01.21.08: The best weight loss workouts are the ones you will do
Today, while doing yoga, I had a revelation: The best thing to do to get back into shape after you have a baby is whatever you were doing before you had the baby. Generally speaking, we all gravitate to forms of fitness that we like, right? I, for instance, am drawn to yoga and walking, and in my pre-Truman life, that's exactly what I did. Oh, I'd flirt around with other kinds of exercise—a cardio kickboxing class here, a spinning class there, a tennis game or a Pilates private lesson. But always, in the end, I'd return to my loves: walking and yoga.
Now, these aren't the most hard-core fitness fixer-uppers. They're not flashy lose-weight-fast ass-kickers (though I've been to some yoga classes that would stand up to anything the most hard-core aerobics teacher could dish out). I always figured I had enough sources of stress and pressure and adrenal demand in my life without adding more of it at the gym. Call me a wimp, I don't care: I'm just not a super-tough, ultra-buff girl, and at this point I'm fairly certain I never will be.
I'd made peace with all of that before the baby. But after, well...let's say I got a little carried away in horror at the shape and girth of my lower abdomen. I wanted to blast it away faster with some high-impact, high-intensity workouts—the kind of workouts other kinds of people do. I forgot my fitness identity entirely, and set about trying to become someone else—someone who would be willing to do whatever it would take to get the job done fastest. Someone who would really go after it, as my trainer Rebecca likes to say. Someone who would put the pedal to the metal.
But guess what? I'm NOT that person. I keep trying, and flunking out, of hard-core school, mostly because I'm not being true to myself. And though it's certainly the case that yoga and walking may constitute the super-slow route to losing the baby fat, its just as true that they're also faster than the exercise plan left undone because I just hate it so much.
Hence, the revelation, and the advice to you: Do what you like to do, no matter what it is. If it's Krav Maga and training for marathons, bully for you; no doubt you'll be back in your size 4s before you know it. If it's tai chi and water aerobics, the weight loss might be much more gradual, but I do think you'll be more successful if you return to your fitness loves sooner rather than later. Maybe add a few new weight moves in to tighten up what's loose—these are post-baby prescriptions that might not be needed forever.
But no matter what, get on with the business of being yourself. I'll bet you'll be fitter faster than if you get on the fit-and-start (and outright-avoidance) plan I've been on for the past year. I can guarantee you'll be happier.