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The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Working Out After Kids

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I thought I was in decent shape. I believed it.

I lived in a happy fantasyland that I was among the fit people. That if I really wanted to, which clearly I don’t, I could hold a plank for three minutes, do one hundred sit-ups and run five miles on the treadmill. After all, I have three kids. Weight training? No problem. I have spent years hauling babies and kids up and down countless numbers of stairs, lifting them in and out of car seats, piggybacking them around zoos and parks. Cardio? Are you kidding? Do you know how quickly kids can run? Nope. I was fit as a fiddle. Until the day the Fitbit arrived.

In the door came the Fitbit. Out the door went all my bravado. Who invented this thing? Clearly not a normal, sofa loving mere mortal. I was hit with the cold, hard realization that I live a sedentary life. How is this even possible? I run around after three kids, for Pete’s sake. Lord knows I am exhausted enough by bedtime to feel as though I have run a marathon.

At the end of the first day with my new Fitbit, I swore it must be defective. There was no possible way that I had not taken 10,000 steps or clocked any exercise minutes. I made my husband do steps with me around our kitchen island to make sure it was calibrated properly and worked the same as his did. It did. I was crushed. I realized that this was just one of many lies that I had told myself about working out since having kids. Here are some of the others.

I will work out after I have recovered from the birth of my first-born.

Yup, sure you will. You even own the yoga pants to prove it. The only problem is that after having baby #1 you are exhausted. Running into walls, hopping yourself up on caffeine and chocolate, exhausted. Sure, you try the classes. Baby and Me Yoga, Baby and Me Swimming, Baby and Me Pilates, but they are hardly comparable to hitting the gym for an hour five days a week. Then you get pregnant with baby #2 and figure you might as well just wait to get into a workout routine until after the new baby is born.

I will work out after I have recovered from the birth of my second-born.

Uh-huh. Except now you realize you didn’t know what true exhaustion was. You should have worked out more when you only had one. But you are determined to get back into shape, and so you look up working out with a baby and a toddler. You discover that you can do exercises using your baby as weights while your older child works out beside you. You give it a shot, only to find out that flying your baby above your head while you are lying down can lead to disastrously messy results. Spit-up in the mouth, anyone? Furthermore, your toddler, growing tired of the exercise “game,” has wreaked havoc throughout the house.

I will work out while the kids are napping.

Did I mention how exhausting having kids is? You will require all of your physical and mental energy just to survive to the end of the day with your sanity intact.

I will work out when the kids are a bit older and can entertain themselves.

I hate to break it to you. This will never happen. Sure, they will age. As for entertaining themselves? Let’s get real. You can’t go to the bathroom alone, never mind block out a chunk of uninterrupted time to actually accomplish something.

I will work out by walking with my kids.

Seems like a great idea. In theory. Except that kid pace is slow. For them, it is all about the journey. Stopping to smell the flowers or rolling around in the snow. Problem is, this is hardly conducive to clocking any exercise minutes. And walking the dogs? Forget it. They’re all about the journey, too, and the number of times they can stop and sniff a blade of grass or pee on a tree.

I don’t need to work out. I have kids.

Hallelujah! You have celebrity moms to thank for this one. They are coming out in droves, claiming that their only workout is chasing the kids around. Yes! You are redeemed. You don’t actually need to work out to have the body of a supermodel. Of course, you don’t really believe this, but you desperately want to (or is it just me)? Deep down you know that they have personal trainers and nannies and chefs who cook them crazy healthy meals of seaweed and wheatgrass. That they have a cold-pressed juice delivery service on speed dial. But it doesn’t matter. There is still that tiny glimmer of hope that you. too, are secretly fit.

Working out with kids is hard. If you are one of those fit parents who squeezes in the time and energy to do it, I applaud you. If you are not, resist the urge to buy a Fitbit. And if you choose to ignore me and buy one anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

This post originally appeared on sammichespsychmeds.com

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