I love cardio just as much as anyone. I love the runners high, the feeling of strength you feel when your body is in motion. I feel like a finely tuned athlete, a gazelle even as my legs power through the tail end of the workout. (I assure you I do not look like a gazelle but in my mind, I am invincible.)
My workouts have changed over the years for a number of reasons. Well, 2 reasons to be exact. Baby #1 and Baby #2. Before I had kids, I ran. I ran and ran and ran. I taught aerobics classes, step classes and then I would run AFTER class. I was addicted to logging miles
My girlfriend and I would get up at 5:30am to get a quick 5km in before work a couple of
times a week. We would run and talk, run and talk. Although it was early, we were still excited to see each other and get caught up on each other’s latest gossip. We ran through blizzards and snowstorms, narrowly missing cars backing out of their driveway (cause who in their right mind could possibly be out at this hour?? US that’s who!)
Then I got pregnant. Not the graceful kind either. Although I gained only 35lbs,my 5’3 frame had a tough time slogging up hills and pounding the pavement.
My goal was to get through the day without vomiting. I managed to make it to 6 months before I called uncle.
We both knew our running days together were over. How would I be able to meet for our 5:30am run when I had been up all night feeding a crying baby? How would I be able to keep up with my former track star friend with all this extra weight I was carrying?
When Charlie arrived 4 weeks early in February 2010, I was elated but also terrified. I was absolutely in love with this tiny little creature of mine but I was also kind of ticked about what he did to my body. I made it my mission to lose my pregnancy weight and be in the best shape of my life.
This all sounded great on paper. I would watch what I was eating, strap my baby in the jogging stroller and burn all that extra baby weight off. However, I wasn’t prepared for the extreme level of exhaustion that comes with a new baby, and a colicky one at that. He was a real person who wasn’t by any means going to just jump right into my schedule. I had to work with HIS agenda.
I looked at my workout options. They were pretty slim. The gym I worked at did not have child care so that was out. My preemie baby was too small for my jogging stroller so scratch that. Oh and he also didn’t want me to EVER put him down. This was not going according to plan!!!
But then I realized that I am a Personal Trainer. I know how to make a workout happen anywhere!! And that anywhere had to be in my basement while my sweet little Charlie sat in a bouncy chair, or I used him as my workout partner.
I created the simplest workout routine in the world. I did squats, lunges, shoulder presses, pushups and planks all with my little man. He was my “resistance” and also my biggest motivator. I held him in my arms as I did squats, gave him kisses in between each push up and listened to him squeal in delight as I lifted his tiny body up for shoulder presses. It was our time together and it was mutually beneficial. I was getting a workout that was doable and he was spending time with his Mama.
I honestly stopped caring if the program was going to “work”. It was fun and I was starting to feel like myself again. But here’s the thing…it did work. I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some by the time Charlie was 6 months. I was working out for 20-30 min 4-5 times a week in my basement with my baby. That’s it. If this was working, then why in my right mind would I go back to hours and hours on the treadmill.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that running is bad. I am however saying that when my time became more valuable, I needed a workout that was more efficient. Resistance training in any form (dumbbells, bands, bodyweight, your baby) helps you build muscle and boost your metabolism. You will look tighter and more toned with the presence of this new found muscle. When I was exclusively running, I was softer but man could I run for a long time.
As Charlie grew, my workouts evolved. He became too heavy for shoulder presses and too squirmy for squats. I purchased dumbbells and resistance bands to continue my workouts as Charlie sat in the swing and watched along. He eventually fit into the jogging stroller and I returned to running in a more moderate fashion. I would run 2-3 times a week for 20-30 min and do my resistance training 2-3 times as well. It was a much more balanced approach and it didn’t take over my life. It was doable and it was working.
I used the same formula to lose my baby weight when Gus arrived in Feb 2012. This time, I had to make a few tweaks since I now had a 2 year old to entertain as well. I was not about to put two children in a jogging stroller in the middle of winter.
This meant the workouts were done exclusively inside. Charlie watched Dora, Gus and I worked out. Everybody was happy. And once again, the program worked.
I learned a lot about exercise during this time. I learned that it didn’t have to be grueling in order to see results. I learned that resistance training in any form boosts metabolism. I learned that the combination of cardio and strength training is key for weight loss and maintenance. I also learned that exercise could be about more than just vanity. My regular sweat sessions kept me sane throughout those first few years of my kids lives. I don’t know what I would have done without them. For the first time in my life, exercise wasn’t about just burning calories. It was about feeling strong and capable.
These revelations led me to create my own Mom and Me Fitness Class. I contacted a local Community Centre and asked them if they would be interested in giving it a go. The class took off and I have been teaching it now for almost 4 years. There was a time where I thought about dropping it for a while. It no longer fit into my schedule. However something in me couldn’t let go of it. These Moms were so grateful to a) get out of the house b )talk to grown ups c) get a workout. It was a lifeline. I certainly didn’t want to be the one to take that from them.
A lot of the women in the class would ask if I taught other classes like this or some would inquire about Personal Training with me. I would tell them it was the only “Mom and Me” class I taught and my Personal Training schedule was full. I knew there had to be a way to help them but I was already spread too thin. How could I possibly be in 3 places at once?? Then the idea came to me one day last fall.
What if I could work with these women online? I could build a service that allows them to do customized workouts in their home. I could work with them through Skype or Facetime and communicate through email.
Fastforward almost a year later and I am proud to launch my Online Fitness Coaching Services. I want to teach Busy Moms how to fit exercise and healthy eating into their already crazy lives. It’s about exercising smarter, not harder. It’s about eating real food that nourishes your body. It’s about putting your needs first again because your health is the only thing you’ve got.
I still teach my Mommy and Me Fitness class at the Williamsburg Community Centre in Kitchener in the fall, winter and spring. The class doesn’t run in the summer and I didn’t want to leave these awesome Moms hanging. So this summer I have teamed up with Personal Trainer and new Mom, Amy Miller to provide 8 weeks of safe, effective, fat burning Post Partum Exercise in the park. Click here for more details.
If you are reading this today and feel angry and frustrated with your Post Partum weight loss, know that I get it. I get it more than you know. It was a long road for me to build my body back but
I did it and that’s why I am so insanely passionate about helping other Moms do it too. I would love to help you and I know that I can. Drop me a line. Let’s have a chat. I swear this whole mommy thing gets easier. It’s not perfect but your life can still be pretty awesome if you take care of YOU first.