Having a toddler is like cardio and weights all wrapped up in to one bundle. If you are not squatting with a clingy child strapped to your chest like a kevlar vest, trying to pick up a dummy before the cat licks it, then you are breaking in to sprint as they try to make a break for freedom, pegging it through TK Maxx like it’s an assault course. With such a high intensity workout just getting through the day, why on earth would you desire to get your sweat on in addition to this HITT plan (High Intensity Toddler Training).
I’m not a natural born exerciser. Just ask the girls from university – I was the queen of exercise avoidance. Yet somewhere along my forty-two years I stumbled on the path of fitness and reluctantly embraced it. Now, in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation and lacking the structure of a working day, finding the mojo to break a sweat can be hard but there’s a few good reasons that I continue to bust out the lycra.
Firstly, as the name suggests, I am a geriatric mum. Recently I saw an instagram post asking how old you will be in ten years and how old your child will be. There were all these whipper-snappers balking at the prospect – “oh my god, I’ll be thirty-two and my little one will be eleven!” I get it… forty horrified me in my chardonnay swigging, youthful days where a late night wasn’t half past nine. However, in ten years I will be fifty-two and have a twelve year old that doesn’t want me mistaken for his grandma. Being physically fit enough to keep up with him is therefore important. I’m not suggesting cheerleading high-kicks from the sidelines of his football matches (although let it be known that I am pretty mean with a pom-pom after a brief stint in a majorette troop in the 1980’s) but I want to be able to demonstrate the importance of physical health and fitness as he grows. To that end, he’s joined me on many a five kilometre run around our local forest loop in the running buggy. I sweat: he sleeps. Way to go on inspiring fitness mama!
Secondly, one way to combat sleep deprivation is perversely to exhaust yourself further. As much as it can be a mental wrangle to lace up those trainers and get your butt moving, I hate to say it but it does make you feel better. Better about the chocolate mini-roll you inhaled for breakfast at 5:23am because you were too knackered to prep the porridge and better because yes, scientifically all those endorphins do give you the post-workout glow. Who am I kidding – glow! It’s more like a smug, radioactive beetroot that stumbles through the door high-fiving herself. As well as the feel-good factor, it also gives me that short period of headspace to process and sort through all that jumble of stuff lurking in my head. A spa day it isn’t but me-time it is.
Now the weather is turning and the darkness of autumn/winter is upon us, I will be doing more from the comfort of the lounge with weights, resistance bands and youtube fitties in their crop tops. Clearly though, I have inspired Harry to want to get involved. We are lucky enough to have a running machine installed downstairs. I moved it in from the garage to make life easier as I couldn’t get out there with him – not enough Bing to keep him entertained. However, every time I now get on the treadmill he bounds over and demands ‘my turn.” Any suggestions on how to turn a toddler off exercise and encourage them to sit in front of Paw Patrol for thirty minutes gratefully received!
Finally – and this is the key one, I exercise to tame the chub. Yep, it gives you all the feel good vibes and makes me top role-model mum, but the number one reason is – I love cake. I love cake, sweets, carbs, crisps, burgers, pies and all that is bad for you. In my twenties, you could be polite and say I had some ‘puppy fat’ or you could just be honest and say I was packing some pounds. I had an unhealthy lifestyle that took the shock of my Dad falling ill with Motor Neurone Disease to do something about. When he got his diagnosis, I could do nothing for him, so I did something for me. I started running. By my mid thirties I had a selection of half marathon medals round my neck and had shifted the poundage. When I fell pregnant, it was like an excuse to unleash old Karen again. I craved all things beige – almond croissants were my go to and vegetables turned my stomach. Once my little seven pound three-er made an entrance to the world, I made it my mission to not slip back in to old ways.
Despite the challenges of non-existent pelvic floor (please see https://theunyoungmum.com/2019/10/08/the-sad-tale-of-the-lost-pelvic-floor/ for far too much information), I have managed to get back in to running and try to do little and often. Coupled with walking lots, I am back in to pre-preggo jeans but it has a to be said I am the queen of yo-yo. Eating is still my issue. Tiredness, hanging out in cafes and not working means I have the willpower of a gnat. I do three weeks where I am on it, tracking my every mouthful on ‘My Fitness Pal,’ ramping up the Fitbit and demonstrating resistance to the lure of sugar but then something comes up: a bad night, the sniffles, a day ending in ‘y’ then I go down in a blaze of sugar.
So apologies those of you who follow me on Instagram and get to regularly witness my beetroot smugness in its fullest glory. Photographic evidence of my exercise endeavours acts as my accountability. Maybe I need to start posting more quinoa and salad to inspire me but failing that, I’ll squat as I’m troughing a bar of galaxy. This is why I exercise. Here’s to balance!
I’m most definitely a work in progress. I’m not happy with the amount of sugar I consume and know that I don’t want Harry to have the same level of sugar substance abuse as me. So exercise is just one step in my post pregnancy journey. What exercise do you manage with a child in tow? How do you find time and headspace? What do you do to resist the cravings and cake – any tips that don’t require an annual subscription are most welcome!