My Postpartum Health and Fitness Plan
About 4 weeks ago I started a very light return to exercise. I was inspired by Rachel Parcell’s postpartum fitness journey using the sweat app, and was motivated to start moving my body again. I’ve used the HIIT programs in the Sweat app years prior, but I knew my body was not ready for anything high intensity. Normally, when I get on a health kick, I go all or nothing and quickly burn out or I’m too sore to continue working out. So I knew I wanted to do things differently this time around, especially considering what my body has been through the past year being pregnant. I wanted to take things slowly so I trained my core correctly and not be so painfully sore.
I also knew I needed to find something that was quick and doable with my busy new mom routine. It sometimes feels impossible to give yourself 30 minutes to work out when you have to sacrifice something else from your time, but it’s important to prioritize your health first. I know I could have come up with workouts myself, but I knew that would be a potential barrier having to think through what I should do that day. With the SWEAT app, I don’t have to think about it and just push start and I’m done with the workout before I know it.
You can try a free trial of the SWEAT app here (not sponsored)
The Sweat app has a lot of different workout programs, but I’m specifically starting with the postpartum program.
It’s honestly perfect for anyone just starting a workout routine, not just for women post-pregnancy. It focuses on core strength, and the workouts are very quick. Each workout starts with a warmup, then you complete 3 exercises, repeat them, then 3 new exercises, repeat for a second set, then end with a cool down/ stretch. The first week was very easy, but I still felt accomplished sticking to the routine and they have progressively gotten more challenging, but totally doable. I haven’t felt sore after any of the workouts so far. I take my time completing each rep and always focus on engaging my core with each exercise. It’s so important to do each exercise slowly and purposefully or else you will naturally compensate with larger muscles or momentum.
I typically do the strength workouts 3 times a week, with two cardio days in between. Usually, I try to get in a 30-minute Peloton ride or we go for a family walk… but the walks have been more challenging to get in with it getting dark earlier. There are also optional workouts and recovery workouts in the program, but I only do those half the time.
My motivation to start this isn’t because I want to lose the baby weight.
I’m actually motivated to make this lifestyle change because of the ongoing high blood pressure issues I developed at the end of pregnancy that’s stuck around now 4 months postpartum. I’m sure losing the extra weight will help, but I really want to get off the BP meds so I’m also making a diet change, too. I also think my diet contributes to anxiety because I’ve become much more aware of how I feel after eating certain foods, and meals that have a lot of sodium (Chick Fil A) or processed foods will make me feel floaty, anxious, or tired.
This diet change is also something I’m easing into. Because just like working out, I go very all or nothing and I want to make sure I’m protecting my milk supply and also not treating it like a strict restrictive diet. I recently re-read the book How Not To Die, which sounds very intense but it’s honestly a great book about how to reverse the 12 most common causes of death in the US with diet. I specifically paid attention to the High Blood Pressure chapter and incorporated some of the recommendations such as adding flaxseed, beet juice, and obviously lower sodium into my diet.
It’s a plant-based focused book, but it has some really great and straight to the point facts to really help motivate you to change up your diet. In addition to that, I’m just trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Like I said this is a slow change, but I’m really starting to pay closer attention to the labels on foods and looking for additives and processed foods. It’s crazy how much crap is in our food in the US, and honestly frustrating because it doesn’t need to be… it’s what’s contributing to so many health crises in the country. I know with time, it will get easier to find substitutions and have new fun recipes that are healthier, so I’m looking forward to that!
Tim and I started drinking a green smoothie each day and it’s a simple way to get in nutrients. I found this recipe from Southern Curls and Pearls, and we tweaked it to make it work for us. We use the Vitamix (found it on sale here) to blend it all together. I highly recommend it for smoothies because it gets them so smooth. We don’t even have the most expensive model and it was a huge upgrade compared to the Ninja blender we used prior.
Healthy Green Smoothie Recipe
2 cups water
1 TBSP flaxseed
1-1.5 inch piece of peeled ginger
1/4 TSP turmeric
2 handfuls of spinach
1 granny smith apple
2 celery stalk
1 cup frozen mango
1 frozen banana (skin off)
I’ve been loving my Spanx Booty Boost leggings during postpartum. They are much more slimming, but not uncomfortably tight than my usual go to lululemon leggings. Don’t forget you can use code AMANDAJOHNxSPANX for 10% off anything on the site. Below I’m rounding up some of the workout gear I use for the SWEAT app. I would say the only thing you really need is the foam roller and the bands, everything else you can modify! I use our stairs instead of getting a step for example.
Random, but do you know what’s funny? When I first started my blog in 2013 I actually posted weekly workouts every Wednesday. I used to be very into fitness and worked out hard almost daily in Physical Therapy school. After I graduated and started working full time that phase ended and ever since I haven’t really been super active other than when I was doing Pure Barre a few years ago. Just funny to think how much changes through the years!