My Struggle To Get My Body Back Post Baby: An Excerpt from Jenna Wolfe’s “Thinner in 30”


After I had my first daughter, Harper, I remember counting down the days until I got the green light from my OB to go back to the gym. It was six weeks. Six weeks was the magic number in my head. I knew that if I got to Week Six and everyone was healthy, I could slowly start to refocus my attention (at least a tiny tiny tiny portion of it) on getting myself back in shape. I had been breastfeeding all along, so I was still burning calories (you can burn an extra 300-500 calories a day breastfeeding), but I wanted my pre-baby body back.

So after getting my “all clear” from the doctor, I left her office and went straight to the gym. I was so pumped to start moving, jumping, squatting, lifting, pressing, biking, lunging… to do anything. So I walked in, threw my stuff down, and headed over to my usual spot, where I was hoping to lose myself in sweat like old times.

But that didn’t happen.

The old times were clearly no longer. I couldn’t start. I just stood there. Staring in the mirror. Looking at this unrecognizable body of mine.

I wasn’t fat. I was… post-baby plump. But I guess I hadn’t seen myself like this before… under the gym lights, without the security of my maternity clothes. I felt overwhelmed.

For the last six weeks, people had been telling me how great I looked after having the baby, and maybe I bought into it without really earning the compliment, because looking at myself in that mirror I certainly didn’t feel great.

“It’s such an uphill climb,” I thought. “How will I ever get back to the way I used to look? And what if I can’t get there? What if I lost my motivation?” Clearly all I was capable of doing that day was a slow and easy workout, but I knew that slow and easy wouldn’t make me any friends. I’d have to do 5,000 mountain climbers to come even close to a decent workout (a purely irrational thought). So… what’s the point?

And then it hit me.

It’s not supposed to be easy. Day One of any sort of change, much less this one, is a monumental act of courage. I know it because I was there. Standing in front of a mirror, completely exposed, staring up the hill with what felt like lead legs.

All those times I had rallied my clients around the concept of “one day at time.” All those sessions when I had told them that if you change nothing, nothing changes. All those moments I preached that even the shortest workout on the tough days is better than nothing.

And yet there I stood… and did just that… Nothing.

Just like so many people standing at the starting gate on Day One, I was terrified to start. I finally understood their fear. I finally realized that people don’t refuse change because they’re lazy. They refuse it because they’re scared. I was afraid to fail so I was afraid to start.

Everyone ounce of every fiber of my being wanted to run home, put on my loose maternity clothes, and hide in my apartment. But how could I ever expect to see a change if I decided not to make one? I saw that on the back of a bus once and never understood what it meant until that moment.

So even though I was wearing three sports bras (if you’ve ever tried to work out while breastfeeding, you’ll know why) and a baggy T-shirt with cut-off sweats (the least motivational outfit ever). And despite being a little sore from having had a baby exactly six weeks prior (did you notice that little was in italics?), I forced myself to look at the frightened girl in the mirror. I stared at her insecurities, her postpartum frustrations, and her bigger body, and just when I thought I couldn’t stand there anymore, I said out loud: “I can and I will.”

I can and I will.

I can and I will.

I can and I will.

I kept saying it over and over until I finally moved, until I was able to get myself down on the floor and start working out. I thought I could do 200 mountain climbers right off the bat. I did 50. And you know what? That was OK by me because at least I did something. I started and did something.

I continued to push myself for forty-five long, grueling minutes. And when I was done, I grabbed my stuff, said goodbye to the girl staring back at me in the mirror, and headed home. Day One was over. And unless I wanted another Day One a few weeks down the road, I knew I needed to get right back to the gym to see Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, and so on.

Because I could—and I would—and I did.

I relied on each and every one of the thirty Changes to get back in shape after having both of my kids. I’ve used them with my friends, my family, and my clients to help them all lose weight and improve their health. They’ve worked for me, they’ve worked for them, and now, they’re yours.

With that… a book was born. And you can thank that conversation with my mom for reminding me of my relationship with change. You see, my mom wanted to lose the flab under her arms, but she didn’t want to do the work because it felt like it would be too much–and I get that.

Exercise can be intimidating.

The moves hurt.

Diets don’t last.

Pizza is delicious.

I can go on and on.

We are cut from a cultural cloth where we don’t start our diets until Monday, we vow to lose thirty pounds in a week and when the going gets tough, we just postpone getting in shape until next month or until the weather gets warmer–whichever comes second.

It takes more than just wanting to improve to see results. It takes energy and willpower and failure and a little sweat and a few tears, but more importantly, it takes time, patience, and commitment. Change doesn’t happen in a day. If it did, we’d all be perfect from Day One.

But if you adjust your expectations and approach change the right way (not by swearing to lose four hundred pounds by Thursday), it’s doable. And if you take the big word change and break it up into thirty little pieces, it suddenly becomes more manageable.

That’s the approach with this book. All I’m asking you to do is make thirty small changes in your life. I won’t ask you to give up everything you know on Day One and wish you the best. Instead, I’ve weeded through the junk out there and eliminated the impractical, separated the science, and packed each chapter with the things you need to know in the right order. Best of all, I’m even letting you decide the pace, so there’s no pressure to perform and no one watching over your shoulder.

You now have an opportunity to change the one thing that everyone is dying to change, yet so few people do–their life.

You can do this.

We can do this.

Let’s take this journey together, and by the time we’re done, you won’t need me–or anyone’s help–when it comes to living a better, healthier lifestyle.

The bottom line is simple. One step at a time, one day at a time, one result at a time… OK, I’m terrible at math. But I know that it all adds up to a better you, and if I can get my parents to buy into this concept, I can get anyone to do it.

Read more about Jenna’s journey and easy ways to start losing weight in Jenna’s book “Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days.”

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