The Shape of Things

This is my before picture. Once a week I will post a progress picture until I get to an after picture.
Since I’ve been at it for a few weeks now, I thought I’d share my progress on getting back in shape. Getting back in shape after having two babies over the course of 3 years is hard work. In fact, I was only really starting to get back in shape from the Bear when I found out I was pregnant with the Cub. So while I was taking a few steps forward, I took one giant one back. Isn’t that always the way of things? BTW, the photos in this post were taken at the beginning (top), three weeks in (middle), and then another 2-3 weeks (bottom)
Weekly #gymselfie fitting comfortably in smaller size jeans, posture is better, butt is sitting higher
Anyway, getting back into shape can mean very different things to different people. For me, it means I want to build muscle, lose fat, get rid of the deflated balloon that has taken over my midsection, and fit into my old clothes (and finally buy some new ones). Getting back into shape is not me having a fight with the scale or starving myself or trying crazy diets. When I’m hungry, I eat, even if it’s at 9 PM. If I’m thirsty, I drink water. I don’t skip meals or food groups, but over the course of the last few years I have definitely changed my eating habits by eating less packaged and processed food by making most things at home and eating more vegetables. Still, I love butter and sugar, and turning them into cakes and cookies, just not all the time. I’m not trying to get a thigh gap. Frankly, I think I would feel really weird if my thighs didn’t touch, my body wasn’t built that way and I’m glad. Getting back into shape means that I go to the gym most days, and when I can’t go I work out at home and do my best to spend a good portion of the day on my feet and moving around.
For me, this is about being healthy. It’s not about hating my body and beating it into submission, which I think is how a lot of women feel when they think about weight loss. Oh but wait, I haven’t said anything about weight loss, I’ve said I want to build muscle and lose fat, and that I think is key. I am not concerned with the number on the scale as much as I am with the number on the tape measure when I put it around my waist every couple weeks. In this game of numbers, the scale is usually your worst enemy. In fact, in the 5 or 6 weeks that I’ve been exercising regularly, I’ve only lost a few pounds, but I’ve taken two inches off my waist, which is significant and far more motivating than saying I lost ten pounds, but still being super jiggly. If you look at the photos you can see that my midsection has come in and will continue to come in not because I’m running a marathon every day, but because I am approaching the deflated balloon with a two pronged attack: 1) carving out the muscles underneath while 2) whittling off the layers of fat on top.
In case you thought I'd quit. #motivationalgymselfie

What’s working:

Kettlebells! I love working with kettle bells because they challenge my whole body, improve my posture, and make me feel stronger each time I pick them up. I’ve been trying out this sequence for my upper body and am noticing improvement in just a few sessions. (Seriously, though, Nicole’s whole blog is awesome)

Pilates. Again, I like pilates because I can do them at home and they help me pull in my middle and stand up a little taller.

Cutting back on sugar. Between the end of my pregnancy and the holidays I acquired a big sugar addiction. This isn’t to say I was sitting around eating 5 or 6 cookies a day, but I definitely was helping myself to a little something sweet after lunch AND dinner. I decided for Lent I would give up dessert, and the first few days have been tough. I definitely feel that I need something sweet after meals, even though I totally don’t.

Paying attention to inches and not pounds or even calories. Like I said above, getting into shape is a total numbers game, so it’s important to focus on the right ones. I do weigh myself regularly, but it’s only part of the equation. Since muscle is more dense than fat, as I have built back muscle while losing fat the scale numbers haven’t budged much but the tape measure has. Also, as long as I’m making sure to eat well, I’m not sitting around calculating my day around every last calorie. This blog post does a great job of explaining how women have become calorie obsessed and why we really shouldn’t be.

What I want to start incorporating:

Running: I enjoy running, but I need to get a bit smaller before I can start back at it so as not to add undue stress to my knees.

The rowing machine: These are great for working the whole body, I just need to start making time for it when I go to the gym.

More strength training: Now that I feel myself getting stronger, the weight section of the gym is a lot less intimidating.

I know that this is a process, and it will take time. I know that there will be plateaus, and frustration, and times when I just can’t put in as much effort as I want to. But sharing my story here has been a big help. I can’t wait to share more of this journey with you. I’d also love to hear about your own fitness stories and what’s been working for you.

xo, S.

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