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.