Thursday, July 19, 2012

How To Squeeze In Exercise With A Newborn

It was almost fitting that I found this Wall Street Journal article Thursday morning while stretching after a killer Tabata class at Equinox.  Titled "Don't Hate Her for Being Fit" the piece touches on the sentiment I've been preaching for years: exercise will change your life, save your sanity and make your body better.  Simple as that.

"Fit moms spend nearly every free minute working out, cross-training for triathlons and scheduling regular boot camps and yoga," writes author Elizabeth Holmes.

Spending "nearly every free minute" might be a bit of an exaggeration but carving out at least 30 minutes to get the blood pumping is something I find time to do at least five days a week, if not daily.  I've always joked that I don't go to therapy, instead I work out and it's true.  It's the only time of the day that I can focus completely on myself.  That point isn't lost on Holmes.

"To some, a fit mom's regimen may seem self-indulgent. These women, though, see their workouts as a guilt-free stress release. They don't feel badly about taking time to work out because they are setting a healthy example for their children."

Since I became a mother in last year, exercising has become even more important.  I actually proved that point to myself a few days after I came home from the hospital.

When I had Jordan on Monday October 24th, I spent the ensuing days, mired in sleepless nights, trying to nurse her and figuring how to do the mom thing as I was embarking on the mission I called "Project Don't Kill the Kid".  I had no clue what I was doing: how to change a diaper, how to do laundry, how to dress her, I knew none of that.  Really.  It was five days of constant, sleep-deprived hell and I was miserable.  I hadn't seen the outside of my house since I came home from the hospital on Wednesday.

That Saturday my husband did something he had never done before: told me what to do.  "You have got to take the dog and go for a walk.  It's gorgeous outside.  You're an awful wreck.  Get some sun and move. You will feel better," he said.

I reluctantly did what he said.  It was the best walk I ever took.  It was a beautiful Fall day, a sublime 68 degrees.  That hour-long walk changed everything: it cleared my head, made my aching body feel better and just changed my outlook on the day.

Whether it's a walk or run, a class, lifting weights or just 30 minutes on the elliptical machine getting that oxygen in your system and your blood moving is better than any cocktail, shopping spree or piece of chocolate cake.  Guaranteed.  It will make you feel like you can take on the world.  Who knows, you just might be able to (or at least make it through the day).

Oh!  The bonus side effect: You'll look better, too.  Those 27 pounds I gained while pregnant?  Gone.

The article offers tips to do the "fit mom" thing, here are mine:
  • Make exercise a priority.  No other way around it.  If you make it a priority, you will find the time.  It helps if you do it early in the day, whatever "early" is for you, so that you don't blow it off later.  For me, that's usually between 9:30-11am.  I go to work anywhere between 11:30-2pm, so first thing I do is plan my workout for the day.
  • Take the baby for walk in the stroller with the dog.
  • Exercise at home.  I have yoga and pilates apps on my Ipad that I constantly use when Jordan is playing.  I also jump rope at home when I have a few minutes and need to squeeze in something.
  • Take her to the gym with you.  There is a great daycare facility at my gym in which she loves playing. 
  • Multi-task: read while stretching.  This is one of the best and easiest time savers I've found.
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Working for Knoxville's WBIR-TV, circa 1998, around 190 pounds
I was fat. 200 pounds fat. But after learning more about nutrition and smart exercise, I dropped the weight and have kept it off for more than a decade. It's not about big, sweeping changes.

Permanent and sustainable weight loss is all about adopting simple habits & making minor lifestyle changes that can help you lose weight & keep it off. For good.
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