Confession: Until this morning, I hadn’t entered a gym to exercise since I was 13 and went to the Y. Gyms intimidate me – I don’t know how to use the equipment, I’m self-conscious how I look working out in front of people who are in shape and know what they’re doing, and I just don’t feel that I belong.
You’re going to hate me for saying this, but I didn’t used to need to work out. I was naturally thin, even while eating whatever I wanted. Then, sometime during my thirties, no doubt helped along by fertility drugs and a hefty dose of prednisone, I put on some weight. Add to that my post-baby belly, and I have a good 25 pounds to lose to get back to the weight I was at my wedding.
Maybe that’s unrealistic. But because I wasn’t heavy my whole life, gaining weight has affected my identity and how I see myself. Along with losing my fertility and my job, the change in my physical appearance has been one of the biggest blows to my sense of sense. And I want my self back.
And because I never had to work at being thin (OK, I know this should really be about being healthy and being in shape, but let’s face it, I really want to be thin), I am just not used to it. It’s hard to learn new habits at my age. At different points while going through fertility treatments I went on various exercise kicks – I rode our exercise bike for a while, I tried running, I did yoga on the Wii and Zumba on the Xbox. I finally settled for a daily walk, but I could never seem to stick with any of it.
The exercise I actually enjoyed doing was not something I could do every day – hiking, kayaking, snorkeling. Basically things I would do on vacation. It’s not like I’m a total couch potato – my husband and I have hiked the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi coast of Italy, climbed Gros Piton in St. Lucia and actually took a hiking vacation to the island of Dominica, on which we did a seven-mile hike to the Boiling Lake, among other treks. OK, so I could barely move the next day (or two), but it was fun. How could I find the same thing in my daily life?
Since my son was born, I’ve done stroller walks and a baby boot camp, in which you bring your baby along in the stroller. That was great, but it was expensive, so when my Groupon ran out I stopped going. I felt like I needed to do something else, but what? How was I going to work in exercising to my schedule of trying to take care of LM and to expand my writing career?
I needed some motivation, and found it in a couple of the moms from my mommy group. After hemming and hawing for quiet some time, yesterday I made the decision to call up the gym they had joined and sign up. The rate was reasonable and included classes and childcare. Even though LM had never really been watched by someone other than a family member, I trusted this place on the other moms’ recommendation.
So this morning I entered the gym to work out for the first time. I dropped LM off at the childcare area – he made a beeline for the play kitchen and didn’t look back. And I took a Zumba class. And it was actually…fun.
Although I feel guilty about spending the money, the way I look at it is this – it’s good experience for LM to get used to being without me. It’s a good thing for me to be exercising. Foggy Daddy pays to play on a hockey league, so I shouldn’t feel guilty paying to go to the gym. Yes, we’re coming up on summer, so wouldn’t I want to exercise outside? Maybe, but I plan on using the gym mostly for classes (I really need structure and motivation during a workout), so I’d probably want to continue that during the summer anyway.
I don’t know how much weight I’ll lose. But I need to do something for myself, and I need to stop feeling guilty about that. If I can have fun exercising, I’ll be a happier person. Which will mean I’ll be a happier (and better) mom.
Do you find it hard to work in exercising with taking care of your kids? How do you do it?