Let's face it ladies, once you have kids you have to sacrifice a lot to raise them right. When they’re newborns, we sacrifice our sleep, our showers, and don’t often have time to clean the house as well as we’d like to. Some of us sacrifice our careers and choose to be stay at home moms or refuse a promotion because we can’t commit to a heavier workload.
The one thing we do not have to sacrifice is our health. I truly believe that by staying active and strong, we make ourselves better mothers. Taking care of our health is also the best way to teach your children how to take care of themselves as well. When we move, they move. When we make healthy eating choices, it may not seem like it, but eventually they learn to make similar choices.
I have always been drawn to health and fitness. I trained to be a Yoga instructor back in 2008, and worked really hard to reach certain physical goals - especially when it came to increasing my strength and stamina - but each of my pregnancies put me back on square one. I feel like I’ve been through teacher training on my own two more times, with two completely different bodies.
Soon after delivering my second child I could barely walk. I experienced a lot of weakness and fatigue in my hip and leg muscles after my delivery, and had some chronic pelvic pain which made it hard to get through the day. The first time I went for a walk, about 10 days after my son was born, my legs were shaky and I had to walk very slowly to fire up those leg muscles again. And I had a totally normal pregnancy and delivery; I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for women who suffer complications during pregnancy and childbirth. My son was born at 8lb, 5oz so his weight put a lot of stress on my petite frame, and as the days went by I slowly increased my pace and distance. By the time he was 3 months old I was able to walk at my normal pace, and when he was 6 months old, I was able to run again - even better than I did before I had children! Along with running, I have a regular yoga practice and do squats and lunges to keep my hips and pelvis healthy.
Exercising for me means having the strength and energy to get through the day, to pick up my kids and toss them around without pulling out my back and, I’m not going to lie, to look in the mirror and be satisfied with my reflection.
So how do you sneak in exercise between packing school lunches, wiping up milk off the floor and folding laundry that’s been sitting around for a week? I won’t say it’s easy, but it is doable. When you’re cooking, do some squats and lunges while you’re waiting for the onions to brown. When the kids are whiny, turn on some music and do a crazy dance and feel how your heart starts pumping. One of my tricks is to leave a set of 5lb dumbbells in the playroom (out of the kid's reach), and when they’re playing in there I just pick them up and do some exercises for my arms, along with weighted squats and lunges. It takes me no more than 15 min, and I can keep an eye on my little ones as well.
I’m lucky to have a husband who supports my passion for fitness and helps me out by taking care of the kids whether I run upstairs on my treadmill or go to the yoga studio for some downtime. It’s important to have that time to yourself, and to give yourself a mental break outside of your home. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s your husband, a family member who lives close by, or even a babysitter you trust. Scheduling time for your health is one of the most important investments you can make, one where you can reap the benefits for the rest of your life.