Two months ago, I received clearance from my doctor to get serious about my postpartum health and exercise journey.

As many of you have read, I recommend setting goals for your wellness and fitness journey that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals (Living Wellness for Growth Groups, p. 17). I decided from the beginning to make it my goal to be back to pre-baby shape and size by Thanksgiving—just in time to make a new plan to get through the holidays healthy and with a new baby! My purpose for blogging through this journey is not to keep a digital journal but rather to give you inspiration AND to receive encouragement as well. I have been thrilled with your response from my first post—please keep your stories coming! I want to hear about your struggles and progress.

I’m happy to report I HAVE made a little progress these past two months, but progress nonetheless! Here’s what I’ve been up to. I hope this inspires you, wherever you’re at in your health journey.

Steps that have worked for me:

  1.       Being mindful and inviting God into my health journey (see my last blog post for more on this).
  2.       Exercising every single day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I found that if I do my exercises right before bed, I actually do them. Focusing on deep breathing and proper posture calms me down rather than riling me up right before bed. When baby is playing on the floor, I often run through the Living Wellness for Growth Groups exercises (full body exercises, stretches, and foam-rolling ideas on p. 251-256) right next to him!
  3.       Playing a recreational sport. Sticking my toes in the sand, soaking up sunshine, and laughing with friends is therapeutic AND healthy!

Steps that have not worked:

  1.       Weighing myself too often. I’m more focused and less stressed when I use the scale sparingly.
  2.       Going clothes shopping prior to making significant progress (a.k.a last week, a.k.a bad idea).

Action steps for the next two weeks:

  1.       Get accountability partner. I need someone to check in with me EVERY SINGLE DAY. Someone who won’t let me make excuses or forget to check in for a week. I have a plan to get that rolling this week.
  2.       Track my food intake in an app (I think I’ll use myfitnesspal). I’m not going to restrict any calories right now while I’m nursing, but I want to have an accurate account of how much I’m eating every day.
  3.       Find joy in the journey! I’m not beating myself up or shutting myself down. I’m practicing better health, not trying and failing.

Two weeks goes so fast! Make one SMART goal and give it your best shot. I look forward to your stories, challenges, and successes—and I’ll check back with my own progress in two weeks!

Blessings, friends!

Ashley Darkenwald

Author Ashley Darkenwald

Ashley Darkenwald is an inspirational speaker and the author of Living Wellness, the book encompassing her 10+ years as a fitness professional, club owner, and nutrition fanatic. Ashley enjoys homeschooling her two children, leading worship at the WHY church in Elk River, and playing sand volleyball in the summer. Ashley’s favorite speaking topic is FREEDOM through the practice of exceptional health.

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