3 kids under 3.5yo changed my body
Excess baby weight (I put on 20kgs during my pregnancy), bingo wings and muffin top (yikes)
I've always been a relatively active person pre-children - tennis, horse riding, spinning and running. I did pilates and yoga throughout all my pregnancies. Some of my friends swear by yoga and pilates but post-baby I couldn't get into it - I'm a restless soul - my brain whizzes out of control thinking about shopping lists, bills to pay, dentist appointments, coffee mornings etc during downward dog that I just about topple over. I can't quiet my mind. Call me old school but my idea of exercise involves something rigorous and sweaty - no pain no gain.
My heart said
.. Better start doing something sooner rather than later - otherwise the older you get, the harder it gets to shift.
My head said
.. Listen to your heart girl - you can reclaim your old body - but hang on, I can't do it alone. I don't really like gyms and I can't really afford a personal trainer. Answer: Women only Outdoor Bootcamp. Solution: Sign up for 2 week Fit For a Princess Bootcamp (FFAP) at Wimbledon Park, within walking distance from home.
My bootcamp involves
6.15am - 7.15am every morning for two weeks except for Sunday which is a rest day. Below is my diary:
Day 1 - Monday: Introduction and Cardio
Drag my body out of bed, get dressed in the dark into running gear and warm top. It's chilly, I scull an expresso, grab a bottle of water and throw my mat over my shoulder on my way out. At the meeting point in Wimbledon Park, everyone looks slightly nervous. Janey, our trainer arrives in pink (FFAP colour is Hot Pink) so we can't miss her. Janey runs FFAP and is enthusiastic and pumped even at 6.15am. I don't think I could have stomached someone barking orders military style at me so early in the morning so thankgoodness that's not her style. We introduce ourselves, tentatively stroll over to the grass area and start stretching, going through the program and running a timed lap around the park. I finish mid field out of breath with legs that feel like lead. My lap time is pitiful. It's been too long since I last did any exercise and it shows. Miraculously I make it to 7.15am and walk home tired but in good spirits. Janey emails us daily with motivation tips and her food diary.
Day 2 - Tuesday: Condition: Squats, lunges and abs.
I slept well and woke up feeling tired but not too achy. I'm not that eager to get out of bed but can't wimp out so early on. Time for squats, lunges and ab work - think mats, ab crunches, sit ups and lunges til I can lunge no more. Janey tells us all about diet and nutrition but I gloss over it as I am not keen on changing my diet I just want to kick start my fitness and enjoy what I enjoy eating in moderation. She also tells us about Epsom salt bath for sore muscles. I make a mental note but it doesn't really register until later in the afternoon. I am incredibly sore. I can't walk up and down the stairs at home and I can't sit down on the toilet. I imagine how helpful it would be if I had a disabled toilet with those handle bars for assistance. I mean I've given birth to 3 children naturally surely I can handle this pain and stiffness I convince myself. I go to bed in agony. Nurofen is my new best friend.
Day 3 - Wednesday: Freestyle Cardio - lap and interval training
I wake at 5.45am dreaming up excuses not to turn up - but it's only Day 3 I can't be a wuss, so I get my gear on in the slowest and most painful manner. My legs and hips are tight, my body is stiff. I walk down the stairs in sheer agony and feel 100 years old. I turn up, manage a fake smile and thankfully the whole group is in pain so I don't feel so bad. That is until we start doing sprints and interval training- star jumps, sprints - my body is fighting me the whole way. I am in pain and feel like I can't go on but Janey offers her encouragement and somehow we push through. I manage to stagger home and the rest of the afternoon I can't really function. I scout out Epsom salts (2 kg bag!) from the local pharmacy and spend the evening soaking in the tub before stumbling into bed. My body has sunken to a new level of pain. More Nurofen please.
Day 4 - Thursday: Conditioning
Wake up to grey skies but drag myself to the park. It's conditioning day - think stretchy bands, press ups, crunches and planks. We all get given a stretchy band to do some resistance training and I try to sneak some reprieve by laying on my mat in between push-ups and crunches but Janey catches me and counts each pushup and situp for me. I can't feel my abs let alone see them under all the extra weight I am carrying. My body doesn't feel any better but it doesn't feel any worse which must be a good sign right? I sleep like I haven't slept before. I can't even remember if I ate dinner. I just remember curling up and falling asleep.
