Mommy’s Workout Time

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I work in IT and spend my day at a desk. Like many people, I have to exercise for both physical and mental health. I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. Without an effort to get myself moving, I wouldn’t get any exercise beyond that provided by housework and playing with the kids.

Structured exercise classes are what work best for me. When my kids were younger, I was reasonably good at using exercise DVDs to keep myself moving, but I’ve since become a member at a local gym. At a bare minimum, I make it to Saturday morning full-body weight class. In a great week, I might attend 4 workout classes spread over 3 days.

When I had infants and toddlers, it didn’t even occur to me that going to a gym was an option. The gym at work didn’t provide childcare and it never occurred to me that other gyms might. I was pleasantly surprised that the local gym had dropoff childcare for children of all ages, included in the base membership price. I haven’t seen the infant room, but I’ve really liked the indoor playscape made available to younger children and the video games, air hockey, and craft centres in the room for older kids.

In addition to having plenty to do while I’m exercising, my daughters are also learning that it’s important for adult women to take care of our bodies and health. I’m sure they see how much my energy suffers on the rare week that we have to skip a gym visit. They’re such active children now, but I hope the example of mommy’s workout will stay with them if they pursue more sedentary careers in the future.

Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and lifeFrom August 31 to September 4, 2015, How Do You Do It? is running a series on “me time” for mothers: why we need it, how we make it, what we do with it. Find the full list of posts on the theme week page.

Have you blogged about mommy time on your own blog before? Are you inspired to do so now? Link your posts at our theme week link up! We’ll do our best to share them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #metime.

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309649_958048037137_1387649529_nThis is me a few months before getting pregnant with my twin boys.

I was climbing a mountain and just had to stop and get in a dance moment on the way to the top…where some yoga may have occurred. And then I ran all the way down.

I walked to work or rode my bike, then hauled it up to the top story of our apartment building. I taught 4-5 dance classes per day and danced along with the students in each one. I did Pilates twice per week, and on the weekends, I took long walks, runs, or bike rides for fun. Sometimes (I’m laugh-crying as I write this) I would have to go for a 45 minute run on a Saturday morning so that I could be tired enough to enjoy lounging on the couch that afternoon. Like, I had so much energy I couldn’t sit still unless I burned some of it off.

And my plans for the afternoon included “lying around.” Ha!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is me pregnant, 38 weeks and 1 day, right before I went in for induction (which took another 2 days and ended in a c-section, gah).

This body did not do a whole lot of running, let me tell you. I complained constantly that I wasn’t doing anything. My (sainted) husband kept telling me, “You are doing everything.” He was right. I was growing big ol’ healthy babies, who came out at 5 lbs 15 oz, and 6 lb 5 oz.

But I literally did almost nothing else while gestating. Friends who were pregnant with singletons were dancing, biking, even running. One had the audacity to tell me she “didn’t really feel any different,” and “didn’t have any limitations” while pregnant. Wow. I would love to have danced, taken the stairs, or made a sandwich without needing to pause and rest. My husband came home one day to find me sitting in a chair I had pulled up to the stove, resting my weary head against the wall, barely finding the strength to stir a simmering pot on the stove. I was simply desperate for cheese sauce.

Yep, my perspective on “tired” has evolved since my pre-pregnancy and pre-baby days.

But so has my concept of strength.

DSCN0470Almost one year postpartum, I love my new body. Sure, I have stretchmarks on my thighs, belly, boobs, and, swear, there is one my left calf that I don’t know how in the world I achieved. And yeah, the twin-skin belly practically flaps in the breeze, it’s so saggy. That part is still weird. I look at pictures of myself from this year, and wow, I really do not look like that fit young woman I used to be. But all the extra squishiness in my midsection makes my lap rather cozy. I’ve got Amazon arms and the balance of a monkey. All of the late-night bouncing, nap-time stroller walking, and getting up and down off the floor 1,000,000 times per day, has worked wonders for toning my lower body. Did you know that the lower your boobs hang, the easier it is on your back? Just pop a child in your lap to breastfeed and you barely even have to lean forward! If I listen to my kids’ eyes and not the mirror, I have never felt more beautiful. My sweet boys light up when I come into the room. Mine is their favorite face, their most sought-after frame.

But there is one thing I like best. My Baby B’s knee was shoved up in my upper right abdomen for so long that it formed a permanent sort of corner there. When he was in there, it felt like a little hard bump; now it’s a soft lump that remains even though he’s out in the world.

My whole lumpy belly looks like a new ancient ruin, the site of a civilization which evolved out of its primitive structures but hung on to them like shrines.

Now if I can just find an outfit that says, I’m not fat/pregnant/suffering from a goiter, I’m the landscape of a miracle, damn it!

What is your favorite thing about your re-shaped, post-twins body? What amazes you the most?

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Having twins is hard … on your body

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Having twins was hard on my body (and still is).  First there is the stress of the pregnancy: the weight gain, the aches and pains, the hormonal changes, and the restricted activity. These changes stretched and strained my joints and muscles as I carried two babies and a lot of extra weight. I dealt with swollen hands and feet, light-headedness and fatigue.

After the babies are born, there was healing after a c-section. It took time for my body to recover after giving birth. In my case the doctor recommended restricted activity for 6 weeks, but my incision was uncomfortable for more than 6 months. Of course the first days and weeks were hardest while my body was healing and I was breastfeeding two babies.  I was tired and sore.

Then caring for two babies was hard on my body. The repetitive actions of lifting babies, carrying babies, bending over to bath, dress and change babies, and the hours of holding and feeding babies are all focused more on caring the baby than on good posture. Over time, sitting in uncomfortable positions wore on my body. And having two babies and a toddle to care for didn’t leave much time for exercise or taking care of myself.

And then the babies got bigger and heavier and more active. Lifting babies, car seats and diaper bags strengthens some muscles but also puts strain on my body. Hoisting a double stroller in and out of the car made it harder. I definitely get more active as the girls got more active, but again I was too busy caring for them to look after myself.

My girls are 16 months and not yet walking, so I’m not sure of what new challenges they have for my body. I hoping that when they start walking my back will have a chance to rest and heal. Fortunately, the discomfort caused by my feet flattening from the weight gain has improved with custom orthotics, but my doctor says I’ll just have to live with some of the post-pregnancy issues I’ve developed.

I’ve finally got enough of a routine in my life and some childcare options that allow me to go to the gym and to yoga. I’m trying to incorporate more activity in to our daily routine now that the weather is improving. One added benefit is that fresh air makes everyone sleeps better. Looking after my body definitely makes it easier to look after my children. It also gives me a chance to think about something other than who needs my attention now. The benefits are obvious, but sometimes it is hard to get motivated to go to the gym after a long day.

How do you care for your body/yourself? How do you keep motivated when you’re tired? What are the benefits that make it worth the effort?

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