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Hey Busy Mamas!
Have you ever woken up one day and just decided that you’ve had enough? You’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? You’ve had enough when it comes to your weight and your diet. Your energy is low and your clothes don’t fit. You’re still carrying around that extra 10 pounds (or more) from the last baby and surviving off your kid’s half-eaten mac n’ cheese sitting on the table from lunch. You’ve had enough of feeling overwhelmed by the demands of home and family, unable to take control of your personal life.
Oh, yes, and you’re about to try again for another baby.
That was me in the summer of 2016.
My third son was nearly two years old and I felt like I was merely surviving. I was incredibly tired from juggling the responsibilities of motherhood x 3, marriage, home life, and my job. I was walking around with baby weight I had accumulated over the course of two pregnancies (twins and a singleton), leaving me at the highest weight I’d ever been. There were aches and pains in places I didn’t know existed. My lower back hurt, my knees would sometimes feel sore, and overall, I just felt BLEH.
One day, while I was getting ready for church, I realized I had ONE pair of pants that fit me and a very small collection of shirts. Had my pants been in the wash, I would have been waving at my family half-naked from the window as they left for service.
Y’all, I HATE missing a chance to throw my hands in the air and worship God with my peeps.
I was done.
Right then and there, I decided enough was enough. I’d hit my personal rock bottom. This was ridiculous. The next morning I was going to wake up and start the training program that had been sitting inside the cabinets of my living room bookcase, collecting dust for almost three years. I was going to dedicate myself to getting fit and healthy. The right way. For good.
And I did.
That Monday morning, before the rest of the house was awake, before I really needed to be up for work, I dragged myself out of bed and got moving. I got out my free weights, popped in the DVD, and took a deep breath. I willed myself not to return to bed.
It was so, so, so, so hard.
But living the way I was living was harder.
At this point, Scott and I had already been discussing going back for our first frozen embryo transfer. We were waiting on God’s confirmation and timing, but we were pretty sure we were headed in that direction. Not only did I hate the way I felt, but I had an even bigger reason to start investing in my body and taking care of myself – I was about to head into another pregnancy unhealthy, unfit, and unprepared to mother four children with the little energy I had. This was serious. I was barely keeping up. Plus, I was no longer a spring chicken in the maternity world – with my next pregnancy, I would earn the distinguished status of “advanced maternal age”. Uggh.
I needed a total overhaul.
Many of you may be in the same place. You’re not at your best, although you wish you were. I know there are a wide range of ages out there, but I’m assuming that most of you beautiful ladies are in your thirties and forties since that is age range of most IVF-ers…and, like me, you’re starting to feel your age. Your body and energy isn’t what it once was.
Perhaps this year you’re thinking about having another baby, even currently taking the beginning steps toward your next FET (frozen embryo transfer). Or maybe you’re not planning to expand your family again just yet, but you’d like to get a jump start and get your body ready sooner rather than later. Whatever the case, bottom line, you want to stop feeling BLEH and start feeling awesome. You want to be fit and healthy, able to live life to the full for yourself and your family. You want to gain more energy, build confidence and strength of mind, and you want your next pregnancy to be even better than the last.
I hear you.
But to achieve this, you’ve got to have a plan. If you want to bounce back like a young 20-something mom and have the stamina for pregnancy and mothering other children at the same time, it’s going to take some work. You have to be intentional about preparing your body for a baby to take up residence again. You have to be intentional about your health so you can keep up with your kids and give them the vibrant, engaged mom they deserve. Above all, you have to be intentional for yourself.
(About to go through FET or already pregnant? Check out our free list of Top 10 Workout DVDs/Programs for a Fit & Healthy Pregnancy at the bottom of this post).
By following the steps below, I was able to get fit, lose 35 pounds, and keep it off for good. Subsequently, my pregnancy and recovery from baby #4 was the easiest I’ve experienced thus far. To top it off, I had the energy to tackle the newborn stage, the toddler stage, and the school-age stage in tandem. However, if I hadn’t been ready for it, or if I didn’t have a plan, I’m certain I wouldn’t have fared nearly as well.
So, if this sounds like you, please read on to learn how to get your body ready for your next baby. However, keep the following in mind – this worked great for me, but it may or may not be right for you – only you can determine that . But no matter what, I’m certain it will give you a solid place to start.
Are you ready?
Here we go.
1) Start early.
If you really want to get your body ready for your next baby, you have to start early. Give yourself at least six months to achieve your goals and allow your body to adjust to your new normal before trying to get pregnant.
Can you do this in a shorter time frame? Of course you can!
But give yourself a little wiggle room. Once you hit your goal, you need a little rest before all the pregnancy stuff hits. Your body will have been through a lot, perhaps a drastic change like mine, and it will need to gain equilibrium again. I lost 35lbs over the course of four months and waited another 2-3 months to start my FET cycle. I’m currently toning back up, losing the last few pounds of baby weight, and am still several months away from embarking on FET again.
