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Fitness is kind of a four letter word for many moms. It is the thing we are supposed to do, that we feel guilty for not doing and plan to start more times than we can count. But, it really doesn’t have to be that hard and you really don’t need to feel guilty for past choices, current choices or future choices! You are amazing! I struggle with a lot of the “fit mom” philosophy that there should be no excuses or the idea of being good for a cheat meal later. Fitness should not be a daily obsession or a forced but begrudged activity. It should become a natural and enjoyable part of your daily life. Which really starts with thinking about your journey and why you want to make a habit of fitness.
This may seem like an odd step but honestly, getting your mind ready for the future often requires a little meditating over past. This should help you find clarity to what your struggles are, what things in your life you are truly pleased with and what your goals are for the future. I will share some of my story to help you jumpstart your thoughts.
I’ve been a competitive athlete since Roman times. Seriously, I was born wrestling the lions. Competition is in my soul! I played anything and everything growing up. If my friends were joining, I was in. Always up for the adventure! But, one tournament weekend, it was 103 degrees and after 7 soccer games and 6 softball games, I came to my final at-bat, took a swing, and hit the dirt! True story guys! I passed out in a tornado of awesomeness as my swing became a less-than-graceful ballerina stunt. That is the day soccer became my sport. I was an athlete. It was how I defined myself and it was how other people defined me. It gave me consistency during very difficult times in my life and purpose. Then, the summer before my senior year, I tore my ACL and I was no longer an athlete.
I had to redefine myself. Through college, I focused more on relationships and school and fell into the norms of life. I graduated and got married and then… I had my daughter. Suddenly, I slept little, nursed endlessly and somewhere in the middle I did a lot of laundry and went to work. People talked about work/life balance. I did not have that! I bought a jogging stroller though! And there it sat. Sad. Lonely. Covered in dust. I asked my friends about their fitness regimens and we laughed. Because their fitness regimen consisted mostly of purchasing athleisure clothes and running potty training toddlers to toilets. My subsequent children left some serious work to do on my fitness because bed rest and restricted activity led to muscle loss and fatigue.
Honestly, there are many things I do well. Pregnancy. Not one of them. What I learned after my second daughter though was what other people thought of my body. I had spent 6 months on bedrest after an endless stream of complications. I lost a ton of weight. It fell off. Muscle loss from inactivity and gestational diabetes had me at the lowest weight of my adult life. People NOTICED! They applauded me. They congratulated me on my amazing transformation. I was a person who had never had body image issues in my life and had honestly never considered what other people thought of my weight, but here I was, standing in the grocery store, hearing from acquaintances just how happy they were to see the changes in my body. They were WRONG. I was unhealthy. I was fatigued and emaciated. I couldn’t climb the stairs holding my toddler without being winded. I was sore all the time as my muscles hadn’t carried my own weight in over 6 months. I was nursing a dairy intolerant baby (thank goodness for Oreos) and struggling to fuel my body. And the weight kept dropping. And now, weak and tired, people now voiced their approval. They were wrong.
So, I started trying to get back in shape. I used a few different fitness videos and joined the gym but I always heard things from the women on the screen that just felt like body shaming in the guise of motivation. No excuses. Every day you shoot for improvement. If you have a bad day, you do better tomorrow. I’m not perfect. And on the surface, these sound like good things. But they did not feel that way in my soul. They felt like new ways of saying I wasn’t good enough. And, I couldn’t be a good mom and be too sore to hold my babies or have them climb on my lap. I couldn’t keep my temper and have leg day stop me from walking down the stairs. I couldn’t live with the fact that I dreaded fitness every day. I had been sad but consistent with my workouts everyday(ish) for about a year and a half. And then, I got inspired. And everything changed.
I now am three years post my last baby and have finally found my mommy fitness groove! I am healthy, happy and always up for the adventure. I feel good about the workouts I get in. I feel good about the workouts I skip for the adventure. I feel good about the workouts I skip for connecting my soul to others. I have found balance.
Step 2: Find Why You Want to Try
I truly hope, from the bottom of my heart, that your reason does not lie in your appearance but in your soul because that is how we stay motivated. Let’s go beneath the surface and find the thing that motivates your core (get it… like abs… fitness puns make me smile). You guys, I’ve got these amazing babies that I am leading and they are watching. They see us. They see what I value and they see where I spend my time. I have watched them struggle and believe that they couldn’t achieve. I wanted them to believe they could do hard things. Then I saw my friend complete her first triathlon. She was my age and her kids were the same age as mine and I couldn’t believe she had done it. I never imagined that I could do something like that. But then I learned of a sprint triathlon near me and it seemed in the realm of possibility. I looked at my little girls and I wanted to show them. Really show them. They can do hard things.
I trained for months. I loaded my little guy on the back of my bike and hit the road, I found a bike trainer at a garage sale and sweat in the garage while cheering on their bike rides and chalk drawings on the driveway. I put on my running shoes and ran around the gymnastics parking lot while my little rocked the balance beam. I swam laps before taking them in the pool. We talked a lot about mommy’s training and that mommy wouldn’t win but she would get stronger, do her best and she would tri (see… there’s another one). And for months, as I struggled and they struggled and we would tell each other and ourselves, “I can do hard things.” Race day arrived and it was long and it was hard but I crossed that finish line, weary and middle of the pack, with my babies beaming proud and screaming my name! And, they believed they could achieve.
A few weeks later, pensive that it would just be too hard, my 7-year-old completed her first triathlon. With a huge smile and sweat dripping off her nose, she gave me a high five at the finish line and squealed, “It was hard. But I did it!” And, the next time my babies want to hike the mountain, kayak the lake or climb the tallest rock wall, we will all be fit for the adventure, because we have trained well and can do hard things!
Think about your own story and what motivates you to make a fitness part of your lifestyle. Think about who inspires you, on or off the fitness field. Think about who you wish to inspire. Then, find a friend. Take a walk. And share your thoughts with them. And, if you want, I’d love to have you share them with me as well.