Post Partum Fitness Talk

Today we’re talking all about getting back into shape post partum and setting some realistic goals.

Getting back into shape after baby

So I’m four months into this post baby body thing and am starting to get serious about exercise and eating healthy (after I make cookies tonight). Last spring, before I got pregnant, I decided I was going to learn to run (but with the pregnancy it didn’t last very long). In high school, the only time I liked running was in a good rain storm (preferably if I had something dramatic to think about) and found it so cathartic. There was one brief time in college after a break-up that I put my emotion into running (getting in shape + endorphins make life lots better), but most of my exercise was in a dance studio and running is, well, something I can work on.

These days I alternate between being incredibly impressed with my body – it grew, birthed, and now nourishes a baby – and being a tad frustrated that eighteen weeks hasn’t put an end to some of the less desirable changes. Really, the female body is an incredible thing and one fun thing about being in such poor shape after Lincoln was born is that it is easy to see progress. Like a month ago, when I started running, one mile just about killed me and I needed to walk a couple of times. Now I’m working up to longer distances and a mile is much less intimidating. There was also that time two months post partum I tried to do a sit-up and physically couldn’t even do one. One week later, after evening planks, I could easily do 15 modified v-ups. Win.

There’s also been this fun new development that exercising is SO much easier than birthing a baby that I really feel like I can do anything. When I want to quit and walk I’ll ask myself if its harder than pushing for two hours and if I really need to stop. The answer is always no and I find I can push myself much harder than I could pre-birth experience. 

Right now, my main goals with running are to fit into my clothes (because getting in shape would be loads cheaper than buying a new wardrobe  –I’m still about 8 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight) and to be able to lead the physically active lifestyle Ben and I want/had. Life with a little one is undoubtedly a bit different, but I’m hoping this summer can still involve bike rides, rock climbing, and tennis like the ones in the past. For me, running is the quickest way to get in a good workout. While I love classes/videos like Pilate’s and Pure Barre, I feel like I need at least an hour a day to really make any progress ….but with running, fifteen or twenty minutes at a fast pace is perfect

Post Partum Fitness Goals

 To keep the accountability going, here are a few goals + things I’ve started to help turn this running thing into a habit: 
  • Find songs with the right beat: I’ve been running to Taylor Swift’s new(ish) album 1989 and some songs are great for slow plodding and others are much better for the final sprint. Having a few good songs definitely sets the pace for my workout. My friend Janssen recommends audiobooks for runs and I’m hoping at some point I can run to books, but right now I need the motivating music. 
  • Set distance goals (not time goals): Just starting out, for me its more important to focus on getting the miles in instead of vamping up my speed. I let myself all-out sprint at the end of each run (and it’s my favorite part) but the rest of it I’m just focused on running and not getting anywhere fast. 
  • Order fun workout gear: I just picked up a few new things from Zappos (because hello two-day shipping and free returns) that will make me a little more excited to get out the door. 
  • Start a training regimen: I’ve found a few guides out there for 5ks and 10ks and I’d love to find one to run. I was talking about running something over thanksgiving with a friend and it would be GREAT motivation for me to be accountable to someone and something. Still thinking about it 🙂 
  • Stretch: My biggest issue with running is that I neglect the post-running stretches and IT band gets incredibly tight (which makes me not want to continue running) so this time around I’m trying to remember to stretch before and after each run. 
  • Adding more protein: I’ve started on these new protein shakes and I’m addicted. I use one as meal replacement/ fourth meal and will sometimes sneak another one at the end of the day for dessert because they taste just like frosties. The added protein helps me recover faster and keeps me from snacking on less healthy treats 🙂 
And I’m a newbie runner here so I would LOVE any tips from you! Favorite songs? Favorite work-out motivation? I’m all ears. 

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  1. Not every book is good for running 😉

    Also, that second picture? So fantastic – I can't stop looking at it!

    1. well I'm open to hearing what your favorites are for running … maybe a good book would give me incentive to run a bit longer 🙂

      and thanks! Ben and I have been having lots of fun playing around with our new camera …i thought it was all about lenses but this new body is fantastic!

  2. One, two, three sponsored posts in a row. Used to like this blog before it was one huge infomercial for whatever someone is willing to pay you to post 🙁 one of these days I'll completely give up 🙁

    1. hi! I'm glad that you keep coming back and I'm sorry that you're not a huge fan of the sponsored content. I'd love to know what you don't like about it – the content itself or the fact that its sponsored?

      I'm trying hard to integrate the sponsored posts into regular content and only take campaigns that fit with my regular content. For example – the last three posts:

      This weekend there was Linc's first day at the beach sponsored by Target. I was in NH and excited to take Lincoln to the beach and I do get the majority of his clothes at Target (I think we've been gifted a few pieces from elsewhere but other than that almost everything I've purchased is Target). I knew I would be sharing pictures from the day on the blog whether the content was sponsored or not, and I usually included links to clothing items if they're recent, whether the post is sponsored or not. Realistically, if it wasn't a sponsored post, I might not have included those few sentences at the end of the post about how Target is where I get most of my baby clothes because I've said that before on the blog – but I would have included the bit about the awesome variety of baby swim suits because I often get questions like that. Oh and there wouldn't have been a disclosure at the top (which is kind of annoying to read, sorry). Is there a way you think I could have integrated that content better? Or would you have preferred I not take the collaboration with Target?

