Last time I blogged daily in August of 2013, I covered the topic of Exercising as a Mom of Two. And then a reader left this comment:
"I would love a post about exercise and reclaiming your body after kids, how you have lost the baby weight and your goals for future fitness, how you prioritize being healthy, etc. you are so inspiring!"
Not sure about the inspiring part but I will touch on this topic again and will list a few workout songs I'm into these days, too.
Regarding 'reclaiming' my body after three kids? The third time around has been a little harder, honestly. Either that or I've been more focused on it and weighed myself much more frequently, especially knowing that I didn't have prolonged nursing on my side anymore. I hate to be a head case about the scale but it's I toed the line a bit there.
I gained forty-three pounds with Truman and lost it all by nine months, and I don't remember weighing myself too often to see how quickly it left me. (One week PP post here, two weeks PP post here, and eleven months PP post here.) I gained thirty-four pounds with Cecelia and same thing: definitely gone by nine months but I can't say that I was weighing myself regularly (two week PP post here). With both Truman and Cecelia I was nursing like crazy that entire time (to a year with Truman, sixteen months with CC). Plus, we trained and ran half marathons before those children turned a year old.
I gained less weight when pregnant with Porter (31 pounds), I lost the first 20 pounds really quickly (one week PP post here), and then hung onto the final 10 for what seemed like forever. Porter stopped breastfeeding at six months and that is when I really ramped up my workouts to be consistently three days per week, and I no longer had to worry about killing my milk supply with a few hard workouts. So I figured the rest of the weight would just fall off with increased workouts, but it's been a slower....at least in my head it has been.
The last time I weighed myself I was two pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and I'm nearly ten months postpartum. Two pounds is practically nothing, since I can easily justify that being extra water or a big meal or heavier clothes I'm wearing when I step on the scale;) We have been training for a half marathon for the past four weeks, which is slightly later in the postpartum time frame than what we've done in the past. Even though I was working out consistently from about six months until now, I think my body needs this extra mileage to really melt away the final ten pounds. And I never really thought breastfeeding burned that many calories for me past the first few months, but maybe they are right and it really does! Go figure.
So yes, I basically have my body back according to the scale just a month later than I did the previous two times. My pre-pregnancy clothes started fitting around three months postpartum but of course things are shifted and a little wonky past the milestone of: Pre-Preg Jeans Fit, Holla! I'm blessed with super-great genes because I didn't get any stretch marks from my pregnancies (thanks, mom!!) but the skin of my stomach has always taken a solid six months to bounce back. Nothing too horrible, really, but if we are talking about terrifying body changes post-babies? My boobs. Oh, my poor little girls, you guys. Lest you want to hate me for being back to my pre-pregnancy weight already, let me just tell you about my tats.
I was an A/B cup before kids but they were a nice, perky set of smallish boobs that fit my frame just fine. Pregnancy always brought on a fantastic rack in the C/D range, and postpartum would initially bump my girls up to DDs. INSANITY for this flat chested mama and I did not enjoy those prime-breastfeeding tatas. I'd take my pregnancy boobs any day, though. Because now? I cannot even. I haven't been fitted for any bras since Porter stopped nursing because I cannot bring myself to know whether or not size 'negative double A' exists. Practically concave over here and I'm grateful for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but really wish my chest wasn't comparable to a twelve year old boy sometimes.
I like to dream about a boob job, and even my OB said, 'I wouldn't think bad of you if you got one.' AWESOME to hear that from a medical professional, right? OMG. But besides the cost and the pain and recovery and all of that, I would be so nervous that fake boobs wouldn't be ME, you know? I'm athletic and wouldn't know what to do with big boobs that I've never truly had, and I would be afraid they'd look totally foreign and....fake;) I don't know. For now I am comfortable enough to rock my pancakes and don't mind showing a little rib bones where cleavage is supposed to be on V-neck shirts, but whatever. I don't think I would ever actually go through with a major surgery just to make my chest bigger, but I'm sure I'll talk about it plenty in the meantime!
