Whole Living Gal

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Movement category.

Winter Pregnancy Exercise Round #2 (…the cheap version)

The winter is still in full affect here in Michigan and my belly is getting bigger, so I am digging into my creativity to come up with a new, at-home winter exercise plan that doesn’t include a gym membership (because we had to drop ours – *tear*).

I took stock of what I love about the gym and what I am regularly doing when I’m there. Aside from the childcare, I can easily re-create much of what I love:

1. Yoga: I love this and it’s a “must” for me right now during pregnancy. I dusted off a prenatal yoga DVD and am borrowing another from a friend so I can have some variety. It gets tricky trying to do yoga and keep two toddlers entertained, but sometimes they get involved with me and I love that they get to SEE me exercise.

2. Cardio: Yoga is great, but I’m discovering that a good cardio routine keeps me balanced on a whole, new, lovely level that no amount of downward facing dogs could produce. I started asking online about treadmills, and I found a free one from our church’s online marketplace! I can tell you over and over that God cares about how we take care of our bodies, but this, to me, was tangible proof. It’s such a huge blessing to receive this treadmill right now. We’re replacing the belt and it will run just like new (pun intended, of course!).

So there it is, my winter plan. The trickiest part will be occupying the toddlers while I exercise. But as with anything, I think once they get used to my routine, they’ll settle in and let me be. And I love that they will see me exercise and have an opportunity to get involved. That’s one reason I loved running with the double jogger this summer because I love for them to be a part of my healthy lifestyle choices.

And remember how I was talking about needing more time in my day? Well, cutting out the drive to and from the gym and the time it takes to check the girls in and out of childcare, I’m already gaining some new space in my day.

We have one more week to enjoy our gym membership, so I’m savoring the childcare and all the amenities while I can. But I’m excited to try round 2 of this exercise plan. I love a good challenge.

What free or cheap ways do you exercise and stay active?


Second Trimester and Exercise

Well, I’ve hit the magic second trimester mark…and beyond. Honestly, I wish I could report that I’m feeling better. The truth is, there’s nothing easy about pregnancy. It’s a miracle and a blessing, but it’s hard work.

One of the biggest changes for this pregnancy (my 3rd) is that I am adding a lot more exercise to my routine. In the past, I have gone easy on myself and backed way off from exercise once I got pregnant. But after two c-sections (only 16 months apart) and then training and racing a 15K and a 10K a year and a half after my second was born, I realized my body is capable of a lot more than I thought.

Granted, pregnancy is a different time for my body. Overall, I am a lot more cautious. I know I can’t push myself too hard because my body responds much louder and clearer if I go overboard (i.e. I’ve passed out a few times when I was pregnant). But, keeping that in mind, I’m listening to my body and trying to push it a little harder in terms of exercise – knowing that I’ll reap the benefits of a healthier pregnancy and a speedier recovery (hello, 3rd c-section).

I stopped running when I got pregnant because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I took up fast, uphill walking on the treadmill, a little elliptical, and a lot of yoga. It’s been awesome for me. It’s helped alleviate nausea and push past some fatigue. Also, because I joined a gym, I get a break from my kid duties so my exercise time becomes my “me time” too – very refreshing. I’m amazed at how well my body is responding. Folks, I did my first side-plank EVER in class the other day! So I am strengthening my core even as my belly is growing.

But I miss running. I miss it a lot.

David and I were side-by-side on the treadmills and he was jogging along at a pretty good clip. I was jealous. So I upped my speed, ran slowly for a minute and went back to my fast-walk pace. It felt good to run. Everything moved differently than it did before my baby belly. But it felt good.

After getting confirmation from my doctor (it’s important to work with your doc) that picking up running again is okay for me, I’m excited to hit the treadmill at a faster pace. Even if I don’t run races or go fast or long or hard, my mind and body are craving a good run.

And since I’m doing my best to listen to my body, I’m going to give in to this urge to run. I think it’s a craving worth saying “yes” to.

The Finish Line: a means to healthy living, not an end

I ran my first race last weekend – the Cherry Festival 15K.

