What to Expect from Your Workouts When You’re No Longer Expecting

People give you all kinds of advice on life after you have your baby (ehm-sometimes too much advice), but you honestly won’t really know what you need or how you’ll feel until you find yourself lying at home on the couch with an icepack, a jug of water, snuggling your brand new human.

Will you feel like you can’t walk for weeks? (ME!) Or will you feel ready to get back into your workout routine right when you’re cleared? Having an active pregnancy right up until the end does not always translate to jumping right back in to where you left off!

Whenever you are ready, there are some things you maybe don’t expect when you try to start working out again:

  • Leaking… enough said.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 11.25.33 AM.png

    Must have.

 

  • Being worried about milk supply, soreness, engorgement etc etc.

 

  • Being interrupted multiple times by crying, pacifying, feeding, holding your baby, and taking your own pee breaks!

 

  • Not being able to hold your pee in when you jump or run

 

  • Not being able to do upper body weights EVER because your arms & shoulders are perpetually sore from carrying baby & the heavy car seat around

 

  • Being so tired from not sleeping that it takes days to muster up the courage to workout, & then several days before the next workout because you’re still sore/tired from the last one

 

  • Your old workout clothes don’t fit the way they used to & you may not feel like yourself

 

  • Starting, then stopping for several weeks, then starting again, then stopping again. It may take many more months to get into a regular routine than it did pre-baby! And just when you get into a routine, your baby may switch it up on you.

 

  • Needing way more pelvic floor work than you think… Taking a break from your old HITT routine & sit ups to focus more on kegel exercises, glute bridges, wall sits, light sumo squat pulses… The “boring” stuff. Your insides need to HEAL!

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 12.01.21 PM

  • Feeling guilty because you’re not giving your baby your full attention (or maybe have a sitter while you head to the gym), but hey, mama’s gotta be strong to handle the craziness of motherhood!

 

  • Your body may feel up to it, but your mind may not, especially if struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, or hormonal fluctuations

 

And because everyone has to offer their 2 cents new moms, I’ll offer mine:

You might not bounce back right away, so take your time, be gentle with yourself, and laugh at yourself A LOT.  Your body just went through an amazing and incredibly taxing miracle. Any time you’re active is a victory! Take it one day at a time, and focus on getting some movement in each day–walking with your baby around Target counts 🙂 Speaking as someone that has always LOVED to workout and was running the stairs hours before my water broke, it has taken me 6 months to feel up to a consistent routine again, and really wanting to get back into it.

As with most things worth doing, the path is often not linear, but we keep working at it. Listen to your body, and push yourself–or tell your partner to push you– when you feel up to it and know you need to! And remember, even if you’re not thrilled about how your body looks postpartum, please appreciate it for how it housed your little one and worked hard to bring them into this world ❤

IMG_0436.JPG

My first “walk” 1 week post-delivery in January. Walks have been my saving grace to get me out of the house and doing light cardio when I don’t feel up to more.

A Least Expected Path

Just the night before, I was on stage in 5-inch heels with hair teased to the heavens, passing my sash and sparkling crown on to the next Miss Virginia. But that very next day, I was back in my college small town, lying in the grass in my Nike running shorts (you know the ones you live in during college), away from the spotlight, soaking in the sunshine with no makeup or hair spray. It was the perfect new setting for journaling my reflections from the great adventure of 2012.

IMG_2295

I had finished one of the most incredible years of my life, and had to move back into my isolated college dorm room, (my single dorm room that had no mirror I might add) to finish up my last semester of college after taking the year off to travel with the full-time job of Miss Virginia. All of my friends had graduated. I was back at the school that I nearly transferred from each semester because of the pressure and stress. And yet now, coming back to college, I felt free.

It wasn’t that I was “free” from my year traveling as a Miss America titleholder; it was deeper than that. I had grown. Somehow I felt like I had a new outlook on life. Somehow, in a place where people would assume one would become more shallow, self-centered and appearance-focused in “pageantry”, pictures, and autographs etc., God took me on a journey to learn how to deny myself and find true happiness in the midst of that world.

The night I was crowned, the Chairman of the Board of the Miss Virginia pageant handed me a silver pocket cross and said he thought I might need this for the difficult and beautiful year ahead. That was my first sign that something special was going to happen that year. I kept that cross with me each day and saw it each time I opened my crown box before an event.  I expected the year of living and traveling alone each day to be hard, but I did not expect to learn as much as I did about faith, hope, and love.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 7.35.26 AM

From the day that I was given the honor to represent Virginia, I prayed for God to keep me grounded and to help me not get trapped and chained to my temptations. A couple months before the pageant, I was on my second mission trip to Haiti, where God showed me His heart for the needy, how He was there among them, and how I felt more alive than ever before in the midst of serving others. I was determined to not lose sight of what I had learned and stay the path to be the person the Lord was shaping me to be as I entered this new and unknown chapter.

