My Postpartum Health Journey :: Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Headed

Welcome! I am so glad you have an opportunity to join me on my adventure in postpartum health and wellness. Since having my son eight months ago, my body has changed significantly. I’m perpetually unsure of what is happening inside my abdomen and continuously sweating. I’ve also developed an odd relationship with dairy products that has impacted my deep dark lust for cheese. When talking with other moms, I realized we all shared concern for our post-baby bodies. Some very fortunate ladies have been blessed with somehow losing weight and loving their bodies more since having a baby … I am not that person. I spoke with the ladies of BMB, and in partnership with Pure Fitness in Vestavia Hills, I have begun this very personal fitness journey that I intend to share with you in a series of posts.

The Ghost of Fitness Past

Before I tell you about where I am headed, let me tell you about where I’ve been. Growing up, I was a competitive figure skater. My relationship with binge eating was serious, and my commitment to physical activity was unwavering. As a competitive skater, you must condition in several other fitness areas to become a better skater. I spent my summer breaks getting up at 5:00 a.m. to head to the ice arena for practice. After a few hours of skating, my friends and I would take a series of classes throughout the week and weekend, including but not limited to: strength training, ballet, Pilates, yoga, plyometrics, power skating classes, general dance classes and of course an abundance of cardio. I had the privilege of working in small groups with a well-known trainer.

When I left the world of competitive skating, I also decided I needed a break from working out. I moved onto less physically demanding activities and finally got my binge eating under control. Of course, gaining weight came along with my semi-sedentary lifestyle. My metabolism was impacted greatly by my poor eating habits of my youth. And I genuinely felt no desire to prioritize my health above the social life I felt I had missed out on growing up as a competitive skater.

I maintained my weight throughout college despite all the typical college weight gaining opportunities. However, that all changed when I became pregnant and had my son. When Parker made his entrance into the world, I thought things would run smoothly and I could get back to normal life and pre-baby body. As they say, life is full of surprises, and Parker’s medical condition was quite a shock. After undergoing open-heart surgery, a serious battle with heart failure, and a dangerous bout with kidney failure, Parker is finally doing well. His cardiac condition inspired me and changed my perspective on my own health. I knew that my old friend cardio would be making a return to my life. I know I need to be an example for my son on how to take care of his body. His strength led me to this fitness journey.

Pure Fitness

Admittedly, I have tried other gyms in town. They all have positive attributes and offer a magnitude of health and wellness opportunities. But these places aren’t for me. The small group specialized training environment I was used to when I was younger is what I am comfortable with. One would argue that I’m a bit hard to please when trying to find a gym.

My postpartum health journey :: where I've been and where I'm headedWhen I arrived at Pure Fitness for the first time, I was immediately struck by its approachability. Pure Fitness is tucked away off Highway 31 in Vestavia Hills in the same shopping center as my favorite local deli, Diplomat Deli. The only thing “boxy” about Pure Fitness is the interior architecture. If I could build my own home gym, it would look a lot like the Pure Fitness studio. The layout is open, yet private enough to help you feel comfortable in your most sweaty moments. Walking into Pure Fitness, everything feels familiar. Pure Fitness is truly a fitness studio that feels like a safe space to exercise.

Erin Holtz and the Pure Fitness Team

My biggest concern about joining a gym is the people. I knew what I wasn’t looking for in a fitness culture. I didn’t want loud music; I had tried that before. I wasn’t interested in having people yell at me in support while surrounding me as I struggled to finish my last whatever-lift. I felt like a gentle baby step back into working out would work best for me. Erin and her team have created a calm yet encouraging space. It is a space where I was not discouraged after my first class. Erin is a personal and athletic trainer with a degree from The University of Alabama. She holds a personal training certification from American Council on Exercise.

After my first class, I realized I was unable to lift my shoulders off the ground during a sit-up and attempting a crunch looked more like Parker’s new-found love for bopping his head to music than any form of exercise. Erin and her team quickly noticed my distress. Erin mentioned something called diastasis recti and said she thought I was having trouble with sit-ups due to this condition. Basically, diastasis recti is abdominal separation that can be caused by pregnancy and childbirth. This separation can become worse with exercises such as sit ups and crunches. This is what makes Pure Fitness different — they noticed that. When starting this postpartum health journey, I didn’t think of the challenges of post-partum anatomy. However, Erin specializes in this area and has been able to work with me to stabilize my core safely. I cannot imagine how brutal our life would have been if I had joined some other gym that might’ve missed this abdominal separation and possibly landed myself in the hospital. As a mom, Erin pays special attention to her moms and moms-to-be. Erin values strength over stress, and I truly appreciate that.

I thought that by Week 3, I’d be dying for this writing assignment to be over. I’d hate every free weight and sweaty drive home … but I love it. However, there was a moment during a boot camp class where I felt like I couldn’t push myself any further. I was about to take a “breather break”, also known as 10 seconds of giving up, and then one of the wonderful trainers simply said, “Remember all the reasons why you want or need to do this. They will always outweigh the reasons you don’t want to do it.” So I pictured Parker, on Day 40 of his hospital stay at Children’s of Alabama after he went into cardiac arrest. And I pushed through the workout, because he’s my reason. He will always be my reason.

I hope you continue to follow me on this journey. Follow my fitness journey on Instagram at @apaige3 and follow Pure Fitness at @purefitnessllc! Look out for my next post – Nutrition at Pure Fitness! 

Alyson received complimentary services from Pure Fitness in exchange for her post, but the experience she shared is genuine and the opinions are 100% her own.
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