Tenacity, Determination, Discipline.

Day 19.  National Blog Posting Month.

So, I am really doing this thing.  I set out at the beginning of the month to write a post every day and I am doing it.  I’m not all that surprised though, to be honest.  Usually when I set out to do something, I do it.

I did it with running.  A year or two ago, I never, ever would have thought I’d embrace this running culture.  I recall seeing runners on the street, with their 3-4 little water bottles strapped to their back and their fancy clothes and would think, “Why would someone want to do that?”  Despite have some girlfriends who are runners (who yes, I thought were pretty nuts for running 1/2 marathons), it wasn’t something I felt I could ever do. Back when my husband and I were dating, I remember going out for a “run” with him on Saturday afternoon.  His idea of running is a very leisurely jog in the neighborhood.  I don’t think I lasted more than a few minutes, despite the fact that I had been working out regularly at the gym at the time.  There certainly wasn’t anything “fun” about it.

Then during the spring of 2012, right after my son turned 1, I remember chasing my daughter across a field and getting completely winded afterwards. So winded in fact, that I almost felt like throwing up.  It was a huge eye-opener for me.  I was ridiculously out of shape.  I wasn’t overweight, sure I had an extra 10 pounds or so from my pre-baby weight, but by no means was I “fat”.  I was just really, really de-conditioned.  So, for a few months I debated joining a gym.  I started doing some home workout DVDs but it just wasn’t enough.  Husband suggested that I start running – it’s cheap, it’s quick and I could do it right after work.  In early July, 2012, my girlfriend invited me to her “boot camp”.  I decided to go.  It was a painful 3km run and I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward, but I was hooked.

My husband was really proud of me for not only starting to run, but keeping up with it.  Though he said he wasn’t at all surprised — he has always said that I have a tremendous amount of tenacity, determination and discipline.  I suppose he is right.  After all, I decided at the age of 13 that I wanted to be a physician and nothing stood in my way of reaching that goal.

So as I get back into this running thing, I ask myself what I want to accomplish with my running.  Right before I got pregnant, I was just meters away from running 10 kilometers.  I think that is a reasonable goal to strive for, but baby steps first.  I don’t want to risk injury, nor do I want my breast milk supply to suffer.  I don’t plan on nursing past 6 months as I will be returning to work.  It will be spring when I go back and I think it would be great to be able to get my runs in right after work – it is a very convenient 5 km straight stretch from the office to home.

So, goal #1 – be able to run 5 km by March, 2013.

Goal #2 – physical (ie. respiratory) endurance.  Despite getting close to the 10 km distance, I wasn’t quite able to run a solid 10-20 minutes and that is something I would like to change.  I ran once, a year ago, for a solid 20 minutes but wasn’t able to repeat that feat.

Goal #3 – toning and weight loss.  I was in great shape when I got pregnant last winter and I would love to get back there again, which means I have about 25 lbs (yikes!!) to lose and about 12 inches in total to trim (from hips, thighs and waist).

Wow.

Seeing it in writing makes it so real and so daunting.  But you heard it here first.  I am committed to staying healthy and fitting back into those damn Guess jeans that I own.  Come hell or high water!

Guess Jeans

Tenacity.

Determination.

Discipline.

But first, I need to throw out every single piece of Hallowe’en chocolate in my house.

The Day After.

Day 9.

I hurt everywhere.

Neck, upper back, lower back, abdomen, thighs, calves, even my feet. Everything is stiff today.  Muscles I haven’t used in 10 months are screaming at me, “What have you done to us???”

I know it’ll get better.  I also know tomorrow will be worse. It always hurts more on the second day.  It’s all worth it though, right?  Right?

I am probably deluding myself, but I feel a millimeter more toned today than I did yesterday.  Seriously.

The next step on this path to a righteous body (lol!) is to cut out the chocolate.  I’ll let you know how I do on that front in another post.

Now then, where is that bottle of Advil?

Back in the saddle!

Day 8 of NaBloPoMo.

It’s been 263 days since I went for a run.  263 days of sitting on my ass, eating countless buckets of ice cream, chocolate, Twizzlers, oh and gestating a human being (well, that’s more like 200 days).  263 days of weight gain (yes, yes, I was pregnant), but now that that’s all done, I have 20 lbs to shed.  I don’t intend on losing it too fast as I still want to continue nursing.  I just feel out of shape, in more ways than one, and it was time to saddle up!

So, I woke up this morning determined to do one thing – go for a run.  I told husband early that this was the plan.  I slowly got ready while the baby slept.  I ate some breakfast with the kids, had my morning cup of coffee [wink, wink] and got dressed. 

This is when it first starts getting depressing.  My running pants are snug.  My sports bra was tight, but I was wearing it on top of my nursing bra for extra support, so that was to be expected. Finally, the running shirt. Ugh.  Tight, ill-fitting and showcased the “muffin top”.  Oh, you don’t know what a muffin top is?  Go google it!  I am NOT publishing a picture. 