I don’t think I realized how far 15K was when I signed up (thank you U.S. schools who ignore the metric system). But I was running with friends, and so I trained.

For me, I needed a goal to work through post-baby, post-2-c-sections, and I needed to challenge myself. After having two c-sections only 16 months apart, I thought I would never run again. So crossing the finish line meant so much more to me than just running 9.3 miles, it meant trusting my body again and feeling like I had really moved physically beyond having babies.

The finish line was also a means to a new life, not just an end. It’s been a week since my race, and I’ve run twice and biked once. Setting a healthy goal was not just about meeting the goal and calling it good, it was about establishing a new way of life, one that continues well beyond the finish line of the race.

Any healthy living goal can be just that – a means and not an end itself.

Quitting smoking.
Omitting soda from your diet.
Organizing a solitude retreat.
Eating local.
Running a race.

Meeting a goal feels so good. It’s been a week since my race, and I’m still on a high about crossing that finish line at full sprint. It created momentum and a new rhythm to help me continue to develop a more healthy, balanced life.

The Mental Game of Exercise

My friend Carrie is amazing. She works full time, has a toddler, her husband works as a stage hand (can you say crazy schedule?!), and she is training for a marathon. In Queens. Before she goes to work in the morning. See? She’s awesome. And she’s also blogging about it.

So when she asked me to run a 15K with her this summer, I thought, sure!

Then I immediately thought, who am I?And what have I said yes to?

So I’ve started running again and it feels good to be in a training regime…although I would use the word “training” lightly right now.

Sunday was the NYC Half Marathon and two of my friends (Carrie included) ran. I was so inspired that I went to the gym that night to see if I could run 2 miles. And I did!

I’m surprised by the strength of my body. But the hardest part of running for me is the mental game. I realized that I have developed the attention span of a toddler (wonder why? Oh, I have two at home) – always ready to jump into the next thing after about 5 minutes.

I’m trying to learn to be present at home and this same mental exercsise is carrying over into physical exercise as well. Right now, starting my training for this race is about the mental game of being present in the running and allowing myself to just, well, run.

I’m also holding my breath for spring so I can run outside…because running on a treadmill is pretty boring!

Whether you are a runner or a slow walker, what’s your biggest obstacle to physical exercise? Is it physical? Mental?

Relationships and Getting Out of the House

I am an extrovert stuck in an introverted life right now. It’s winter, I have babies, it’s winter. Did I mention it’s winter and I have babies?

Well, it’s easy for me to get stuck inside – or to stay stuck inside. It’s easier for me to stick to the peace of the universe that is my routine than to just stinkin’ get out of the house and have a conversation with another adult.

Every day I am faced with a million excuses to stay in:

– someone’s nose is runny
– someone didn’t sleep
– it’s too cold
– it’s too windy
– someone might, just might, need a nap

And on and on. For me, sometimes it’s too tiring to try to get out. Because in order to leave the house, all three of us need shoes, jackets, hats; I have to start the car; then put baby in her car seat; load up the diaper bag; wrangle both kids into the van. By the time we actually make it out the door, someone has a dirty diaper or it’s lunch time or I’ve pulled a muscle carrying a child.

Get the picture?

But I’m an extrovert. For me, I feel a sense of life when I am with other people. Sometimes my children count as the “other people” – but they’re such little people…and they’re not great conversationalist (yet).

Having healthy relationships is a big part of living a healthy life. What that means is different for everyone during different seasons. For me, right now, I need to just get out of the house and meet up with a friend, have a play date, meet my workout buddy at the gym…something! Because though I love the online world, the relationships there are not the same as the face-to-face encouragement of a dear friend.

And with that, I’m off to the gym to hit the treadmill with my workout buddy. Exercise and friendship. Amen.

Snow Pants and Fresh Air

See those snow pants I’m wearing? They’re new. I love them. My husband bought them for me on the condition that I would play in the snow with my children.

He’s not wrong in holding me to that. Two years ago, I had a newborn – no snow playing. Last year, I was pregnant, no snow-playing. This year, well, old habits die hard.

