I ran across this photo this morning. Isaac took it a few years ago. Back when my “gym” looked like me, my babies and a set of dumbbells in the garage. The only bench I had was a jumbo diaper box, which there was no shortage of in our house at the time. This photo makes me smile. Because fitness as a parent is just like this – it requires dedication, flexibility and a good sense of humor.
Over the past five years of motherhood, my fitness routine has evolved. Because if my fitness plans don’t jive with my kid’s needs, it just ain’t going to work. Really, truly. Which can feel super deflating at times. Like, “I’d be in the best shape if it weren’t for my kids.” (I’ve heard it said. I’ve said it myself.) And there’s some truth to it – like when you’re up all night with a puking kid and then sleep through the 5:30am alarm for bootcamp. That’s legit. But, we also need to call bullshit on the notion of our kids holding us back. They’re not. No. There is always a way to make something work. Sure, you would rather be at Barry’s Bootcamp, but you’re stuck with a (frequently interrupted) workout in your garage. It’s still worth it. Sure, you’d rather go for a run by yourself, but instead you’re pushing a screaming baby in a jog stroller for miles on end (wondering if you’re a horrible parent). It’s still worth it. It might not feel like the ideal setup or most worthwhile workout, but something is better than nothing. I frequently have to remind myself that even 10 minutes of exercise can change my mindset and the trajectory of the day. It’s still worth it.
In effort to maintain consistency in my movement through the fluctuations of parenthood, I established a life goal: Always Be Fit. My fitness is not a wagon to fall off/climb back in. My fitness is not a trend that’s hot for a few months and dead the following season. My fitness will not fall prey to a parenting trap. My fitness is a daily choice. I will sweat daily. I will not stop moving. I will be flexible and find something that works for the now.
And it’s been super tricky at times. Like during the early years when I was working full time – it was tough and I had to lower my expectations for was a “workout” looked like. Big time. 15 minutes was good enough. A mile walk with the kids in the stroller before bed was good enough. And those small victories helped me build consistency and momentum.
And so as a parent, fitness requires not only motivation and dedication, but flexibility and adaptation. For instance, there was a solid 4 years where my jog stroller was literally my best friend. I walked and ran my kids all over the place on a daily basis. But now, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve pushed those little buns around on a run. They are too old and heavy for the jog stroller. They’re ready to be jogging themselves. So, what was my total jam for years is no longer an option.
I definitely do best when I settle into a routine. But for better or worse, I have to switch things up every few months based on the kiddos. Because what works in October may not work in January. And what works with a 1 and 2 year old may not work with a 3 and 4 year old.
I’ve been in a great fitness groove since February. I was fitting in early morning workouts 3 times a week and late morning workouts 2 days a week while the Bodenettes were in preschool. It was great. (Emphasis on the was.) And alas, here we are in June – preschool is out and the old routine no longer works. I’d like to say that I never get frustrated by the need to flex and flow, but that’s not true. I’m missing my Tuesday/Thursday late morning trainings at Nike. But, it’s time to settle into the reality of this season and find a new routine that fits the needs of now. And I’ve done this long enough (5 years to be exact) to know, that each new season brings good stuff – new learnings, challenges and fun.
The new Summer routine brings with it a new gym for me and the Bodenettes. I knew we’d be spending more time at the gym, and I needed to find a place that was a good fit for the kids. A place with a program suited to their ages and lots of space to run and play. Our new gym, Villa Sport, has an awesome kid’s club with lots of games, dancing, crafts, sports and buddies from school. It’s a good fit for me too – they have Woodway treadmills and eucalyptus oil in the locker room. So, yeah.
I’m thinking my summer routine will look like a lot of training at the gym, running on the tread, yoga at home and workouts at Nike when I can finagle it. I’d say it’s going to be a good Summer for fitness!
Fellow parents out there – do you feel me? What are your summertime fitness plans?