The baby woke up, I fed him and handed him off to daddy.  I kissed the kids goodbye (both are home sick today) and off I went.  count

The first minute was a brisk walk.  I used the MapMyRun app on my phone.  I have it set to tell me the minute intervals. At 2 minutes, I started running at my usual pace and a minute in, I was huffing a bit.  It’s about 3 degrees Celsius today, and a bit windy, so my chest started to burn.  I ran through it and at 4 minutes, back to a walking pace.  I continued this interval for about 20 minutes and 2.52 km.  When I got home, I was quite winded but it took only a few minutes to recover.  I did some yoga stretching, a few sit-ups, and I was done.  Done like dinner.  I suspect I will be quite sore tomorrow, but I think it’ll be worth it.

The Time Has Come.

This week I had my 6 week postpartum checkup.  She gushed over my son and checked my incision.  Really, it was just a formality.  I did ask one specific question:  When can I start exercising?

And the answer I wanted to hear, I got – I am good to go.

Great!  Now the pressure is on!

My goal is to be able to run the 5 km home from the office by the time I return to work, in March.  A tall order for someone who has sat on her, well you know, for the past 10 months. Sigh … where to begin?

I guess the first thing to do is to get some muscle tone back, there’s quite a bit of flab going on, to be honest.  I know, I know, I just had a child so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  The initial plan was to start going for walks and I think that’s a good place to start.  The baby loves to be in a carrier, so taking him out for walks is good for him, as well as for me (he’s almost 10 lbs now, so the extra weight I’m carrying offers increased resistance, right?).  As much as I’d love to get out there and start running, the last thing I need is to do too much too soon and risk an injury. I think it’s also important to get some flexibility back – I started doing some gentle yoga stretching a few days ago.

The other concern I have is the impact exercise will have (if any) on breastfeeding, or more specifically, my milk supply.  A quick Google search came up with a few hits from the usual suspects:  La Leche League, (I found this great article on Postpartum Fitness from the La Leche League), KellyMom, BabyCenter.  The general consensus from these sites is that exercise doesn’t affect breast milk supply, though go to any “mom forum” and you might read differently.  I have personally heard from some friends that exercise did in fact, affect their supply.

So, I decided to do a little bit of research, because really, what else have I got to do these days?

A Google Scholar search came up with this study from 1994, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Thirty-three women, all exclusively breastfeeding and 6-8 weeks postpartum were randomly assigned to an exercise group or a control group (no exercise).  The exercise group were supervised and did aerobic exercise at 60-70% of maximum heart rate for 45 minutes, 5 days a week for 12 weeks.  Energy expenditure, dietary intake, body composition and the volume and composition of breast milk were assessed.  The results showed that aerobic exercise 4-5 times per week, beginning 6-8 weeks postpartum had no adverse effects on breast milk supply and significantly improved the cardiovascular fitness of the women.  Interestingly, the rate of weight loss was not different between the two groups.  Bearing in mind that the study size was quite small, it’s encouraging to see that exercise didn’t appear to affect a woman’s milk supply.  The article also goes on to discuss the importance of keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise, as well as keeping one’s caloric intake up to support breast-feeding. While weight loss is of course the eventual goal, it is important for me at least, to recognize that this probably won’t happen as quickly as I’d like since I do continue to keep nursing.  In the long run, that’s not so much a concern as I know my body and it naturally reverts back to what it knows (at least, I hope it does this third time!).

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada published a joint Clinical Practice Guideline with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology in 2003, titled “Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best method of providing optimal nutrition, immunologic- based protection, and emotional nurturing for the growth and development of infants.51 Therefore, exercise frequency and intensity should not interfere with a mother’s ability to breastfeed. Although exercise does not negatively affect milk production or composition,52–54 lactic acid has been shown to be increased in the breast milk of women exercising at maximal intensity, but not in those exercising at moderate level.55–58 There is controversy as to whether this short-term increase in lactic acid makes the breast milk less palatable to the nursing infant.55,56, 58–61 Mothers who find that their baby does not feed as well right after exercising may consider feeding the baby right before exercising (which may also make the breasts more comfortable during exercise), postponing feeding until 1 hour after exercising, or expressing milk prior to exercising to be used after exercising. The growth of breastfeeding babies of exercising women is normal, even for the infants whose mothers are losing weight as part of their exercise regimen.53

RECOMMENDATION 6

Women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth. (I-A)

Well, that’s good enough for me.

The other “mom forums” also had a few good suggestions, like nursing before exercising.  This makes complete sense to me – a well-fed infant will sleep while mommy goes out for a run!  The other suggestion I read was taking baby with you – ie. in a carrier while going for a brisk walk, or using a jogging stroller!  Brilliant!  We happen to have a Chariot and husband has been talking about buying the jogging handle attachment, though I’m not sure how we’d fit three kids when it seats only two?  Hmm … might have to think about that one a bit.

In any event, it appears I have no excuse not to get started.  There is a pair of Guess jeans that are desperately waiting to be worn again, and LOTS of left over Hallowe’en chocolate that is taunting me.

Get ready. Get set. Go!