Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Trouble With Exercise

This made me laugh.

But it also made me kind of depressed.
Because it is a sadly accurate statement about my current physical state.

In the past 9 years, I have gained 35-40 pounds, 4 times.
In the past 9 years, I have lost 35-50 pounds, 4 times.
I have boxes of clothes that range in sizes from 6-12.
They are labeled like this: Pregnant, Not Pregnant--Still Fat, Getting Skinnier, Skinny.
It's been almost 10 years since I got pregnant with James, and I while I actually weigh a bit less now than I did when I got pregnant, my body has changed significantly.
And not for the better.
These birthing hips of mine were great for pushing out a 10.8 pounder, but I think they've spread with each child.
Or maybe it's just my stomach has spread and my hips are trying to hold it in.
My arms are flabby.
My rear end jiggles like Santa's belly when I run--it's just one more reason why I find running to be so not fun.
Even my feet are bigger.
They've grown half a shoe size with each kid.
I feel like more than a bit of a mess.

For the past 9 years of my life I have been pregnant or breastfeeding nearly continuously.
There was about a 6 month break after my miscarriage where my body was my own, but during that time I was going through the darkest period of my life, so it wasn't really a bright spot for me.
I've been very tired, very often, or had someone who needed me for sustenance, and those things don't make it easy for me to work out.
Regular exercise hasn't been a top priority.
I have stayed active, but I haven't made it a point to stay "in shape."
Hence the flab, the jiggling, and the spreading.
With each kid I have found there is less time to exercise, and so I do it less and less.
That is the trouble with exercise: how do I find the time?

Perhaps you don't suffer from the same fate as I do regarding finding time to exercise.
Maybe you work out when your kids are in school.
That's not really an option for me.
Maybe you drop your kids off at the kid's club at the gym.
The one time I tried that, my 6, 4, and 2 year old watched Shrek.  
I didn't find that appropriate viewing for them and never took them back.
Maybe you take your kids with you while you go for a run.
Besides the fact that I hate to run, I also find that when I have all 4 kids with me--2 in a jog stroller, 2 on bikes--I am stopping to give drinks or snacks to the stroller riders, to fix loose chains, to soothe a fussy baby, to soothe a kid who crashed, to find a spot for an emergency pee break, to go back for a lost hat, or some other sort of interruption that makes the run take forever and a day, and kind of kills it for me.
Maybe you pay for a sitter while you work out.
Sitters cost money, and I'd rather spend sitter money on a date with my husband than a date with a Pilate's class.
Maybe you work out early in the morning before your kids wake up, and before your husband leaves for work.
Bully for you.  I'd rather sleep.
And if I do go for that morning run (fast walk really--let's be realistic) I have hurry to get back home for the baby's nap, and then the kitchen is still messy from breakfast, there are morning chores to be done, and we've got to get started for school.
And I'll be running behind all day because of that run.  (walk)
By afternoon I am so tired the last thing in the world I want to do is strap 2 kids in the stroller, find the bike helmets, and head out for a run. (walk)
On top of all that, I always struggle with the classic mom guilt of leaving the kids with Aaron while I go work out at night.
Because going out at night to the gym is kind of selfish, right?
So really, how do I fit it in?

If you are a person who loves to exercise, who doesn't view pregnancy as a chance to take a break from her gym membership, who hasn't let her body fall into disrepair, then this post is probably annoying the heck out of you.
Just like the people who tell me, "I just don't have time to read books."
Oh yeah?
Turn off the dang TV and make some time!
So that's what I'm doing.
I'm making some time.

A couple of weeks ago I was searching for something to wear.
I was remembering my "getting skinnier" white jeans and wishing they fit.
I have boxes of cute clothes that I can't even wear!
I became so disgusted with myself and the way I felt in my "not pregnant--still fat" clothes, that I drove to the YMCA, and renewed the membership that expired while I was pregnant with Davy.
I went to a class that night.
I huffed, puffed and looked like a complete moron.
I was a cross between Elaine and her little kicks, Liz Lemon in exercise class, and Michael Scott being the boss of dancing.
If I cared, I'd be embarrassed.
But I don't--I'm just happy to be there.
I've managed to make it to 5 more body sculpt classes since then, and I am finally getting the hang of it.
Now I don't always go the wrong way when the instructor says, "other side".
I am also getting why people exercise.
It feels good.
It feels good to be doing something that is just for me.
No matter how ridiculous my kicks look, or how much my stomach bounces up and down while we jump rope, I still feel good.
In fact, I feel so good that tonight I swam laps for a half hour.
I had a side ache much of the time, and I was breathing heavy, but I loved it.
When I'm working out, I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to.
That's how I feel after I do an epic hike with all the kids, or after I give birth--all those endorphins pumping through my body making me feel on top of the world.
It's awesome.