Now for the actual exercise part of this post: I should note that I generally enjoy exercising, specifically running, and I liken this to being a high school athlete. #HasBeen, for sure, but I've always been physically active and looking for fitness goals. But this has certainly changed now that I'm a mom. Mainly because 'me time' gets less and less with each subsequent child and the logistics of making time to exercise is no small feat. I'm sure many of you can commiserate here.
One thing we did after Porter that we hadn't done prior to his arrival was to buy a gym membership including the kids for childcare. During my maternity leave and through part of the fall, that is how I exercised: by hauling my crew to the gym on my days off, exercising on the treadmill, showering alone (!!) and then carting everyone home. This was fine for awhile, but then it got a little hairy with Porter's nap schedule, Truman started school, and then Cecelia didn't want to be at the gym without him. I did not like forcing CC to be in the playroom on our days home together and it really broke my heart to see her cry a few times when I left. So onto plan B.
I started going to the gym at 5:30am a few days per week, while the children slept and Nate slept. This was a little more challenging when Porter wasn't STTN, but as soon as he stopped nursing I knew that even if he *did* wake while I was gone, Nate would be more than capable of making him a bottle. That transition away from nursing was rather freeing for things like this---the ability to be away and not worry about breastfeeding really helped me to stick with a morning workout routine. Our bigger kids might wake up early for the day but they always stay in their room until their Tot Clock turns yellow, which is 6:55am.
So when I went the gym on cold, dark, dreary, winter mornings I started viewing this as my 'me time' and like a little luxury built into my day when I can do something nice for myself. Staying in shape, pushing myself to become more fit, sweating, focusing on myself for a bit----all of these things are really important to me. And I really really enjoy the post-workout sense of accomplishment, too. Sets the day off right! But the way I make exercise a priority is that I see a direct correlation to how frequently I exercise and my mood. If I skip exercise for a stretch of time, I start to get really crabby and annoyed at myself. I know that I'm a better mom and more capable of handling the ups and downs of any given day after a good run.
I think the worst part is physically getting out of the bed and into the car, to drive to the gym. Once up, it's usually a fantastic work out and a great way to start the day. I like to chant things like, 'I will be tired if I get up now, or if I get up in one more hour, so might as well get up and go to the gym,' to help me get out of bed. And it's really true---I don't find that sleeping an extra hour, skipping the gym, makes me feel any more rested. If anything, I feel more energized after exercising and more tired if I skip it. Of course, solid sleep prior to the alarm makes this 100x better.
Now that it's getting nicer out and the sun rises by 6:00am, I prefer to run outside in the mornings, skipping the drive to and from the gym and skipping the treadmill. I don't despise the treadmill really, especially since our gym has TVs on each treadmill and I can get my Bravo/HGTV fix there. We don't have cable so it's rather thrilling to watch a few missed shows while running---but then again, the 5:30am slot is rather hit or miss for good shows on any station. But running outside will always be my favorite. Who can top views like this with early morning sunshine and fresh air??
And clouds like this! Scenery.
So yes, I prefer to run as my mode of exercise. We are training for a half-marathon in June, so I usually run 3 or 4 miles on Tuesday and Thursday early mornings with a long run on Saturday mornings. We are up to 6 miles for our long runs right now. The weekend run is when Nate and I train together, so my in-laws will watch the kids for us. How many times do I have to mention their sainthood?
(post-run sweats from this morning)
I will sometimes run outside with the double stroller, pushing Cecelia and Porter while Truman is at school. I might attempt to have Truman ride his bike next to the double BOB monstrosity at some point this summer when I have all three at home with me. But really, I like running alone MUCH better than pushing 75# of kids and stroller in front of me (duh). I have mentioned to Nate that I would love to get a treadmill in our basement, too, and maybe I would do that instead of a gym membership this fall. We usually put our membership on hold through the summer anyway, and NOT having to drive to and from the gym (that is five minutes away) would be great once it's dark in the mornings again.
