Fitness goals: Finding balance with Exercise and Life
It’s 6:45AM and my Mr. Bean alarm cuts through the silence with “pick up. Pick up the phone. Pick it up. Pick it up! PICK IT UP!” I don’t want to pick up my phone. I briefly contemplate hitting the snooze button, but then I hear a shuffling on the baby monitor. I awkwardly roll over and fumble for my phone to quiet the alarm.
It’s quiet. Maybe Ezra is still sleeping. Maybe I should sleep a few more minutes? “hmm hmm hmmmmm” Crap. Ezra is humming. He’s awake.
I peel myself out of bed and stumble to the bathroom. Long gone are the days of pulling all-nighters and then waking up for a morning run. I splash my face with some cold water and brush my teeth. I can hear Ezra’s humming turning into more of a whining now. David is still sleeping and I envy his ability to tune out all external noise. I start to change into my running clothes and then there is the “mum mum MUUUMM” from Ezra’s nursery. It’s his way of saying “I’ve been here too long. Pick me up now!!”
I go to his room and sing the good morning song. Honestly, it is more for helping me wake up than for him, but I think he enjoys it nonetheless. We play our usual morning games – mostly him pointing to various objects in his room while I name them – and then I change and dress him for the day.
It’s 7:15AM and time for breakfast. We usually make pancakes or eggs. Ezra will have his milk while I cook and then we eat together. As we finish our meal, we play another one of our morning games. “Do you hear that? What’s that? Is that Daddy?!” Ezra will clap as we listen to the sounds of David waking up and getting ready upstairs. Then it’s all business.
We pack snacks, put our shoes on, and prep water bottles and the diaper bag. I make us some coffee, walk our dog Gypsy, and then we are off to the park. The whole process can take 10 min on a good day or 20 on an average. It takes 30 minutes if Ezra decides to have a meltdown.
It’s 8:30AM and we arrive at the trailhead. We pull the jogging stroller out of the car, get Ezra situated with his water and a snack, and then we take off down the trail. Right away my knees are creaking. I’m not even 30 yet, but already I’ve been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee. The result of an old injury from high school.
We will usually end our walk/run at the park and let Ezra play at the playground for 30 minutes to get his wiggles out. This is our daily routine. At least, that’s what we aim for. It doesn’t always pan out that way. Sometimes Ezra will boycott sleeping at night, either because he’s teething or just wants us to check on him. Those mornings are usually slow and we are lucky if we make it to lunchtime without needing a nap. Other days my body will hurt, or David’s body will hurt, so we stay in.
The point of exercise is to keep our bodies and mind healthy and happy. Finding a way to fit this into the daily grind is hard. It gets even more complicated when you throw children into the mix. David and I are lucky. He works from home and I stay home full-time to raise Ezra, so that makes it easier when trying to plan our days. When I used to work, it was a lot harder. I’d try to go for a walk on my lunch break and then we’d try to go on one as a family after I got home. More often than not, I’d end up working through lunch or being too tired after work to exercise.
Either way, when I was working and now, it’s a struggle to find a balance between life and taking care of our health. My current resolution is to go for a walk/run four times a week (currently, it is more like one or two) and do yoga before Ezra wakes up most mornings. Some mantras I’ve been repeating to myself when I’m lacking motivation have been this:
1. Our lives are temporary. To make the most of it, we need to be healthy and that starts with exercise.
2. Five minutes is better than no minutes. If I can say that I’ve actively used my body for at least this amount of time, it has been a good day. (Note: chasing babies doesn’t count – I’m talking about mindful exercise here)
3. I’m tired now, but I’ll feel better after. I can’t explain this phenomenon, but somehow exercise gives me more energy for the day versus when I don’t exercise.
4. You’ll be a happier person. I struggle with anxiety and depression. When I exercise, I notice a huge difference in my mood and demeanor. It makes me a happier wife, mom, and overall person.
Every day that I make it out the door to exercise is an accomplishment and I make a note of it. I also try not to beat myself up about the days when I don’t. All we can do in this life is try to be better versions of ourselves. No one can do it for us. We have to make this commitment on our own and to ourselves.