Category Archives: Exercise and Fitness

First Half After Baby

On Sunday I crossed the finish line at my 8th half, the first one I’ve run since I was pregnant a little over two years ago.  Even without the setback of my foot injury in January, it was a tough road to running this race.  The furthest I had run until March was 6.2 miles in a very difficult 10k last September.  And running long distances just hurt for the first year after having a baby, and I really started to feel like getting back to half marathons and long races would be impossible. But I signed up for my first half anyway, since races motivate me to train and because I wanted to at least try and see how it went and see whether it was achievable.  My husband and my sister also ran it, which was nice because my sister and I were able to stay together for most of the race, and I’m honestly not sure that I would have been able to get through the whole thing on my own.

I get asked a lot why I race. Not why I run, people seem to understand that weight loss and not wanting to die of a heart attack and wanting to be in shape are all valid reasons to exercise and that running is the cheapest method of achieving that. But why do I pay money, wake up really early, and join a thousand strangers to compete in a sport that I will never ever win?

Races are a chance to learn more about myself, to challenge myself and push myself and try to achieve things that I haven’t done before.  All of the things I doubt about myself, all of the mean things I say to myself, all the mean things I ever said to myself, those all disappear on race day.  I focus on myself and what I can achieve and putting one foot ahead of the other.

So what did I learn on Sunday? That muscle memory is powerful.  That my friend E is right, that what matters the most in race training is just time on your feet – I did a lot of walking to train because my running ability was limited.  I learned that physical therapy is amazing.  I learned that running a half marathon is still possible.

Sunday was also mother’s day. And what I found myself thinking about, after my sister and I had separated and I was alone with my thoughts, is what my body has been through since my last half.  My last half was Rock and Roll DC in 2014 and I was fortunate that excessive cardio was the only thing to quell my morning sickness.  Pregnancy finally feels like a distant and uncomfortable memory.  And while I was in it, I had a hard time getting past the discomfort to a place where I could appreciate my body and what it was doing.  But for nearly two years, I grew and nourished and sustained another person who is amazing and that is amazing. And I thought that I would be able to focus on that while I was in it.  And I wasn’t, and that was disappointing to me.  And somehow now, or more specifically, during Miles 11-13, I was able to focus more on how huge motherhood is, and how much I appreciate my body, not just for its ability to grow and sustain an entire whole other human being, but for its ability to allow me to lift her and carry her and jump up and down when she commands me to.  I took a moment to thank my thighs and hips, which frankly, I have recently been berating for still not fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes. My legs and feet, in particular, had done some very serious work to recover from my injury, and I appreciate them for it.

I didn’t set any PRs.  I did come in well under my 2:30 goal, and mostly I met my goal of finishing, but also, the most important part about crossing the finish line is that the me who crosses the finish line gets to rub my accomplishment in the face of past-me who was full of doubt. Because as every amateur athlete knows, the greatest competition is with yourself.

 

 

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Filed under Exercise and Fitness, pregnancy

And then it’s March.

And then March is nearly over.

I’ve been continuing in PT, continuing to hope to make my goal of running a half-marathon on May 7th, continuing to go to the gym at my office a few times a week.  I’m trying for daily workouts but like all routines, it does eventually start to fall apart.  My husband started running in the mornings so two days a week, I’m watching the kiddo and trying to get us out the door.  I got assigned a ton of new cases in the last week.  Old cases have come back with crazy new problems.  Life goes on, basically, and exercise is often the first thing to go.  Lately, I’ve been fighting really hard to hold on to my new routine and my new habits.

I don’t talk much about work here but work has been challenging lately.  A heavy caseload and a lot of different kinds of cases.  We’ve been short staffed since last fall, and have only finally just hired a new person, with four more vacancies yet to be filled.  I’m struggling not to let my workload interrupt my routine because I know that when I feel like I don’t have time to exercise is when I need to the most.  I get more done, am more focused, and have more capacity for my clients when I’m feeling good.

I hit my two year therapy anniversary this month.  My therapist and I talked about how much progress I’ve made and how much work I have left.  There isn’t really an “end” in sight, but I have goals and I am working towards them and I am in such a better place than I was an anxious puddle sitting in that office two years ago.  I talk openly about therapy at work, with my family, and with my friends.  The more open we all are about our need for mental health help, the better off we will be.

