Here’s what happens when a former Cardio Queen decides to actually dedicate herself to strength training! So, about 6 weeks ago, I started boot camp at my gym. I decided to do this for several reasons. The first, and biggest reason, was that I was experiencing horrible back pain and had noticed that many everyday activities felt very challenging. During my pregnancy with Claire, I gained 45 pounds. While I stayed active throughout pregnancy, I focused on light cardio (mostly walking and low intensity swimming). In the initial months following Claire’s birth, my body felt wrung out. Pregnancy, weight gain, delivery, sleep deprivation, hunching over to nurse, lifting up my heavy toddler, carrying around a newborn all day – it was hard on my body. My core muscles were shot.
Simple things like going up and down the stairs, carrying groceries in, or getting up off the floor after playing with Henry felt like a chore, despite the fact that I had been cardio exercising at an intense duration/frequency since Claire was about 6 weeks old.
The second reason I started to do boot camp was I really want to have a strong summer triathlon season. I’m only doing two races (a sprint in May and an Olympic in August), and I want to do my best. I know the fourth sport of triathlon is strength training, but I’ve never dedicated myself to it, even when I did a Half Ironman. I wanted to give myself time to really build strength before I start focusing on swimming, biking, and running.
And last, but not least, I joined boot camp because I knew that I would never stay dedicated to strength training on my own. I’ve tried it so many times. But I just feel lost and aimless in the weight room. I considered getting a personal trainer, but it was out of my price point. The boot camp instructors seemed really nice, and the schedule of sessions fit in well with my/the kids’ schedules. Even though boot camp costs me an extra $90 a month, I felt like it would be worth it.
When I started boot camp, I was 3 months postpartum and pretty out of shape, despite being able to run decent distances. Like I said – I’m a Cardio Queen! But I couldn’t even do a single ‘real’ push-up. Weighted squats were super challenging. Sit-ups? Oh Lord! (Side note: If you’re postpartum, talk to your doctor about diastasis recti before doing ab work.) I had lost 30 pounds since delivering Claire, but I was still 15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not super focused on the number on the scale, but I do keep track of my PP weight loss just because it’s a quantifiable measurement.
For 6 weeks, I went to boot camp three times a week and did an additional two days of cardio. I did not ‘diet’ at all. I tried to eat mostly healthy, but I always try to eat healthy. There was still lots of chocolate and wine in my diet! I drank a LOT of water. But I was really dedicated to my boot camp classes; I never missed a single class that I intended to go to, and I gave it 100% in each session.
Here are the BEFORE and PROGRESS REPORT pics!
By the way, I think pictures are a really fun and positive way to keep track of your progress (see –> Other Ways to Measure Progress).
I am a lot stronger after 6 weeks of boot camp – I can keep up with the classes a lot easier than before. I can do a TON more sit-ups (we sometimes do HUNDREDS in a single class) and I busted out EIGHT straight ‘real’ push-ups the other night. My back pain is GONE, which is amazing. I can spring up from the floor and sprint up the stairs – I feel so much more physically capable now. It’s really cool to see how strength training translates into my everyday life and makes things like grocery shopping, playing with my kids, or moving furniture easier. And, of course, it also translates to my cardio. I don’t think I could’ve run a 26:41 5K without boot camp!
I hopped on the scale recently and discovered that I lost 6.5 pounds without adjusting my diet at all! I can wear almost 95% of my pre-pregnancy clothes, which is thrilling to me because I feel like I suddenly have a “new” wardrobe.
Physically, I feel awesome. But when it comes to boot camp, there’s lots of room for me to continue to improve… The classes are “for time” and I’m usually finishing in the back of the pack. I still do most of the ab moves with modifications, and I’m not selecting the heaviest weights. I’m just now starting to do moves on the TRX, as my abs were way too weak to do anything like that before. I can’t wait to see what the next 6 weeks bring – and the next 6 weeks after that! After years and years of shunning strength training, I’m a convert – I just needed to find a class, an atmosphere, and a team to motivate me to stick with it!