. While I absolutely love getting outside of the home, going into a dimly lit studio, and having just the right music going for a good workout—it simply wasn’t worth the risk. So, I decided that my workouts needed to happen at home.
Once I started down this path, I set up a small section of my basement that was dedicated to my gym equipment. This included hand weights, ankle weights, a yoga mat, and booty bands. If you’re looking to set up a home gym space, your equipment may look different than mine, but get the items that work for you and that you’ll actually use.
2. I joined a low-cost online program for accountability
Back in the day, I had no problem looking up workout options on Google or Pinterest and going through multiples sets on my own. Now, I need a bit more motivation to actually want to do the workout. To gain some accountability, I joined Studio Tone It Up by trainers Karen and Katrina. The program is super affordable with a variety of workouts like dancing, yoga, weight lifting, boxing, and even mindful meditations. They also provide a wide range of workout lengths, so I don’t feel obligated to always do a 45-minute workout if I really only have 20 minutes.
3. I chose my own pace
Even though I haven’t done a spinning class in almost two years, I sometimes wonder if I’d ever get back to that level of stamina. I have no idea if I will or not, but comparing my current life and body to my past will only hinder me. I am not in a competition with anyone, not even my old self, so I do not need to push myself past my limits. Right now, I am just focused on engaging in more movement activities that feel good to me.
Comparing my current life and body to my past will only hinder me. I am not in a competition with anyone, not even my old self, so I do not need to push myself past my limits.
There are a lot of fitness “gurus” out there who have many opinions on what fitness should look like for people. Well, regardless of what they say, I know my life, my body, and what I’m capable of doing right now—not them. Going at my own pace keeps my expectations in check and allows me to only do what feels right for me right now.
One last thing about working out: if you can, try to find a goal that’s about more than losing weight. If you want to change the way you look and feel, that is totally up to you, but fitness is so much more than numbers on a scale. Sometimes, when I focus so much on how my body looks or the size on the tag inside my clothes, I lose sight of all the other amazing benefits I get from moving my body.