A Fitness Journey: The Importance of A Supportive Partner

I sat here at my computer for a while trying to figure out how to start this post, and it finally came to me in one blunt thought: “it takes two people to make a baby and it’s going to take effort from both of those people if the mother wants to get back in shape afterwards.”  This thought has been on my mind because I’m right in the midst of my postpartum journey after baby #2 and I know how much of a struggle it can be to lose the weight.  I’m extremely lucky in that my husband and I have always run and exercised together so he knows just how important it is for me to get back into shape.  He never makes me feel guilty when I say that I’m going to go run and I need him to watch the children, and if I say I want to run but the day starts slipping away from me he’ll say “didn’t you say you wanted to go run?  I can watch the kids, you take your time.”  He is always encouraging and always there to help me however I need him to.  Heck, when I told him I wanted to run a marathon before Jack turned 1 he was fully supportive and even ran 20 miles with Jack in the stroller so that I he could keep me company on my longest run.  That’s a true partner.  He’s seriously the best husband ever and I thank God every day that we stumbled upon each other at work so many years ago (and coincidentally our first real conversation was about distance running).  Having a partner who is both willing and able to help is monumental in getting back into shape.  Even though our daughter still won’t take a bottle (and wouldn’t take a pacifier for the longest time), he always encourages me to get out the door even if it means that he’ll end up standing with a crying baby the entire time.  I am so incredibly thankful for my husband because I know all husbands aren’t naturally so supportive.  

It’s easy for a mom to feel guilty for taking time for herself but one thing I’ve learned in my scant 2+ years of being a mother is that you have to fill your cup up if you’re going to fill up the cups of your family.  I know that I feel so much better after a workout and I also end up with more patience with my children (here’s looking at you, Jack) and more energy to play with them and accomplish other tasks.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “oh I’m to tired to work out,” especially if your husband isn’t on board.  I see the term “mom guilt” thrown around on social media all the time, but y’all, you should not feel guilty for trying to be the best version of yourself!  I know that I was always proud (and I still am proud) that my mom was the fit mom who could run around and play with us and also still wear a bikini and look amazing after 2 kids.  I also knew that one day I wanted to be exactly the same type of mom that she was so now’s my chance to make it happen.  I guess the point is, if you’re worried that spending time away from your child so you can work out will hurt them, believe me, it will do just the opposite.  They will learn healthy habits from you and they’ll also be so proud that you are their mom!

I have many friends who don’t make themselves a priority, even though they’re dying to get back in shape and lose the baby weight.  And I have read on countless medical/pregnancy websites that if you don’t lose the baby weight within a year that weight will likely become permanent…so time is truly of the essence!  It’s so easy to become complacent when you throw your whole self into motherhood, but if you’re struggling you’ve got to figure out how to get support from your partner so that you can take time for yourself.  

If you’re in that situation, does your spouse know you want to get back into shape?  Does he know you’re struggling?  Sometimes men aren’t quite so good at reading in between the lines and may need a frank discussion about it.  If you are good at finding excuses for yourself maybe you could tell him you need encouragement to get out the door.  ( I know I do sometimes.)  Explain to him that you will be a better wife and mother if you take time for yourself to work out and his support is essential.   Honestly, it may not have even crossed his mind.  Sometimes Tom will say “did you want to work out today?” and then I’ll remember that it’s been a few days and immediately jump on the opportunity.  (Although to be honest sometimes I’m too tired and say “nope.”)  And if the support you need is for him to be on board with joining a gym, let him know and then get your money’s worth and actually use it!  Marriages are a partnership and they work so much better when both people are on the same page.  To be fair though, don’t make him feel bad when he takes time for himself to go workout.  Tom is an extremely dedicated runner and I know he feels better and is happier when he runs about 6 times a week, and I don’t begrudge him for having that time to himself…and honestly most of the time he takes Jack with him in the BOB so it gives me a little break too 🙂  Like I said, the man is the best. 

What has your postpartum fitness journey been like?  I’d love to hear!  And if you’re struggling to get back into shape after having a baby talk to your partner about it.  Having a partner that’s on board is such a game changer! 

And just a little note: I’m about 4 and a half months postpartum and still have 5 pounds to go before I’m at the high end of my “happy and fit weight” and still have lots of toning up to do.  125-130 is where I like to be, and I know these last 5 to 10 pounds are going to be stubborn ones!  
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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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  1. January 17, 2018 / 6:00 pm

    My postpartum journey is still a struggle— between work and some crazy hormone balance issues, I've had a REALLY hard time making self-care a priority. But we're changing that!!

  2. Julia
    January 17, 2018 / 6:01 pm

    Oh Katie, this is such a great post on so many levels! Your love for your husband shines through and I hope he reads it. 🙂
    My son is two months younger than Jack and I lost the baby weight quite quickly (I‘m so sorry – this sounds as if I‘m bragging). I actually lost more weight than was healthy for me so I took a different approach to working out: I did it to gain muscle. My husband (there he is!) and I went on long walks (1 hour) every day with our son and I also did the Bikini Body Guides by Kayla Itsines (google her if you don‘t know her already, I can‘t recommend her enough).