I read this article recently and I talk about it with my therapist.   Self care is important for me, but I hadn’t made the connection that I was basically coming home empty after a full day of caring for other people, social working them, and dealing with their problems.  So I would lose patience with my kid and didn’t have anything left for her, let alone my poor spouse at the end of a long day when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, not deal with the dishes or our house or anything else.  So I’ve been working on radical self care.  What are the practices I’m stepping up?

  1. Exercise (duh). Particularly my Fit4Moms group where I get to be social about my exercise.
  2. Books on tape. I’ve been listening to audiobooks on my commute constantly and I feel like I’ve been able to tap into my imagination more and have been really excited about books and reading, which has been hard for me. It also gives me space to switch gears really fully after a long day.
  3. Therapy. At one point last year my therapist asked me what kind of self care I was doing (my kid wasn’t sleeping, I was working a lot, I was eating poorly and generally a mess) and I told him, “I come here once a week.” He has a pretty good poker face and he looked horrified.
  4. Mindfulness. I’ve started doing deep breathing exercises when things get to be too much.  It’s hokey but it’s helpful.

Anyone else engaging in radical self care? What do you do?

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Status Report

It is so very easy to forget, I think because sweatpants and the couch are so comfortable, how much better I feel when I exercise.  How much more bearable it is to wade into the trenches and try to fight for my clients, when I’ve been able to get my heart rate up or my arms and legs pumping.  How much better I am at my job when I feel better about myself.  How confident I feel when I know I can do a push up or ten.

And so, over a full week into my new diet and exercise program, I’m making the gym and healthy snacks and drinking more water happen.  As if by magic, my caseload, while still overwhelming, seems manageable and I’m better able to focus at work.  I’m no longer getting into work early, since I’m going to the gym, but when I come in at 9 or 9:30, I’m ready to take on the day.

I’m also making progress at PT and yesterday I got to run on an anti-gravity treadmill.  It was awesome.  They put me in it and had me run on 75% of my body weight.  It felt really good.  My foot was sore later but did better with stretching. I’m supposed to add in calf raises this week, so I’ve been doing them after workouts and when brushing my teeth.

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Get It!

I got the boot off at the beginning of February and after a super-successful PT session on Monday and some stretching, I finally ventured into my office’s gym on Wednesday morning. (In December my office moved to a complex that has a gym. It was very exciting and it took me two months to use it.)

I’m reluctant to call anything a routine before doing it for 3-4 weeks, but yesterday and today I managed to get myself up and out of the house with my kiddo, drop her at daycare, and then get to the gym with enough time to get in a 15-20 minute workout, shower, and head into the office.

Part of me feels like it’s such a huge effort to only get in 15-20 minutes but the rest of me knows that if that’s the only time I have, I will still benefit from workout out for that length of time.  Also, if I’m only exercising lightly for 20 minutes, I don’t need to shower.  Which is good because the hot water doesn’t seem to work in the showers.

I also started, and am dragging my poor spouse along for the ride, a DIY version of 21-Day Fix.  Basically, I borrowed the containers from a friend and figured out my container count on the internet and am cooking food from recipes I found on Pinterest.  I’m not doing the exercises because I’m injured and once I’m back to being able to work out I will be following the half marathon training plan from my training group.  I have not paid for this plan.  If you are also interested in DIYing the plan, you can definitely get the containers on Amazon and download a tracking app or printables and I think it’s still probably a good program.  Mostly I’m learning better moderation and portion sizes, particularly for carbs and how many vegetables I really need a day.

