Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My first post-pregnancy run and 8 tips so you can start yours too!

If like me, you are an introverted person, you probably won't notice how long you've been holed up in your home after giving birth. In my case, I've ventured out before, but not for exercise of any kind...just attending to appointments with our doctors/dentists, a little shopping and visiting my parents' place. That's it pancit, absolutely no exercise! Well, save for the time I tried a DVD Yoga program for about 20 minutes and decided to stop because I was too close to the TV I felt dizzy already! Yup, I was mere inches away from the TV so imagine the neck strain I get trying to see the next poses while holding my downward dogs with my body planted on the mat. Oh how I miss the days when I could do plyo, be the pride of my PT and plank for like, ever!!

People have different motivations for wanting to exercise. It did nothing for me even when a kind lady in church offered me a seat thinking I'm pregnant, or when hubby says I now have a "katawan ng nanay" (of course, I'm a mom, what do you expect? hehehe) or when our parish priest blessed our religious item and then looked at my belly, rubbed it and then blessed it as well. Nope, no effect! Until I felt I was getting frail and weak. My baby is a 12-pounder yet I'm finding it hard bringing her from cradle to burp position. Ang bigaaat!!! Everytime we finish a nursing session, I feel my bones are literally about to break and I sometimes walk hunched over already. Maybe it's the feeding place/position/posture but still, it's terrifying for a supposedly healthy 20-something me! :) What could be wrong, aren't breastfeeding moms, due to the extra 500 calorie/day burned, exempted from exercise? But more than that, I was too afraid for my CS incision. My doctor gave me the go signal a long time ago but I didn't feel too ready to, as they say, 'magbanat ng buto'!

Hahaha..yes, then everything dawned on me...and I realized I haven't had even a bit of sun-lovin', gaaah! And so it is..dear breastfeeding moms, stuffing our cheeks with food isn't enough, taking vitamins wouldn't be enough too. We need to get out there, say hi to Mr. Sun and walk, run, bike, swim, do cartwheels and start moving!

After almost four months, I finally managed to drag my bum out for a run! Wheeeee!!! :) And that's saying something considering how as a breastfeeding mom, I would much rather prioritize sleep than head out early in the morning. Really! I would have a lot of excuses to put this off..A TON-- i.e., my breasts might leak mid-exercise (dyahe!), it's too early, I'm too sleepy (sleep debt, gaaahh!!), my exercise clothes have become uncomfortably tight, I'm a bit rusty, and the best part is I'm too hungry I might pass out before all the people at Alveo Celadon! Yes, those are my "nega-tron" issues..and during my run I somehow remember the part in Dr. Seuss' The Sleep Book 'the collapsible Frink, just collapsed in a heap!' wishing so hard I wouldn't black out from this bringing-sexy-back attempt.


It's a good thing hubbydubs was able to join me for this sort of mini adventure! Despite playing badminton the night before with his friends, he gamely supported me and woke up early for this stint. Soon after baby finished her 4 am feed, I immediately nudged hubby to wake up and get ready. I asked him to use my bike instead of his;  after all, it's been almost a year since I last rode it. In the coming weeks, I hope to be able to swim and bike too :)

So off we went from dear Oroquieta to Alveo Celadon..him cycling with the Mosso bike and me breaking in my shoes (and my body) with short bursts of running and a steady, catch-my-breath leisurely walks (I looked at my heart rate monitor and after the overpass, my HR shot to 200+). I never felt so alive, so sweaty and so achy!! Hahaha..It's nice to see so many people, young and old alike, getting into the fitness routine. I know it's just one day and just an hour of light cardio but mommies, the fact that we are able to "overcome" our fluffy beds, put on our running shoes and just do our best, we are already one step closer to our desired fitness goals.

I'll leave you with some tips if you're also worried about when you can exercise or how you should exercise after giving birth:

1. Always check with your OB-GYNE

Always! Dr. Genuino said I could do brisk walks already in my 6th week and bike 4 weeks after that. But what do you know, it's already nearly 16 weeks and I have just begun. As "CS mommies", we all have different healing capabilities so it's best to consult the expert. After all, you wouldn't want to trade that quick work out for a 4D/3N stay at the hospital and another incision to heal, right? Same goes for being intimate again with your hubby...JUST, hold that thought until you're given the green light!