Day 5 - Friday: Conditioning legs and bum
More cardio, more floor work and more lunges and star jumps. Frankly I am impressed with myself I made it to Friday and discover it is the group sentiment. There is a sense of comaraderie as we seem to all be in pain except one girl who is disgustingly superfit. Most are mothers, brides-to-be or girls who think they've eaten one too many pudding. My pain seems less today but my friend Nurofen comes to my aid to help me through the afternoon. I take heed of Janey's recommendation and book myself in for a massage. I drive awkwardly to get to the massage place as my legs are still stiff and I fall asleep during my massage. I wake feeling tender and getting dressed proves quite a challenge.
Day 6 - Saturday: 90 min run or power walk
This is my break as I love running so we run from Wimbledon Common to Wandsworth Common. Everyone has the option of running, jogging or walking at their own pace but a few of us push each other hard. When we get to Wandsworth Common some opt to rest and others do some sprint training before the run back to Wimbledon Park. I cruise this part and my legs finally feel fluid. I think I've pushed through the pain threshold - Janey said it would take a couple of days but it took a week for me. I'm on the other side and can smile without wanting to cry from stiffness.
Day 7 - Sunday: Rest Day
I take the kids for a walk to stretch my legs and body then retire early to bed after yet another soak in Epsom salts. I no longer need Nurofen in my life so we part company for good.
Day 8 - Monday: Condition arms and abs
Everyone turns up buoyant and cheery from the day of rest. Back to arms and abs and this time we all know the drill. It seems everyone is no longer in pain and the positive energy is infectious. Shadow boxing and pair work is even fun. I can feel my core getting stronger though I still can't see any ab muscles to save my life. Last week I struggled with situps but this week I manage a few more with ease.
Day 9 - Tuesday: More Cardio
It's drizzling so we do our stretches under cover and then run out into the rain. Our lap is timed again and I have made considerable improvement on my lap time from last week. I am surprised and pleased - it spurs me on to do another lap and finish slightly breathless. The sun comes shining through and I feel invigorated whistling on my way home.
Day 10 - Wednesday: More Conditioning Legs & Bum
More mat work, more situps, lunges and star jumps. Some kickboxing moves and short sharp movements to work on the lower body. The work seems to be paying off as we are pushed to do more without even whinging. We even joke about signing up for another Bootcamp next month.
Day 11 - Thursday: Cardio 90 min run or power walk
My runnning shoes have a hole in them but that's still not a good excuse not to show up. I wake up a little late and have to run the whole way there without a caffeine hit. More running suits me though the pace has noticeably changed. Everyone is running a little faster and we do interval training up and down Home Park Rd - we tackle the hill with some effort but still have some left in the tank for another timed lap around Wimbledon Park. Everyone beats their personal best. Very encouraging.
Day 12 - Friday: The Finale workout
I won't lie and say that I woke up feeling sad it was the last day. More star jumps, squats, lunges, sprints, situps and push-ups just to push us all to the limit for the last time. We applaud each others efforts and how far we've come in two weeks. Janey talks to us about food and nutrition and we bid our farewells.
Expect: Some pain (that's putting it mildly), some rain and improved fitness. My fitness steadily improved and I felt the cobwebs come off my body and mind. Again, it's a personal choice as to how hard you want to push yourself. FFAP offers you options to walk instead of run or do simplified versions of exercises. Everyone in my class was very supportive so no-one felt self-conscious either way. I went hard-core and it hurt like hell.
Don't expect: Weight loss or obvious physical change. 2 weeks didn't shift any weight or get me back into my Sass & Bide jeans. However, it did shift my outlook and attitude in a positive way. Also, there are no 'wonder' exercises that specifically target all your wobbly bits post baby (I did ask) in 2 weeks. It will take some consistent effort to work those bits with all round exercise and diet.
From my perspective I wasn't particularly willing to change my diet as over the past couple of years I have had to abstain from loads of stuff being either pregnant or breastfeeding. I've reached a point in my life now where I want to enjoy whatever food and drink I want. I understand this won't help me achieve an ultra slim body, but heck, I was simply after a body that fit better into clothes I liked for a change. FFAP helped kickstart my fitness regime after being dormant for so long but I'm afraid the rest is still up to me.