The really cool part is how good I feel.  I don’t mean the “I have so much more energy because I’m not eating gluten!” high that some people get when they are doing Whole 30 or even the “Shakeology is giving me a glow!” that people tell you because they are trying to a) justify the cost to themselves or b) sell it to you.  I mean that I’m feeling good in the, “I am exercising and eating right and I CAN DO THIS AND I AM AWESOME!” superwoman kind of way that I get when I get into a good groove.  I’m moving more. I’m eating food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I haven’t lost any weight yet. And that is discouraging.  Four days in.  But I also know that I have a long range plan here.  Which is to get into a healthier eating and exercise pattern, which will hopefully both help me avoid diabetes and fit into my suits.  I know that the last time I needed to lose this much weight, it took me a full year.  I definitely convinced myself that it should be easier to lose this time because it was “just” baby weight but it turns out that those pounds are just as hard to lose as regular pounds.

Anyway, for now, I’m just going to keep trying to get in 15-20 minutes a day of exercise and to keep up with the container counts and eating more vegetables and protein and less carbs.

What has everyone else been up to while I’ve been on the sidelines?

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2016 – Goals

I do believe in new year’s resolutions.  A new year’s resolution in 2007 started me running and down the path to losing 30lbs.  It led to me discovering all kinds of wonderful things about myself.  A resolution in 2011 to Get a Job led me to two fantastic opportunities that paved the way to better things later.  In 2012 my resolution was to Get A Better Job.  In 2014 my resolution was to Have a Baby and Do an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

So, right now I’m still stubbornly at around the weight I was post-delivery.  So my goal is to kick the baby weight, now that I’m done nursing. I’m signed up for another session of Fit 4 Mom’s Body Back boot camp, which is awesome and includes a meal plan and journaling and feedback on your food journal.

I signed up for a half marathon and a sprint distance triathlon. I signed up for a training plan for the half marathon and I have high hopes of doing the local Masters swim class this summer.

My other main goal is to simply my life. To spend more weekends at home.  To say no more.  We have a toddler now, and our life needs to be more about making sure she is enjoying herself and getting to do things that suit her and challenge her.  None of us is at our best when she is running around a brewery and getting stuck to the floor and my husband is trying to chug a flight of samplers and I’m chasing down the waitress with my credit card to get the check paid ASAP.  We have a few big trips planned, but we have a lot of weekends at home.  We built a deck. We joined our local science museum.  The good thing is, it becomes easier to say no when your child is less portable.  Our daughter has needs.  She wants our attention.  She does not want to linger at a bar for cocktails.  She isn’t happy to sleep in her carrier or nurse at the table anymore.  And people don’t invite you out as much after they see an epic meltdown.  (My in-laws had asked if we’d like to go out to dinner tonight, and we passed, and once they saw our kid have an epic meltdown over the mere existence of her Ikea play tent, they understood why we had opted for takeout.)

Anyone else make goals? Setting limits for themselves this year? What are you going to make happen?

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Postpartum Body

I hoped, postpartum, it wouldn’t be hard to lose the weight. I hoped, postpartum, if things didn’t look how I’d hoped, I could just look at my beautiful baby, sigh, and say it was all worth it.

It’s hard to capture in words just how Done I was being pregnant. I did not enjoy sharing my body with another person. I didn’t feel like I was glowing. For maybe 7 weeks between when I stopped throwing up before the back pain kicked in, things were good and I felt cute and like an adorable pregnant person. For the other 32 weeks I was pregnant, I was uncomfortable. The thing we both looked forward to most was me not being pregnant anymore. I think I commented, leaving the hospital, how nice it was to not be pregnant.

As beautiful as my baby is, as relieved as I am, I’m having a hard time getting used to my body.

I knew things would be different after. But I didn’t know that I needed to buy a new suit jacket. I didn’t understand how much your body is not your own. I didn’t realize how daunting losing the baby weight would feel. How impossible it would feel to fit in exercise. I’m trying to have faith that it gets better, that winter is always hard, and all I can do is the best I can.

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Filed under Breastfeeding, Exercise and Fitness, pregnancy

Pregnancy and Cycling

The biggest problem with cycling while pregnant, is the number of stupid people out there who do not understand pregnancy or cycling.  This makes it very hard to do actual research, and since I wasn’t willing to stop cycling, I felt myself getting pretty frustrated, especially in the second trimester as my body started to really change.