2) Prepare your mind.
This might be the most essential step of the whole process. The path to success begins in your mind. Start speaking truth to yourself now. You can do this. You’re able, capable, and strong. You can overcome. You have the fight in you, the grit to get it done. You’re an amazing woman, able to achieve more than you know. Do NOT allow negative thoughts to enter your head (i.e. I’ll never reach my goal, I’m too tired to fit this in, I can’t push through, etc). If you do, you’ll have failed before you’ve even started. Yes, it’s hard to get your body ready for another baby, no doubt about it. There’s no magic formula here. You have to do the work.
Keep in mind, preparing your mind is not necessarily fast. It may take a little while (days, weeks, sometimes months). Give yourself the time you need to stand firm in your decision. Once your mind is ready and you’ve wrapped your head around what you’re about to do, then it’s time to get your game face on. There’s no going back.
Personally, if I’m having a particularly rough day and can’t seem to get myself going, I fill my mind with encouragement from God’s Word and reach for some uplifting essential oils by Young Living (peppermint is invigorating and my favorite for working out). Both can instantly boost my mood and confidence.
3) Know your WHY. Resolve to fight for it.
In order to properly get your body ready for your next pregnancy, you need to identify exactly why you’re doing this. Why now? What’s your reason for making a change? If you don’t know your WHY, you’ll lose the determination to keep going. Figure out what it is and resolve to fight for it. Don’t let anything stand in your way. Commit to change, commit to your program, and commit to a better you. My favorite definition of resolve is this: decide firmly on a plan of action – and then carry your plan to completion.
So, what are my WHYs?
- I want to be healthy, energetic, and properly care for myself. First and foremost, I do it for God and then for me.
- I want to be healthy for my baby before I even get pregnant. My desire is for an easier pregnancy and, hopefully, a natural delivery.
- I want to be healthy for my family. I want to be a vibrant mom and wife with strength of heart, mind, and body.
4) Mark your calendar and take the first step.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to include here. In order to continue on the path to success and get your body ready for another baby, you need to choose a program, choose a day, and start.
I was so over it on that Sunday that my start day was Monday. Luckily, I already had my program in place so I just had to resolve to do it.
Whatever day you choose, stick to it and begin. Whatever program you select, commit to seeing it all the way through. The first step will be hard, but it will became easier as you progress and develop a routine.
(This is also true once you become pregnant if you want to maintain your new body. Our Top 10 Workout DVDs/Programs for a Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is a great resource to find a routine you love. The list is available in our free resource library – get the password at the bottom of this post)
5) Get informed. Start with ONE small change.
Get informed and learn about how food and inactivity truly affects your body. There are plenty of informative sources on the market, but my favorite is Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels. It was a turning point for me. For the first time, I truly understood the damage I was doing to my body through the foods I ate and the inactivity I allowed in my life. Although it was a bit overwhelming, I took her advice to heart and slowly implemented her recommendations. If you haven’t taken the time to do something like this in the past, it’s an essential step to get your body ready to be the healthiest it can possibly be.
Once you’ve educated yourself in this area, start with one small change. Give yourself time to adjust slowly. The beautiful thing about small modifications over time is they tend to be lasting, permanent changes. Your goal will be to maintain these changes for good.
Here’s a few practical examples. Little by little, I revamped my kitchen and pantry and turned my eating habits around. I bought myself a food scale, measured my portions, and counted calories. I committed to 30 minutes a day for my workouts. At night, I made sure to get eight hours of sleep minimum. We even started buying organic food items that we use regularly and are known to be highly affected by hormones and/or pesticides (i.e. milk, eggs, meat, the Dirty Dozen produce, etc). Since organics can be more expensive, we started small with just a few items and expanded slowly.
(If you’re curious, visit Jillian’s blog post (How Many Calories Do You Burn in a Day?) to calculate how many calories you should be eating per day to lose weight and/or to maintain your current weight).
6) Go for maximum impact in minimum time.
You’re a super busy mom with less time to spare than ever before, so you have to make your time count. If you enjoy going to the gym and can fit it into your crazy schedule, more power to you! Keep it up. But if you can’t, don’t let that be an excuse. In order to get your body ready for another baby, or just get in shape in general, you’ll need to get creative and redefine how you approach exercise.
Go for maximum impact in minimum time, right in the comfort of your own home. You can get your workout done and immediately return to your life and keep going. Fit it in however you can and start crushing your goals. Make sure you find a program with proven results.
Again, my personal favorite, and what I used to lose all my weight, is another work of genius by Jillian Michaels. Even if you’re an avid gym lover, I highly recommend her Body Revolution weight-loss program. It’s a is a series of 15 DVDs that takes you through approximately three months of workouts which progress in difficulty as your body gets stronger. Each workout is roughly 35 minutes, including warm-ups and cool downs, and is jam packed with strengthening moves, sculpting, HIIT intervals, etc. This program begins with basic moves which is great if you’re starting from ground zero. It only requires a set of free weights, a cable, a small space in your home (living room, etc), and some sweat. If you don’t need a total overhaul like I did, Jillian has several other stand alone DVDs that get the job done well (I own almost all of them and love them!).