All this brings me to some words of wisdom given to me by my mother.
My mom has given me lots of good advice in my life.
Much of it I don't listen to at the time, and then I realize later that she is right.
Daughters are annoying that way, I think.
Sorry, Mom.
Mom has been telling me for years that I should take care of myself now, and not wait until later when it's even harder to do.
A few of the things on her list: take care of my skin, get my nails done, buy good shoes, lift weights, and work out.
My mom speaks from first hand knowledge.
She spent her much of her adult life caring for everyone else and not for herself.
She understands my mom guilt, the lack of time, the pressing "need" to get the house cleaned and even school the kids.  (she home schooled my brother and I.)
Since she's been there, I should listen to her, right?

Still, it's hard not to think of those things as self indulgent, or to give into the excuse that I don't have time for them right now.
Truthfully, I'll never really have extra time to exercise, and some things, like doing the dishes right after dinner, are going to have to give if I'm really going to make the time.
But I know you're right, Mom.
So I'm taking your advice.
I'm not feeling guilty that Aaron is putting the kids to bed while I go to the gym.
I'm feeling thankful that he is.
4 kids later, and my body will never be the same.
But I might just get back into that skinny box one day.
I hope I don't die trying.
Besides, wouldn't it be great to be the grandma who's taking her grandkids on epic hikes?
I have goals, people.
So tell me, how do you fit exercise into your busy life?
I'd love to know your secrets.
Love from,

PS.  If you watch the Elaine and her Little Kicks clip, you'll hear George utter one of my favorite expressions, "Sweet fancy Moses."  How can you not love Seinfeld?  


Valerie said...

Oh, how I love your blog! This post made me laugh and shake my head in agreement simultaneously! I too pushed out a 10lb 9oz little one, and have had my feet grow bigger with each of my four kids. I'm now pregnant with my 5th and keep saying, "as soon as this baby is born I'm gonna get serious about getting into shape!" I may no longer be a spring chick and things DO get harder as we get older, but everyday it hits home, just how important good health is- not just for us, but for our kids. Good job on finding the time! You are an inspiration!

Betsi* said...

Union right where you were with exercise. I used to get up five days a week at 5:30 to run 4 miles. Now I'm up with a baby about then. I miss my morning run but that doesn't mean I have to forgo all exercise! We make time for what's important to us. Thanks for the kick in the pants I needed!

Bre said...

I hear ya, Greta! It's something I reintroduced into my life this year and it's been so great, but not easy! There will never be enough time in the day to actually do it, which is why I always have to let something go so I can go work out instead. Thankfully my mom gave me her treadmill and I stuck the ugly thing in the corner of my office so I can work out at home... plus, the girls don't mind watching a little something a few times a week while I run. By the way, never in a million years did I think I could run for 5 minutes, let alone 2 or 3 miles!! :)

natalie said...

Right there with you. My husband isn't home early enough for me to go in the evenings & have him watch the kids, so I am hoping our small town YMCA will be accommodating about which movies they watch...

This Life said...

Hi, I've never commented, and just found your blog not too long ago, bit I thought I'd share a great resource for exercising. I too have 4 kids ages 10 and under, whom I homeschool and don't have a ton of time. I found a site called They are 12 min. HIIT workouts, and they are intense. I'm not a paid advertiser, but a dedicated participant. It is good stuff. And you can't beat 12 minutes!!!

Chris Moore said...

I wish someone would've warned me that in my 60's I'd have to work really hard to look really bad !!! lol....What has helped me is having a friend (Sheila) that takes the classes with me...misery does love revenge is when a 17 yr. old comes to class weighing 102lbs. and I ssk her if they told her the bad news...she says what bad news and I say you have 50 more years of coming here !..(she has been warned )! It is really true that if you don't use it you lose go to class when you can and move it when you can't...God did make our bodies amazing ! Now off for a mile walk ! :)