But now I have no excuse. So as soon as we were feeling well enough, we headed outside for fresh air, snow-man building, and family time.

I forgot how much fun it is to play in the snow! And the fresh air! I felt invigorated after being outside only a short time.

So my new combat against this agnst I call winter – get outside and get some fresh air.

(p.s. Spring, please come soon.)

Beat the Blues with Some Exercise

I woke up yesterday morning with a serious case of the Mondays. And not just the “Mondays,” but the WINTER Mondays.

I live in Michigan and the winters are tough. If it weren’t for the gorgeous summers when we forget how cold and grey it gets from November to April, no one would survive in this climate. No one.

Every year I forget and then I am surprised when I wake up one January morning to an outside temp of 3 degrees. I waited and waited for my phone to load the weather the other day, thinking it just wasn’t finished. But no, it was literally only 3 degrees.

Yesterday I had trouble pulling myself from bed because I was just feeling blah. Our suitcases are still out and packed from the vacation we completed last week and I knew there was a load of household chores to be finished. And frankly, I didn’t want to do any of it.

I knew a friend was going to a group fitness class at 11 am at the gym where we belong, so I decided to set my sights on that goal. Afterall, if nothing else, I would get a break from climbing, teething, attention-grabbing babies for a bit (can you tell I was tired? You know I love my babies).

I made it to the gym – early! – checked in my children, and went to a class. Now the class itself was beyond hard; the instructor was obviously there to show off his massively masculine self in front of a bunch of stay-at-home moms and was doing his level best to make one of keel over. (I’m sorry you’re not getting the full story – it’s a good one – you’ll just have to wait until my book is released…) I guess this class makes me 0/0 in terms of group fitness – and still I just can’t stop!

But I made it through the class and home and through lunch and onto nap time. I got a shower and before I knew it, my day was transformed. I was happy and more patient. I tackled my household chores with a little more gusto. I made dinner. I colored with my toddler. I snuggled with my infant.

It was a good day.

And it turned around because I got a little exercise. Well, I got a lot of exercise, thanks to a crazed instructor. But I got my body moving, pushed it a little harder than I otherwise would, got a break from my children (yes, we stay-at-home-moms need that), and the result was a natural mood lifter.

You know those things researchers and doctors say about exercise reducing stress and fighting anxiety and the blues? It’s true.

Get out.
Get moving.
Get going.

Group Exercise Debacle

I went to my first group-exercise class since my first trimester prenatal yoga when I was pregnant with my second child. So, it’s been over a year since I tried true exercise. I’ve had two c-sections in less than a year and a half, so my physical recovery has been slow.

But I jumped back in. I met a friend for a high-paced yoga/pilates class.

My first problem is that I got there late. So they were already started and I had to grab a mat and jump right in.

Let’s just say that it became obvious within the first two minutes that I was not going to look like I knew what I was doing. I have natural rhythm and musical theatre experience, not to mention I am familiar with yoga, but the minute I stepped on that mat, I knew things had changed.

Everything in my body felt different. Carrying and birthing children will do that to you, I suppose. I felt like I barely knew myself anymore.

After a while, I just became “that girl” in the class. You know the one. I came in late and disturbed the peace. About halfway through the class I just flat out stopped doing some of the moves (I was suddenly painfully aware of my incisions…so I was taking it easy – but no one else knew this!). Then when things started getting quiet, the music lulled, I was trying to play it cool and went for a fancy, toes-pointed move and kicked over my water bottle that sent my pager (for my children in childcare) spinning across the room.

This was all before we started into the balance section. Clearly, I have lost all sense of balance as well. But for the record, no one looks cool doing the ‘star’ move. No one.

I made it through the class. Once I realized that probably no one else was looking at me like I suspected, I just let go and embraced my terrible form and wimpy halfway poses. Because I have to start somewhere, right? That is, after all, why I was in the class anyway. I want to step it up in terms of my exercise, but after two major surgeries and two pregnancies, my body isn’t the same. That doesn’t mean I stop what I’m doing and give up. It means I take it easy and work with what I’ve got. And it also means I need to go back to the class. And back. And back again.

