One of the major mind shifts that took place after I became a mom is what "counted" as exercise. Before kids, exercise was strenuous, took a big chunk of time, caused profuse sweating, and made me sore. Always.
After the babies started coming I figured out quickly that I would need to expand my definition of exercise. And while I was not "exercising" by my old standards, I was moving more than I ever could have predicted.
"How did you lose your baby weight?" I remember people asking after the twins were born (and I had gained 60+ pounds so there was plenty to lose.)
I can't say for sure, but I don't remember ever sitting down. I think my weightloss was due in part to the hours I spent standing on one leg bouncing one baby in my arms while using my other foot to bounce her twin in a bouncy seat. For hours. They wouldn't sleep, as I recall. Pretty good calorie burn.
What I also realized--and fast--was that I had better be as strong as my heaviest child. Before kids I had never given any consideration to my body's ability to lift and carry. Two babies in two car seats changed my perspective quickly. Ten years later, I still want to be able to carry my heaviest child if the need arises, whether for fun--a piggy back ride--or not-so-fun, a lift to bed when sick.
Just a mile down the road to visit our
neighbor's horses. This is the best way
to fit fitness into your day: Ditch the car.
There are six kids in the picture, I know.
Only four are mine. Promise. The other
two belong to Workout Partner Pam.
So in Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom we made sure to include a chapter called, "Get Moving: There's More Than One Way to Exercise," which covers the various reasons to seek out a good sweat. Sure, there is athletic training, of which I had become accustomed to and which provides the thrill of crossing a finish line. But there is also moving for your health, for example walking to the park with your kids; getting a good sweat for sanity (in our survey stress-relief was the #1 reason why mom's found time to work out); there's protective exercise, often found in yoga and Pilates classes or what we do to keep our body "in shape" to be in shape; and therapeutic exercise to restore muscle imbalances or heal injury, which is currently my fitness mainstay.
The chapter ends with this:
"Accept, acknowledge, and embrace the variation. When it comes to taking care of yourself, exercise--regardless of duration or intensity--is the single most important thing you can do. But remember to diversify: Exercise is like eating a balanced diet; you really can have too much of a good thing, especially if you're neglecting certain essentials. You wouldn't just eat from one food group, would you?"
What I know now--especially since cutting back on my "exercise dessert"--is that what matters more than fitting "exercise" into your day is that you move as much as you can. Live an active life.
Have your fitness goals evolved in the years since becoming a mother? Want to discuss the evolution of your fitness goals with me? Care to swap stories about the role fitness plays in the chaos of motherhood?
This Wednesday, June 12, at 12:30 EST, I'll be on Real Women on Health , hosted by Kelley Connors, with Iron Girl's Judy Molnar . We're kicking off their series "Strong is the New Skinny." You can listen to the call online and call in with your questions by dialing 1-646-929-2625.