When I was in high school I was pretty active – I walked to and from school, worked at a restaurant where I was on my feet all evening, and did distance races on the swim team. In college, I participated in a few intramural sports and traversed by foot all over campus. After that, my lifestyle begun to change. I went on to grad school as a commuter student - no more walking. I had a rec center membership though, and kept going to do some cardio and weightlifting a couple times a week, and mixed in some yoga classes from time to time.
Right after I got married, I found out I was pregnant. I immediately stopped working out altogether. I felt too nervous I would hurt the baby. After all, my balance was off carrying extra weight in my midsection, and my doctor told me not to lift anything heavy or spend too much time on my feet. Free pass, right? This is when I realized I had pre-partum depression. I’d never even heard of it before. I know that exercise is the first line of defense against depression, but I couldn’t bring myself to – I was too tired.
Then my son was born and I learned the new meaning of busy. I quickly got used to my new routine of working full-time, “momming”, and NOT exercising. I do mean quickly, I was back at work in 2 weeks. I was so unhappy; the depression evolved into post-partum. I felt like I missed bonding with my baby, and on top of the big life-changing event of having a baby we were in the grueling process of buying our first home, which turned into a nightmare. I wanted to work out as a stress reliever but just kept making excuses about how I didn’t have the time. So it stayed that way, unhappy and complacent about it, for entirely too long. And then I got pregnant with baby #2.
My second pregnancy was a wake-up call. I took a step back to re-evaluate my life. Did I want the same experience I had last time? Obviously not. Could I even continue along this path? I wasn’t sure I had the ability. So, I finally took action. I quit my job, knowing money would be tight. I decided my happiness and mental health was worth the sacrifice. Especially considering the cost of child care for a newborn AND a toddler. I hired a doula to help my birth experience go smoother, and it made such a huge difference in the pre- and post-partum time periods. I felt prepared and supported.
I was finally beginning to feel so much happier. Something was still missing, though. I didn’t have my physical health. One day while I was perusing Facebook I noticed an event for a trial day for a Stroller Strides class. I immediately decided to go. I mean, it’s free! What’s there to lose? I thought I’d get a free workout and be on my way. After I got my butt kicked with baby in tow, I spoke with Jessica who told me about a couple options if I wanted to come back to more classes. She was so nice and helpful - I didn’t feel pressure from her to sign up, but I did from myself. I knew I wanted to return. I hashed out the details with Molly and signed up for a 10-class pass. Money was tight, and my older son was 3 (almost 4) and I really doubted his ability to sit in the stroller to let us both work out for an hour. I had concerns…but I knew I needed to try it out. Once I got my husband on board (I told him he could join classes too, for no extra charge!) we decided to try out a family session. It was amazing! All three of my guys had a great time! And, of course, I did too.
As a mom, it can be a real challenge to stay active as you feel yourself pulled so many different directions. If being a valuable employee, good wife, and perfect mom aren’t enough hats to wear, we often feel the pressure of looking perfectly fit about 3 seconds after giving birth. With cooking, cleaning, soccer practices, and running a household how does one fit in a workout? The mom guilt is real.
I found the answer to be Stroller Strides. I can bring the kids! That was my biggest excuse - what do I do with the kids? Pay extra to drop them at child care only to have them come interrupt my work out if they cry? Leave them with my husband for an hour and then switch while he goes for an hour? Add in travel time and that would take forever! It is so wonderful that not only do I get to bring them along, it doesn’t cost extra, they stay with me, we interact, and then after class I get to let them play! The instructors are all welcoming and helpful, and moms of little ones too, so they get it. They come around to keep the kids engaged when they’re getting restless so you can finish your reps.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are mom friends galore! I love that we introduce ourselves and children at the beginning of each class while we warm-up. It gives me a chance to learn a bit more about everyone and see who has children close to mine in age. Plus there are monthly moms might outs – kid-free.
I’m finally in a good place – mentally, socially, and now physically. Thank you to all the strong women I’ve met over the last 6 months. You’ve all played a role in helping me become a better-rounded and happier mom and wife. It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s about how you feel. And I’m feeling strong!