I met Lea at the start of this year when she entered and won a competition to run the Winter 10k with me. (You can read all about our run here) I instantly thought Lea was fab and we spent the whole 10k chattering. I find people who juggle a young family a real inspiration, if they can find the time and energy to work out then there's no excuse for the rest of us.
I asked Lea to share her current fitness now after having a baby. You'll love this if you're looking for inspiration on how to get back into fitness as a new mum, how to get back into running after having a baby and juggling life as a new mum.
I'm a Mummy, a Mummy to one little girl called Amelie. Amelie is three next month. Never in my wildest dreams (pre-child) did I ever think it would take me this long to get back to 80% of the fitness I was before Amelie. Now this isn't necessarily a negative thing, my journey is my journey and is individual to me. But I definitely thought I would be back to previous fitness levels at around six months post Amelie. Obviously I was very mistaken (little laugh and eye roll to myself for being so naive).
I genuinely didn't think I would find it as tough as I did. It wasn't just the physical holding me back, at times it was more the mental. And this is still the case sometimes. When Amelie was born she was early and had acid reflux and severe colic and struggled to sleep lying on her back. Amelie was breastfed and liked to feed little and often every hour day and night. This was taking it's toll. I didn't have time between feeds to express and where she fed little and often my supply was coming up short. Exhaustion was taking it's toll and with Oli (my partner) commuting to London for work I was pretty pooped day and night. I just didn't have the energy to look after myself.
When Amelie was about 10 weeks old I tried going for my first run post giving birth. To some this may seem early but I was someone that ran nearly every day before being pregnant. Running has always been my exercise of choice. I've always found it strangely quite relaxing, almost meditative. So this was what I was now looking forward to, a bit of time to myself. However, this run was anything but. I was hoping to do a gentle 5k. Oh my word. It was painful. My quads, my glutes, my pelvis, everything was so tight. It was anything but meditative. After several attempts I couldn't get back in to running. My mind was elsewhere. Being a new Mum for the first time I was always thinking about Amelie, wanting to get back, not enjoying this time to myself.
I decided to go easy on myself. Start small and work my fitness levels back up. I started yoga and looked up simple strengthening and stretching exercises I could do at home around family life. This is where I found this amazing IG community which really inspired me to get back my mojo.
So here are my top tips for getting back in to fitness after a baby or with young children:
1. Go easy on yourself. You've just given life to a human. Healing takes time. Your hormones need to settle, you need to adapt to life as a mother with a newborn and you need to enjoy your time with your baby. Fitness and exercise will come when you're ready. Don't force it.
2. To begin with aim for little workouts, yoga flows, strengthening exercises you can do at home and around your baby sleeping or sitting in their rocker watching you jump around like a crazy person ; ). Now Amelie is older I let her have a run around in the garden whilst I do a HIIT session. I'm watching her, we're both exercising and getting fresh air.
3. Be motivated but be flexible. You win some you lose some. When Amelie was just over a year Oli and I joined a gym. I was also now working 3 full days a week and commuting to London. There were times in the earlier days when I would book myself on to a class but Amelie was very unsettled or life was just giving me lemons and I would have to cancel the class. Yes it's frustrating but on reflection my time with Amelie will always be priority. I guess this is where you might want to research or invest in a good home workout - there's so many out there, Kayla Itsines for example.
4. Be your own motivation and competition. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Focus on yourself. Give yourself a target whether it be toning up, accomplishing a 5k run or just losing a little of the extra baby weight (no rush here). Don't fret because Sally on your NCT group is back in her size 6 jeans two days after giving birth. It's just not good for you to compare, your journey is individual to you, your body will change and you need to gently adapt and not be hard on yourself.
5. If you have a supportive partner or family ask for their help. Oli and I work with each other and alternate our workouts. Working out is important to us both so we literally schedule it in with each other but in the same breath we're flexible with each other. Life with children is unpredictable so you need to be flexible and accept that change could happen. We have a weekly plan in mind but we're open to change. If your Mum is over for the afternoon she won't mind watching the baby whilst you go for a quick 20 minute run or a workout in the garden.
6. Now Amelie is older we go on family walks, usually on a Sunday. We're fortunate to live near the sea and also the South Downs so plenty of nice walks close by. We do this for fresh air and exercise and to also instil a sense of outdoors and activity in to Amelie's lifestyle. When she was younger we used to put her in the baby carrier but now she's older she walks on her own.
These are just a few ideas to get you started and get you thinking about your approach. But ultimately it's about adjusting, being open to trying new ways of exercising and being flexible in your approach. I'm finally back to loving running again and I aim to do 3x 7k runs a week. Anything extra is just a bonus for now!
Thanks for reading and to find more from me head to my blog.