Today I feature a friend of mine as my first guest poster! Leslie St. Louis has some great first-hand experience as well as some strategies for getting back into shape or starting a new workout routine post-baby.
On a beautiful Colorado fall day, I gracefully bound up the rugged trail, leaves crunching satisfyingly, my ponytail bobbing jauntily. Meanwhile my two precious toddler daughters are holding hands, grinning from ear to ear — too satisfied to even make a sound.
And if you believe that, I have some great nutritional and cleaning supplies to tell you about too!
Before kids, this is the scene I envisioned that justified plunking down way too much money for a super-duper, highly-recommended running stroller. As with nearly everything in parenting, the reality was far different than the dream. Instead, I have finally come to accept that I paid nearly $500 for a water bottle carrier or large diaper bag holder.
I’ve tried Stroller Strides: Yes, I did get a workout, but it was the upper body kind from holding my daughters and pushing the stroller, attempting to catch them as they jumped out, strapping them in while they threw a fit, or picking them up again and again and again.
I’ve tried bribery: How many times can I run around this lake while tossing in various treats and toys and reminding them that if they are good we can go to the park? One and a half times, it turns out. But on the upside, that last half lap of screaming is always the fastest!
I’ve tried peer pressure: I entered three “stroller friendly” races. The stroller is always fine, it’s just the children inside. Last fall, I even did Run the Rocks with friends who also brought their children. Pushing the double stroller, I knew I had made a mistake after we depleted all snacks and stopped for two side-of-the-road diaper changes within the first 10 minutes.
In the past, when I’ve thought about all my stroller troubles, I always tended to blame myself or wonder what was wrong with my children. Lately, I have come to realize my girls are just a lot like me – they would rather be moving than sitting.
I’ve also come to realize that while there are times I can integrate my children into my workouts, I need to find ways to stay fit on my own. A few things that have helped me:
Pick a Goal
Last summer, a few friends invited me to do the Dirty Girl Mud Run with them. Knowing that I needed to be able to run 3 miles and complete mud-laden obstacles along the way was motivation to find ways to stick with a workout program. Without this goal I don’t think I would have looked into the child care at my gym, bought a workout deal off groupon or researched bootcamp groups on meetup.com. When I felt too busy or too tired, the reality of my goal helped keep me going.
· Carve out a few nights a week, stick with it and don’t feel guilty
After signing up for the Dirty Girl, I found a twice-a-week bootcamp that was at a time that worked for my husband to be home. I committed to that class and tried to never_ever_miss. Even if the house was a mess. Even if one of the girls was cranky. Unless there was a dire circumstance, I tried to assure myself the household would survive if I left for two one hour classes a week. Sure enough, after a few weeks these classes became part of our schedule, and I always felt better knowing I would have those times to reclaim my fitness (and sanity) each week.
· Find Support
Once you have a goal, there IS a lot of support out there to help you succeed. First, look to your friends and family. After signing up for the Dirty Girl, I found that many of my mom friends faced the same dilemma as me – it is really really hard to actually workout with your children! We started finding parks that had trails nearby and switching off. Some places that tended to work well:
Red Rocks Amphitheater – We would bring picnic lunches and rotate playing and supervising children, then running the stairs for 10-15 minutes at a time. We also used the stair climb up as exercise (see pics).
Clement Park – kiddos play at the park, while moms switch off running around the lake
Home playdates – pick a house and bring a lunch. Children play while one or two moms go for a 20-30 minute run or workout
Besides family and your current friends, some other places to find support (and make new friends in the process):
Meetup groups – ex. Littleton Playdate Exchange and Active Mammas and Mammas-to-be Denver Club.
Local businesses – the Boulder Running Company has many weekly bootcamps, speed classes or group runs. Most are free or only a few dollars.
Facebook Groups – While both of these are obstacle racing groups, there is lots of mom support on each! Spartan Chicked and Colorado Obstacle Racers.
· Finally, remember that being a mom is an asset!
Recently, when I was perusing the Spartan Chicked Facebook page, I read this post:
“Spartan my ass. Not today I’m not. I have 4 loads of laundry in the living room, cheerios all over the floor, dishes that need to be put away, my carport and back porch are covered in consignment and “yard sale” crap, twins with runny noses and a 3 year old who vapor rubbed all her dolls which I still haven’t washed, and my shirt is on inside out. For $119.00 plus an insurance waiver you can come to my house and I’ll give you 3 hours of obstacles, strength, agility, tears, laughter and a boatload of drool….the elite heat starts at 7am.”
There were over 120 likes and I was one of them!
In the past, I often felt bad about buying an expensive stroller we didn’t use or failing to find the magic combination of running with my children. Once I finally gave myself permission to stop trying to get a great workout with my kids, we were all much, much happier.
In obstacle racing, I am often asked to carry barrels of rocks or flip over a giant tire. These tasks are never a problem for me! Compared to juggling two temper-tantrum-throwing toddlers and navigating a shopping cart through the parking lot, doing these obstacles or hauling a concrete slab up a hill is actually pretty easy.
Even when things get messy, loud or downright embarrassing, I try to remember that if I am a mom, I am already “training” every day!
Leslie St. Louis lives in Morrison, is married to Tom and has two young daughters, Lucy and Sky, ages three and four. Leslie started obstacle racing in 2011, about a year after her second daughter was born. She was surprised to find she was pretty good at it, and enjoyed the competition. “So much of my energy in my past profession as a teacher, and especially in my current one as a mom, was spent helping and nurturing others,” she said. “Within obstacle racing, I felt I finally had “permission” to be competitive…and within a really friendly community of other athletes too!”
Since her first race, she has lost over 15 pounds, been ranked in the Top 10 point earners among Spartan racers, and competed in five other obstacle races, coming in 3rd in the Colorado Spartan Sprint elite heat, 6th in the Utah Spartan Beast elite heat, 1st in the Rugged Maniac elite heat, 4th in the Survivor Mud Run and 4th in the Warrior Dash. Her two daughters have also joined in on the fun, participating in the Kids’ Rugged Maniac and Spartan Races. According to Leslie’s girls, they win every race!
Leslie just started a community website and facebook page, Colorado Obstacle Racers, where you can find event schedules, pictures, deals, racer reviews, racer stories, trainer tips and workouts. It also a place where local racers (and moms) can connect!
How are you getting back into shape? Have tips and tricks that you want to add? Please use the comment section below. Thanks to Leslie for lots of great information. If you enjoyed this post please pass it along to your friends.