It'd be easy to assume after having this big moment on the bike, it was smooth sailing for me getting back to being me.
That was hardly the case.
As soon as I pulled into the driveway, life crept back in. But, I had a new perspective. While the work ahead was big, it was doable if I took it one step at a time.
I jumped back into teaching classes at the gym. Honestly, I felt anything but strong and energized, but figured I needed to get back at it.
When you go through pregnancy in any type of fitness environment and place yourself at the front of the room, you are bound to have comments of all kinds from members. Sometimes you are seen in a position of expertise, sometimes it is to see what you actually know, and sometimes you're just the person they need to vent to when life isn't going right.
Teaching through two pregnancies, I feel like I've heard a lot. Probably not everything, but a lot.
The most common ones include: "did you really gain enough?" or "you should weigh differently at this point in your pregnancy than you do." or "did you check with your doctor to see if you should really exercise right now?"
A little less common ones include: "wow. I figured you had to be pregnant, you looked so bloated." or "I figured it was a good workout if I could do more push-ups than a pregnant lady." or "for a pregnant person, you don't look too fat." or "can you really still sit on a bike?"
Post-pregnancy, with a solid 20 pounds yet to lose, I had naturally let self-doubt creep in. Questioned whether I should step back into class again. The voice in my head said "you're so out of shape!" or "you are way too tired to do this, just give up!" or "does it really matter if I teach another class? who even pays attention to the instructor anyway?"
I tell members all the time that walking through the door is the hardest part. Getting there. That is tough. Once you're in, it's easy. You've already made the choice to improve yourself, so enjoy it and make it count.
I had become a student of my own words. Walking back through the door really was the toughest part. But after I took that step, everything came back. Natural endorphins are incredible, and I hope everyone has the experience to know for themselves how positively life-changing they are, both mentally and physically.
One of the best post-pregnancy comments I received from members was from a husband and wife working out together (they were taking a tabata bootcamp class). They told me they'd just started exercising again and were terrible with motivation. But, if I was going to be there every Saturday morning, and just had a baby, then they could get up and go too.
Hearing that was such a big boost for me. All the worries and self-doubt erased and I was reminded why I love teaching so much. I love the chance to see people make a difference for the better in their own lives.
My journey continued. A combination of eating good, wholesome, fresh food (I can't emphasize enough how much that did for me with losing the 20!), coupled with exercise. As we were in the mix of moving too, I was lucky to get 3 workouts a week.
Little by little, the numbers crept down. A 2 pound weight loss each week for the first four weeks, then it averaged a 1 pound weight loss per week for the next month, then slowed to about a 1/2 pound weight loss per week for the remaining chunk.
Which put me at 6 months. In a new state, a new home, and without a teaching job. On the list after "set up internet" was "get a gym membership."
Not currently teaching, but with some invisible sign that reads ask me about my weight I was walking out of the gym one day when a women stopped and said, "can you really look like that and have a baby that small, or is this just genetics for you?"
I had a choice. I could shrug, and let her think that no matter what she did, genetics determined everything about our bodies, or I could stop and chat. Looking at her eyes, I could tell she wasn't just making small talk. She really wanted to know.
Our conversation continued. She'd fallen into some bad eating habits, and was trying to lose about 50 pounds. She was younger than me, and had just started exercising. She had very little knowledge, felt very out of shape, and overwhelmed.
My response was completely honest.
Told her how I think genetics play some role in how your body carries a pregnancy, how big your babies are, and how your overall labor and delivery goes. And, I feel blessed that genetics have been to my overall benefit.
But, I definitely believe that it is what we do with ourselves that determines so much of the process. A body already in motion wants to stay in motion. A body that is regularly given whole, nourishing foods, will react differently than a body that doesn't.
And, it all comes down to consistency. Having the discipline and will power to be consistent over a long period of time. Expecting mistakes, but then starting fresh the next day. That's how big changes are made.
Being so honest to a stranger can be a little tough. I had no idea how she'd respond.
It was better than I could have anticipated. Her response was something like this, "thank you so much for your honesty. I've wondered if anything I did really made a difference. Thanks for telling me that all of this really will pay off."
It does. And it will. Keep at it, whatever it is for you.