We all expect professionals to have perfected their lives in their area of expertise. After all, teachers never make spelling mistakes, doctors never smoke, and fitness trainers never eat at McDonald’s, right?
We are all human. We just happen to know a little bit more about the fields we chose to specialize in. I specialized my career in pre- and postnatal fitness training, which led to an even deeper specialization (pun intended!) in functional pelvic floor training. But does that mean that I’ve always listened to my own education and advice?
So let me tell you a few things that I used to do that I would NEVER encourage you to do:
- I used to wear high heels ALL the time. And not just little kitten heels – nope, I rocked the 4” stilettos with pizzazz!
- I did NOT pay any attention to my core while I was pregnant with twins. In fact, I ignored it completely because I was “active” during my pregnancy
- I was very lazy about Kegels (not that they’re very effective anyway…but!)
- I started running 4 weeks post-twin-csection. Full-out running. 10min/mile, 30-35 minutes.
- When my incision hurt, I ignored it
- I did planks, sit ups, dead bugs, you name it…and guess what:
- When my incision hurt, I ignored it
- I started training for a duathlon when I was 10 months postpartum. When my incision AND my back hurt? I ignored it and pushed through the pain
- When my back hurt SO much that it was hard to get out of bed in the mornings, I would rock out a BodyRock strength circuit 3-4 days a week and run
Basically, I ignored my own training, knowledge, and understanding of the body. I fell into the trap of “feeling” strong, forgetting that a pretty appearance can hide horrendous cracks in the foundation.
And there were cracks. My functional core was destroyed by “feeling” strong. My pain tolerance was sky-high, but the threshold of feeling pain was very low. It took very little before I hurt, but I knew how to push through.
And I know many, many women (and men) who do this to themselves. We live in a world of high, high, high expectations regarding our physical performance and appearance. More, more, more, and now, now, NOW! The harder the better. If you aren’t sweating, you aren’t working, right?
Anyone who bought a house built in 2006 in Edmonton knows what I mean: beautiful houses shot up across the city at a rapid pace. But due to the demand, there wasn’t time to really build lifelong houses. They are slapped-together disposable properties which are starting to show their age because not enough time was spent on the foundation and framing.
Our bodies are the same way, especially after pregnancy. It takes A LOT of time to properly reintegrate the core and pelvic floor after pregnancy. Your 6-week check up determines whether or not your cervix is closed and your uterus has returned to its normal size. It is NOT an assessment of your pelvic floor recovery or your skeletal stability. That part takes weeks, months, and even YEARS to return to normal. Jumping in to high impact, high intensity training within the first 3 months after birth is about the same as walking into your physiotherapists office with your life-savings and offering it to their first-born child.
I know. I’m trying to put Laurie’s beautiful baby through college as we speak. It’s a long, tough, painful road to recover from my mistakes. All of those mistakes could have easily been avoided by practicing the fine art of Patience.
Patience, and pelvic floor training.
We all have our motivations that make it hard to sit still. For me, it was the 34 weeks of sheer hell, including 3 weeks in the hospital on strict bed rest. I needed to move to feel alive again. For some, it’s a fear of baby weight that stays forever. Some are motivated by the fear that their partners won’t find them attractive, or that their clothes don’t fit.
I’ll make a compromise with you today: shelve those fears and motivations for 12 weeks. Work on your pelvic floor and functional core strength, pack up your high heels and donate them to someone you don’t love, and go for walk every day. Hey, go for a swim even! I’d say go for a bike ride, but I don’t want any vaginal-birthing mamas to slap me Sleep well, eat well, drink lots of water. Once you’ve mastered that patience for 12-16 weeks, you can start running or CrossFit-ing, or whatever floats your boat.
Take the time to really build that foundation. Not only will it save your body now, but it will save your body for YEARS to come. Think of this as your clean slate: you can learn to do it right, or you can fix it later with much more wasted time and money. Right now, it’s free and the time is minimal. Later, it’s expensive, and you will have less time because you’ll spend an hour or two in your physiotherapist/chiropractor’s office, an hour at the massage therapist’s, and 2-3 hours of physical activity on top of your job, your family, and you life.
Not to mention the Depends and various anti-inflammatories you’ll be stocking up on. Who doesn’t love disposable underpants at age 35?? Whhheeeeee!
It’s not worth it. Trust me.
I used to do it.
We aren’t all perfect, but I hope that I can help you avoid the pitfalls of those of us who fell before you