Exercise and PPD

One of the things that I have been doing lately to help with my PPD is exercise.  Yeah, yeah, yeah I know.  I know that you have heard it can help and I know that you have tried it.  And it didn’t work.  It didn’t work for me either.  I didn’t notice any relief from my PPD symptoms from a 30 minute sweat session.  On day one that is.  Or on day two.  Or even on day 10.  But then I started noticing something: I was getting stronger.  I could do two full pushups on my toes with proper form: abs in tight, glutes squeezed, my body as straight as a table.  And while you may think that is not a lot, I could not do that on day one.  The next thing I noticed? My endurance increased.  I was able to run for longer periods of time.  And finish the full minute of squats whereas on day one, I could only get through 30 seconds.  By week three, I was noticing small, subtle changes in my body.  My pants were a little looser.  My belly wasn’t protruding as much, even with a diastasis recti.  What a great feeling!  If you think you may have a diastasis recti or want more information on it, click here.

What was going on?  I was making progress in my fitness and nutrition.  I cleaned up my eating habits and pushed through each workout.  Even if I hated it, I completed the day’s scheduled workout.  And then another thing happened.  I began noticing my mood when I was done.  I was calmer, kinder, and I had patience.  I could focus on what I needed to.  I had a little bit of a reprieve from the mood swings that comes with PPD.  If you have ever been a runner, you may have experienced the euphoria that is called the “runner’s high” and that is what I can liken this to.  At first, it only lasted maybe an hour, but then that feeling began to stick around a little longer.  Now it lasts a good 3-4 hours of my day.  And while this feeling still does not last all day, it is enough.  Even one hour of blissful calm is enough. It is worth it!  It is a feeling that you can grasp on to and work with.  And even when I feel that feeling is waning, I then have the energy to be able to direct my attention and mood towards the positive.

For example: take dinner time with a hangry husband and two hangry children.  In case you don’t know, hangry is hungry and angry.  They are so hungry they are angry.  With this includes tantrums, fits, arguments, and so on.  So let’s say 5:30pm, rolls around and dinner is not even started.  Husband gets home and he’s hangry.  The kids had their snack 2 hours ago, but how long can crackers really hold children over?  So they are hangry too.  Now you have total chaos.  You also haven’t had a chance to workout yet so your mind is also in total chaos.  You can’t focus on dinner because the kids are fighting and throwing fits.  The kitchen is still a mess because you haven’t had the energy to clean the dishes after breakfast.  Or lunch.  Your husband is upset and is reacting negatively to you and the kids, who are in chaos, and searching for the first quick fix.  So you end up eating cereal and although the kids are happy, you and hubby (with the weight loss goals) are not satisfied, still hungry, and any clean eating for the day was wasted.

Now I am not saying that when you workout, everything will be blissful and smooth-running.  What I am saying is you will have the ability to stay calm and collected so that you can weather the hangry storm.  If you complete your workout early enough in the day, you can plan a little better.  Maybe start dinner at 3:30 and have it ready by the established dinner time.  Or even if dinner isn’t started till 5:30, you can still work with the hangry kids and husband so the chaos doesn’t escalate to an unmanageable level.  It is simply a tool to help you manage your moods and your day a little better.  That’s all.

You don’t have to go to extremes.  Start a running routine.  Start lifting weights.  There are tons of workout programs available.  If you are a stay at home mom, or are unable to hit the gym, Beachbody has so many programs to choose from.  If you are wanting an introduction into workout out, the 21 Day Fix is a great program to ease you into the routine that also offers a wonderful nutrition program as well.  Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it.  If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t continue.  And we need all the enjoyment we can get!  Get a workout buddy.  Sign up for a challenge for support and accountability.  You will not regret it!  Not only will you notice help with your mood swings, but you will also reap so many other benefits of becoming active that soon, you will not want to quit.  I don’t care what you do for exercise, just get out and be active.  If it’s sunny out, put on your shoes and go for a walk.  Throw the ball with your kiddo.  If the weather is not cooperative, run up and down the stairs a few times.  Challenge yourself to do something each hour.  One hour, do 10 squats.  The next hour do 10 pushups.  The next, dance with your toddler for 15 minutes.  You get the idea.  Any little boost helps.

Whatever you do, don’t discount exercise as a form of therapy.  Give it a try for 30 days.  A good, solid try.   Journal the process.  How are you eating?  If you are following the 21 Day Fix, are you eating all of your containers?  How are the exercises going?  How are you feeling after your exercises?  What changes are you noticing?  By keeping track, you will be able to notice more than if you did not journal.

That is all for this post.  Stay with me as I cover more therapeutic techniques that are helping me.  I wish you all the best.  Sending you blessings and prayers.

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