Client Case Study – Mary’s Postnatal Fitness Journey
Welcome to the first in a series of blogs which aim to showcase some of my amazing clients and provide an insight into their fitness journeys and how personal training is helping them to reach their goals. Meet Mary …
Mary messaged me in mid-September saying that she’d had a baby 7 months ago and wanted to get back to fitness and lose the weight that she had gained during pregnancy. We got together the following week to do some fitness tests and to talk in more detail about her goals.
Whilst weight loss was a main goal and source of motivation for Mary, we discussed that this needed to be ‘fat loss’ and not loss of muscle mass and that it was important to focus on building strength and improving overall fitness i.e not just hitting a number on the scales. Based on this and the test results we agreed some programme goals including;
Losing bodyfat at a rate of no more than 1-2lb per week in order to move out of overweight ranges.
Increasing lean muscle tissue through resistance training.
Improving muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness (focusing on improving scores in step and push up tests).
Improving flexibility and range of motion in some areas which had become tight (hips and back).
Improving pelvic floor strength and responsiveness upon load and impact.
Making some improvements to nutrition, mainly around Mary reducing sugar and fatty foods intake, eating a wider range of foods and incorporating more lean sources of protein and wholegrains into her diet.
The Programme Approach
Mary is a busy lady, not only having a small baby to look after but 2 daughters at primary school and a business to run. Mary was realistic in acknowledging that she would not be able to find time to exercise much outside of her PT sessions and so we agreed that we would meet 3 times per week for an hours session which aside from some light cardio would incorporate most of Mary’s exercise needs for the week.
Mary’s programme involves a mixture of muscular strength and endurance circuits, strength sets and a more cardio based session (Mary’s favourite!) Each session is different to make it fun and interesting for Mary and over the weeks the sessions are getting gradually more challenging as Mary’s strength and fitness keeps improving.
As I am qualified in training pre and post natal women, I knew that it was important that we trained from the weakest area up, which was as is often the case postnatally, the core and pelvic floor. So, we spent a good amount of time in those early sessions focussing on correct breathing mechanics, correct pelvic floor and deep abdominal contraction (and relaxation which is equally important for a strong pelvic floor) before we progressed onto anything ‘loaded’. The next stage involved working on pelvic floor and core awareness during movement and loaded exercises, very gradually introducing light impact.
This approach laid a strong foundation for Mary to build on and is such an important step in post natal recovery. In addition to what we did together in PT, Mary was working hard outside of PT to remember her daily pelvic floor exercises.
All sessions also focussed on full body functional movements (a fancy way of saying movements which translate into real life) so that Mary would be strong and fit for all of the tasks her day involved from carrying a gorgeous but increasingly heavy baby around, lifting and twisting to put in a car seat and getting up and down off the floor numerous times a day! I also wanted to ensure that Mary finished her session feeling energised for the day and not exhausted so that she was capable of doing all of these things.
Mary has shown fantastic commitment and has done extremely well and continues to do so, turning up week in week out. Real life means that some days you turn up feeling really up for it but on other days especially after a broken night’s sleep with a waking baby – not so much! But, the important thing that Mary does is to turn up regardless. We push it a little more on the days where energy levels are up and adapt and scale back a bit on those other days. Plus, all of this has gone on through the backdrop of the pandemic, children going to school for periods and then being sent home (for both of us!), us being able to train indoors and then having to go out into the elements as indoor training was banned, some sessions we had a little audience of Mary’s baby and daughters who seemed to find our sessions very entertaining. I say all of this to highlight that there are no perfect circumstances to start putting your health and fitness needs first, just get started and show up and we can work the rest out together.
In 4 months, Mary has lost 8.2kg, 9.5cm around her waist and 10cm around her hips. This was all gradual and what came off has stayed off. Mary has doubled the amount she is able to lift on some exercises such as chest press and deadlifts and has gone from not being able to perform a well-executed ¾ knee push up to being able to perform perfect full body incline push ups on a low bench. Mary’s mobility and movement patterns have improved so her form always looks great and last week at 11 months post-partum Mary was confident enough to try some (landing softly) squat jumps which she was able to perform without any pelvic floor issues.
Whilst Mary’s programme and journey is unique to her, I hope that Mary’s story demonstrates some of the principles that I really believe in and my training ethos. Things like consistency and hard work over time to get results and no quick fixes, working at your current level and gradually building so exercise is always a good challenge but also achievable, my holistic approach taking into consideration the demands of your life, working from the weakest link up as the way to build true strength and an ‘anti-diet’ approach (yes Mary made some changes to her nutrition habits but she still enjoys food and has found a good balance which includes the odd takeaway and treat).
Mary turned 40 this week and I think we can all agree she looks (and most importantly feels!) truly fabulous at 40!
If Mary’s story has inspired you to start your own fitness journey and you would like to find out how personal training could help you please get in touch for a no obligation chat.