Fitness

The pursuit of post-partum fitness in a pandemic

When the pandemic started in March 2020, confining us to the four walls of our homes, humanity collectively crawled through Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.

When we finally emerged from the tunnel of acceptance – the fifth stage, resigned and somewhat renewed, we started baking breads, home-schooling, allowing extra screen time, reading books, becoming master chefs shopping online and purchasing home workout equipment.

Many of us also started the “Pandemic Baby” trend and many others too jumped on that bandwagon swiftly. But Pregnancy, like fine wine, is best enjoyed amongst good company. “The Village” essentially means the family is needed the most in these nine months for both emotional, physical and moral support.

So when I, like many others, found myself having to swallow the bitter pill of my mother’s inability to enter Malaysia (my current country of residence) from India to be present for the birth of my second child, I felt crippled. After the initial shock wore out, one of the things that kept me sane was extricating myself from “ground zero” for an hour of fitness every day.

Any new mother will tell you that the road back to the pre-baby body is an uphill trek paved with sharp obstacles. When my elder son was born three years ago and blissfully pre-pandemic, a combination of a long daily gym routine involving strenuous HIITs, an incredible gym trainer who pushed me and made me do more than I ever thought I was capable of, the ability and time to stay the course with consistency and motivation to supplement that with healthy eating – all manifested in transforming me back to my fit self a paltry ten months post- delivery. I deployed the services of Fitness Pal – an app designed to keep you tethered to a certain number of calories every day. This app proved to be an important and instrumental tool in my weight loss journey. For the uninitiated, the app asks for daily entries of your food intake and displays the respective calorie count for each food item consumed. This allows you to plan the rest of your day’s meals beforehand and ensure that you stay within the calorie limit.

So, I felt quite confident about being able to replicate this weight loss program again and watch the scales drop with glee as quickly as before.

Life, of course, had other plans.

As the pandemic waged a war with our lives outside, my mind and my body were engaged in their own duel. While I was back to the home HIITs, the gyms were closed for many months and no trainer could be brought in. The Fitness Pal app has finally found its way back to the home screen of my smartphone but the consistency of its use often dwindles, unable to triumph over rushed diaper changes, mid-day sleep attacks, kindergarten routines and exhaustion induced by all of the above and more. My workout is often interrupted mid-way to tend to one crisis or another. This time I don’t have the luxury of ‘the village’ to lend helping hands unlike three years ago. The pandemic certainly made sure of that.

Nonetheless, the weighing scale seems to be pledging its loyalty despite all these hurdles and slowly but surely displaying a downward trend.

As any good trainer or fitness guru will tell you, the diet to exercise ratio in the entire weight loss effort is 80:20. With a toddler and a few months old baby in tow, there are bound to be days when time just isn’t on your side and the only workout you will get is putting the baby to sleep and dashing to get the groceries before he wakes up. In such a scenario, watching your diet and calorie intake for the day is crucial. I found new fruits and vegetables to toss around in salads and quick home-cooked meals though of course a cheat day or two subsists. The sugar intake has been cut down to almost negligible and the key to no junk food is no purchase of junk food. The second thing my trainer told me every single day was I needed to be patient.

In our impatience to bounce back, we often forget the magnanimity owed to the body for what it has just been through.

With six months already behind me and arriving now at the halfway mark, I still have ten kilos more to chase before I can fit into my entire wardrobe again. While it feels like a much bigger mountain to climb this time and a lonelier road leading to it, it dawned on me that I don’t have to compete with that body and those circumstances from three years ago.

That the speed of this weight loss journey is insignificant if I keep putting one exhausted foot in front of the other.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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