Returning to Running After a Baby

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Today my third and final baby is five months and I decided to celebrate by going out on my first long run since before he was conceived. It was 6 miles and it took me an hour and five minutes to complete, so no need to contact the good people at Guinness just yet. It was tough and I walked a bit, but I’m mega pleased with myself. My mind is clear after having had a chance to have some uninterrupted thoughts and I feel lighter for having done something without the baby.

At this point in my recovery it’s all about function; did my core feel like it was struggling to hold my insides in? No. Did my pelvic floor feel like it was impersonating a mini trampoline? No. Did I feel any pressure pushing down? No. Did I wet myself? No (isn’t motherhood majestic?) This to me is a big post natal win, but it hasn’t come naturally and I’ve had to focus on gentle, targeted, paced out exercise and movement to get me to this point.

IMG_7058.JPGLet’s rewind.

In 2010 when I was around 5 months pregnant with my first baby I noticed my abdomen doming whenever I sat up, forming a central ridge. At first I dismissed it and put it down to strong core muscles reshaping due to my expanding bump and relatively low body fat.

Lots of research and three babies later I now know that this was the early stages of Diastatis Recti (split abs).

Post birth the doming continued, my core was incredibly weak and my back ached. When I lied on my back and felt my stomach there was a four finger gap between my abdominal muscles that run down the full length. Where there had previously been counter pressure of muscle tone when I pushed down, my fingers now disappeared deep down into abdominal cavity, particularly around my belly button. It was scary but my GP shrugged it off as having had a baby.

The separation of the abdominal muscles also meant that one year postpartum, and despite having lost a significant amount of baby weight, I still had a tummy pooch that was affecting my self esteem and the type of clothing I could confidently wear.

I researched and found an online exercise programme specifically designed for women suffering with postpartum issues like Diastatis Recti and the related pelvic organ prolapse (POP) called MuTu designed by Wendy Powell. Let’s just say that the things I learnt about my post baby body, the reasons for my conditions and how to safely repair them, have transformed my healing process after my second and third baby. Taking things slowly, working on strengthening my core, adjusting my alignment, have got me to the place where I can run 6 miles after delivering an 8.5lb baby only 5 months ago. Whilst others may be looking to have bikini bodies by this point, I’m feeling pretty darn grateful and chuffed to bits with my progress.

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My Minimalistic Summer Wardrobe

 

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Blue and White Capsule
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Black and White Summer Capsule
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Black and White Beach Capsule

Since my last post I’ve been busy curating (wanky I know) my minimal summer wardrobe after giving birth to my third and final baby five months ago. I had previously cleared some space in the wardrobe (see previous post: ‘The Big Purge’ for details) and was ready to add easy to wear essentials, coordinate colours and accessorise my surviving clothes. My aim this summer was to create two to three capsules using black, white and navy blue as neutral base colours. I have learnt to filter searches when online shopping to the colours within my capsule and to pick items that would diversify multiple outfits in one swoop.

I already owned a number of basic jersey T’s and plain vest tops in these colours so I worked around these, adding stripes, prints, shoes and jewellery. Carrying extra weight this year I wanted to restrict the amount of trousers / shorts I bought and kept those that I did purchase basic and versatile (a bit of an elastic waist was also appreciated); my £8.99 stonewashed denim shorts from ASOS have been well worn already this season. I’m also breastfeeding so needed to select items that were loose and could easily be hitched up or unbuttoned with abandon.

Although not a jewellery person I added a few minimal items to my collection in order to create a more put together look. I have to admit it still seems a bit foreign to put on a necklace or pair of earrings for the school run but when I do remember / have time, it makes me feel more polished and fashionable. My favourite new items were from online Jewellery designers ‘Lines and Currant’ (www.linesandcurrent.com) and Still with You (www. stillwithyou.dk/). I’ve started my collection with the silver ERIKKA Earring & Wishbone Midi-Ring Jewellery set from L&C and a minimal four piece earring set from SWY. I hope to add and build upon my modest collection from these quality, affordable and minimalistic jewellery designers who also happen to have impeccable customer service and fast delivery.

Adding a few pairs of basic sandals and shoes that work within my colour scheme has also been a game changer. In the past I have tended to buy shoes on a whim and in the sales. However, I carefully thought about my clothes and colours and invested in quality hardworking sandals that I love. My Black Birkenstock Arizonans, Navy Saltwater Originals and Gold Havaianas work with almost everything I own and make that final hurdle of running out the door (already late) a breeze.

My capsules are unlikely to make me stand out in a crowd and some might say I’ve played it safe, but I’m now able to reach into my wardrobe half asleep and pull out outfits that work with little to no thought. I hope to add a few items in coral next year to build in a pop of colour. In the meantime I’m done purchasing and online shopping and I’m off to enjoy the summer!

 

The Big Purge

Having a small budget but in desperate need of a wardrobe refresh is frustrating, especially at the start of a new season and finally being out of maternity clothes. Spring has sprung, the sun’s actually out and the shops are full of mid season sales tempting consumers to spend, spend, spend, GAP 40% discount code anyone?! It can be hard to resist.

Since reading ‘Clutter Free With Kids’ by Joshua Becker a years ago I’ve been a fervent believer in the less is more approach. Clutter has become like my personal kryptonite. It really does make me a little hot under the colour to see a clear and organised drawer or a highly organised garage! *wistfully thinks of the label maker. My house is relatively clutter free and minimal, however I needed the push of having a loft conversion and loosing the majority of our storage space to really tackle my years of clothes hoarding.

