Today we are so excited and honored to welcome Megan Dahlman to NW Healthy Mama! Megan is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and mother of two little boys. If you’ve ever given birth, or if you’re ever planning on giving birth, this post is for you! Megan gives us the gentle kick in the pants that we all need to become the strong Mamas that we were created to be. She doesn’t make us feel bad, she simply pulls out that inner strength we all have inside of us. Enjoy!
You have given birth to beautiful bundles of screaming joy and now what? You feel like what they left behind is a saggy body that doesn’t even feel like yours anymore. In some respects, it wasn’t really yours for a few years, anyway. Your body was first abducted by the miracle growing inside of you, pushing, stretching and inducing sickness and discomfort round the clock. And then you gave birth and your body turned into a miraculous (notice I keep using that word?) factory of milk production subjected to pulling, tugging and exposure to every possible bodily fluid. You’ve probably thought “what is happening to me?!” You sometimes feel like your body is a hot mess with no hope in the world.
What now? As a mom, you should be able to recognize that life is certainly different now. Things just won’t be the same. However, we let our minds get stuck in pre-baby-body mode, and find ourselves grieving over a body that no longer exists.
First of all, it’s important to acknowledge the miracle that has occurred. Your body did all that! Can you believe it? Step back and be in awe of what your body is capable of. You are a strong woman and capable of quite a lot. Even before you step foot in a gym, do a squat, and lift a dumbbell, the fact that you birthed a baby says a lot about your strength. Acknowledge the natural strength of your body and press forward with that knowledge.
Speaking of pressing forward, stop looking back. We have a nostalgia for what our bodies were before babies, and like I mentioned before, there is a silent grief that occurs. It’s very important to stop comparing your new body to what it was before. Stop grieving over what you have lost, and embrace this new body, stretch marks and all. Your physical journey from here on out will be entirely different from what you have ever experienced before. Things might ache more than they used to, it might take you a little longer to recover, your extra tummy skin might not stay put quite as well, and you probably will have to pee fifteen times during a workout. This is ok! You are not a victim of all of this. Remember, you are a strong woman. Just keep moving forward.
Cling to this new perspective and let it inspire you to discover what your body can do NOW. The moment you stop worrying about how your skin looks, how squishy your thighs are, and how saggy everything is and start challenging yourself to see how strong, powerful, fast and fit you can be now, you will be far more likely to surprise yourself. And you know what? If you can run up a mountain, do 30 perfect push-ups, and lift a 50 pound bag of chicken feed without blinking an eye, who cares about the stretch marks anyway? You’re strong. You’re not fragile. And you’re not a victim. Isn’t that more important?
With all this said, it’s time you shed your workout guilt. You probably carry a lot of guilt as it is…Mom guilt. “I should be providing more crafts for my kids. I should be reading to them more. I should be limiting TV time. I should be implementing better parenting strategies.” We don’t need to add workout guilt to this. “I should be working out more. I should have gone for a run. I should have eaten better.” Knock it off! These thought patterns are anything but helpful, and they turn fitness into a dreaded endeavor. You will always be dragging your feet to get into better shape when you think like this. Instead, press forward into challenges. Approach fitness as a competition with yourself, always trying to outdo yourself, get better and raise your own bar.
This past year, my goal was to be able to do the splits and headstands. Yes, it required a lot of practicing, a lot of yoga sessions, a lot of time spent working out, but my motivation was fun and inspiring. And you know what? I did it. I can now do the splits and a couple different types of headstands as a 31-year old mother of two. Not too shabby.
Your body is not a lost cause. It is still capable of quite a lot.
What you need, is a way to pursue health and fitness in a manner that jives with your new mom-lifestyle and schedule. You could have the best perspective and inspiration in the world, but if your pursuits are not practical, it just won’t happen.
You need quick and effective workouts that you can do at home during naptimes or with kids crawling around you. These workouts need to be fun, challenging, and produce results. They also need to be completely functional and respectful of how your body actually works. Unfortunately, I see a lot of “quick at-home” workouts that are poorly designed and don’t take into consideration how the body moves best. A workout with lunges, squats, plie squats, jumps, and every other glute and thigh exercise thrown in there is terribly unbalanced and will probably create some sort of injuries if done on a regular basis. Bad news.
If you’d like to try something better, this is a great place to start. A beginner can do this routine, but it’s still a good challenge for even an intermediate trainee:
Beginner/Intermediate Just Bodyweight Workout
When it comes to nourishing your strong body, the last thing you need is drastic changes with numbers and specific measurements. This is not practical and completely unsustainable. Instead, start implementing these simple nutrition strategies right now with every meal.
Let’s call this your Easy-Peasy Nutrition Guidelines:
•Eat some sort of protein with every meal. Think eggs, chicken, fish, meat, tofu and nuts.
•Eat some sort of fresh produce, preferably vegetables, with every meal.
•Eat healthy fats throughout the day. Think nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil, avocados, fish and algae oils, coconut oil and real butter, etc.
•Eat real food. Shy away from anything in a package, sticking to real, whole foods whenever possible. For example, have a snack of one hard-boiled egg and banana instead of a granola bar.
•Drink lots of water. Drink a full glass of water with every meal and then sip water throughout the day.
That’s just 5 eating strategies that are easy to remember and implement. Easy-peasy, right? Yes, there are certainly more things you can do with your eating habits to dial it in even more, but this is a great place to start. Become very consistent at eating like this, and then think about doing more.
Remember, you are not a hot mess, but a strong momma. Your body was a vessel for the miraculous. That’s pretty incredible. Let that inspire you to keep challenging yourself, see how much stronger you can become, and what your physical capabilities really are. Can you climb that mountain? Can you run a marathon? Can you do ten pull-ups? Can you do a headstand? And can you nourish your body well to accomplish all of these challenges? Your body after having babies is capable of so much. Don’t let the saggy skin and squishy thighs hold you back. Just keep pressing forward.
Megan Dahlman is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and mother of two little boys. She coaches women of all ages toward becoming healthy and fit. She is getting ready to launch Strong Mommas, a website fully catered toward moms who are looking for a more heavenly perspective in health and fitness. It will be loaded with workout and nutrition guidance, helping moms become truly healthy and strong, not just sexy. Megan lives in Oregon with her husband, two boys, horse, dog and chickens. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @strong_mommas.