There were a lot of things at the time that I was in the process of breaking free from: Desire for human approval. Pride. Un-forgiveness. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being in control. Fear of failure. Achievement and performance…Suddenly, when I won the prized title, picked up my life and moved to the Miss Virginia apartment in another city, I found myself smack dab in the middle of all of these temptations, and was forced to grapple with each of them throughout the year.

With a business manager setting up my daily travel schedule, I realized in a magnified way that I was very much out of control. Each day was a chance to find joy in the PRESENT, to be flexible, and choose the Lord’s plan over my own agenda and comforts. At the end of the day, His plan would always work out better than I could’ve orchestrated.

Of course there were many, many days that I struggled to stay flexible and surrendered…

Days that I got flustered because my hair wasn’t curling the right way and I would look stupid to the students I was speaking to…

Days I didn’t feel that my speech was quite ready or I messed up the lyrics to the song I was performing…

Nights that I read mean things online people said about me…

Several weeks of walking on crutches to appearances because I had broken my toes and was embarrassed that Miss Virginia would show up to the business meeting a few pounds heavier and not in heels…

Nights I was driving across the state and got lost in a cornfield with no GPS service and broke down crying…

Events where I was milking a cow in a dress and stepped in poop…

Days where I just hit pure exhaustion and felt overwhelmed by all the people I was meeting and things I was experiencing…

But, there was something nearly everyday that reminded me to reach out to God for help. And it was often on the hardest days when I felt most alone that God gave me confirmation that I was right where I needed to be and reminded me of my truest purpose.

It was the biggest blessing as God showed me that coming to the “end of myself” was going to give Him an opportunity to shine through me, to love someone, to serve someone, to make His name known, or at least to give me a good laugh and remember He was looking out for me along my travels. He would give me rest exactly when I needed it, and courage when I was nervous or worried. And He would sometimes miraculously get me to events on time, even with horrible traffic!

….

When you ask God to be with you and to guide you, He certainly will.

He opened the door for me to share about my decision to save sex for marriage at a youth True Love Waits conference, to visit childhood cancer patients in the hospital and share that there is hope, to be an advocate in schools for healthy living by respecting your body and making wise choices, to teach fitness classes to those with disabilities, to spend time with our veterans and thank them for their service, and so on.

These events taught me to let go of seeking perfection, and just simply BE with people and love them, from playing with babies and coloring with toddlers, to deep talks with high schoolers, to conversations with businessmen and the elderly in nursing homes. I had to accept whatever came my way that day, even if it was out of my comfort zone. There is no energy left to care about what people think of you. And instead of focusing on “loving myself and accepting myself”, my goal became to try to forget about myself and empty myself for the people before me, wherever I was that day. The more and more I shared this truth of “service over self” with the students I spoke to each day, the more and more it sunk in for me to live out in my life too.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 7.47.19 AM

That chance to live life really engaged with strangers from all backgrounds taught me that it was possible to make each day incredibly meaningful. And it confirmed for me that while Miss Virginia opened many doors for me, I didn’t need to be Miss Virginia to make people feel special and loved, and to live out my mission in the world. 

It’s funny to me that God decided to use my time as a “beauty queen” to give me a deeper understanding about being His masterpiece and being content in His never-fading joy…a strange path I never would have planned for myself, and a path that often leads some to discontentment.

It was once I had the crown that it truly sunk in that I didn’t need to pursue any crowns on earth, and the true secret to a full abundant life was entire separation to Christ. It’s easy for people to think having some kind of “glamorous” elevated position is the most fulfilling; but I’ve found that it’s pursuing the humble life that is actually most beautiful. And what’s amazing is that almost every single Miss Virginia in the “sisterhood” that I’ve ever met is focused on making a difference in this world without the crown as well. They are always looking for someone to help and someone to support.

So when I moved back into school that summer, yes, I was ready to relax, unplug, and just be plain old “Rosemary” with no one to answer to for a little while. But I’m also forever grateful that God chose a crown and a sash for that sweet time, to teach me about relying deeply on His strength and storing up crowns in Heaven.

Often in the ways we least expect it, God heals our weary souls and offers His abundant grace to us on the extraordinary path He lays before us.

IMG_2131

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Make Me Brave

This song by the group Bethel Music has been playing over and over in my heart lately, and it seemed like the right time to process and reflect. Take a quick listen.

“as your love in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me, for you are for us, you are not against us…”

“So I will let you draw me out beyond the shore into your grace…”

The imagery in this song is one I experienced on a trip to Puerto Rico this past summer. My vacation was awesome with my family and husband, exploring old castles, zip-lining, going to different beaches, enjoying meals and games together.

However, one of the most memorable times of the trip was taking a catamaran to an island off the coast about 45 minutes. 45 minutes of (what we did not know would be) a super bumpy ride, crashing into wave after wave, jerking around those on the boat.

