Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mama Fitness: Stages 2-3.1

Note on Stages 1, 2, 3...never mind, at any point in your fitness journey: after 40, one also needs to curb one's calorie intake to a reasonable amount at the same time. It is all too easy to continue to eat as though we are eating for two post-partum. You do need an extra 500 calories a day if you are breast-feeding, but they do not need to come from an entire bag of miniature Hershey bars or an entire carton of Edy's double-fudge-brownie ice-cream. This is one of my particular weaknesses; can you tell? "I have given birth, thus, I eat." After the really hard work of nine months and labor, I always felt a false sense of entitlement; "dang, I did a great job! Have you seen that beautiful baby face? Kindly pass the mousse au chocolat."

Stage Two: anything in between Stage One and Stage Three. In this category I include: walking children (way too fast during the last month of pregnancy, painfully slow once we've recovered), who cannot yet bike, children who can bike but not fast enough to make it worth your while. You may be pregnant and tired, or maybe recently divorced and on your own most days. Maybe you have a husband who can watch the kids while you exercise, but finding a free minute is another story. In the category of "close but no cigar": a bike trailer with four others who can ride, but can't go far enough for it to be a work-out. It is still movement, and still has the benefits as such, of fresh air and a minimum of exercise.

I started running last summer with my daughter. She is up to 8-mile runs, and I am still lippity-lipping along at 2 or 3 mile treks. There are two very good reasons for this; one is age. The second one is probably related to age, though one might say that I was just always a klutz. I broke a toe in August last year, total recoup time; too long! 2 months or so. Then I periodically pull something that takes a couple days to heal. My latest mishap was while running down a mountain in the Rockies with C. and D. There was a stone in the path (it was a mountain, there were a ton of stones), and I sprained my ankle. It has been 2 weeks and it is still sore. I had a good walk on it yesterday, it will be fine.

This winter I bought my very own mini-trampoline and have enjoyed my mornings jogging on it while watching a show or listening to an audio book. It has been a great indoor workout, though prone to interruptions from munchkins and dogs needing to be let in.

Stage Three: aaaah. The last child has learned to ride a 2-wheeler with aplomb. Day One, the break-through, or so I thought,. It was our first sunny, warmish day of spring. The kids rode their bikes and I ran. I had calculated* that the route to their favorite park, right along the bike trail we always take anyway, was 1.2 miles from home; a perfect run. That is, it would be if I could go there and back. Flooded plains along the way with geese in them, new plants growing, the creek all muddy and tempting, swings and a slide in the park, slowed things down considerably, as they were so very interesting. It took about 21/2 hours in all, but they were not hours filled with much movement. Dang, I am not getting any younger either.

Stage Three Point One: yesterday. I put on my running shoes, ignored the dog whining for his leash and dashed out the door. I ran alone, all the way there and back, and the kids were ready to go when I got home. They rode their bikes, I followed on foot, at a leisurely pace, with the dog on a leash, coffee and a good book in my backpack. We all had a grand time, the older ones explored a little off-shoot of the creek and ended up muddied from the waist on down, they were so pleased with themselves. G. and I played on the swings, read and drank coffee. and I got in 4 miles instead of 2.4.

Follow-up on Stage Three Point One: I cannot stand up very well today. Somehow, my legs seem to have become giant cramps from the knee on up. It could have something to do with my super-sprints in between walking on the way home, catching up to bikes. And I thought I was so cool. 

As you care for your family, don't forget to make time for yourself. Your health and well-being may seem secondary, but more and more I realize how important for everyone else it is that you, mom or dad, take care of yourself. Does that help? Putting it in an unselfish context; THEY need YOU to be happy and well, now can you picture it? So, if you cannot fathom "me" time, try thinking of it as "becoming a better mother/father/spouse" time. And please, share your secrets: how do you combine homeschooling/parenting with the things you need/want to do? 

Technology Note: Several new aps for ipods or smart phones are making keeping track of exercise and nutrition much easier.

One of my favorites is: "Map my Run." It mysteriously converted my smart phone into a GPS that even tracks the bike path (first map ever to include it), and shows the exact path and mileage of a walk or run during and after. This despite my phone having no data plan, but the GPS works anyway...whatever. I'll put understanding that technology on my to-do list, right after repainting the underside of the cupboards in the basement...which I actually have to do at some point.

Another one I use every day is: "My Fitness". It is a calorie and exercise tracker, very efficient. I have not counted calories since college, but with the stubborn weight NON-loss of the past year, I have given in to the need for more accountability in my consumption, so I've been entering my data regularly. The end of the day will be in either red or black, just like a bank account. If you are under by even 2 calories, you get a lovely speech about being sure to eat enough each day, it's like having a warm, loving house mother who just wants to cook for you...sort of. 

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