If you’re already a fit mama, but need workouts that are short and sweet, Jillian has another awesome program that follows Body Revolution called Body Shred. Its 8 weeks and starts off at a moderate level of fitness. The workouts follow the same style – 35 minutes, hand weights, and a cable. It’s intense. By the time I started Body Shred, I was pretty fit. Still, I was significantly challenged, especially near the end – there were several moves I wasn’t able to master!
7) Be realistic – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Give yourself grace.
It can be highly frustrating to work hard and not see immediate results. I totally understand – but you must be real with yourself. It’s going to take time to get your body ready and begin to notice the fruits of your efforts.
Stick with it and persevere.
And don’t wait until the end to celebrate – congratulate yourself along the way as you accomplish small goals. Realize you’ve already won the battle simply by showing up. And if you miss some days, cheat on a meal, or get thrown completely off course by illness, don’t panic! You haven’t ruined anything. Give yourself grace. Life happens. Just pick up where you left off.
8) Listen to your body.
This is an important one. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When you’re trying to get your body ready for another baby, its easy to push yourself too hard. Challenge yourself, but know your limits. This is true for your diet and exercise program.
If something feels too difficult, modify, slow down, or decrease your weight. You will absolutely still see results. The last thing you want to do is set yourself back several weeks because you pulled a muscle or overdid it. When it comes to your diet, don’t be so strict with your calorie counting that you don’t allow yourself to enjoy special occasions. You should. Its ok to break the rules now and then without significantly affecting your progress.
Last, and most importantly, pay close attention to your body processes. After I reached my goal weight and was on a maintenance plan, I didn’t even notice that my periods had stopped. I was the lowest weight I’d ever been, fit and toned, feeling great, and completely adapted to my new lifestyle – but I’d actually surpassed the mark where my body was balanced and in equilibrium. Instead of being overweight, now I was underweight. Once it dawned on me, I slowly increased my calories and tailored down my workouts until my periods returned.
The moral of the story is this – listen to your body, ladies!
Once you hit your goal, it’s time to pull back the reigns. You’ve made it! At this point you need to increase your calories back up to maintenance level. You can also scale back your workouts a bit. You’ve laid the groundwork, established a solid foundation, and you’ll reap the benefits throughout your pregnancy. I upped my calories by about 350-400 per day in order to maintain my new weight and dropped to 4 workouts per week. I was able to easily stay there through our FET cycle. Once I became pregnant, I increased my calories accordingly and modified my workouts to fit my changing body.
(Want to maintain your new body throughout pregnancy? Our list of the Top 10 Workout DVDs/Programs for a Fit & Healthy Pregnancy includes everything I used to stay fit, and more! Access the list at the bottom of this post.)
When you’re ready to start working out again postpartum, it will be significantly easier to pick up your healthy habits and get your body ready for the next chapter of your life. As long as you continue to be moderately active and eat (mostly!) right before, throughout, and after pregnancy, you should find that maintaining your new body is relatively easy.
10) Live in your new normal.
This is the new you – your body is ready! Now, it’s time to learn to live here…and, honestly, as strange as it sounds, it can be tough to adjust to. You’re no longer on a diet and no longer doing a weight loss program. You’re no longer striving towards a goal that, at one time, may have seemed impossible and insurmountable.
You may worry that you’ll fall back into old habit patterns and gain the weight back. I understand – when I went shopping for new clothes, I was almost scared to invest the money in a new wardrobe. I had to learn to accept my new body and remain confident that I could keep it long term.
It may take you a little while to relax when it comes to your diet and exercise program, but over the course of a few months, you’ll learn how to go about life as usual in your body with your new habits. When you see yourself in the mirror, you’ll see “you”, not you “on a diet” or you “trying to lose weight” or you “trying to get healthy”. You’ll be comfortable in your own skin and used to living a healthy lifestyle. You’ll just feel like you.
So, my sweet friends, I hope this has given you some inspiration and/or ideas on how to get your body ready for your next baby or just get in shape like you’ve always wanted to. As we part today, just remember, you are strong and beautiful just the way you are – but you’re capable of more than you give yourself credit for. In all that you do, just take it a day at a time and put one foot in front of the other.
You’ve got this!
Our Top 10 Workout DVDs/Programs for a Fit & Healthy Pregnancy
Get the password for our Resource Library with our list of workouts/programs you can try right now to have a fit and healthy pregnancy by filling out the form below:
P.S. If you need support or guidance as you consider your choices with your embryos, please join our private FB community, Leftover Frozen Embryos Support Group. Here, we talk in real time with other parents about the difficulties of living life with leftover frozen embryos and the options we have moving forward. You can also join our email list to receive support, encouragement, and updates on new content and our personal journey.