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Being the wife of a trainer, I spent all of my pregnancy convinced that the minute I got the go-ahead from my doctor I was going to be hitting the gym daily, running miles on end, following all the great nutrition information I had at the tips of my fingers and just watch all the baby weight as it melted off my body. I mean, I had all the resources right? And I was also nursing, so that should just speed up the fat burn, true? The reality was very different – and I write this 21 months post-baby! For 12 whole months I battled the baby weight and many a times I nearly gave up. I was doing everything perfectly. I had access to my very own trainer and a gym in our basement, but still, my skinny jeans and dresses weren’t fitting like they used to.

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Fourteen months postpartum, after many lessons learned and tears shed, I was back! I am not here to say that all women need this much time, but I am here to say that for some it does take time and it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right – it just means that your body needs time. Below I’ll share the five points I took away from the experience – and I hope they can help you all be a little kinder to yourself in those post-baby months when your whole world turns upside down and the person staring back at you in the mirror just isn’t who you want it to be.

Be kind to yourself. Time and time again, especially through my training in counseling I have come to realize how easy it is for us to show kindness and compassion towards others and not towards ourselves. When speaking to a friend after she’s had a baby, phrases like “You’re doing great! You just had a baby!” or “You look fantastic!” are common, but how easy is it for us to be kind to ourselves? I learned this after months of being pretty mean to the person in the mirror. But, when I did learn to be kinder to myself I found a new inner peace and when the weight did finally come off and the six pack started to show from the months and months of training I had committed to it, I was able to see the results and appreciate them, because I could look into that mirror with kindness and inner peace. So, when you’re about to say something mean to yourself, stop and think – would you say that to your best friend?

Give it time. One delusion I had was that at six weeks postpartum I was going to run 10 miles. I don’t know where it came from but it was there, lodged in my head. I never learned patience as much as I did in those first few months. Results can take time to see, whether they are weight goals, distance and time goals with running, lifting goals or so on. Yes, every person is different, and just because your friend who had a baby two months after you is already looking better than you, it doesn’t mean you are failing. Give your body time to adjust to the training and be gracious to yourself. Put in the effort and in time you will see results, even if it does take a little longer than you wished for.

>> Read more: Stay Strong During Your Pregnancy With Amanda Strong

Keep yourself accountable. I knew this before my struggle to get my pre-baby body back; however, it never meant more than during that post-baby year. Babies take a lot of time and energy and keeping myself accountable for working out and eating right was key to achieving my goals. In my case, it was my husband. I made sure he knew that I wanted to be held accountable for working out and sticking to the training plan. Having a trainer really did help and for anyone considering it, I’d say if you need that extra push, commit to treating yourself to a personal trainer who can really develop a program specifically for you. However, if that isn’t an option, team up with other mamas, or just speak to a close friend about your goals. Something that also helps me with accountability is joining an exercise class with a friend, whether it’s yoga, bootcamp or a running group, just knowing that someone is counting on you to be there makes you so much less likely to miss when you’re having a stressful and busy day.

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Make it fun. If you want to succeed at committing to working out and eating right, MAKE IT FUN! If you aren’t into swimming, making that your workout of choice to get your pre-baby body back just isn’t gonna work. When your days are long and your nights even longer, lounging on your couch with a hot cocoa in one hand and a brownie in the other while watching your favorite TV show will always sound better than engaging in an activity you don’t particularly enjoy. Sign up for a dance class with friends, take your baby with you to a yoga class in the park, try a bootcamp session that offers childcare or a personal training session when your partner is home to watch your kiddo and you can grab a coffee with a friend right after. Whatever you choose as your workout, make it one that sounds fun to you, even if that means it only sounds fun because you’ll see your friend there and grab a coffee on the way home.

Reward yourself (and not with food). Something I definitely knew pre-baby was not to reward myself with food for reaching weight related goals, but I still found myself reaching for the ice cream way too often and convincing myself it was okay since it was gluten free, dairy free and non-GMO. In reality it was still a whole lot of calories that I had to burn through. So I changed my game plan; I set goals and bought clothes for myself as a reward when I hit each goal. This also meant that I was very motivated to meet my goals since I would already know what outfit I wanted to get. After buying the clothes, I still wanted to look good in them so it stopped me from indulging, since I knew that that cute pair of skinny jeans I just got wasn’t gonna look very cute with a muffin top. I’m not saying that everyone’s reward should be a new pair of jeans or a dress, but find something that is meaningful to you and that you truly will value as a reward and will keep you motivated!

>> Read more: 17 Ways to Reward Yourself for Reaching Your Goals

Mamas, life with a newborn isn’t easy. It is busy filled with sleepless nights and jam-packed days. Your body will come back but try hard not to make it your only focus during those first few months. I learned it the hard way. I was so focused on being the “me” I was before having my daughter that I ended up marring some of those first months with negative self talk and just general unhappiness about the way I looked. In reality, when I look back, I looked just fine. I looked like a woman who had just had a baby and that is okay! These definitely aren’t the only things I’ve learned with regards to losing the baby weight and keeping it off, but I will stop here for today because I know your time is precious!