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May 22 2014

Taking Time Away From My Toddler is Not Easy–But Necessary

By at 11:04 am

running

For me, the five-day span between Monday and Friday is usually a long, tiring race to the finish line of getting things done. Between working full-time, commuting almost four hours a day, and having a household to maintain, my time with my toddler during the week is, unfortunately, pretty limited. So is my time for me.

Weekends, however, are another story. I’m fortunate in that my job doesn’t tend to require weekend work, other than the occasional email here and there. And in fact, the reason I purposely push myself so hard to be productive during the week is to free up weekend time to spend with my family.

But if I’m being honest, when the weekend rolls around, I also like to take a little bit of time for me. Usually I like to catch up on the fitness front by going for a run or two; or sometimes I’ll meet up with a friend at a local frozen yogurt or coffee shop. But often (er, always), this leaves me feeling guilty, because I know that it’s time I could be spending with my son. In fact, the same holds true any time I make plans that don’t include my child. I experience my own version of separation anxiety, or, to put it more accurately, separation-induced guilt. Read the rest of this entry →

May 19 2014

Shedding The Pounds After Seven Kids is a Spiritual Process

By at 4:47 pm

weightloss

As a kid, I ate whatever in the world I wanted. Pizza, chips, coke–I never had to think about it, and never experienced weight problems because of it. I loved to dance, but other than that, exercise was not a part of my life. Oh, I walked to and from school and did whatever worked into my day, but it wasn’t a focus. I didn’t understand what calories were and I didn’t care.

I married young and had four kids in my twenties. The weight fell off after each child, though it took some time, which gave me some anxiety, considering my unfamiliarity with being overweight. Further, my eating habits were so haphazard and uneducated, a fact I credit to my natural metabolism.

Then came my thirties. Three more kids came along (thank God!), and for the first time in my life I was overweight. It ate me up more than I cared to admit. In fact, I didn’t admit it at all. I “embraced my body,” wanted to “set a good example for my daughters,” exercised “because it felt good,” and otherwise was in denial about the fact that I really needed to change my eating habits. The problem? I didn’t have the foggiest notion how. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 21 2014

Since Becoming Pregnant, I’ve Given Myself Permission to Recline

By at 12:44 pm

permission-to-relax

The surprising thing about living on an island is just how much there is to do. Once my husband and I bought a house and made a long-term commitment to life on North Haven, we became a hot commodity. In addition to our jobs (teaching for me, plumbing and now programming at our community center for my husband), we serve in town government, volunteer with the ambulance crew, teach music lessons, and attempt to maintain a social life. I direct three or four plays each year, for which my husband either acts or does the sound design or both. I teach Pilates at the Y, and in the summer, ostensibly my time off, I open a small bakery and breakfast café.

That’s the way we like it. Neither of us is at our best with a lot of leisure time, and it’s not like there are a lot of places to go here to have a meal out or see a show. Typically if we have downtime at the same time we’ll go for a long walk, snowshoe, or kayak. Maybe we’ll learn a new piece of music or write and record a song. My workday ends at noon on Friday, and when I don’t have to get on the ferry for a prenatal checkup, I make a point of cleaning the bathrooms. Since sitting gets such a bad rap these days, with articles popping up all over the Internet claiming it’s as bad for you as smoking, being busy seems to make a lot of sense. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 18 2014

How to Explain to a 6-Year-Old that Exercise Can “Hurt So Good”

By at 12:04 pm

explaining the pain of yoga to a child

We were at family yoga at the YMCA when Ronia started complaining that her thigh hurt. The yoga teacher, an infinitely patient soul with a hilariously incongruent voice that sounds like she’s been smoking a pack a day since 1975, had us in a mildly challenging pose, and Ronia, along with two other kids in the class, suddenly piped up that it hurt. The complaint came back three more times during the course of the 45-minute class. Each time we stopped and did a brief examination, her leg appeared to be fine. I wondered if she had pulled a muscle, or had a bruise somewhere that we couldn’t see.