In the past I’ve given way to temptation and spent hundreds in the sales believing I was getting a bargain and that I would finally achieve the desired casual but polished look. In reality I would stare blankly into my over stuffed wardrobe and feel I had nothing to wear, what I did end up wearing felt messy. It’s not that the purchased clothes weren’t nice or quality pieces, I just struggled to put them together into an actual day to day outfit that felt true to me. I would regularly keep items that I ordered online that I had instantly known weren’t quite right (size, fit, style) in a partially lazy but mainly optimistic mindset that someday I would make it work. This approach had led to a loft full of excess hardly worn clothes that I would drag down from the hatch each changing season, maybe treat to a run in the wardrobe, but would inevitably return back to the dusty boxes until the next year.

A huge downsizing was required for both practical, style and sanity reasons. I purged big time: 13 black bags of my clothes alone. Why had I never thrown away the stained shirt? Gifted the bridesmaid dress that wasn’t really my taste? charity shopped the fashion errors? It was because I could never quite face how much of a waste of money it had all been! I felt so guilty having spent pay check after pay check for over 15 years acquiring clothes, chasing a look I had never achieved. I was adamant that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again.

It was beautifully therapeutic to go through the boxes upon boxes of excess summer / winter clothes, and as per the advise I’d found, really consider for each item whether a) I still liked it, b) whether it suited my current minimal style c) whether it was easy to style along my other items and d) whether it was ever realistically going to fit my post baby body: I could loose the weight but there was no going back for my expanded rib cage and hips! I wanted a wardrobe of items that I could pull together easily and quickly. Although I am often drawn to the quirkier looks like that the lovely Zoe from ‘Dress Like a Mum’ styles together, I’ve come to accept that I just don’t have the time, budget or ability to style together more fashion forward trends in sleep deprived school / work run whirlwinds.

I came across a number of capsule wardrobe blogs and joined a few Facebook groups where real women posted photos of their outfits made up of a small collection of carefully selected versatile clothes. I poured over their photos of highly organised wardrobes, and how their outfits looked put together, diverse and surprisingly fashionable. I wanted that!

I created a Pinterest board and initially pinned inspiration, looks & combinations that I liked: outfits that I would actually put on on a drizzly Tuesday school run. I carefully considered what items I already owned from these looks, and surprisingly I had lots, often multiples of the same thing. I then identified what items I would need to add to make an ‘outfit’. Often it was an accessory: a piece of jewellery, scarf, shoes or bag that was pulling the look together. I hadn’t really ever invested in these types of items before as I had always felt I was getting better value for money by buying clothes. I decided to focus my post baby clothes budget on versatile accessories alongside the odd missing link top / bottom. I have continued to shop online (can’t stand actual real life shopping) but immediately return items that I hesitate over. I have left tags on until I pull out the item to wear and keep return bags and receipts handy in case I changed my mind. I’ll do a separate post with photos of the items that survived the process.

I have kept two excess boxes that I store in the garage, one for summer and one for winter. Mainly they contain clothes that I’m hoping will fit again next year, being only 7 weeks post natal, but if they don’t, then their fate will also be sealed without hesitation or guilt. I’ve also boxed up a few of my more fancy but wearable items, no more than 10 or so, and put into an easily accessible storage space in the house. This way they’re not getting in the way of my everyday outfits but are at arms reach for a dinner date or break away.

Whilst sorting I considered what actually suited me, not just what I liked, in terms of both shape and colour. I learnt that I was a warm autumn (skin and hair tones) and that I should ideally wear warm earthy colours, ivories, olives and tans, and stay clear of pastels, brights and cool greys. I am never going to give up my grey, black and white obsession, particularly the stripes and T’s, but I’ve learnt that styling with a more flattering coloured accessory or warm toned lipstick lifts the overall look. I’m also not throwing away items because they don’t fit my suggested colour scheme, but I’ll certainly bear it in mind when selecting clothes in future.

I have created a secret Pinterest board and take a quick, unfiltered selfie in an outfit I feel good in to slowly build a personnel catalogue of outfits to refer to on uninspired days. It’s early days in the experiment and I’m pretty sure that my wardrobe would be considered ‘capsule’ but so far I feel more put together (although still casual) and can look into my wardrobe and not feel the immediate itch to online shop. Less really is more. Happy days!

 

 

Goodbye, Farewell, Adios Maternity Clothes

Goodbye , farewell, adios dear maternity clothes.

IMG_5669We had a lovely time together throughout my three pregnancies, mainly spent eating and reading online articles about the importance of staying active whilst dossing on the sofa, but a lovely time none the less.

Despite my attempts and financial sacrifices to look fashionable during pregnancy, like the Pinterest boards promised me I could, I always ended up looking, erm, heavily pregnant. Funny enough no brand of maternity clothes ever made me look like the size 6 non pregnant models with their tiny fake bumps.

I remember lovingly boxing you up after my second pregnancy and putting a hilarious note inside that started along the lines of ‘oh no you didn’t’! Turns out it wasn’t hilarious. A sickly green and exhausted version of myself eye rolled so hard I saw the back of my own skull, ‘this is proof that you were clearly planning for this to happen you giddy idiot’!

Much like myself you stretched well beyond what was intended (one pair of Gap jeans actually ripped open exposing my ever expanding arse) and gathered multiple stains as I sat balancing my plate on my bump to eat ‘hangry’ style in front of the TV.

You served me well but it’s now time to say goodbye for good.

So there you are, the ones that survived the ripping and staining, bagged up in a black sack, like the body from Shallow Grave, purchased on Ebay and awaiting collection. Before you go, I sigh, reflecting that I will never again search the maternity sections or wear empire line, drop waist, trapeze style shapeless sacks that cost the same, sometimes more than actually nice clothes. I pick up my phone and eagerly start putting shit into baskets.