Multiple times each person in my family thought they were going to lose it. How much longer? How much more could we take before we all ended up like the kid in the front of the boat throwing up?

In an effort to get through the “storm”, my brother and I started singing songs that had the words “wave” or “ocean” in them, which I originally thought was fun distraction. We kept singing the song I posted above, over and over. I let my mind picture the water from the crashing ocean slowly washing over me, like the way God lavishes his Love on us in the midst of the waves of life.

I tried to let it all sink in.

It is in the deep, when we are being tossed about, that we often realize we need Him MOST.

And in life, just like on that catamaran, sometimes we are holding steady. The road is bumpy, but maybe we’re distracted or focused on not getting totally rocked. But then other times, we are so down and desperate, we feel like getting sick because we’re so tired of the “waves”. But then someone comes into our waves and goes through it with us until we find peace again, just like my brother and I did singing for each other.

So we finally arrived to a glowing white sandy beach with clear waters and clear skies, completely isolated. It was breathtaking. It was paradise! Looking back on the boat ride, I couldn’t see the clouds of fear, I saw the sunshine. I remembered how difficult it was, but I also remembered how we got through it–WITH each other, focusing on God’s strength and the words of the song to keep us focused.

The destination was worth it all.

_____________

This year my husband and I faced a storm no one ever wants to go through. We lost our first child to miscarriage. I ache just typing that.

I don’t share this because I want to, I share it to perhaps offer a small glimmer of hope or comfort for someone out there who may have gone through something similar.

This song that we sang on the boat captures a piece of the journey I’ve been on this past summer, and calls to mind all the ways that He makes me brave.

Brave to get up each day and face the world with that tiny void and pain in my heart that was our baby.

Brave to trust that He is my sole comforter and His providence reigns.

Brave to trust that He is faithful when I don’t understand why, and to put my hope in the Lord’s promises.

Brave to know when my eyes well up in complete overwhelming sorrow, I still carry our child in my heart and in my prayers.

Brave to allow myself time to grieve.

Brave to minister to those who are going through something similar.

Brave to forgive others when they don’t seem to understand.

Brave to allow His grace to hold me when I can’t stand.

Brave to know the pain I feel is a reflection of how deeply we loved.

He makes me brave to recognize that I am not responsible for the life we lost.

He makes me brave to look to Him as the example of suffering in love and drawing near to Him in my own suffering. He knows our pain.

He makes me brave to think about what Mary must have felt losing her only son Jesus; What Sarah and Hannah must have felt like in their years of infertility.

And I pray He makes me brave to look back on this trying time and remember the joy we felt when God decided to entrust us with a child.

With all the topics out there being discussed, society is relatively silent about miscarriage. Miscarriage is common, affecting at least 1/5 of pregnancies, and yet there are still many misconceptions or misunderstandings. October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. Today, with this post, I want to pause, draw attention to, and pray for all those mothers who have experienced any kind of loss. I want to acknowledge your child.

There are plenty of women out there who suffer through it alone. It can be very hard to talk about and hard to share. When it happens so frequently but isn’t acknowledged, it can cause the woman to feel shame, as if it was her fault. In this secret loss, she may feel implicit pressure to “move on” without actually processing and properly dealing with the hurt in order to heal.

A miscarried child is not a “piece of tissue”, but a wanted and loved child of God knit together for a purpose. It’s hard to convey to others just how special and important that family member is when he or she seems to dart so quickly in and out of your life; but nonetheless, it is the loss of a family member, just like any other.

We should celebrate the lives of those in the womb, not pretend they were never there. We should celebrate the gift of participating with God in His creative nature and offer ourselves to nurture and cherish a vulnerable soul, even if God calls our child home. And, we should still celebrate mothers who birthed their children into heaven, instead of on earth.

This was not my plan, but God uses what can tear us apart inside to ultimately work for our good. I can have hope that God’s timing is perfect. His knowledge is more perfect than mine. His will is more pure than mine.

If you’ve experienced a similar type loss, please know there are people who want to support you. Even if others don’t understand what you’re going through, don’t know what to say, or can’t grasp the gravity of your pain, there is first and foremost a God who wants to walk with you through that. I hope this song reminds you that the Lord is FOR you and not against you.

And secondly, there are other women who can identify with you and grasp the myriad of emotions, as they’ve been through it too. They are living testaments that somehow, someway, there is a bigger plan. Their guidance and understanding was pivotal in my experience. Feel free to message me if you’d like to connect with a group like this. This book might be a good place to start as well.

I miss our baby everyday. And I strive to live out that call to motherhood by taking care of those around me. Although I am not in control of my future, I do know we will be reunited with our precious little one at the Heavenly banquet one day. We have been through the storm and know God’s blessings can come through the waves and the rain. I look forward to one day being united fully with my entire family in the true paradise.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2