Last month, I decided to start my own challenge and move every day for a year. From July 10, 2022 to July 10, 2023, I will move every day, whether it is walking, running, cycling, yoga, barre, pilates, swimming, you name it. I am on day 23 and boy, do I feel great! As a new mom, it is great to prioritize time each day to myself and feel accomplished. Exercising greatly improves my mental health, so that’s also a plus!
I wanted to share my stats for July and any interesting movement anecdotes for the month. I will do this moving forward as I continue my #365DaysofMovement journey.
Here’s how July went
23 hours, 4 minutes of exercise
5,842 calories burned
50.18 miles “traveled”
In July, I walked my main street, I ran my second 5K, I cycled with Lizzo on Peloton, and I took my first Barre class! It was a great month! I met up with friends for walks in my town and caught up with family members. I walked on the beach on our family vacation and played tennis with my husband. It was an excellent month of exercising!
Before my baby, I like to say that I was somewhat active. I got a Peloton at the start of the pandemic, and loved my rides throughout the week. When I was about 10 weeks pregnant, I started to bleed after exercising, so my doctor limited me to easy walks until postpartum to keep me and the baby healthy.
Fast-forward to a year later (and 40 pounds heavier). Once I was given the all-clear to exercise after having Nora, I slowly got back into a routine. I hopped back on the Peloton, went on walks around our neighborhood with Nora in the stroller, and … became a runner.
I started with walks on the treadmill. I would grab my Kindle and walk on an incline, reading my books and exercising at the same time. Soon, those walks became jogs and then the jogs became running classes with my Peloton app. I grew stronger and more confident in my runs, and at the end of June, I ran my first-ever 5K.
I have never been more proud. I am stronger now than I was before Nora. In many, many ways.
This morning, I packed Nora in her car seat and took her to a walking trail on our main street. It was an amazingly serene way to start my day, and it got me thinking: What if I prioritized movement every single day? So, that’s what I am going to do. 365 days of movement, and I am going to track each day with a photo.
It can be any type of movement: running, Peloton, walking, yoga. As long as I’m moving my body, it counts. I am excited to start this journey.
It’s been a long day. You wake up before the sun does with tired eyes. You change your crying baby and put her to your breast, looking at her with eyes full of wonder and a heart full of love.
You put her back down and you make a choice: Do I start my day or get more sleep? Sometimes you choose sleep. Some days, you get up and make a cup of coffee and read in silence. Or you hop on the treadmill or Peloton and start your day off on “the right foot.” Most days, you choose sleep, because you can always exercise later. You can get that quiet time to yourself later. You are exhausted.
You are exhausted because even when you are sleeping, you are not sleeping. Your ears are always listening to the baby sleeping beside you. Is she breathing? Is she crying? Is she hungry? Does she need me? Or your mind races. Is my baby going to die? Am I going to die? What if I died? She wouldn’t remember me. I’d be nothing to her. Toss. Turn. Toss. Turn.
If you choose sleep, you wake up 30-45 minutes later and get dressed. You feed the cats, make coffee, and head back upstairs to log on for work. Throughout the day, you answer to many people: boss, friends, family, husband, nanny, baby. You put their needs first. You forget to drink water. You forget to eat. Luckily you have a husband to remind you to do those things and who brings you food. You breastfeed your baby in-between meetings and tasks. You are exhausted.
When work is over, you head downstairs and take care of your baby. You laugh at her giggles and smile big at her smiles. You make dinner and clean up after. You change that load of laundry you forgot you put in the washer 12 hours before. You wipe down the counters and the knobs and every surface, because your 4-month-old baby has already been sick three times, and you’re afraid. You pick up around the house, after the cats, after your husband, after yourself. You and your husband are such a good team but you often feel alone.
It is early evening, and your baby is fussy. It is too early for bedtime, so you do what you can to calm her down. You play, you read, you rock, you walk, you sing. You are exhausted.
You bring your baby upstairs for a bath. You scrub your baby and watch her kick and squeal because she loves the bath. You splash, you sing, you smile, you dance. You are exhausted.
But you still take care of her. You put her pajamas on, bring her into her nursery, and give her a bottle. When she’s done, you sing a little as you put her down to sleep.
You put her down and you make a choice: Do I have some time to myself or do I go to sleep? Sometimes you choose to shower and go to sleep. Some days you change into your workout clothes at 8:30 p.m. and go for a run on the treadmill because it’s the only time you have to do this. Your body is tired, but you are tired of hating your body. You are exhausted.
Some nights you choose to sit on the couch. And that’s OK. But sometimes, it’s hard to tell yourself that. Sometimes, the dark thoughts creep in and you cannot stop them. You are a failure. You are nothing. You are fat. You are ugly. You are incompetent. You cannot do this.
Nights are always the hardest.
Motherhood is hard. You know you made this choice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be tired. That you can’t complain. Society makes you feel that way. Makes you feel guilty. You just have to remind yourself that you are strong. Strong like a mother.
For nine months, my body created life. As I watched my body grow, I remember feeling proud. I would go to the doctor and not care about the number on the scale because I knew it was all to build and maintain a safe home for my baby.
Once I hit the 40+ pound mark, I asked my doctor if I should be concerned. I wasn’t overeating. I was trying to stay as active as possible. He reassured me that this was normal, and to just let my body do its thing. When I asked some mama friends, they reassured me that “the weight would fall right off” once I started breastfeeding. (That didn’t happen to me.)
Right before I gave birth to Nora, I had gained 50+ pounds. I put it out of my mind because … well … I was giving birth to Nora! I was a little busy. But as the months have gone by, I’ve battled with “bounce back culture”. I’ve had to buy all new clothes. I’ve spent hours on my phone comparing myself to other postpartum moms, wondering why I can’t fit into my “old, normal” jeans. I would look at myself in the mirror and cry and hate what I saw. I struggled with the fact that I would never return to my “regular” body.
One day (very recently), I decided that enough was enough. I looked at my daughter and thought, “what would I say to her if she talked about her body the way I do?” I would be so sad. It would be heartbreaking to hear her say she hated herself. That she was ugly. That she was afraid to go out in public. So I just said, f* it. F* what it says on that scale. I started exercising and practicing mindfulness. I stopped weighing myself every morning and night.
I weighed myself recently and saw that I’m down 15 pounds, but I’m not even paying attention to that anymore. Now, I’m focusing on strength. On control. I’m slowly starting to look at my body as a marvel rather than a hinderance. This body created life. This body continues to sustain life while sustaining my own. That is pretty fricken amazing.
I see you, postpartum parents. And you are beautiful.