When my son was born, my perspective of what parents go through changed drastically. All the sacrifices you make (never knew until I had a kid and I'm only 3 years in!). The ups and downs that come with their health, nights when they wake you up any given time, occasional visit to the ER (went twice: one for pneumonia and when he had 4 viruses), and the list goes on with how much each day can be different. I have a new appreciation towards each day that goes by without a sniffle or cough.
What has been the biggest change is how I can relate with clients. We share stories of our struggles as a new parent. For this month's blog, I want to highlight one of our client Diana and share her perspective and how her fitness journey has changed prior to having a kid versus afterwards.
Diana: I wear a lot of figurative hats: I am an executive at a start-up in the space industry. I also own a marketing agency that pairs freelance expert marketers with the clients who need their services. We have about 25 contractors and about 6-8 clients at any given time. My husband and I own a couple of investment properties, one of which is a historic property with two 110-year-old buildings, one of which we've renovated so far (with the other on our to-do list). Speaking of my husband, he recently launched his own engineering consulting company. He and I help each other out quite a bit with our businesses, so I've been really involved in helping him get it off the ground.
We also have a 2-year-old, so anyone who's had one knows that no matter how many jobs you have, that's the one that dominates your life! How do you fit exercise into your busy day?
Sometimes I don't! But having my weekly sessions with Kei ensures that I do at least ONE workout every week. Otherwise, I've had to try all different tactics depending on what's happening with all my hats. There was a period where our daughter was actually sleeping in past 7. I used it as an opportunity to try waking up early to work out before she woke up (this didn't last long, but worked for a bit).
More than anything, it's actually calendaring workouts into my day that makes it work. The reality is that for anything to get done, it needs to be in my calendar, so I try to treat exercise the same way.
What has been the biggest change you had to make after having a kid?
I guess it the timing - the when and how long of working out are really challenging. Taking any more than 20-30 minutes to do anything other than work or take care of my kiddo is challenging. Not only are there meetings to work around now, but there's morning routine time, bedtime routine time...the day disappears fast. How has your diet changed?
Up until recently, my diet was a disaster. I didn't have time to think about what to feed myself, so I just ate whatever. Often that meant lots of pasta and cheese. And that was fine while breastfeeding, but once I stopped about a year ago, the pounds packed on pretty quickly with no monitoring of my calories.
In the last few months I've gotten better, using MyFitnessPal to track calories and be more conscious of what I'm consuming. (But admittedly, I still sneak bites of my toddlers food and don't log them...) Was it hard for you to get back to exercising after having a kid?
Yes. After pregnancy I developed POTS, so my heart rate would skyrocket as soon as I exerted myself, even lightly. This would set off my postpartum anxiety, making it downright distressing to exercise. Add to that the extra weight I'd put on, the partial prolapse of my bladder, and my general state of exhaustion as a new parent, and it was a mess. I had to get diagnosed with the POTS to regain some confidence that I could exercise safely, and then work consistently to build up my heart and my muscles to start to resemble my old self again. It sucked.
What was your motivation to exercise and has it changed?
Of course I want to look and feel good. I wish that wasn't always on my mind, but it is. I feel more comfortable with myself when I'm smaller and fitter than I am now. But since becoming parents, both my husband and I are also very motivated by wanting to be healthy and able to play with our daughter, as well as model healthy habits and a healthy mindset about our bodies and how we treat them.
What are some tips/advice that are working for you now?
Make it fun. I'm lucky to have a really great dance studio in our town where they do all kinds of classes that incorporate music and dance. From the "Twerk Out" class (what it sounds like) to a "Tempo and Tone" (a barre-style class), it gives me options for a workout I can get excited about. It also helps that I have friends who like to go, so it can double as Mom's social time away from the house. Plus, classes tend to fill up so you have to book in advance, which means it's on the calendar and I have to do it!
Something is better than nothing. I have a Peloton and like doing the classes there, bike and otherwise, especially because they have a wide variety, including 20-, 15-, and even 10-minute classes. I often feel like if I'm going to exercise "right", it needs to be an extensive workout session. But 10 minutes of bodyweight strength class (or even just quick walks around the neighborhood!) sprinkled throughout the week adds up, and I always try to remind myself of that.
Don't dwell. I've gotten much better at this one. So I slipped up on my diet during a business trip. Or I didn't exercise all last week, and even cancelled my Kei session because I had too much going on. In the past, this would often send me into self-sabotage mode. "I already screwed up, so the game is over! Might as well continue to eat everything in sight and stop exercising!" Now I just forget the past and start over. Not next week, not tomorrow, just right now - restart the clock and keep going.
What is your way to combat stress?
One thing is that my postpartum anxiety led me to get treatment for the anxiety that I'd actually had since long before that. Taking care of my mental health and asking for help was step one. Now that my baseline is where it needs to be, I employ other tactics to deal when I'm overwhelmed, and to prevent stress in the first place:
Make lists. It really helps me to be able to see everything written down. I can then step back, examine all of my responsibilities, and help myself prioritize. Most importantly, I try to cut things from the list. I've gotten a lot better at just saying "no, sorry, I can't do this right now".
Play hookie. There will always be more to do, both at work and in life. Sometimes, you just need to say "screw it" and take a moment for you. Sometimes I cancel a meeting and go for a walk because the weather is perfect. We try to regularly get someone to watch the baby monitor and go for a date night, even if it's just for an hour at the place we go to all the time. I like to stop for ice cream after our daughter's doctor's appointments so everyone can decompress a bit, not just rush back to work and chores.
Take care of myself. Part of this transition to motherhood is feeling like I'm aging faster. Everything hurts more, my skin looks dull, etc. I'm making a big effort to not treat things like massages and facials as luxuries that I haven't earned, but rather as self-care that is beneficial to my mental and physical health. If I feel good in my body because I'm taking care of it, it really does translate to being better equipped to take on the daily challenges of life.
Thank you Diana for sharing your journey with us. Hope you enjoyed this month's blog. Stay tuned for more next month -Kei