    Thank you for your honesty and your encouraging us fellow moms. Like Jack, my son is just starting preschool and I am finding it so hard to leave him. Your post gives me a positive outlook on the time away from him, erasing some of the mom guilt that plagues me.

    Your blog is such a blessing, thank you for keeping it up!

    Love from Germany,

  3. January 18, 2018 / 1:10 am

    I know that must be difficult, Sarah. You work so stinking hard and since you love your job it must be difficult to take a little time for yourself. Good luck with getting everything straightened out! Let me know if there is anything I can do from afar (like more workout posts or whatever). You've got this, girl!

  4. January 18, 2018 / 1:17 am

    Thank you Julia! Tom always reads my posts and I told him this one would make him feel pretty good about himself 🙂 Not sure if he's read it yet though since he's still at work.

    I was exactly the same way with weight loss last time. I stalled at about 4 months and then from 6 to 9 months postpartum I dropped way below anything I've ever been before, it was crazy. I think my supply was affected too because of marathon training. It'll be interesting to see what happens this time around. I've seen Kayla Itsines on instagram before and have heard that lots of good success stories.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a wonderful and encouraging comment. I'm so glad you enjoy reading my blog and that you find it encouraging too! And good luck with preschool for your son! Each day seems to get better for Jack. He's still not good at doing what the rest of the class is doing but hopefully he'll get there soon.

  5. January 18, 2018 / 10:40 pm

    I say the same thing about breastfeeding! It would be so hard (maybe impossible) without a supportive husband!! Thank God for them!

  6. January 18, 2018 / 11:07 pm

    I couldn't agree more! I'm always like "I'm so thirsty can you grab me some water?" or "uh oh I don't have a pad on the other side, please grab me something…anything!" haha. Thank goodness for supportive husbands!

  7. Anonymous
    January 22, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    You seem like a nice person who has your heart in the right place, but this post could really send the wrong message to women. The last thing women need is another article basically telling them that their weight, body image, or even husband is the most important thing in their lives. Some of us are working moms who balance a career on top of raising kids. Some of us can't lean on a partner because they are deployed, or we just don't have one. And you know what? Even without a partner, some of us do still manage to get back in shape after pregnancy. Women can be amazingly resilient and independent when we're not taught to depend on a man. And you know what else? Some moms don't get back in shape after having a baby, and that is perfectly okay too. It is okay for moms to have priorities outside of our weight because some of us have to take care of children in addition to working to provide for those children rather than depending on a man to provide for us.

    How would you feel about an article that pressures moms to go back to work full-time within a year of having a baby, because otherwise their careers are gone forever? Just as it's ok for you to have priorities outside of your career, it's ok for other moms to have priorities outside of their weight. Being a mom is hard enough without the extra pressure from fellow moms; we should all just support each other regardless of if we are a single working mom who does not exercise, or a married stay-at-home mom who does exercise. Again, you seem like a lovely person, and I am happy for you that your motherhood journey is working out well for you and your husband. But, please think twice before you put yet another post out on the internet for young girls everywhere to read that makes them think that their weight is of the utmost importance in their life, or that they need to depend on a man to support them when women are totally capable of being independent.

  8. February 6, 2018 / 11:31 pm

    This is such a wonderful post! As a single gal in her 30’s, I realized a long time ago if I want to be the best person I can be to my boyfriend, fiancé, husband and children someday I must be the best that I can be for me! It’s so easy to make excuses and when you do, it never feels right. (Don’t get me wrong, chips and salsa and movies sans the gym are sometimes a must!) however when I do overcome the excuses it feels so great and reminds me why I love to workout in the first place! I Love all of your posts and can’t wait to try your treadmill workout! Keeping up with your Instagram posts and blog always gives me the boost of inspiration and brightness to my day that I need! When I trained for my first marathon last year, your advice was so helpful to me! Thank you!!!

  9. June 4, 2018 / 12:18 am

    I’m so happy I recently found your blog! Reading how you get your workouts in are quite helpful! I have a four year old and a five month old baby. Currently I have just been running about two miles a day several days a week bc I am scared if I do much more my milk supply will drop. Do you have any tips on how for this not to happen with longer runs or more workouts? (I thought from something you wrote that you breastfed while doing this, if not no problem!) thanks for all the inspiration!

  10. June 4, 2018 / 12:21 am

    Hi Kristi! I'm so sorry I'm just now responding, for some reason your comment never popped up for me to publish until now. Anyway, yes! I'm still breastfeeding and haven't had any issues with supply dropping while upping my mileage. The key (for me, at least) is drinking tons of water, nursing on demand (my girl looooooves to nurse for comfort), and don't restrict your calories. I find that eating healthy fats is essential. Nuts, nut butters, avocado, eggs, full fat greek yogurt, etc. are all big parts of my diet. Hope that helps and great job on getting back into running after having your second baby!

  11. September 23, 2021 / 7:30 am

    When it comes to nursing, I say the same thing! Without a supporting husband, it would be extremely difficult (perhaps impossible)!! They are a blessing from God!

    • September 23, 2021 / 9:56 am

      Couldn’t agree more!

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