April 28, 2020

Having a baby changes everything. Not only does your body go through an intense transformation, but you suddenly find yourself with less time and more responsibilities. Things like fitness and making time for yourself aren’t as easy to make happen as they once were. 

Before getting pregnant with her now one-year-old son Sully, Kendra Sullivan was an avid runner and certified yoga instructor. Now, one year postpartum, she’s finding her stride in a new fitness routine.

“Once I found out I was pregnant, I stopped running,” she says. “I just didn't feel like physically pushing myself. Instead, I became an avid walker. I walked my dogs in our neighborhood nearly every day of my pregnancy, including the day Sully was born.”

After giving birth and getting clearance from her doctor, Sullivan knew she wanted to get back into her fitness routine, but there were obvious obstacles. In addition to being a new mom, she was also juggling her workload as a ninth grade teacher.

“Before baby, I could basically go run or do yoga whenever worked best for me. Now, it has to be scheduled around [my husband] Chris's availability and mine, so someone can watch Sully,” she says. Plus, Sullivan admits that sometimes fitness just can’t be the priority. “I'm also tired all the time, which can make it more difficult to get out there and get active,” she says. “Sometimes I need a nap more than a run.”

However, it’s granting herself this flexibility that has allowed Sullivan to slowly build back up into a sustainable fitness routine. Now, one year into parenthood, she finds time to run about two to three times a week. It isn’t as much as she would like, but it’s something — and she’s learning that having an “all or nothing” attitude simply doesn’t work once you throw kids in the mix.

“Post-baby, I've had a shift in thinking that has allowed me to feel OK about running and walking,” she says. “Pre-baby, I would have felt like any run that included a walk didn't really count. I've learned to give myself a lot more grace and have tried to adopt more of an ‘all or something’ attitude.”

After all, postpartum fitness is about much more than physical exercise. For Sullivan, she said it made her feel like herself again. “It has helped me re-craft my confidence and build strength,” she says. “I also can't overstate the importance of alone time. Often a run or a yoga class is the only time in the day I can carve out just for me.”  

If you’re a new mom in the throes of late-night feedings, wondering if you’ll ever find time to go for a run again, take heart: it’ll happen. Sullivan’s biggest advice to new moms? Start adding fitness back in as soon as you’re cleared by your doctor — but build up slowly.

“A little grace will go a long way,” she says.

Thanks for sharing your journey, Kendra! Give our best to Sully.

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