My biggest struggle with BBG has not been staying motivated week after week, or finding the time to workout with a little one, eating clean or waiting to see a change in my body.
The one thing I found harder than anything else was actually just getting started.
Pregnant and waiting.
I always knew once I had given birth and I was fit and able, I was going to do Kayla Itsines BBG (of course back then I thought I was signing up for 12 weeks not committing to a whole new lifestyle.)
I had followed the @Kayla_itsines Instagram account for a little while and like everyone who comes across it for the first time, was completely blown away by the BBG girls before and after pictures. One in particular (@kim_fairley) really struck a chord with me. She was a new mum to her second baby, and she had totally transformed her post baby body in to a smoking hot, bikini clad, mega mum bod in just 3 short months. I screen shot the picture and saved it to my Iphone. From that moment on, BBG became my post pregnancy plan of action and for those 9 months I mentally prepared myself for BBG-ing my body after baby.
Or so I thought…
…Apparently nothing, I mean nothing, can prepare you for the seemingly insurmountable moutain you have to haul your body up, in order to reclaim you fitness.
The road to recovery
My master plan to getting workout ready, was to walk… walk walk walk walk walk. I thought if I started to walk as soon and as often as possible, it would be easy street all the way back to higher intensity exercise…. But to my shock and horror my body struggled to cope even with this, so soon after birth.
In those first few weeks I tried to take some 30 minute walks, but I made the terrible mistake of trying to walk with my baby in her carrier. I thought that the extra weight would be a good way to increase the intensity of the walk and get fitter quicker. But it was way too much, the strain on my abdomen just walking with a weight brought on more bleeding at a time when internally I was meant to be healing.
Every time I thought my bleeding has stopped, I would walk it and it brought it back straight back again. My health visitor told me to stop immediately. She said 4 weeks after birth was too soon for me to even be walking. That the bleeding was a big sign that it was too strenuous and my body wasn’t coping. I was shocked, I’d had a relatively trauma free birth with very little blood loss after. I had been back on my feet almost immediately. Maddie and I were up and out on day 2 and I didn’t feel particularly sore or in pain, so I really thought I was set up for a swift and smooth recovery. But no matter how smooth my labour was, no matter how together I was feeling on the outside, internally my body was still stuggling to recover and I needed to respect that. So I gave my body some time. I still tried to do gentle walks but this time with the buggy and for shorter lengths of time.
The 6 week wobble.
As soon as the post baby milestone of 6 weeks postpartum arrived, I was just too excited and attempted to do day one of BBG pre-training, ha! What a joke. I couldn’t even step on to my footstool for an un weighted ‘step-up’ without losing my balance. I had no internal corset and just couldn’t support my own body in anyway. I felt like a failure, like I was part of some cruel joke… that my good intentions were stupid and laughable. That I needed reminding that bodies after second babies just don’t bounce back and“ oh don’t forget you’re in your mid thirties now, you’re older now, you can’t expect too much”. So I quit without even completing one circuit.
At my 8 week check up I spoke to my GP about re starting exercise, but I was encouraged again to be patient and just continue with my walks. Bleeding was still intermittent and although at the time I was frustrated by it, I’m grateful now that it was. It served as an un-ignorable reminder that I was still healing and my body just wasn’t ready.
When water works ruin your life.
At ten weeks postpartum and no more bleeding I tentatively tried pre-training again and wobbled my way through legs circuit 1. I had to split all the 15 rep exercises in to reps of 5 (times three). Taking big fat, let the timer tick away, pauses in between. But I did do every exercise. Well, every exercise bar one….
Ahead of time I had purchased a £1 skipping rope from Primark, especially for my BBG pre-training. BBG pre-training tells that you need to skip continuously for 50 reps as part of circuit one, week one legs. So, a mere ten weeks after having my second baby… with a bargain basement skipping rope handle in each hand, I attempted to skip for the first time since primary school.
What do you think happened next?… I’ll give you three guesses and it rhymes with I ‘met’ myself…
The stark realisation of the wreckage that was now my pelvic floor sent me running… running straight for the shower. Horrified at the thought that James or the kids might walk in and see me in a puddle, I put an immediate end to what was supposed to be my fitness beginning. I was embarrassed and felt like I was never going to regain control of my body inside or out. I felt like a failure all over again.
The twelve week timebomb
The next time I attempted BBG was two weeks later. Feeling under pressure that I was now 3 months postpartum I tried legs for the third time. By some absolute miracle, I got through it (this time with the help of some well situated female products) and I felt great about myself…
I went to bed that night feeling like I could really do it this time! I felt capable and stronger than ever. Unfortunately when I woke up, all I felt was a world of hurt. Overnight my fitness euphoria had manifested its self into the worst DOMS I have ever experienced in my life. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I couldn’t walk down my stairs. I felt like I had been beaten up. I felt bruised from my ankles to my elbows. It hurt to move my hand, it hurt to bend my leg, it hurt to laugh, it hurt to breathe, it hurt to look left. I was in so much pain, so much physical agony, for days and days and days. I couldn’t even THINK about continuing with the program. So I gave up again and I gave up for a while.
Time to toughen up.
The fourth and final time I tried to start BBG was at 4 months postpartum. After a fight to the death with my spanxs I decided enough was enough. Physically and emotionally it was time to rebuild my body.
This time, I was so determined to succeed at getting started, I went through the mortifying and degrading process of taking a ‘before photo’ . I made an anonymous instagram account for accountability and I gritted my teeth and went straight in to BBG base camp aka: Week 1 legs ( no pre-training) . It was terrible. I was terrible. It hurt like hell. I hurt like hell. I modified pretty much everything and took one million extra breaks, but I did it. When I went to bed I prayed for strength. Strength to endure the pain that would surely follow the next morning.
And sure enough the pain came. The searing, burning, I’m broken, I can’t sit on the toilet pain was back and although it hung around for days, by Friday it had just eased up enough to face arms and abs. I did all the pushups on my knees. I had to do crunches instead of sit ups as I was not strong enough to lift my upper body off the floor. But I got through it in my own way.
So here I was. I just had full body to go before I could say I officially got through my first full week of BBG and do you know what?… I did that too. By all accounts I did it badly, I wanted to cry by the end of it because of the doms and the stiffness from the weeks earlier activity…
But I didn’t quit once and I’ve never quit since.
The mental and physical struggle it took to complete that first week of BBG meant that I absolutely made sure I would never have to start over, ever again. I knew if I could get through the utter trauma of that initial return to exercise I would do absolutely fine with whatever was coming next.
It taught me how tough I was. Tough enough to keep coming back after it beat me up, tough enough to make it through the doms and tough enough to talk myself into each and every exercise that was too difficult for my out of condition body.
Returning to fitness after baby is a mountain dressed up as a hill that you never realised would be so damn hard to climb.
You can feel like you are your own Everest! But you can and you will get there and when you do get to the top, the view will be amazing. Everything you feel will be fresher, clearer and more incredible than before. You may have to be your own mountain rescue team every now and then, but that’s ok. You will survive, you will push through and you will eventually look back at the journey, as the most worthwhile ‘climb’ of your life.