Yes, this may sound shallow, but one of my biggest fears while I was pregnant and even after I had my baby was that I wouldn’t be able to get back in shape after the pregnancy. And I’m sure this is a common fear of many women, although they hesitate to say it publicly, because shouldn’t our biggest and only concern be that the baby is healthy?? My top priority was and still is that I have a healthy baby; I just also know that in order for me to be the best mama and wife I can be, I need physical activity. To me pregnancy was NOT a time to overindulge or set my awareness aside of what I was taking into my body and how I was consciously moving my body. Because of my background with exercise science, personal training and teaching group fitness classes with many moms who continued to teach and train for competitive fitness events up until the time they had their babies, I knew the human body was completely capable of challenging itself safely throughout the dynamic changes of pregnancy. At the time I became pregnant I was in some of the best shape of my life because of high-intensity cross-training, running, biking and the introduction of Adamantine® Yoga into my workout routine, which meant that I could continue to perform all of these modalities in the full or a modified context throughout my pregnancy. That being said, I did continue to use a combination of kettlebells, body weight strength training, walking, jogging and practicing a modified version of Adamantine® Yoga until the day my baby was born, which helped me to maintain a reasonable and normal weight gain during pregnancy. But the fear and anxiety of losing what I was gaining was still there…
Re-establishing a routine
I had my son during the winter that the phrase “Polar Vortex” was introduced into our vocabulary, and going outside to exercise or even to simply go to the gym, which didn’t have child care available, was not the most appealing idea with a brand new baby. So I did what I knew how to do—adapt to the circumstances. As soon as I was given the ok to do so, I began to check in with my body and experiment with moving through a modified version of my yoga practice, curiously adding in layers to find my new edge in each posture as my body allowed. I found that yoga was a gentle way to get some form of low intensity movement into my day so that I could feel a little better about being cooped up inside all the time and caring for a baby with colic. When I was given the ok to incorporate higher intensity exercise back into my life, I began to walk and occasionally jog outdoors when I could and use kettlebells to supplement my cardio work and build strength, so maybe only 2-3 times/week on a good week. I quickly discovered after returning to work full time that it wasn’t always possible to both practice my Adamantine® Yoga sequence and do some other form of exercise each day because of time constraints. This was hard for me to wrap my mind around. I had made the conscious decision before I got pregnant to practice yoga daily as a means of treatment for anxiety and stress because I had seen how much it helped relieve these symptoms when I did, so it was out of the question for me to not practice 5-6 days/week. Thus, I had to change my way of thinking; if I had time to for traditional exercise in my day, I would take the opportunity to be active, but if I didn’t, I had to accept that moving through my yoga practice was enough. I had to trust even more that everything was just as it should be. By the time I returned to work following leave, I was also back to moving through the full Adamantine® sequence that I had been moving through prior to my pregnancy and had lost nearly all of my baby weight. This was exciting because it was proof that my body was capable of so much more than I was giving it credit for.
Enough cardio & strength?
When my son turned 1, I was weighing less than my pre-baby weight and felt as though I was in just as good of cardiovascular shape as before. But I have to say that I didn’t achieve this through maintaining a traditional fitness routine; my Adamantine® Yoga practice has primarily been the driving force behind me finding my peak fitness level once again. Because of the added time commitment and limited resources I have for child care since stopping working full time for another organization to begin this business and stay home with my son, I have pretty much dropped most other forms of exercise, with the exception of walking and biking and maybe the very occasional short jog for fun. I do miss other exercise formats at times, but am quickly reminded what it does to my body and my practice when I re-introduce it into my life. For instance, I was recently on a cruise and decided to jump on the treadmill to see how my cardiovascular fitness stacked up with not having done much in the way of walking, biking or jogging recently. I try to get out once a week for a walk or walk/jog, but it doesn’t always happen this time of year. The results filled me with joy—I ran 3.5 miles at a consistent 8-9 minute mile pace with a slight incline set on the treadmill and had my heart rate back down to less than 130 within 90 seconds of finishing. And it honestly felt great to run like that! Now this may be too many numbers for some of you, but for those of you who had experience training and tracking your post-exercise heart rate recovery, this is pretty good! Especially for someone who intentionally trains with “cardio” exercise as little as I do at this stage in my life. But by that evening, my muscles were certainly screaming at me for all of the repetitive pounding I demanded of it that morning; which is to be expected because I am not used to that sort of training, but my practice also suffered. Is it worth it?
My primary strength training comes directly from my yoga practice and toting my 13-month-old around. I am confident that this is enough for me because my body is toned in a leaner way than it was before, and I am able to go deeper into postures than I was before because I don’t have the muscle mass that I had, yet I still have the strength I need to move through postures like handstand, firefly, and standing up and dropping back into wheel. Sure I’m not lifting as heavy of weights as I used to, but ultimately, it is all my body needs in the way of strength.
Adamantine means having the hardness or luster of a diamond
I must also disclose that during the first year of my son’s life I was also breastfeeding, which no doubt contributed partially to my weight loss (that I’ll hopefully be able to maintain), but with my experiment above and knowing that ultimately I don’t do much cardio training outside of my practice, I can easily attribute the majority of my current fitness level to a consistent and dedicated Adamantine® Yoga practice. I’m not saying that practicing only Adamantine® Yoga is what is best for everyone; different goals and starting points may require that some people do outside work on their body in addition to a yoga practice. But a year of re-developing a consistent, daily Adamantine® Yoga practice, dropping nearly all other forms of traditional exercise, and returning to a fitness level at or above a pre-pregnancy level is indeed proof that this sequence places adequate demands on the human body as a means of refining the whole self without causing pain and suffering.