Is Your MINDSET Holding You Back?

Uncategorized Jan 13, 2017

Do you ever have those weeks where the universe is pulling you to do something? That's my week -- but I'm being called to write. I've been meeting with clients this week at my home studio which is super fun for me. I've also been engaging in some conversation with other moms and trainers on Facebook. In each case, there is a common struggle that is emerging, and I can relate because I've been there.

There are so many of us mom who are struggling to "find" our inner athletes again after having babies.

Or, maybe find the level of performance we had before having babies. I know when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest, that I had a lot of mixed feelings. I was ecstatic about the pregnancy - I was 35 at the time and we were trying to get pregnant. I was ready to be a mom. But, I was also training with a competitive Masters Rowing Team here in Denver and was just about to switch over to my head race training (long distance). More so, I was finally going to get to race in the Head of the Charles, which has been a dream of mine. My pregnancy suddenly threw a wrench in my training plan. Because I didn't know then what I do now, I basically stopped training for rowing. Sure, I was active, but I was not training in the same manner as I did as an athlete would. My son was born in May. I had a pretty bad tear during his birth, and so my recovery took longer than the 6 weeks (which most people do take longer). Fast forward a few months… babies who don't sleep at night are not conducive to the 4:30am wake up needed to train on the water. So, skip this next season. And the next. And the next. Somehow after 5 years and 2 babies, I have never gotten back to my rowing training, but I still consider myself a rower. I am an athlete - I am a rower.

Can you relate?

I'm sure you can, because this same frustration is what I'm hearing from my clients and the conversations that I'm having online. As active women, many of us are feeling lost in our role as athletes after having kids. We have lost the ability to reconnect with that sport or activity that we love doing because we don't know how to get back there. Either we can't find the time to do it, or our bodies aren't functioning in a way that gives us the confidence to get back to our sport. For many of us, this falls into the realm of core and pelvic floor dysfunction. We may have been told by a doctor that there is nothing we can do - that leaking is normal after pregnancy so live with it. Or maybe we did seek out a physical therapist, but that PT either gave you exercises that weren't helpful, or worse, was not supportive of your desires to be active again. Here's a catch for you - I love physical therapist and chiropractors. However, many of them are not trained in sports performance and integrating training with rehabilitation. Athletic trainers have this specific skill set, which is why I love collaborating with other professionals. But, I digress…

The fact is that you CAN continue training during pregnancy and you CAN find your way back to your sport after you give birth.

But, you have to change your performance mindset. We have to recognize the level of conditioning we need and the modifications needed during these times in order to suit our bodies. In my clients who are healing from pelvic floor, core, or another injuries, we talk a lot about walking a tightrope when if comes to pushing ourselves. We are balancing our bodies healing process with the need to overload it a bit in order to see performance progressions. If we do too little, we never get better in our sport. If we do too much, we send the body into an inflammatory response and regress in our training. For many of us, it's like a dance -- two steps forward, and one step back. So, it's important to celebrate our progress, but also not to get down when we have a set back. We need to recognize that limit, refocus and reorganize our training to get through that weakness and start moving forward again. We also need to look at setting realistic goals. More on this in a future post, but when we correct imbalances in our bodies, we also have to relearn some biomechanics which may, in turn, take our performance level down a notch temporarily. However, if you keep in mind that this step back will only make you that much better and stronger in the long run, then it can help get you through.

So what is the take-away here?

When we decide to get pregnant and have kids, we need to learn that our performance goals are going to change for a bit.

  1. During pregnancy we train to maintain conditioning rather than setting a performance goal postpartum.
  2. After baby, we train for recovery first.
  3. Then we move to establish functional strength and conditioning for our daily lives and activities. This stage may last a few months or several years. None of us have the same lives, the same demands, the same stresses as the other. We are all unique in when we return to our sport at the level that we dream of, and please don't push it until your life can handle those training demands. For me, it's taken 4 years since my youngest was born. Sure, I've been training and conditioning in the realm of returning to rowing. I've progressed my progress to work with my own pelvic floor weaknesses and functional strength. But it wasn’t until last summer that I could think about getting up at 4:30am for water training. And even that was hit or miss. But now I can.
  4. Now I can start moving forward from the functional training to sport-specific training. Sure, it wasn't as soon as I had hoped, but the functional foundation and pelvic floor healing that I've allowed for myself has made my sports-specific training so much more beneficial and results-based!

Be honest with yourself.

Don't set a goal of running a marathon that first year postpartum, unless you've been training in some way for that marathon for the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy. And then, be cautious. Instead, maybe aim for a 10K or a half. Give yourself that first year to fully recover functionally before adding in major sport-specific training. Set smaller 3 and 6 months goals before taking on the big goal. Get yourself to a point where you are rested and able to truly focus on your training, while still providing for your family physically and emotionally. Progress appropriately, and preferably with a professional who truly understand women's health and sports training. Above everything - listen to your body. If it feels off, if there is pain, if these is lack of function, then it's too soon.

Trying to make your own comeback?

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