      Then before that there was the post on relaxation sponsored by Schick & Pitch Perfect 2. I took this collaboration because I knew I'd be headed to NH and sneaking in a few retreats to my parents' bathroom (and I'd always been meaning to get some good pictures of that room). I may not have gone through the effort to photograph any of it had it not been for the sponsored post, but I'd had it on my "post ideas" list for awhile so this was good motivation to do it. If the post hadn't been sponsored I wouldn't have included the reference to Pitch Perfect 2 (although shaving is always a part of me bath/shower "me time" so that would have been in there anyway) … but given that Pitch Perfect 1 and Les Mis were two of our favorite movies we saw in college, I was sure we'd see Pitch Perfect 2 and it would pop up on the blog in a date night recap anyway.

    2. And there's this running post sponsored by Zappos. I was really excited about this one because post partum fitness/ my post partum body/ getting back into running has been something I've been meaning to write about for awhile. Something about having to take pictures of yourself in tight fitting exercise clothes when you aren't quite where you want to be physically was holding me back though, so I knew this would be great motivation to suck it up and do it. Ben and I had a lot of fun playing with our new camera to capture these shots and I got around to sharing some thoughts of fitness and body image after having a baby. There will be more fitness posts to come in the next few weeks (unsponsored – unless I find a campaign that works with the ideas I already have), but I'd love to know what you would have wanted changed about this post? If I had shared the same post, without the disclosure, would you have liked the content? I've talked about Zappos on the blog before and genuinely love their selection and fast shipping + free returns so I think it was a great fit.

      Maybe the problem wasn't with any of the sponsored posts themselves, just with the lack of unsponsored posts between them? I totally get that. I'm cutting down on the sponsorships I accept (and I already turn down the majority of them), because I've been a bit unrealistic about the time I can make for blogging while taking care of Linc (or in this case, while taking care of Linc and having fun with my family on our trip to New Hampshire). The result is, I have contracts for the posts I've already accepted and things like editing pictures from our time in Boston falls through the cracks (they're coming this week though :). I can definitely be better about that.

      I really love the chance to get to work with brands I know and love (and sometimes new ones that I really like) through this blog by integrating them into things we are already going. I turn down quite a few offers and sometimes after I've accepted a collaboration I'll have to refrain from posting about them (after explaining and working it out) because the product really isn't something I feel comfortable recommending/using/sharing/wearing. Brands that work with bloggers have given me the ability to spend so much time blogging and develop interests/talents like photography. As fun as it would be to spend 25 hours a week working on the blog without any compensation, right now the blog provides an important income stream for our family (down payment for this first house!).

      I'm grateful for your feedback because while in part, these sponsored opportunities come because I work hard on creating good content with high quality images, the other HUGE part is because you show up to read it/look at it. I'd love to know what you'd love to see more of/less of on Bella along with what part of the sponsored content is working for you and what isn't.

      Sorry for the novel – you can shoot me an email at or if you prefer to stay anonymous I'd love to just chat here.

      Thanks, friend


    3. Even though I am not the same poster as the "Anonymous" above, I would love to write my thoughts on it. I have had the same concern as the commenter above and there have been times, espacially before you had a baby, where you have had up 8 to 10 sponsored posts in a row. I honestly hated that and there have been times when I just stopped reading your blog for some time because I was too annoyed by all of your sponsored posts.

      However, I have felt like you took down the sponsored posts a notch which I really appreciated. I understand that you are in need of making money through those sponsorships and I think those would be more acceptable for your readers if there were more non-sponsored posts in between. Whenever you write a sponsored post, whether or not it is something you actually incorporate in your day, you use a different voice, you don't allow as many comments and it often just doesn't seem as genuine. This might be the reason, why several of your readers have been unhappy with such posts.

      In my opinion it would be a good "compromise" to try to write more genuine non-sponsored posts in between – those are the posts a lot of us readers liked in the beginning and I think it is fair to say, that those posts are the ones we come back for.

      All the best!

    4. I am definitely working on the more unsponsored posts in between – and I think those are so important. I'm really interested in this idea that I write in a different voice when I write sponsored content because it hasn't been something that I was aware of. I'll definitely work on having the sponsored content feel more authentic because I really feel that most of the time it is something I would or planned on publishing anyway.

      As for the 8-10 sponsored posts – I totally know what you're talking about. It was right after we closed on our house and then headed off to California and I was exhausted from the pregnancy and had taken on WAY too many projects. Most of them I thought were really great, but the unsponsored content in between totally fell through the cracks. Sorry about that.

      I'd love to know what type of content is your favorite – what would you like to see more of here? Do you have any favorite posts from the past few months?