The other form of exercise I really like are the classes at our gym---there's a bootcamp class, an interval class, and a treadmill class that I did for awhile in the early mornings. But then I somehow hurt my back and probably wasn't ready for such intense exercise after Porter. I needed to work on my core a lot more and now I'm just back to running--my tried and true favorite. I could get really into yoga or maybe a spin class and should probably start lifting weights again, but I'm not willing to wake up at 4:30am to get a BIG work out in on those mornings. But maybe someday!
As for my goals for future fitness that the original commenter asked about, I am a big fan of half-marathons for setting a goal and following a program to achieve it. Halves are a great distance for us and I enjoy the whole process of training as much as race day. I have run one full marathon and know that there's no way I could ever dedicate the time to that training again, at least not until all of the kids are out of the house! But I would like to focus on my posture in the next few years, using my personal PT husband to help me strengthen my upper back and my super weak butt muscles so that I can perhaps prevent an injury going forward. I would be really devastated if I got hurt and couldn't run and my mental sanity would take a beating as well, so I have been asking Nate to give me a tailored routine for strengthening my weak areas. He hesitates to advise me with anything because I can be defensive (not me!) but now I'm actually ASKING him to help me out, so I'm all ears, Nate!
With this outside running (sans treadmill or beloved cable TV on said treadmill), I had to make a new playlist for music because I despised the older stuff I had on my iPod shuffle. Now I just use my phone and we have Spotify, so I created a playlist of 'running stuff' that I can share with you now. I like dance/techno stuff and rap music for running apparently---does that make me hip or super old? I can't decide.
-Animals-Maroon 5 (Cecelia and Truman love this one, is mildly inappropriate at times if you listen to the lyrics, but they love to howl when Adam Levigne howls)
-I Can't Stop Drinking About You-Bebe Rexha (I just like this one for the beat. Found it randomly on Spotify)
-Truffle Butter-Nicki Minaj (SO TERRIBLY INAPPRORIATE for any children within an ear shot, especially the non-radio version. But I can't help it, it pumps me up for some reason. We shall not discuss specific lyrics here. XXX rated, yikes)
-We Found Love-Rihanna (Have always loved this one so much, is kind of techno and okay for kids if we happen to have a dance party)
-Where Have you Been-Rihanna (Love you, Rihanna! I like to pretend I am an excellent dancer while running to this song. It's quite the sight)
-Heroes (we could be)-Alesso (good one, kids like it, too)
-Shut up and Dance-Walk the Moon (another kid appropriate one, but I don't love the phrase 'shut up' so I act like they are saying 'shush up'. Ha, I'm sure Truman and CC don't buy it)
-Roll The Bass-Major Lazer (I actually hate this one but Truman loves 'the fast part'. Gives me a freaking headache, way too much techno for my tastes).
-Get Low-Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz (classic college bar song. Really prefer the edited version, the unedited one is shocking!)
-Ruff Ryders Anthem-DMX (Sticking with the college theme, I feel very hard when rapping with DMX)
-Yeah!-Usher (oh, college, I loved you)
-Turn Down for What-DJ Snake (Obsessed, and it always reminds me of this YouTube video of the boat crash. And then I can't stop laughing. OMG, their sunglasses flying--hope nobody got seriously hurt, but I cried laughing at this the first time I saw it. I hear this took place at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri which makes it that much more funny.)
I think that is it for this topic. Did I miss anything?
(Thus ends my daily blogging this month! I only skipped one Saturday, can't believe I have posted this frequently but I like it. I like it a lot. Writing every day feels cathartic and kind of special. I wasn't able to keep up with e-mailing friends and probably didn't get to chat with Nate as much in the evenings, but it didn't feel like too much of a sacrifice to focus on the old blog daily this month. I even have a few more ideas drafted up, hope I can keep the momentum going and continue to post semi-frequently here going forward.)