2. Start slow and remember your form

I know we all secretly wish we could go back to our  pre-pregnancy size RIGHT AWAY. But let's be realistic here. Remember that we didn't get that big overnight so it's also impossible to get rid of all our flabs in just one sitting (or running as you would prefer). Sure there may be super athletic moms who still do half-mary's in their third trimester and quickly ease back into their routine, but we are not them.

If it helps, start an exercise journal wherein you plan your run (or other exercise of choice) for the week and then go back and list your achievement as you go along. There would be times you get to set a new PR, and times when it's worth it to just be able to get out of the house and get moving. Still, you'd be happy to see how much you've covered 10 or 20 runs from now!

Today I managed a 48-minute, 2+km of walking and running and I'm at peace with that. Tomorrow will be a rest day and the next day I intend to do a DVD program at home. Take note that rest is important, as we exercise, there are muscle tears that have to be repaired so try to schedule your exercise at least every other day. 

Also, try to read up on the 'proper form' when running. For this I try to keep in mind what I've read from Chi Running (A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running). This way, I don't go panting and gasping for air and I minimize or totally avoid injury. And a huge plus is how it makes us more efficient with our workout!


By the way, make sure you cool down afterwards and not just plop on your bed :)

3. Begin saving some milk stash

Pumping will have to be accounted for as well. For one, we have to ensure that should baby get hungry while we're out, there's something to feed her with and also, it's uncomfortable to run with engorged and/or leaky breasts! How much should you pump? My daughter's pediatrician says that at 3+ months old, I should be able to leave 1.25 oz of breast milk per hour. I try to leave more whenever I can. To be sure, always check with the pediatrician.

4. Variety is key

I'm not a running purist and I easily get bored with repetitive exercise. That's why I like to mix up my routine to my liking. Actually, if I could, I'd like to get serious with triathlon but I have wifey and mommy duties now so maybe I'll take that up when my daughter is older. So aside from running which is free, biking (free after you have bought your bike) or swimming (I get a free pass at the Celadon pool c/o my husband's family) I pop in my DVD so I can do yoga, aerobics or kick-boxing. I also have a The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, the soft bound copy I got comes with a free DVD. Just remember that it is important that we get a dose of cardio at least 3x a week and be able to maintain HR level that will burn fat (this is different for each individual) and do strength training afterwards.


5. Wear the proper gear

I used to shell out a few thousand pesos for a good pair of running shoes and my heart rate monitor (I use Polar HRM with footpod). But seeing the expenses of a small household with a small baby, I realize that I could should have been more thrifty then hehehe... :)

Polar RS300X Heart Rate Monitor with Footpod - I bought mine at RUNNR

If you have the gear, then by all means use them! But if not, just make sure to at least get the right kind of running shoe for you. Running shouldn't be that costly anyway! I happened to see a lady running also this morning but in her office attire: tank top with a cardigan, mini skirt and flat shoes...Oh my...I hope she makes it through the day and not get very sore feet!

Ensure your sports bra fit just right - we have to protect our breasts as they are the ones that nourish our baby. Don't forget to apply sunblock too! :)

6. Have an exercise buddy

And I couldn't ask for a better one than my husband :) We have placed our food and drinks inside the bike compartment and he circles around to make sure I'm okay and not on the verge of seeing stars!

Seriously, since we traverse (naks, feeling mountain climber!) downtown Manila, we need to ensure both our safety. Aside from that, it's good to have someone you trust (and in my case, love) motivating you further and ensuring accountability on your part as you strive to be healthy for yourself and your baby.

7. Hydrate well (before, during and after) and carbo load

THIS!! And please don't cram it in the few good minutes before your run or you'd risk feeling nauseous. Anyway, as breastfeeding moms, we really should be properly hydrated and well-nourished for the sake of our milk supply. At the risk of earning my hubby's "Whatever" look, please carbo load but do it within reason. Do this at least  a couple of days prior to your run so you will have fuel to burn and in my case, avoid hypoglycemia. And choose good carbs - the ones with low glycemic index (G.I.) especially for those prone to diabetes.

8. Make sure baby is well cared for

But of course! Make advance arrangements with your baby's carer. If you would have to wake the yaya at 5 or 6 AM, make sure they know and make sure you give them enough time for rest the night before. You wouldn't want to leave baby with a cranky individual, would you? Leave instructions too as to the feeding schedule and other reminders that may be specific to your child.

I hope my experience helps you! Baby steps, mommies! There's still life after CS - we'll learn to rise, walk and run again. Cheers to being fit, fab and healthy! :)

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