    5. Thank you for your quick response!

      As for your voice in sponsored posts – it isn't something I can completly put my finger on, but when I read your sponsored posts, some of those feel like you are trying to "gloss" everything over and maybe sometimes leave out honests thoughts about dislikes or hardships or criticism because you want to make the product look as appealing as possible. And while this is your job as the writer of such sponsored content, as a reader I sometimes miss your (more relatable) thoughts on the product. Hope that was explained well enough – it can be hard to put such a fleeding feeling into words 😉

      As for the unsponsored posts, I personally really like your more personal posts about day to day life, outings, your experiences as a young mother and your relationship – I used to love your little relationship advises. I also really like when you talk about getting and being in shape – which is why I like this particular post. 😉 And I would love to maybe learn a bit more about your process of buying a house and moving to such a different place, but I also get, that this might be a more personal topic, which you can be harder to talk about on such a public forum.

      I hope that helped you a bit. I might not be speaking for every reader, but I hope it gave you an idea. Nonetheless, please keep in mind, that – at least in my opinion – you run a lovely blog and have managed to keep your readers for years, which is always a good sign. I might however be biased since you were my very first blog to ever read and while you and other bloggers have taken many of my productive hours, you also have given me a fun excuse to not work sometimes 😉 And I really appreciate that. 🙂

  3. I just started getting back into running too! I used to be able to run 13 miles whenever I wanted and then two years of baby making just took it all out of me haha. Now I'm training for a 5k and it's so painful! But it feels so good at the same time!

    1. thirteen miles! you are AWESOME. maybe, someday, I'll run thirteen miles in a row. way to go already training for something 🙂

    1. thanks Helena! We were pretty excited they turned out the way they did 🙂 We're still learning lots about photography but its just so much fun!

  4. I hope I look as great as you do when I'm four months postpartum–right now I'm just one month past, and it just feels like I have really LoooOOOng road ahead of me. I gained about the same amount of weight you did during my pregnancy, so I'll be thrilled if I'm only 8 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight in three months. (By the way, I would love your thoughts on how you've been dressing for the past 4 months because I'm at a loss—do I buy more clothes so I have something to wear for my weight now or try to make my maternity clothes still work?)

    As for the running, I was an avid runner before my pregnancy and can't wait to start up again next week (when I hit 6 weeks postpartum). From one runner to another, the biggest advice I'll give you based on your post is that you don't need the pre-run stretching, and it might do more harm than good—just use your run as your warm-up and start really slow (about 45 seconds to a minute slower than your normal pace) for a mile or so (less, if you're not running very far).

    Best of luck to you !

    1. That is awesome that you are so motivated to start running right away! It took me a little longer to get back into exercising (I didn't feel quite healed by 6 weeks). And good to know about prerunning stretching … it isn't something I always do but I thought it was something I should add, so I'm glad to hear I don't need to (because running slow at the beginning won't be a problem at all 😉

      As for dressing the post partum body… I found it to be a bit tricky. I didn't go out and buy very many clothes in a larger size because I didn't want to spend money on something I hoped I'd only use for a couple of weeks/months and I didn't want to incentivize staying where I was. That said, I did go out and pick up some high quality tee shirts in a larger size that worked with just about everything (I liked the first one so much I went back and bought it in two other colors — Tahari tees for TJ Maxx…down from $95 to $17). The tops were something that were meant to be a bit looser, hid the remaining baby belly, were incredibly comfortable, and made me feel good. I think its worth it to pick up two pieces like that to get you through these next few months. I did wear maternity jeans for a few weeks post partum (well, after the first month of living in sweat pants I wore them for a few weeks). Oh I did also get a few nursing things and I got those in a size up so they'd be a little more forgiving. I hope that helps – but my guess is that getting into running this early, you'll be back in your old clothes in no time 🙂

  5. What protein shakes do you get? I haven't found any that taste good thus far so I'm hoping it's one I haven't tried.

    Also–you look amazing. You don't even look like you had a baby!

    1. They're the Zeal Advanced Formula Protein shakes (if you go to "products" and then "weight management" on the below link you can see them). I actually haven't tried the vanilla (I have a cousin that loves it but I'm much more of a chocolate girl) – the chocolate with a few ice cubes, some milk, and a tablespoon of peanut butter (I use powdered because it has less sugar/fat) tastes like a reeces in shake form.
      (I've also started using their Zeal wellness formula as a replacement for my daily vitamin and one of these days I'll share on here the amazing results I've had from that)

  6. Oh I love running, and its scared me to start again while breastfeeding, but I always have had to run with super upbeat music (think dance club music). I ran with my dog before I got pregnant and she was a HUGE motivation because she would start to pull me when I slowed down and she would get so excited to go running she would've brought me the leash if she could've got to it. back in high school when I ran cross country and we couldn't run with music, I would write my English papers in my head. (maybe think out blog posts)
    the best thing about running is it was my therapy. Good and bad.
    and of course the cute clothes are a HUGE motivation!