There’s a subtle distinction between reasons and excuses, and I fear that by this point, I am veering well towards the latter.
Oliver is more than eight months old and I’ve yet to re-implement any consistent, formal fitness training program. For the first time in years, I do not have a gym membership; this despite the fact that J gave me a hand-made coupon for a one-year gym membership as part of my birthday present. Five months ago.
It’s a bit of a catch-22. I haven’t wanted to take J up on his offer until I was sure I could commit to a regular schedule of gym visits; but the lack of a gym membership has been one of my barriers to regular training. Instead, I’ve spent months deliberating over which gym to join: which gym has that elusive combination of top-notch training, optimum facilities and equipment, a generous schedule of classes, a convenient location, and a monthly fee that won’t blow our budget. I’ve long given up on the idea of a gym with childcare. The types of gyms I like to frequent do not offer childcare.
There was a time, not too long ago, where it seemed my entire life revolved around eating well and keeping myself in top physical condition. I spent every evening at the gym, every weekend pursuing recreational fitness activities, and I would turn down social engagements if I thought they might derail my perfect diet or cause me to miss a CrossFit class. I was obsessed, and I had the body to prove it.
I love the turn my life has taken since then, but there are things I miss.
I miss pushing myself to my limits, then spending an hour or two shooting the breeze with my coaches and/or fellow athletes after class. I miss that body. I miss striving for perfection and feeling so completely in control of myself. I miss being consumed with optimal macronutrient ratios and personal bests (I’m kidding about those last two… or am I? :)).
I also know those days are over, at least for the foreseeable future.
Obsessing over being the paragon of fitness has given way to obsessing over being the paragon of housewifery and motherhood.
Over getting every last fingerprint off the doors of the kitchen cupboards. Over meticulously logging nursing sessions and naps. Over trying to cram in as many stimulating mom and baby activities as possible. Over endless vacuuming, laundry and tidying. Over family meal planning, cooking, and sitting patiently through an eight-month-old’s self-feeding. These new “Mom” pastimes have come to replace that which used to be my gym time.
My other new pastime is being in a constant state of exhaustion. Despite the fact that Oliver sleeps a solid 11 to 12 hours per night, he is a surprisingly fussy bundle of perpetual motion, boundless energy and insatiable curiosity during his waking hours.
All of these elements combine to create my
reason (no, let’s call a spade a spade) excuse that:
a) I can’t find a daily — or even thrice-weekly — two hour block of time in which to travel to a gym and take a class; and
b) even if I could, how on earth could I muster up the energy to do so?
Evening workouts, after Oliver is in bed, are out of the question. I simply can’t do intense training within two hours after a big meal, and there are no gyms offering 9:00 PM classes. Also, I am already working (part-time) one or two evenings a week. I don’t want to fill the three remaining weekday evenings with obligations. It’s not sustainable, and it’s not fair to J.
Mid-day workouts are presently not an option, as I’d have nobody to watch Oliver. It would be too much of an interruption to have J take two hours off in the middle of his work day. Perhaps if/when Oliver becomes more accustomed to his new daycare and is staying for longer stretches, I will be able to hit the gym on Thursdays and Fridays. Two days are better than none.
This leaves me with the dreaded early mornings. I’ve never been a “morning” person, let alone a “morning workout” person. Furthermore, I think the military long ago killed any desire I might have ever have had to drag my ass out of bed at some ungodly hour — tired, cold and starving — and partake in intense exercise. But this weekend we will be eliminating Oliver’s 11:00 PM dream feed, freeing us up to go to bed much earlier. With that, I think that 7:00 AM workouts will become feasible, if still unpleasant.
The only issue I’ve yet to figure out is what to do about engorgement. Since my classes will take place more than 12 hours following Oliver’s last nighttime feed, and since he doesn’t receive his first morning feed until after 8:00 AM, I’ll be going to the gym with very, very full breasts (TMI? Sorry!). I really don’t know how that’s going to work. I’m afraid it will be tremendously uncomfortable, and that I’ll leak. I’m afraid that Oliver might wake early one morning, and that J will be stuck for an hour or more with a cranky, starving baby.
But alas, those precious early hours are probably the only ones I can count on if I want to establish any sort of consistency with my fitness routine.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve remained active throughout the post-partum period. I walk (often for hours) while Oliver naps in the stroller. I take Oliver hiking, snowshoeing and swimming. I am constantly chasing, lifting and carrying. My life is the epitome of Mark Sisson’s mantra, “Move frequently at a slow pace.” I look fit.
But I am craving more. I want a regimented program, complete with goals and coaching and meticulous record keeping. I want to see my six-pack again; not just hints of abdominal definition. I want to be able to rip off a “Murph” and still be able to walk the next day. I want to be a mom and an athlete. Is that too much to ask of myself? I don’t think so.
So the excuses stop here. If I really and truly want this, I will have to find a way to make it work. And that way is going to involve some rather unpleasant mornings for the time being. But who knows — maybe someday I will come to love my morning workouts.
Did you have a passion or obsession that you temporarily gave up for motherhood? How do you find balance in your new role as a mom, while still indulging your need to excel at another pursuit?