It’s Time to Transform

Part I – Getting started

By Lindy Olsen

If you’ve ever tried to get into shape, you’ll know how hard it can be without the right information. But how do you know if you’ve got the ‘right’ information? There’s so much conflicting advice out there: so many diets, training programs and coaches telling you that their way is the best. Well, you can finally take heart and listen to some real-world advice from someone who’s been everything from fat, lean and ‘skinny fat’ to pregnant, lethargic, unmotivated and just downright CBF’d. (Hopefully I don’t have to explain that last acronym!) It’s time for me to get back in shape post-pregnancy, and I want you to come along for the journey. I’ll share with you my meal plans, exercise regimes and month-by-month progress. Why? Because whether you’re trying to lose baby weight, slim down or simply striving for a healthier lifestyle, I want to show you that you can still achieve all of the above without sacrificing your sanity with crazy workouts or your favourite treats along the way.

The pressure on so many of us these days is to get into great shape and stay there at all costs. On top of that, there are so many high-profile celebrity mums and self-proclaimed fitness ‘gurus’ snapping back into shape after pregnancy, putting the rest of us under pressure to do the same, and feeling pretty lousy if the treadmill doesn’t fit into our day. But is it realistic, or for that matter, even healthy to consider dieting down so quickly after pregnancy just to look a certain way? I’m pleased to say that there are many experts out there who say…

NO WAY! (… yippee!)

I love this advice from fitness trainer Sue Fleming, creator of the Buff line of workout DVDs including Buff New Moms:

"The worst thing a woman can do is try too hard to do too much too soon,” Sue says. “If you do, you're likely to find yourself exhausted and discouraged and less likely to continue, and you'll wind up carrying that baby weight a lot longer."

The news is even worse if you’ve had a C-section or are breastfeeding, as you should be consuming at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day while breastfeeding. If you eat less, you may be short-changing yourself and your baby. “You just can’t produce enough quality milk if you are not eating enough,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Somer RD, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy.

So many people attempt to get back into shape by using fat burners (some even while pregnant… don’t get me started!), crash dieting and stringent exercise programs – and this is not just limited to those trying to get back into shape after pregnancy! It’s almost criminal to see someone wanting to be lean all year round at the cost of their health; however, there are so many ladies (and men) out there who are guilty of doing this exact thing!

How do I know all of this? I was one of ‘those’ people until I learned some very hard lessons, all of which thankfully allowed me to understand the whole dieting thing better than ever! My life used to revolve around my next meal. This approach was definitely not healthy (not during comp prep either).  It created a severely distorted self-image and this fuelled my belief that I needed to diet to make any progress. Lets face it, bingeing and crash dieting was my speciality, and for a long time I couldn’t see my way out.  These days I’m SO pleased to say that there is a way to get in shape (without missing out on the foods you love) and keep in shape by being sensible about what you do.

It’s hard enough to start an exercise regime when your time is your own. Managing to fit the time in with a new baby around can be super tricky, but the good news is: if you schedule exercise and looking after YOU into your day, you’ll get where you want to go sooner than you thought you could.  It just means you need to make YOU a priority. Sometimes that can be hard, especially when you’ve got people who rely on you, a family to support and a partner to add to the equation. But you always have OPTIONS. For me, time is sparse, but getting back in shape is important, so I’ve decided to invest in healthy home-delivered meals from Fresh Meal 2 U, which means NO EXCUSES! Of course, not everyone has the option of having fresh meals delivered to their door, so over the coming months I’ll be outlining what each meal includes as well as the macronutrient values so you can create something similar and delicious in your own home! For those of you that do, you can easily replicate the meals I’ll be eating so it takes the guess-work out of meal planning. Bear in mind you MUST tailor what I’m doing to suit you, your body and your lifestyle. I’m lucky, I don’t have any allergies or intolerances, but if you do, make sure you modify your selections accordingly.

When it comes to exercise, the best thing to do is to start with some basic exercise, including short walks to help increase your circulation and give you a gentle workout. Getting outside can definitely help to improve your fitness as well as your mood, so get out and smell the roses as often as you can. Even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes each time, it’s a big step in the right direction. If you push too hard too soon, you can potentially cause more damage to your body than you realise, especially if it’s before your first post-natal check-up!

Let’s get started!

Try to build up to about an hour of continuous walking four to five days a week. Once you can walk comfortably for 20 minutes without needing to stop, start to increase your speed.

Wearing a heart rate monitor is a great idea as you can immediately see how hard you’re working – and whether you need to increase or decrease the intensity. Most Garmin heart rate monitors allow you to set higher and lower limits; they beep when you go above or below these limits so you can always be sure you’re exercising in the right zone.

To start off with, allow yourself to get a little out of breath, but not so much that you can't hold a conversation. This is a good guide if you don’t have a heart rate monitor right away. Not only will you be burning fat, it’s a great way to exercise your heart and lungs.
Above all, you need to find something that you ENJOY so you are motivated to keep doing it.

To get started on your nutrition, check out page 130 for a meal plan to suit your goals, and look out for Time to Transform Part II next issue!

Remember to believe in yourself, train hard, keep fit and LOVE life!

Lindy xx