My doctor gave me the go-ahead to start doing sit-ups and ‘return to my previous level of activity,’ though warned me to take it slow. I agreed with her, while secretly counting off the number of weeks I had left before I started teaching Belly Dance classes again.
I started with 10 crunches a day for a week and then went up to 15, then 20 and 25 within the following weeks. I continued my 3-4 minute yoga sessions in the middle of the night (while up with the twins—not because I choose to sacrifice sleep for fitness; sleep is my favorite health regimen) and tried to spend a few minutes every day drilling one or two dance movements, while brushing my teeth or before getting dressed. In order to blend my little fitness tricks into my life, I had my preschooler count the crunches for me.
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As I began to recover some of my muscle tone and re-familiarize myself with my body, I noticed the need for increasing not just my flexibility and stamina but strength as well. With up to 12 pounds of baby in my abdomen and an excess of fluid in my legs and feet, my posture—no surprise—was all off. My latest fitness goal is to learn how to stand and walk again, without any pain in my lower back. So not only am I doing exercises to strengthen my abdominals, but stretches and squats to build up my thighs and my rear end.
At the end of week 8, I took an hour and a half yoga class at Yoga Fusion to take stock of where my fitness level stood. I had to modify the class, cutting many of the sequences in half, and hanging out in child’s pose much of the time, but I managed not to cripple myself. While the instructor, Bliss German, had the rest of the class doing headstands and abdominal exercises with a partner, I rested and took pictures for my article. She told me that I shouldn’t be doing any abdominal exercises at all (aforementioned sit-ups included) until at least 3 months postpartum. The reason for the wait, she said, was because my stomach muscles were so stretched, they wouldn’t be working properly, and I would end up straining something. That would explain the pain in my lower back. In hopes of strengthening my abdominals and back, I was only doing harm to both. My impatience was doing more harm than good.
So I cut out all the preschooler-counted sit-ups, continued to stretch, rest and walk a little here and there. I managed to squeeze in a couple of walks—one at 2 miles with the twins in their stroller and one a mile, just me and my ipod. There was still a bit of middle of the night yoga—and the squats were getting easier.
I took another hour-long walk with sleeping (mostly) babies in the double-wide stroller by my tenth week and hope to keep up the 2 walks per week through the fall, which will be great not only for my legs, but also for my sanity. I get to double to relaxation and escape-factor with a book on my ipod—perfect for combination fitness freak and book fiend.
I’ve lost 45 pounds so far, and can now see my ankles and knees. I’ve got 10 more pounds to lose and need to tighten up the spare tire circle on my waist. Wait– what waist? Sigh…