When everyday life kicks in and my daily routines become more predictable in September and October, the plan is to bring more physical focus to my body. I haven’t decided on the type of exercise or any special regime that I think would be good for me – I just know I have to do something.
I’m basically in decent shape, but my body is feeling the effects of two pregnancies in a short period of time and it needs help to recover. Both for the body’s sake but also for my sake. I need to prioritize myself, and it’s the old saw about putting on your own oxygen mask on the plane before helping others. I have to do something for myself so I can also be there for other people.
There are some new mums who throw themselves into loads of exercise just after giving birth. I’m not that type. I know that my body will not benefit from it. You’re also filled with all these hormones when breastfeeding, which make the joints and the body soft, so I don’t think hard exercise is healthy. At least not for me. After my pregnancy with Isolde, I went back too fast and furious into exercising, and I actually ruined my abs. I developed what is known as a “Toblerone tummy”, where the abdominal muscles that separate during pregnancy when the tummy is enlarged do not reconnect. The hard exercise exacerbated the opening and my muscles are still open. Now I’m working on it with a very special form of abdominal training, but the experience has taught me that I should take things a little easier than I might like.
You might say that I’m fortunate because I’m really losing weight as a result of breastfeeding. In fact, almost too much. So weight is not an issue for me, and it’s not why I’m going to embark on a fitness regime. I have to do it to become strong again and regain my good posture.
Right now I’m doing a little (too little) exercise with an elastic band on the floor, to slowly build my body up from the inside before I get started with the tougher stuff. But the slow pace – I don’t even break a sweat – really doesn’t suit my temperament. I want to do really hard yoga, crazy water skiing and run 20 km. I want to do everything I shouldn’t and that’s proving to be a bit of a challenge for me. Slow workouts just don’t motivate me.
I like to get into shape through play-type activities, and I don’t feel comfortable in a gym. Although I’d probably think that cross-fit is really fun, it’s just too tough for me and my body right now. And another thing: I don’t want to look like a man. In fact, I would rather weigh one kilo too much – sexiness is more important than looking ripped. At least for me.
My body hasn’t really changed that much after my two pregnancies, but it certainly has in one place. A lot. In the way that my arse has become infinitely flat. I’ve always had a round arse – with fullness – but it’s really flat now, totally tired. I can feel it when I walk – it’s just slack. It’s simply a question of retraining it, so I’m not stressing myself about it. But it’s on the list.
And of course, I’ve noticed a change in my abs. The muscles are separated and very open. It makes me feel vulnerable – mostly in my head, but I feel better when I’m strong and in physical control. So I’ve started doing targeted training at a specialist and I’m not worried. The muscles will be strong again.
It takes time and a lot more work to get the body into shape when it’s 40 years old than when it was 20. Rebuilding muscle takes longer and the connective tissue behaves differently when it’s 40. I don’t mind ageing and it’s not my goal to look like a 20-year-old again, but I really regret not appreciating my young body more when I had it. Those 20-year-old breasts – I certainly could have been a little more proud of them.
So the plan is to strengthen my body this autumn. I just don’t know which type of exercise to choose, which regimen to throw myself into – so I’m happy to listen to suggestions and experiences.
With love, Andrea