Like every other healthy choice we make in life, exercise takes discipline. There has been no other time that this word has practically screamed at me than when I was staring at myself in the mirror for this hour class, looking like a total flake, and hardly recognizing myself. Keep going, is what I had to tell myself. Keep going.

Plus, the corpse pose at the end of the class makes it all worth it. I have to say I was pretty good at that move.

Creative Family Exercise

I have a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old, so the reality of my winter is starting to sink in. It takes forever – I mean forever – to get out the door. And yesterday, when we did actually get bundled up and into the van, my 8mo was screaming and clearly needed to nurse. So in my tramped, jackets off, boots off, and back inside.

And while I value fresh air and getting out of the house, this winter is just not my winter to plan on it much, especially since we live in Michigan.

So I’ve developed some creative ways to exercise this winter with my small children – everything from stretching and toning to getting my heart-rate up…and some suggestions to get out of the house, too.

1. Thanks to Mamavation, I am inspired to do jumping jacks. I thought this was lame, then I did 50, and my heart-rate was up and my legs felt like they actually got a workout. And my girls get really into it, too. Once dinner is going and managing itself, I move into the living room and do 50 of these – and sometimes we revisit it again once my husband gets home.

2. Yoga during playtime. When my girls are in the living room sorting through toys, this is the time I get down with them and strike some yoga poses. And I love to see how my 2-year-old interprets her own “down dog” and “cobra.” Hilarious!

3. Use babies as weights. This is more for my husband, actually, but it’s a good idea. He will put a toddler or a baby (sometimes both – what a man!) on his back and do push-ups. Babies are also great for squats and sit-ups.

4. Make up an active indoor game. Think back to your gym-class days and get creative. Here’s a game we like to play: Fill a basket with stuffed animals at one end of the room. Place an empty basket at the other. One person runs to get a stuffed animal and then runs to place it in the empty basket (until it is full of stuffed animals). With older children, you could time eachother and see who gets the best time.

5. Get outside! Fresh air can energize you. For me, I hate that I have no REASON to go outside. For this, I am thinking of getting some chickens. But since I’m not a farmer, I can happily stay inside the walls of my house all.day.long. It does take effort to get bundled up (I count this as a workout, too), but even to get outside for 10 or 20 minutes – this makes a world of difference.

6. Dance Party! This is an almost-nightly ritual in our house. We pump up the music (which we now have to censor…ehem…Black Eyed Peas) and dance! It’s energizing, gets the heart-rate up and is just downright fun to dance to good music.

7. Visit a big store. Sometimes it’s just good to get your legs moving in some way. In the evenings, when my husband’s home or on his days off, we will venture out as a family to the mall or a large retailer and walk around. Most malls have play areas, and the stores that don’t, well, it just feels good to stretch our legs a bit.

8. Join a Children’s Museum or Indoor Garden. We have a family membership to a garden and sculpture park. There is an outdoor play area that is open all year round, but there is also an indoor arboretum that stays about 70 degrees, has trees and plants and smells like dirt. I love taking my girls there to look at the plants, walk around and just feel like we’re outside for a while.

9. Clean. If I am feeling really bold during the day, I will try to clean. Between wrangling my children and trying to vacuum or mop or sweep, I get a pretty good workout. Sometimes, I take it up a notch and strap my baby in the bjorn for extra effort.

10. When all else fails…playing with my children is always a good workout. They are constantly moving, and if I take the time to get down on their level and play their games and keep up with their speed, I am moving and stretching all day, too.

I’d love to hear what ideas you have for creative family exercise, too. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re doing with (or without) your children this winter to stay active.

::This post is linked up with Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Physical Literacy

Learning to be active starts at a young age. A gym here in town, Gymco, is re-imaging this idea…comparing physical literacy to reading. Just like we need to learn how to read, we also need to learn how to be physical, and once we are competent, we will want to be active.

I went to this gym growing up (though I didn’t start as young as the tots in this video) and love the spirit of this organization.

Check out this video on the New York Times that features this same gym.