The class moved on, and eventually we came to inversions i.e. going upside down. This is my favorite part of any yoga class, and Ronia’s, too. She loves headstands, and often practices them at home. When I showed her how to get in a handstand she was a little trepidatious, but with a quick spot she was up against the wall in a nice strong handstand. After a moment she came down, and then she said, “Ow! My shoulder really hurts!” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 28 2014

Exercising While Pregnant, Pee Breaks and All

By at 9:29 am

pregnant woman lifting weights

I was a little late to the exercise game. When I lived in Boston, I walked nearly everywhere. Between that, my relative youth, and living in graduate student poverty, I stayed fighting trim. After moving to North Haven, a place with no public transportation and vast distances between things, I bought a car and embarked on a sedentary lifestyle. After a few years essentially without a social life, where most evenings were spent on the couch eating cheese and crackers and watching Netflix, I had become downright zaftig.

I’m only 4’10”. I don’t have many places to put excess. Once my expansion had finally sunk in–thanks to an inadvertently exposed midriff in a family photo–I embarked on a lifestyle change. From a hilarious aerobics class to a new found love of yoga, Pilates, and eventually running, I went from couch to half marathon in about as much time as it had taken me to merge with the couch in the first place.

When I became pregnant, I was determined to keep up the good work. For a few weeks after the two blue lines, I took the dog out for runs. While usually we’re good for a few miles (even though his legs are only three inches long), I found myself breaking out in flop sweats after the first half mile. We toned it down to walks pretty quickly. As I entered the doldrums of the first trimester, even walks became slogs. My husband started having to take the dog for his exercise, while I trudged behind. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 5 2013

The Spinning Instructor’s Post-Baby Body

By at 2:09 pm

spinning classLast week at my daughter’s gymnastics class, a friend introduced me to another mom as a “Spinning Instructor.” Before she could say anything, I blurted, “I am. I don’t look like it right now, but I am.”

Instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” I went with that. Way to show self-confidence and make a good first impression. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 24 2013

Avoiding Mirrors & Hating My Post-Baby Body

By at 2:29 pm

woman's feet next to a scaleConfession: I avoid mirrors. I dress in the dark (but that is at least partially because there is a window in our closet that has no curtains). I am very unhappy with how I look.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, you’re just being self-indulgent and stupid. You just had a baby THREE MONTHS ago–and ANOTHER baby 15 months before that. You have a lot going for you: your health, a great husband and family, a home, a job that lets you work from home and be with your kids. You’ve got a lot going for you, lady.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 18 2012

Jogging Made Me Cry

By at 2:22 pm

sick teddy bearI’ve been making lots of declarations lately (I’m not an adult! I AM an adult!) and here’s another: I had not seriously been tested as a mother until recently. I know, I know, you think I’m exaggerating. You’re thinking, how could that be? You have baby twins! Surely, you’re forgetting the trials of the 13-and-a-half months past! Double breast-feeding? Mastitis? Sleep training? Or the month where Avi and Maya got all of their teeth at once?

But really, that was nothing. Read the rest of this entry →

May 16 2012

Pregnancy Cravings & The Evils of Trader Joe’s

By at 2:58 pm
trader joes milk chocolate peanut butter pretzels

How cruel.

I suspected I was pregnant with my fourth child even before the little ritual with peeing on the stick for two reasons. Reason 1: It is not normal to fall asleep in the (parked) car in the carpool line. Reason 2: It is not normal to think that dipping chocolate covered pretzels in hot sriracha sauce would constitute a tasty snack. Well, okay, both of those reasons are “normal” behavior–normal behavior for a woman who is pregnant, that is.

Food is a touchstone of pregnancy. It’s not only because a pregnant woman has to think of the developing child in her womb as she chooses what to eat, but also because those “pregnancy cravings” are very real. Trader Joe’s trips, normally a comparatively inexpensive supermarket trip to stock up on fresh vegetables, have become a veritable minefield of lethal snacks. There is definitely someone pregnant working in product development for that store (chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, exhibit A), and they prey on my dramatic pregnant appetites. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 23 2012

Running Marathons is a Lot Like Having Kids

By at 11:05 am

marathon runnersLast month, I finished my third marathon. It was a good race and a triumphant experience.

Looking back on the five months of training, I still can’t believe how quickly it went by and how easy it was compared to my first marathon. Like raising my fourth baby, I have found myself trying to remember what was so hard the first time around. Read the rest of this entry →

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