Get Your Body Back

Ingrid Romero shares her tips on how to ease back into shape after pregnancy

January 16, 2013
Get Your Body Back

I am very excited to be apart of the Fit Moms blog for Muscle & Fitness Hers! As a new mother of nine-month-old twin boys, Nicco and Gianni, I am asked a lot of questions. Here are a couple that I received daily:

Will my body ever be the same? This is a question that every single one of us has likely asked ourselves when thinking about getting pregnant, during pregnancy and after giving birth. When I found out that I was pregnant with twins, I remember thinking, OK, is my career in the fitness industry over? Will I ever be able to model again? What am I going to do without my passion? Will I get stretch marks? Will my tummy be ruined forever? Will I have time for myself and my career? I was so scared of the unknown. Millions of questions ran through my head.

Well, I am here to tell you that there is life after pregnancy! I am nine months postpartum, and I truly feel my body is better than ever before. My fitness and modeling career hasn't skipped a beat.

I was in good shape before I got pregnant, and I credit most of my quick “recovery” to that. I ate very clean and trained six days per week. Being healthy and in shape is not only good for you, but also for your baby. I was considered a high-risk pregnancy, so I was very limited in what I could do. I was put on bed rest at five months, which meant no exercise was allowed. So, I chose to focus on my diet. I kept my calorie intake under control and ate as healthy as possible. When I had cravings, I listened to my body. But I did not use these cravings as an excuse to let myself go. (I was too scared of the aftermath!) I gained 45 pounds during my pregnancy and thought my body would never be the same. I measured full term at only seven months, which forced me to have an emergency C-section.

After my C-section I had to wait eight weeks before going back to the gym. I was so anxious to get back at it, but was unsure what exercises I was allowed to do when I was finally able to make my return. Can I do abs? How much weight should I be lifting? So, I asked my doctors. They gave me very basic answers and left out some important information. For example, in some cases, performing exercises like crunches can actually do more harm than good. Why, you ask?

Well, you can make conditions like Diastasis Recti worse. This condition, prevalent in about 40% of all pregnancies, is a result of the abdominal wall being too lax. The right and left halves of your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) are separated by the midline fascia, also referred to as the linea alba. During pregnancy, the linea alba widens thins in response to hormones and the force expanding the uterus.

Abs exercises such as crunches can put more strain on the muscles and increase this separation. This can lead to that “mommy pouch” that many women complain about. So before you attack abs, you’ll want to make sure you do not have this condition. And if you do, you’ll want to first do corrective exercises to help close the gap in the abdominal wall.

Will my body react differently to foods after pregnancy? Unfortunately, some women will become bloated more often and feel as though their stomach distends more after a meal. Before I had children, it was rare that I would get bloated after a meal … unless, of course, it was a cheat meal. Now, I feel bloated more often. After a bit of research, I learned that it’s “normal” for the body to process certain foods differently after pregnancy, mostly due to hormonal changes. Personally, I can no longer drink protein shakes without becoming extremely bloated afterward. I also have to be very careful about the amount of food I eat. (My meals are much smaller postpartum.) If you’re having this issue, first figure out the foods that are causing the bloating (trail and error is the only way!), then eliminate or cut back. The good news is, for most women, this issue with bloat etc. does go away with time!

The keys to getting your abs back after pregnancy:

> Eat clean.

> Do corrective exercises, if needed.

>Get moving. After you get your doctor’s approval, slowly start to introduce abs exercises.

> Be patient. This is key. It took nine months for your abdomen to stretch to accommodate a baby (or two!), so it makes sense that it will take time to tighten back up. Be realistic and manage your expectations!

Ingrid Romero

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