Prior to getting pregnant, staying active was easy for me. I viewed climbing, hiking and running as a mandatory part of my day. Once I got pregnant however, the morning sickness and fatigue set in with full force. I was miserable for the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy and I had to summon some powerful inner motivation to keep myself active. Fighting the fatigue and nausea, I competed in USA Climbing Nationals during my first trimester and won a local climbing competition during my second trimester. At 33 weeks pregnant I flashed 5.12 and I climbed up until 3 days before I delivered Ellie. Looking back, I’m satisfied that I continued to compete while I could despite the discomforts of pregnancy. I felt like I found a reasonable balance between staying active and yet not pushing myself to an unhealthy state with the pregnancy. I optimized my nutrition and I focused day and night on staying hydrated despite the morning sickness. Once Ellie was born, I had to take the time to let my body heal and recover. I took about two weeks off post delivery before getting on the climbing wall again and in all honesty I didn’t feel fully recovered from the physical trauma of birth until a solid year after I delivered. In addition to my body getting back to its “pre-pregnancy self” I had a new baby in my life. These changes made it all the more difficult for me to balance home life, work and training. Here is some insight to the things that have crossed my mind and motivated me along the way:
1. I can’t tell you how many times I would be sitting in the rocking chair and snuggling with “baby Ellie” in my arms while debating whether I had the energy to go out for a run. All excuses would come to mind… no it’s too hot outside, it’s too cold outside, maybe later in a few hours, no I’m too hungry or no I just ate. While filtering through all the incoming excuses, three words overpowered them: “Just Do It”. Yes, the Nike slogan that’s been around since 1988 was my motivation to get up and go. To me, the words “Just Do It” means to drop the excuses and get it done.
2. Compromise and make sacrifices. I recently read a review online for a bike trailer where the guy said that he didn’t like the trailer because biking his kid around town added extra weight to the experience and made him peddle harder. While I stared at the review laughing, I thought about the irony of it. Yes, putting your kid in a bike carrier is going to make you peddle harder. It will also burn more calories, build more muscle and ultimately make you stronger. Adding the weight of a bike trailer to my commutes around town or taking Ellie out for a run in the jogging stroller while my husband was at work are compromises I’ve had to make. I’ll be the first to admit that running with a jogging stroller is miserable. It adjusted my running gait, slowed my pace down and added no benefit except that now I had a place to store my iPhone and water bottle. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to stop mid run to breast feed my child on the side of the trail. The thought comes to mind that “It’s over. Pack up and go home.” but don’t listen to it! Take 20 minutes to feed the baby, put her back in the jogger and keep running. Make it happen because in the end, it feels amazing to get a workout in. Even if you had to use the bike trailer, running jogger or kid backpacker to get it done.
3. Take time to workout ALONE. I block off a few hours each week where I know Zak will have Ellie and I can workout by myself. These are my high intensity and efficient training sessions where I bust my butt with 110% focus and dedication. Put it in the calendar and make it mandatory.
4. Whatever you decide to do, I encourage finding a balance with activities that focus on optimizing cardiovascular health and strength training. I run because it balances out my climbing. If I can’t run at the time, I try to add in some swimming, hiking or biking.
5. As Ellie grew older, I had to modify my activities so that she could participate in the experience as well. Ellie loves getting outside and riding in the kid carriers while I hike, bike or run. When she was only a few months old, I would take her to the gym and clip the baby swing to the Olympic rings. She would swing and watch the climbers move across the wall as she munched on a teething ring. If the swing started to slow down, one of us climbers would come up to it and give it a little push. She loved growing up in the climbing gym. As she grew older she would sit on a blanket and play with toys under the campus board while I climbed. Now that she’s two, she’s climbing with me, respects the space of the other climbers and is swinging around on those Olympic rings with her own two hands.
6. Be prepared. I despise over packing unnecessary items however, being prepared with snacks, water bottles, warm clothes, extra diapers, sunscreen and a toy or two is mandatory so that I’m not forced out of a workout. Every time I hand Ellie some finger food to munch on, I’ve automatically bought myself 20 more minutes of any given workout. Oh… and strategically work around naptime.
7. To reiterate the “Just Do It” slogan, the bottom line is to not make excuses. I could have easily blown off my training sessions with excuses like “I’m too pregnant.” “It’s too cold outside.” “I don’t want to pack Ellie up.” or “Life is too busy.” Be reasonable, modify as needed and account for safety but ultimately, don’t let the possibilities slip through your fingers because one thing is certain: Life will most always seem too busy, the weather will rarely be perfect, you will not always feel your best when stepping into a workout and there will be obstacles along the way. For me, I’ve had to find what is important to me and keep it in perspective. Staying physically active and healthy is one of them, so I make it a top priority in my life.