Before I got pregnant I used to run. I have always thought the gym was boring and taking exercise classes or joining a club felt like too much of an obligation. What if I didn’t feel like working out at 8 pm on a Tuesday? I wanted to work out whenever I felt like it; no hassle, no wasting time getting there, no standing in front of a mirror with a dozen other women being the only one turning right when everyone else is twirling left. So apart from a drop-in lesson card for my yoga classes, running it was.
When we were trying to get pregnant running helped me cope with the disappointment of our failed attempts. After each negative test I would wake up every morning at five and run before work. The fresh air helped me clear my head and if that didn’t work I would use the monotone thumbing of my shoes on the pavement as a rhythm for mantra’s: ‘There is nothing wrong with me’, ‘A baby is waiting for us’, ‘Just be patient’, ‘I can do this’. Or I would direct them at my unborn child and repeat: ‘You are so welcome’, ‘I love you already’. I wanted my body to be as healthy as possible for our baby. I ate lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and tofu. I cut coffee, wine and salt out of my diet. And I ran.
During the first four months of my pregnancy I hardly moved and I craved only two things: peanut butter and French fries. All my healthy habits had disappeared as soon as my baby moved into my body. I didn’t care. I was happy as could be. But half way through my pregnancy the peanut butter made me nauseous and my body started to crave a healthier lifestyle. Funny how that works. I truly believe your body has a build-in balance system. Something to keep you from going overboard. So I started to eat healthier again and did pregnancy yoga on a daily basis. Also, I started walking. At first because it helped with the nausea. But I really started to enjoy it. The last two months I walked for an hour every day. I felt very fit when it was time to give birth. I basically walked straight into labor.
And out of it. Because walking was and has continued to be my main workout since birth. Walking with my baby that is. As soon as I had enough energy to venture outside I took Isaya for walks in the sling. The first time we walked for about ten minutes, around the pond near our house. Then it was twenty, then thirty, and soon enough we could easily walk two hours a day. Through the city, in the woods, on the beach. Isaya close to me in the carrier; it felt and continues to feel amazing to carry her around while we enjoy the world around us. I ran one or two times, but it didn’t feel good anymore. My life had ‘slowed down’, so my workout needed to be on the same pace.
How to become a # Fitmom
At home I started doing my yoga sessions with her. I would lay her on the mat or put her in the sling as I went through series of poses. To this day, this is how Isaya and I practice yoga together. Our sessions are frequently interrupted by breastfeeding, diaper changes and hugs. It is the best type of yoga I had ever encountered. Nowadays she crawls, climbs, walks and plays around me while I keep up my practice. Three or four times a week this is our thing and we both love it.
When Isaya was six months old I was back at my pre- pregnancy weight. I have baby wearing and yoga to thank for that. And of course eating healthy. When I was pregnant I had cravings for milk chocolate and mayonnaise (and even thought eggs smelled good!), but after Isaya was born I went back to eating vegan. I did not go on a diet, because I am a breastfeeding mama and that takes a lot of energy. What I did do was cut out the hormonal-I-want-to-have-a-whole-bowl-of-popcorn-every-night and make sure my body got all the nourishment to provide the best milk for Isaya. If you are curious about what we eat in a day, check out this link!
No Gym, No Diet
I have written about breastfeeding a couple of times and I feel like I should not leave it out in this context. Nursing my baby probably also had a lot to do with becoming and staying fit after birth. Not only does breastfeeding inspire me to eat healthy, it also takes up a lot of energy. In the first months of Aya’s life I actually had muesli bars next to my bed, because I would be hungry after a nursing session. (To this day I can’t eat this brand of bars, because I had so many that they make me nauseous!) So, baby wearing, yoga, eating healthy and breastfeeding: that’s my ‘secret’ to staying fit.
It is very simple. Because I don’t believe in difficult diets and complex fitness regimes. I don’t ‘do’ anything really, everything is part of my lifestyle. The way I exercise is a fundamental element of my daily life because I do it with my baby. The way I eat comes from my views on what is best for the body and the environment, so it doesn’t take any effort at all. There may come a time in my life when I start running again or finally find a gym that doesn’t depress me or maybe I will revisit my childhood love for tennis and ballet. But not until it fits into my life.
I think that is the key to being healthy: make it your own, your way of life, not something you have to force yourself into and takes away too much energy, time and joy. Because isn’t that why you want to be healthy? To be happy?