I had zero problems continuing to ride in my first trimester. Even though I was pretty sick, and being thirsty made me gag, I never threw up on my bicycle and I generally felt microscopically better on days that I biked compared to riding the bus.  Riding the bus made me sick a couple of times, so there’s that.
I gained most of my weight during the first trimester in weeks 12 and 13.  So by Week 14, I was starting to notice some discomfort in the saddle, even on my regular morning commute.  I finally posted on a forum about it, because googling “saddle pain pregnancy” was not helping me find answers besides “stop riding when it becomes uncomfortable” or “buy a new seat” which I wanted to avoid.  One of the responses was to tilt the seat down ever so slightly, which did help a lot.  I also lowered the seat just a bit because it was causing me some hip pain to swing my leg up and over the seat.
I did all of my training rides for the International Distance tri I did at 16 weeks clipped into my bike – these were rides 15-25 miles in length, and I turtled myself once at around 10-11 weeks because I thought I was unclipped and I wasn’t – I went to put my foot down and went right over.  I sustained a couple of bruises on my leg and elbow, but fell directly to the side rather than over my handlebars, and was going at a very low speed, so there was no damage done.  I’m a conservative rider generally so I did not ride super-fast ever.
At Week 16, I did my tri on my road bike and was fine, but found I could not go down into the aerobars (which I never do anyway because I’m a big scardycat), because my stomach had gotten too big and it was uncomfortable.  Around Week 18, I dropped my road bike off with my sister, who has custody of it until next January, so she could join me for the sprint tri we just did, and I test rode it to make sure they hadn’t done a terrible job tuning it up (they had) and I found it really uncomfortable. So I probably could not have ridden it past 18 weeks, personally.  My sister says I’m carrying low, so your mileage may vary.
At 19 weeks, we did a 25 mile bike ride on our tandem, which is the trek mountain bike tandem.  This was completely comfortable and not a problem at all – the rear of the tandem has a step through frame and a fairly upright setup. I think we did tilt my seat down slightly but otherwise I was completely fine. I opted not to clip in just because it was starting to make me uncomfortable to be clipped in.  Around 24-ish weeks, we did a short 10 or so mile ride on the tandem and that was also fine.  I think I could comfortably ride the tandem now.
At 21 weeks, I was still comfortably riding my Canondale Quick 3 to work, but I started to have trouble swinging my leg up and over the rear rack and itching to ride something more upright with a step-through frame.  We don’t have a ton of storage space for another bike, and carrying one up and down the steps is the main reason I went from a step through to a regular bike anyway, so I turned my search to folding bikes and decided to go with the Citizen Tokyo after some unsuccessful searches on Craigslist.  The Tokyo is an entry level price point and the appeal of the folding bike is that either my husband or I could ride it (although it’s baby blue so he probably won’t), and then if the other person needed to pick them up, it can go in the trunk.  This actually worked perfectly the one time so far that we tried it.
I’ve been riding the Tokyo for a little over a month now and I’m really happy with it.  I will give a more detailed review later, because there were very few honest reviews out there.  It’s 26 lbs, so the same weight as my Canondale, and has a low frame so I can step over it easily. I ordered it with the rear rack and the comfort seat.  The best part is that my Racktime Shoulderit Pannier bag actually fits on the rear rack – I wasn’t expecting that because the rear rack is tiny, the tubing is thick, and it’s low to the ground.  When I first pulled it out, we were like, “oh, gonna need a new work bag” but then I came home and told my husband that my ShoulderIt bag actually worked and he was like, “okay, I need to see this.”  It turns out that Ortlieb really knows what they are doing.
My new job is not too far from the train station, so the other purpose of getting a folding bike was that I could take it on the train.  I will be trying this next week.  I think, even though my pannier bag does fit, I will be riding with a backpack, because it’s hard to manage a shoulder bag and a folding bike at the same time.  I also will be hopefully exercising on my lunch break, and therefore might need to take workout clothes, plus my lunch, with me, and the backpack will just have more room.  I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep riding for – I’m really starting to slow down, so I think I might move to riding on the sidewalks of the busy streets soon. I’m not wild about this, but I’d rather ride on the sidewalk and annoy pedestrians than risk getting run over by an impatient driver.

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Filed under Cycling, Exercise and Fitness, Lawyering, Uncategorized