If you follow me on Twitter or on FaceBook, you know that I spend a lot of time at the Y and I have found the benefits of our daily visit to be one of my strongest parenting tools.
Here in Missouri it is hot and muggy. I don’t know if it’s always like this or if it’s just this summer but it seems like days where the heat index is 100+ degrees is normal. Needless to say, the playground is usually out of days like that because you are liable to get third-degree burns from the equipment and while pools are fun for a pre-schooler and a toddler, they are not so much fun for the mama trying to keep watch on both of them. I want my kids to grow up with the notion that daily physical activity is the norm and not the exception and our daily excersion to the gym fulfills that. The Bear, even on hot, hot days, get the chance to run, jump, and play with kids around her age and The Dragonfly gets to get some lovin’ from Grandmas! (The Y we belong to has separate areas for infants/toddlers and the older kids. The infant room is staffed by Grandmas, essentially.)
So while this is starting to sound like an endorsement for the Y, the real benefit to my parenting is the effect it has on me. I suffer from depression and while it is not severe, it is still a presence in my life and exercise is my way of keeping that demon at bay. I was not overly active in High School because I had the false assumption that you had to be “good” to play on a team. I did not grow up in the town where I attended High School and I didn’t find out (until it was too late) that anyone can play on HS teams (that’s why there’s JV!) I was on the Dance Team for two years and I was in the Marching Band (in fact, I was Drum Major for my Junior and Senior years) so I was not a bump on the log, but that was about it. Like most High Schoolers, I despised gym class and opted out of it Senior year. My depression became more apparent once I hit the University. Erratic schedules, Difficult classes, Roommates, Relationships, Poor eating habits all compounded the situation and things got rough. On a whim, I joined a Rec-league Rugby team and LOVED IT! When I first joined the squad, I was so out of shape it wasn’t funny. Couldn’t even do a push-up. But by the end of the season, I was seeing muscle definition and my cardiovascular system was trained… I could run, hit, and lift with the best of them. Sadly, I didn’t stay on the team long, but I am grateful for my playing time. I know there are some Rugby squads here in STL and I have been thinking that it might but fun…
Graduate school brought me to karate (where I eventually met my husband) and Chicago is where I ran Marathons. After my pregnancy with The Bear, I was hit with “the Baby Blues” and knew that I had to get active. We joined the Y when The Bear was about 5 months old and have been members since. After my pregnancy with The Dragonfly, I was hit with fill-blown post-partum depression and that was the scariest time of my life and it was exercise that helped me through. I shouldn’t have been surprised with the depression; after all, I took spinning classes and swam throughout the pregnancy, thereby getting my daily endorphin fix and if you couple the lack of endorphin fix with the post-pregnancy hormone cascade, you’ve got a recipe for a hot mess. I was back to the gym when The Dragonfly was 8 weeks old and back to myself soon afterward. (In case you were wondering, my kids haven’t gotten overly sick from the gym. Nothing more than the occasional cold in the winter.)
Hopefully, you are still with me and after 678 words I am getting to my point. After many years of mediocre to poor body image, I can say that I am happy with how I look, and all it took was getting pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am thin, per se, but I am happy and fit. I am 5’9″ (1.75m) tall and about 175 lbs (79.3kg) and depending on the designer, I wear anywhere from a Size 12-14. My resting heart rate is between 55-60 bpm and my blood pressure is 110/60. I carry pockets fat here and there and I fully believe that is the way God designed woman.
Women need a certain amount of body fat to menstrate and to be fertile and if one carries too much body fat you can have difficulties achieving pregnancy, so the balance of fat to lean can be a precarious one. But for me, I look to where my pockets of far are… and they are in places that are perfect for little heads to rest. Breasts, Hips, Tummy, Thighs, all places that are perfect for snuggling up to and hearing a story or having a snack of Mama Milk and drifting off to sleep.
If losing more weight means losing these natural snuggle points… pass the cake, please! And I’ll see you at the gym.