January 10, 2009

Post-Partum Fitness

I've mentioned before that in spite of the fact that I was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes 2-3 weeks after my delivery, I did gain some weight since that time. I could tell both by looking at the scale and by the fact that my underwear just didn't fit quite right - i.e. butt wedgie. (I know...TMI!)

I was able to identify the culprits:
  1. Extreme hunger due to breast-feeding. This also led to some post-partum cravings of the not-so-healthy variety.
  2. Eating a late dinner (between 8:30pm and 9pm). This is because we make sure that we do PK's nighttime routine before we eat.
  3. Eating prunes close to midnight. Unfortunately, a continued must for me.
  4. Not exercising as much as I used to before I had PK, but eating as much as I used to.
  5. Having WAY too much fun baking, and having even more fun eating it.
Here is what I did to mend my ways:

1. Cut the crap
I used to limit myself to having dessert maybe once or twice a week. Unfortunately, after having PK, dessert became a must after every meal. This was especially true after I got into a baking groove after having PK. The fridge was always stocked with home-made chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, and apple bread. My big motivator to avoid eating these things was to just think about my underwear wedgie and how uncomfortable it was.

2. Exercise less, eat less
I know a few former competitive swimmers, and I can say that they all have something in common: they got fat after they stopped swimming competitively. While they were swimming, they needed to eat a LOT to keep up with the body's energy demands. After the were no longer swimming, however, their bodies just didn't need the extra fuel and it became fat.

3. Prunes before dinner
Prunes are wonderful, but they are sugary as hell. We all know that eating late is bad because the body's metabolism is slower at that time. Eating prunes late at night like that just adds to the problem. Speaking of eating earlier, I don't think we'll be eating earlier until PK starts having dinner with us. Fortunately, I don't think that a later dinner is killing me on the weight gain thing.

4. More water, less juice
I looooooooooooove fruit juice. I know that fruit juices are pretty sugary, even the ones with no sugar added. After all, most fruits are naturally sweet. If you down juice like water during a meal (i.e. >1 glass of juice), you're getting all that extra sugar which can get converted to fat. That's why I limit myself to one glass of juice per meal, and in-between meals, I chug lots of water (I seem to be constantly thirsty these days).

As far as exercise goes, here are some of my favorites:

1. Walking
I try to get out with PK for a 2-hour walk every day. It gets me out of the house, and it's a change of scenery for PK. Plus, I know that she is guaranteed to take a nice long nap during our walks. Toronto slopes up the further north you go, so if you walk north in Toronto, you are sure to get a fab workout. This is ESPECIALLY true with a stroller.

2. Chin-ups
I have a hangboard set up in my basement, and I love it. It is great for toning the upper body - back, arms, and even abs. I find that most guys have this natural ability to do at least one chin-up right off the bat, even if they are in so-so shape. Gals, unfortunately, need to work harder. I think it took me 2-3 months when I first got my hangboard before I was able to do a single chin-up, but after doing that first one, I felt on top of the world.

3. Push-ups
These are great because they work out pecs, triceps, and abs. To get a really good workout, lower yourself slowly, hold it for a couple of seconds, and push back up. If you suck at push-ups, start with the girlie push-ups (putting knees on the floor instead of feet), and work your way up.

4. The Exercise Ball
The exercise ball is like having a home gym in a sphere. No joke! You can work out quads, inner thighs, outer thighs, hamstrings, chest, and abs. I like to use my exercise ball for ab workouts by doing a plank position (feet on ball, keep body straight, and arms perpendicular to the body). I typically hold that for 1 minute and repeat 3x. It KILLS, but it does wonders for your core.

5. Baby Dance
This is one that I've started recently. I put PK in her carrier, facing outward, I put on the Beatles Help! album, and I sing and sway to the music. PK seems to enjoy it (one of the few times that she enjoys her carrier), and I work up a good sweat from it. It's a win-win situation!

Note that while I do work out every day, I don't do all of these exercises every day. That would just take up the entire day, which is time that I just don't have - you know, I've got this baby to take care of and all...

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